Archive | November, 2013

70 Years of Developing Servant Leaders

70 Years of Developing Servant Leaders

Posted on 18 November 2013 by editor

Homecoming 2013 in Review

Homecoming 2013 was a packed weekend at Grace University. Undergraduate students enjoyed Fall Formal with a riverboat cruise and a carnival-themed after party in the gym. At the South Campus, we dedicated the new College of Graduate Studies and Grace University Counseling Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception.  Click here for the full news article.

Highlights of the Homecoming celebration were a reception for former and current faculty and staff on Friday and a worship time and prayer walk on Saturday. Alumni also enjoyed a dinner Friday evening. The luncheon on Saturday brought 70 alumni together to celebrate 70 years of God’s faithfulness to Grace and to honor the Alumni of the Year, Arlen and Marilyn Hilkemann, who are true servant leaders.

Alumni enjoyed looking through yearbooks and memorabilia, shared stories old and new, and reviewed books by alumni authors.

The worship and testimony time was a blessing to everyone. Students shared how God is using Grace in their lives. Allie Knouse wowed us with her snare drum solo and Rob Benson was amazing on the marimba. An alumni vocal ensemble unveiled the new arrangement of the hymn God of Grace. Check out the video here. Most importantly, many alumni shared how God used their time at Grace to prepare them for future ministry and work. Oh, and yes, they thanked God for providing them with their spouse.

The students who attended the testimony time discovered how blessed they are by not having to memorize 300 scripture passages before graduation, but also learned how much times have changed. Tuition is no longer $10 a credit hour as it was in the 1950s.

Class of ’53

Class of ’63

Class of ’73







Plans are in the works for more alumni events throughout the year, not just on Homecoming. So watch for details.

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Arlen and Marilyn Hilkemann are the 2013 Alumni of the Year!

Arlen and Marilyn Hilkemann are the 2013 Alumni of the Year!

Posted on 18 November 2013 by editor

Award presented by Keith and Linda Sarver

Keith and Linda Sarver, ‘73, nominated Arlen and Marilyn Hilkemann, ‘73, for Alumni of the Year because the Hilkemann’s ministry exemplifies the mission of Grace University to produce servant leaders.

Editor’s Note: In the following, Keith and Linda Sarver share why they nominated the Hilkemann’s.

Linda and I are privileged to nominate the Hilkemann’s for this year’s Alumni of the Year Award.

I first met Arlen when I was a student living in Schmidt Hall. I vaguely knew Marilyn from Montana when I was working with her brother at KGLE in Glendive, which is about 100 miles south of Wolf Point where she grew up. One day she and her cousin Judy came to the station and I was introduced to them.

In the summer of 1972, I and the Hilkemann’s had a summer missionary experience in Alaska. I worked at KCAM in Glennallen in the interior of Alaska. Arlen and Marilyn worked at a Bible camp near Juneau, down in the panhandle. When the summer was over, we drove together from Seattle back to Montana.

Linda and I have supported the Hilkemann’s during their 40 years of ministry both financially and prayerfully. Over the years, we have watched them from a distance via prayer letters. We are impressed with their quiet and steady spirit.

For a period of three years we were “neighbors” when I taught at Lustre Christian High School 35 miles north of them. One summer I had the joy of helping them with a VBS for a day. The school had perhaps four or five kids who were either all from one family or perhaps a mix of neighbors. Most of us would probably never consider having a Bible school for such a small number. However, Arlen and Marilyn conducted the school as though they had a full-blown student body. They had the Bible lesson, singing, crafts, and games—just like most Bible schools!

Arlen and Marilyn have worked most of their career on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation where progress is slow at best. Now they are actively ministering to patients and family members of transplant patients at Mayo Clinic, while waiting for and recovering from Arlen’s own heart transplant. We can honestly say that they are hoeing the long row.

Hilkemann’s truly exemplify the goal of Grace University to produce servant leaders.

Arlen and Marilyn’s story.

Arlen and I met at Grace in 1968. In those years, the freshmen were seated in alphabetical order, so Dave Hansen sat by Judy Heidner and Marilyn Heidner sat by Arlen Hilkemann. Arlen and Dave were roommates and Judy is my niece. Hansen married Heidner and Heidner married Hilkemann. Talk about a “match factory”!

Arlen says he married me because I took good notes, especially in Dr. Benton’s class where, if you dropped your pencil, you were a page behind on notes. I especially enjoyed my Christian Ed classes. Dr. Anna Reiger was an excellent teacher, although she was horrified when I told her about the VBS I had taught for an American Sunday School Union missionary in Montana. Like country school, I had four age levels all in the same classroom. Our missions classes were geared for foreign missions, but many of the principles we learned apply to ministry to Native Americans here in our country.

