Archive | January, 2012


Frances Elaine "Fran" Fast

Posted on 26 January 2012 by Mel Friesen

1954, Frances Elaine “Fran” Fast, 87, died Jan. 25, 2012, at her home. She was born Nov. 22, 1924, in Michigan, the daughter of Charles and Edna Blood Steward.
On Nov. 2, 1945, she married David Daniel Fast in Charlotte, Mich. He survives. A longtime resident of Inman, moving to Hutchinson in 1999, Fran and her husband were loyal volunteers with RVICS – Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service – and the Et Cetera Shop. She was a retired package foreman for Sterling Drug and was a devoted homemaker.
Other survivors include: her five children, Timothy and wife LeAnn of Inman, Karen Sites and husband Steven of Hutchinson, Vernon of Hutchinson, David and wife Karen of Topeka, and Leland of Jacksonville, Ark.; 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and a great great-grandchild. She was preceded in death by a son, Steven; her parents, Charles and Edna Steward; brothers, Clair and Wayne; and sister, Irene Foltz.
Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Saturday Jan. 25, 2012, at First Church of The Nazarene, with Pastor Bones Nay presiding. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, with the family present from 6 to 8 p.m. at Penwell-Gabel Funeral Home and Crematory, Hutchinson. Memorial contributions may be made to RVICS in care of the funeral home. Burial will be in Zoar Cemetery near Inman. Please visit to leave personal condolences for the family.

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1945, David R. Balzer

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Mel Friesen

1945, David R. Balzer, 93, died Jan. 23, 2012, at Pleasant View Home, Inman. He was born June 20, 1918, to Jacob P. and Marie (Neufeldt) Balzer at Inman.  On Aug. 30, 1938, he married Margaret Friesen from Inman. She survives. Other survivors include: a daughter, Doris Pierce and husband Gordon of Pocasset, Mass.; a son, Stan Balzer and wife LaDonna of Inman; three granddaughters, Jenelle Funk-Klaassen and husband Matthew of Toronto, Canada, Julie Stout of Elkhart, Ind., and Ashley Balzer of Inman; three great-grandchildren, Lindsey and Nicholas Stout of Elkhart, Ind., and Miles Klaassen of Toronto, Canada. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Marie Balzer; his sisters, Florence Penner and Rosella Kejr; his daughter, Correen Jane; and his son-in-law, Ron Funk.   Graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at Zoar Cemetery, Inman, with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. at Zoar Mennonite Brethren Church, Inman, with Pastors Dwight Carter and Dan Dalke presiding. The family will greet friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, at Zoar Mennonite Brethren Church, Inman. Memorials can be made to either Hospice Care of Kansas or the Zoar Children’s Ministry in care of Buhler Mortuary, 120 N. Main, Buhler KS 67522.

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You Are Key to Enrollment Efforts

You Are Key to Enrollment Efforts

Posted on 24 January 2012 by admin

You as alumni are the best marketing and outreach tool that Grace University has. When you share your excitement about Grace University, and pass that on to cialis buy canada the next generation of students, we are able to continue the mission of Grace. We are always excited when we have Legacy Students, children and grandchildren of alumni, choose to carry on the tradition of attending Grace University.

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Brandon Larreau, a Junior in the Nursing Program, is a special Legacy Student. Not only did his parents attend Grace University, but his great-grandfather is Dr. Harold Burkholder who was at the June 1, 1943, meeting at the Flatiron Hotel when Grace University was founded. Dr. Burkholder also was the president of Grace University during 1950-1955 when the university faced great challenges because of the Korean War.

In spite of hearing stories from his father about how difficult Dr. Eckman’s Hebrew class was, Brandon decided to attend Grace University because of the co-op Nursing Program with Clarkson College. He knew from his parents that he would get a quality education in Biblical Studies at Grace, while getting solid nursing training at Clarkson. His brother Bryan also decided to attend Grace for two years before joining the Colorado State Patrol.

Following graduation, Brandon and his wife Natasha Cruz, a Psychology major, will return to their native California where they will carry on the tradition of using their Grace University education “all for the glory of God.” “I just want to take with me the peace of mind of knowing that Dr. Burkholder was a great man who has changed thousands of lives through this school, and that will encourage me to make a difference in the world as well,” said Brandon.