We have three sons, David, Mike and Joel. Their wives and our 10 grandchildren are a real blessing to us! They attended Millar College of the Bible in Pambrun, Saskatchewan, which is much closer to home than Grace. While none of them are in ministry as a career, they are active in church leadership and ministry. Mike and Joel have been tending to our home and financial affairs during the 10 months that we’ve been gone.

Even before graduation from Grace, we headed to Montana to work with the American Sunday School Union mission on the southeast Montana Field. We started in the tiny community of Brusett, pastoring the Blackfoot Sunday school and working part time for local ranchers. After 2.5 years, ASSU asked us to relocate to Wolf Point, taking on the Northeast Montana Field. Since that’s where I grew up, we had an inroad with Native American people on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. As a matriarchal society, it was helpful that I had been classmates with some of the mothers and grandmothers of the children we have in Bible Club.

Before coming to the Mayo Clinic, we had six Bible Clubs on the reservation and one off the reservation. We also had Bible studies in Native American homes and a nursing home in a town 50 miles away. Every other Sunday, we had two little house-churches in ranching country—one was 150 miles from home and the other 100 miles. Vacation Bible Schools and camp (Beacon Bible Camp) kept us busy in the summer. During our nearly 40 years of ministry, the name of our mission has changed from American Sunday School Union to American Missionary Fellowship, and is currently known as InFaith.

Arlen’s first indication of health problems came in January 2012 with shortness of breath, but it wasn’t diagnosed as heart problems until August that year. Soon after, a doctor told us that the only hope for his severely damaged heart was transplant. We went through Phase I and Phase II of the transplant evaluation at Mayo Clinic. In January 2013, we came to Rochester to get an LVAD, an external pump to assist his heart. Mid-surgery the doctor decided that Arlen needed a total artificial heart instead. The LVAD kept him alive and functioning quite well until August 16 when he got a heart transplant.

There have been some “bumps in the road”, like bleeding ulcers and a perforated ulcer, but Arlen is now out of the hospital and slowly improving. The Lord has given us opportunities to minister to people in the hospital, especially other people needing transplants. Now we are living at the Gift of Life Transplant House, so there are lots of people to share with on a regular basis. This has been a time of growing closer to the Lord and to each other, as well as getting an increased passion for the lost around us.

Arlen loves to garden, cut firewood and hunt, and Marilyn enjoys baking (lots of cookies for Bible clubs), reading and sewing, especially piecing quilts. Some day we would like to travel to the Grand Canyon and back to Alaska. Our missionary internship was at Juneau, Alaska, with Gospel Missionary Union.

We appreciate the honor being given to us by Grace University, but the honor really goes to our Good Shepherd, who has led us and often carried us through the dark valleys. We appreciate the education we received at Grace Bible Institute, and pray that the same Christian principles will be upheld by Grace University until the coming of our Lord.

Love in Christ,
Arlen & Marilyn Hilkemann

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Introducing the Vice President of Advancement

Introducing the Vice President of Advancement

Posted on 18 November 2013 by editor


My name is Meredith Seaman, CFRE, and I am the new Vice President of Advancement at Grace University. In this role, I will be helping to move the Grace mission forward in all ways, and in particular by raising funds to help Grace grow and thrive. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this institution—at this time of vision and growth. I believe that God is pouring out His blessing and preparing us for more. As you already know, traditional undergraduate enrollment was up 56% over last year. We have also doubled our graduate degree programs and opened a new facility for the College of Graduate Studies. We launched two new academic majors, a pre-law program and added two athletic programs—baseball, and women’s soccer. It’s an exciting time of growth for Grace University and we give God the glory.

Our blessings have also served to present us with interesting opportunities and challenges such as needing dorm space, beds, mattresses, and increased resource consumption that accompanies growing numbers. We will be launching our Campus Master Plan ahead of schedule to accommodate our current needs. But we also know that the Lord will bring what we need to further His kingdom and shepherd His children. He is faithful!

I am hoping to get a chance to know many of you and will be reaching out to do just that. I would love to hear your experience at Grace University and am available any time to listen, talk or answer your questions about our current initiatives. In the meantime, I would ask you to remember the benefit of your Grace years. Please remember that a year-end gift to Grace helps us provide our best for those students called to Grace, now and in the near future. May God pour out His abundant blessings on you and yours during this Holy season.

Warm regards,
Meredith Seaman, CFRE

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Festival of Christmas

Festival of Christmas

Posted on 18 November 2013 by editor

Silent Night at the Joslyn

Join us for a fantastic night of food and music at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum as you raise money for student scholarships.

During the Festival of Christmas scholarship concert you will enjoy music of the Grace University Chorale,  Concert Band, Women’s Choir, Chamber Singers and Instrumental Ensembles with the special guest, Millard South High School Choir.

Click here to learn more or reserve tickets.