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13, KJV

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Trained for Service

Trained for Service

Posted on 24 January 2012 by admin

After a brief stint at Grace University in the 1970s, Deb Osmanson, Dean of Student Services, gained vast management experience during a 25-year career at Sears. While managing stores and divisions across the Midwest, Deb developed the skills needed to successfully manage the facilities, housekeeping and grounds, IT and Communications Service Center, residence halls, Athletic Department, and Student Development. When Deb and her husband Dana returned to Omaha to care for aging parents, God brought Deb back to Grace University.

“I feel that the positions I had at Sears prepared me for the challenges at Grace by teaching me how to manage people and get them to work to their greatest potential, how to think creatively, to be an innovator, and make a big impact with a little investment,” said Deb.

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When she is not serving the University, Deb is earning a Psychology degree and working toward a Master’s Degree in counseling. Deb and her husband live in west Omaha with their three cats. She has three grown sons who live in Alaska, Nebraska and Alabama.

“My favorite Bible verses are Philippians 4:4-9, but especially verse 8 which says ‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is noble, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.’”

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Alumna Leading Community Relations

Alumna Leading Community Relations

Posted on 24 January 2012 by admin

Alumni and friends of Grace University have a new point of contact in the Development Department. Verleen Unruh, a 1991 graduate, is the new Community Relations Coordinator at Grace University. In her new role, Verleen will be working directly with alumni to answer questions and provide assistance. She can assist alumni with Career Services, Pulpit Fill, facility rental, or special events on campus. After working for five years in the Financial Aid Department, Verleen is excited to take on this new position.

One of her main functions is to increase awareness of Grace University in the community. She is meeting with pastors and community leaders to share the mission and vision of Grace. Another part of her job is to help alumni share their experience at Grace and encourage teens in their lives to attend Grace. She also is overseeing the Alumni Association and the team that provides college access presentations to high school students in the area.

If you have any inquiries or questions, please contact Verleen for assistance at 402.449.2878 or

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”– Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV

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Emerging Adulthood: Implications for the Church and the Culture

Emerging Adulthood: Implications for the Church and the Culture

Posted on 24 January 2012 by admin

Recently, I read a book by sociologist Christian Smith.  It was an astounding account of the cultural phenomenon called emerging adulthood.  For those of us in leadership, it is imperative that we come to terms with this stage of human development, especially in America.  In this short article, I hope to define this stage in human development, speculate on its causes and cite a few implications of this development.