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Ellis Kasten, ’64

Posted on 13 November 2013 by vunruh

Ellis Kasten, 74, of Kamsloop, British Columbia formerly of Nebraska, died Saturday, October 12, 2013 after a six month battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his passing.

Ellis was born on March 14, 1939 to Carl and Elsie Kasten and grew up near McCook, NE. Ellis was the oldest of three children. He graduated from the 8th grade at Evergreen School. He went to McCook Junior High in McCook. The last three years of high school were in Central Christian High School in Hutchinson, Kansas where he graduated.

He spent one year at the University of Nebraska and one semester at McCook Junior College. Then he went to Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, where he met Dottie. They were married on August, 28, 1964. After their marriage, Ellis and Dottie attended Missionary Internship in Michigan and served as youth workers at Grove Bible Church. Upon completion, they returned to Nebraska where Ellis was pastor for his home church for two years. While they were there, their son, Timothy, was born.

In 1967 the family moved to Alaska to begin their missionary work with InterAct Ministries. They spent four years in Ruby and Tanana along the Yukon River. Then they moved to Cantwell, next to beautiful Mt. McKinley National Park. While in Alaska, three daughters were born to Ellis and Dottie, Sharon, Teresa and Jolene.

Not only did Ellis serve as Pastor in the Native churches in each of these three villages, he was also involved in running a small Christian Book Store, being an assistant post master, on call bus driver, sitting on the school board, and directing Christian day camps for the children in the summers.

In 1981, the family moved to Slave Lake, Alberta, where he was involved in discipleship of young believers and sending out Bible correspondence lessons across Canada. In 1985, they moved to Quesnel, British Columbia; where Ellis continued with his correspondence ministry as well as teaching at the Native Bible Center. In 1987, the Native Bible Center moved to Kamloops and the Kasten family followed. Then in 1991, they moved to Grande Prairie Alberta where Ellis was pastor for the Native Bible Fellowship for 14 years. After the Fellowship had called thier own pastor, Ellis and Dottie moved back to Kamloops, where he continued to serve in the Native Fellowship part time until he became too ill.

He is survived by his wife, Dottie Kasten of Kamloops, BC, children, Tim (Debbie) Kasten of Kamloops, BC; Sharon (Doug) Scramstad of Port Coquitlum, BC; Teresa (Andre) Fuellbrandt of Smithers, BC; and Jolene Morris of Grande Prairie AB; and 11 grandchildren; his mother, Elsie Kasten, a sister Dorothy (Harold) Cook of Central City, NE, a nephew Joel (Tracy) Cook and son Darius, and niece Jody (Tom) Ritta. He was preceded in death by his brother; Ronald Wayne and his father Carl Fredrick.


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Lora Roth

Lora Lucile Roth, ’65

Posted on 11 November 2013 by vunruh

Lora Lucile Roth, 71, passed away on October 16, 2013 at her home in rural Gridley, IL.  She?was born on January 21, 1942 in North Platte, NE to Dan Connell and Lena Fay (Paxton) Connell.
Lora grew up on a ranch in rural Stapleton, NE.  She graduated from Thomas County High School in Thedford, NE in 1959.  After high school, she attended college at Grace Bible Institute?in Omaha, NE where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education.  While her brothers were serving in the military, she began working for her father as a ranch hand prior to moving to Illinois in 1968 to work at the Salem Children’s Home.  She spent 20 years raising her 5 kids before returning to work as a teacher’s aide at Salem School and Flanagan School.
Lora married Darrell W. Roth in 1973 in Gridley, IL. They were happily married for 40 years. She was a member of Salem Church where she was involved in many ministries including teaching girls club and children’s church.  She enjoyed sewing, crocheting, gardening, and helping Darrell on the farm.  She was also dedicated to giving blood and was able to donate 9 gallons during her life time.
Lora was preceded in death by her parents, Dan and Fay Connell; sister, Colleen Miller; brother-in-law, Larry Smith; sister-in-law, Carol Connell; and sister-in-law, Phyllis Connell.
Lora is survived by her husband, Darrell Roth of Gridley, IL; her five children: Bill (Becky) Roth of Gridley, IL; Reggie (Melinda) Roth of Gridley, IL; Lori (Joe) Alstat of Greenville, IL; Dustin (Jamie) Roth of Eureka, IL; and Marty (Julie) Roth of Morton, IL.  She is survived by her thirteen grandchildren: Tyler, Alyie and Audrey Roth (Bill); Jude and Makenna Roth (Reggie); Hudson, Cohen and Teague Alstat (Lori); Natali, Connell and Lilian Roth (Dustin); Benjamin and Ellie Roth (Marty).  She is also survived by her 3 brothers and 4 sisters: Dan (Geneva) Connell of Tryon, NE; Barbara (Charles) Patterson of Callaway, NE; Carolyn (Eldon) Pritzel of Englewood, CO; Sam Connell of Tryon, NE; Mike (Tina) Connell of Stapleton, NE; Wilma (Al) Barkman of Lingle, WY; and Wanda Wilkins of Drexel, MO.