  • First, a definition.  Basically, America invented the stage of human development we call adolescence.  America identified this stage as a unique stage in the development of becoming an adult.  It begins about 12 or 13 and continues until age 18.  But now sociologists are calling for the recognition of another stage before full adulthood, called emerging adulthood.  Coined by Jeffrey Arnett, the phrase, “emerging adulthood,” (the stage of development between 18 and 30) is now being studied extensively by Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith.  [The book I read recently is entitled Lost in Transition.]  Smith characterizes the features of this stage as “intense identity exploration; instability; a focus on self; feelings of being in limbo, in transition, in between; and a sense of possibilities, opportunities, and unparalleled hope.  These are often accompanied . . . by large doses of transience, confusion, anxiety, self-obsession, melodrama, conflict, disappointment, and sometimes emotional devastation.”  The steps through schooling, a first real job, marriage, and parenthood (all definitions of adulthood) are simply less well organized and coherent today than they were in the past.  As Smith argues, “these years are marked by a historically unparalleled freedom to roam, experiment, learn, move on, and try again.”  Arnett and Smith see emerging adulthood as the recognition of unique characteristics that explain a new and particular phase of life.
  • Second, what forces have combined to create this new phase in the American life?  There are six identifiable changes over the last several decades that have helped create this stage of human development.
  1. First is the dramatic growth of higher education.  The GI Bill, changes in the American economy, and government subsidizing of higher education all led in the second half of the 20th century to a dramatic rise in the number of high school graduates going to college.  More recently, the need for graduate education has been added as an expectation and a requirement for social advancement.  Hence, a huge proportion of young adults do not stop their education at 18, but extend their formal training well into their twenties.  Those continuing in graduate education often do so well into their late twenties and early thirties.
  2. Another powerful social change is the delay of marriage.  Between 1950 and 2006, the median age of the first marriage for women rose from 22.8 to 25.7 years old.  For men, the median age rose from 22.8 to 27.5.  Typically, young people finished high school, married and began having children.  Today, many young adults spend almost a decade between high school graduation and marriage, exploring life’s many options as singles—in a period of unprecedented freedom.
  3. The global nature of our economy has undermined stable, lifelong careers and replaced them with careers with lower security, more frequent job changes and the ongoing need for new training and education.  Therefore, extended schooling, delayed marriage, and “arguably, a general psychological orientation toward maximizing options and postponing commitments.  Far from being happy to graduate from high school and take a factory job or office job . . . many youth today spend five to ten years experimenting with different jobs and career options before finally deciding on a long-term career direction.”
  4. Parents today are more willing than ever to help their young adults financially—well into their 20s and 30s.   This financial help enables emerging adults to have the freedom to live a good lifestyle until they settle down into full adulthood (defined as financial independence, stable career and the end of schooling).
  5. Beginning in the 1960s, numerous and reliable birth control technologies became widely available.  The last five decades have witnessed major changes in the variety, reliability, ease and accessibility of such methods.  The primary cultural effect of this technology has been to disconnect sexual intercourse from procreation in the minds of many Americans.  Sex has therefore become a normal element of many close or perhaps even many casual relationships.  It also occasionally becomes a recreational activity of sorts.  The “hook-up” culture is another effect of this reality for many emerging adults.
  6. The impact of Postmodernism on emerging adults cannot be minimized.  The deep-seated characteristics of this worldview—a radical hermeneutic, a radical pluralism, a radical relativism, a radical morality and a radical pragmatism—define and support the emerging adult’s worldview.   This worldview has both caused and perhaps more importantly justified most of the choices of the typical emerging adult.  A radical autonomy is the vital center of almost everything the emerging adult does and thinks.  Further, the technology of this age—the cell phone, Smartphone, iPod, Ipad, etc.—enables and empowers the emerging adult to define his/her own reality.  This entails almost all entertainment choices, leisure choices, purchasing choices, even food and clothing purchases.  Further, the social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, frame the social dynamic of the emerging adult.  This technology reinforces all the other elements that help to explain the phenomenon I am calling the emerging adult.
  •  Third, what are the implications of emerging adulthood for the church and for the larger culture?  For the culture, Smith demonstrates that this stage in life has resulting in far more confusion and lack of certainty about almost everything for this age group.  Their lives and their worldview are constantly in flux.  There is no commitment whatsoever to institutions—government, family (as normally defined) and most importantly to the church.  Typically, most emerging adults are not attending church and are not involved in ministry.  As Smith’s book shows, they do not vote and are not engaged in civic service or volunteerism.  For the church, this generation begins to come back to church once they begin having their own children; but often the church does not know what to do with them.  Many of them view church through the grid of youth group with all the fun, excitement and energy so characteristic of current youth groups.  Regular church is not like that and often they do not fit in.  In my view, the church needs to seek a greater level of understanding about the emerging adult and develop plans and strategies about how to reach and minister to them.  The church is losing its youth in increasing numbers.  When they come back are we ready for them?  Answering that question is perhaps the church’s most important agenda item for the future.

See Christian Smith, et al, Lost in Transition and James P. Eckman, The Truth About Worldviews, pp. 1-11.

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Retire the Debt

Retire the Debt

Posted on 23 January 2012 by admin

Dear Alumni,

When Dr. Eckman began his tenure at Grace University, he was faced with an enormous challenge and a great opportunity. A friend of the University offered a large gift to re-energize the campus and make some needed changes to upgrade the campus grounds, make significant repairs to buildings, and move the University forward technologically. While the seed money was large, it was not large enough to cover all costs, and there was not time to conduct a capital campaign. The board of directors made the difficult decision to take out low-interest NEFA bonds to make the best use of the gift and keep the University competitive, viable academically, and attractive to new students.

As he nears his June retirement, Dr. Eckman has one piece of unfinished business and he would like to close out an important chapter in the University’s history. Dr. Eckman is working to retire the NEFA bonds and allow his successor to start in the best position possible. He recently refinanced the bonds with the intent of paying off the bonds sooner, but ultimately he would like to leave the University debt free.

I realize that retiring debt is not a glamorous project, but I know that you understand the importance of this effort. Dr. Eckman has given so much to the University and our community, and I can think of no better way to honor his service than to give a gift to help him reach his final goal before retirement. Just click on “Support” and you can help with this important project!


Bill Sapp


Retire the Debt Campaign

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1963, Levi H. Kroeker

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Mel Friesen

1963, Levi H. Kroeker 73, of Lincoln went to be with the Lord on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. Levi was born to Bernhard and Marie (Harder) Kroeker on Sept. 21, 1938 in Hutchinson, Kan. Most of his childhood years were spent on a farm near Steele City, Neb. He accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior when he was seven years old. He attended Fairbury Jr. College and then taught three years in country schools. He also attended Grace Bible Institute, graduating in 1963. Levi graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a Bachelors in Science and a Masters in Education as well as a specialty degree in Education Administration. He began his career at Lincoln Christian School in 1964 and retired in 2008. It was his greatest joy to influence the many young lives during his 44 years as teacher and principal. After his retirement he continued to teach Bible class, even up to the day he entered the hospital. Levi and Marlis attended Old Cheney Alliance Church for many years.

He is survived by his beloved wife Marlis; daughters, Ruth Ann (Bryce) Chord, Destrehan, La., Carol (Brian) Hofer, Carpenter, S.D.; four grandchildren, Melissa (Justin) Sonnier, Carmon Chord, Jonathon and Josiah Hofer; brothers, John, Lincoln, Menno (Barb), Dayton, Tenn., Ben (Sharon), Bothell, Wash.

Visitation: From 2-8 p.m. Tuesday, (1-24-12) at Roper & Sons Funeral Care, 4300 ‘O’ Street, Lincoln.

Service: Memorial Service: 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, (1-25-12) at Lincoln Christian School.

Family Gathering: Family will greet friends from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday evening at the funeral home.

Cemetery: Fairview Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska.


Memorials: LCS and Old Cheney Alliance Church.

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1957, Jack G. Riffel

Posted on 22 January 2012 by Mel Friesen

1957, Jack G. Riffel went home to be with his Lord and Savior on November 23, 2011. He was born on March 10, 1928 in Buhler, Kansas to Jake and Bertha Riffel. In 1957, after graduating from Grace Bible College, in Omaha, Nebraska, he became a Pastor. He moved to Spokane in 1960 to become the Assistant Superintendent of the Union Gospel Mission, which he held for 3 years. He was the pastor at Yardley Community Church, Cocolalla Bible Camp, Spring Valley Mennonite Church, and the University Manor. He also volunteered to drive for the Department of Social and Health Services, logging in 4000 hours. Jack played his guitar for the Sinto Senior Center Vespers. He was an active member of the Otis Orchards Community Church. He loved to bowl and fish. He is survived by his wife, Carol, daughter Mary, (Eric) Bagley, sons Mark and Matthew (JoAnne), six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, two step-great grandchildren, and brothers Charles and Guy. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Virginia, and son, Martin. A memorial service will be held for Jack on Saturday, December 10, 2011, at 11am at the Otis Orchards Community Church, 23304 E. Wellesley, Otis Orchards. The Family suggests the in lieu of flowers that memorials are made to Otis Orchards Community Church or the Union Gospel Mission.

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1955, Alvin Heinrich Giesbrecht

Posted on 19 January 2012 by Mel Friesen

1955,  Alvin Giesbrecht died on January 17, 2012, at age 87, in Salem, Oregon. He was preceded in death by Irene, his wife for 59 years, who passed away 3 months and 6 days earlier. Dad is lonely no more, and will never be again.

Alvin was born on March 13, 1924, in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, to John and Katherine (Reimer) Giesbrecht, the 5th of 6 children. During the winters, he was sent to boarding school in Steinbach; summers were spent working on the family farm. After high school in Steinbach, he spent some of the war years working in a lumber camp and later worked for his brother Walter in his veterinary clinic in Winnipeg. He then moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend Grace Bible Institute, where he met Irene Ewert, the eldest daughter of the school business manager. They were married in 1952 and had four children over the next 8 years: Darrel, Hugh, Rae, and Murray. After obtaining his degree in education from Omaha University, he was a teacher or administrator at five different high schools in Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, and Oregon, before moving to Salem, Oregon in 1971 and finishing his career in education at Corbett High School, Corbett, Oregon. In retirement, Alvin stayed active in the leadership of his church, traveled extensively for missions, and was very involved with the Gideons. He enjoyed traveling; he enjoyed his many friends and relatives more. Following the recent death of his beloved wife Irene, his health declined, and he passed away quietly at home.

Alvin is survived by one sister, Marlene Guenther of Steinbach, MB); four children Darrel (Marcy) Giesbrecht of Omaha, NE; Hugh (Beth) Giesbrecht of Tecumseh NE; Rae (Bill) Knopp of Canby OR; Murray (Sue) Giesbrecht of Salem, OR; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, January 21st at Emmanuel Bible Church, 8512 Sunnyview Rd NE, Salem. The family requests that donations be made to the Gideons in lieu of flowers. Arrangments by Howell-Edwards-Doerksen Funeral Directors.

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