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God of Grace Recorded by Alumni

Posted on 06 November 2013 by vunruh

An ensemble of alumni record God of Grace under the direction Dr. Greg Zielke.  Click this link to watch best writing paper the video.

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Rose Johnson Photo.docx

Rose Marie (DiStefano) Johnson, ’50

Posted on 06 November 2013 by vunruh

Rose Marie (DiStefano) Johnson, 80 years of age of Lamoni, Iowa, the daughter of Dr. Carmello and Mary (Favara) DiStefano, was born December 5, 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska.  She died at Unity Point Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa October 1, 2013.

Rose grew up in Omaha and graduated from South High School in 1950.  After that she studied music at Grace Bible Institute.  During the Spring of 1953, Rose met a very handsome Roy Johnson at Grace Baptist Church during choir.  They were wed on August 8, 1953.  Rose and Roy enjoyed bowling and spending time with all their friends including Rose’s Aunt Lucille and Fred Gibilisco.

Rose and Roy lived and began raising their four children, Robert, Rebecca, Rochelle, and Rich, in Omaha.  In 1980 Roy changed jobs and the family moved to Lamoni.  Rose worked at the Graceland College bookstore until her retirement in 1996.  She then started helping out in her husband’s business, Havens – Johnson Plumbing and Heating.

She was preceded in death by her parents.  Those surviving are her husband, Roy of Lamoni; children, Rob Johnson and wife TC of Lamoni, Becky Shields and husband Willard of Creston, Iowa, Rochelle Newberry and husband Mike of Pleasanton, Iowa, and Rich Johnson and wife Gretel of Hideaway, Texas;  grandchildren, Laporcha,  Jeremiah, Kristina, Nicholas, Alec, Heylee, Isaac, Courtney, Brandi, Isabella, and Chloe; one great granddaughter on the way; brothers, Richard DiStefano and wife Joyce of Spokane, Washington and David DiStefano of Las Vegas, Nevada; nieces and nephews; and other relatives and friends.

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Matilda Ekeland

Matilda (Tillie) Ekeland, ’51

Posted on 05 November 2013 by vunruh

Matilda (Tillie) Ekeland, 83, died on September 24, 2013 at the Newton Medical Center in Newton, KS.  She was born on September 13, 1930 to Katie(Koehn) and Cornelius B. Unruh in Enid, OK. On September 9, 1956 she married Joseph (Joe) Ekeland in Wichita, KS. He died on April 4, 1986.

Tillie graduated from Grace Bible Institute and also earned her Registered Nurse degree. She worked in the medical field training at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, until her and Joe started a family. Tillie then stayed home to raise their three children, Mark, Marcia and Brian.

Tillie held a membership with Grace Community Church. She spent many years volunteering for the Source of Light in Newton, KS. She enjoyed writing , and had several publications within the Source of Light literature. When Tillie moved to Newton on July 4, 1997 she stayed active with leading ladies ministries as well as teaching ladies Bible study groups.

Tillie was preceded in death by her parents and her spouse, Joe; siblings, Deena Koehn, Mary Koehn, Lena Koehn, Lizzy Becker, Mabel Kauffman and Dan Unruh.

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Robert Kokoruda

Robert J. Kokoruda, ’79

Posted on 05 November 2013 by vunruh

Robert (Bob) Kokoruda passed away on September 15, 2013.  He was born in Helena, MT to Mike and Ruth Kokoruda on December 10, 1938. As a young child, Bob and his brother were put into a Catholic Orphanage until his mom later remarried and his step-father took them in.

In 1956 he graduated from high school and immediately enlisted into the USAF where he served for eight years until being honorably discharged in 1964. During that time he traveled to both coasts of the U.S. and went overseas to Africa.

In 1962 he married Anna G. Clark in Loveland, CO. Shortly after, they were stationed at Wright Patterson Air force Base in Ohio where their first bundle of joy, James Alvin, was born in 1963.  After being discharged they moved to Loveland and then Fort Collins, CO where Bob worked for All Appliance Service as a repairman.  In 1967 they moved to LaSalle, Colorado and in 1970 Rick(y) Alan was born.

In 1972 Bob became a Christian. In 1977 Bob accepted his calling into ministry and packed the family up and moved to Sioux Falls, SD to attend college. In 1979 they moved to Omaha, NE to continue his education at Grace College of Bible and received his Bachelors Degree. He then became ordained and preached at Bethel Baptist Church in Valley, NE.

Bob enjoyed many opportunities to minister in the years following. Included in this time he worked at Open Door Mission from 1979-1987 as a Saturday speaker, then Chaplain and finally, Mission Director. In 1987 Bob and Anna moved to western Nebraska where Bob took on dual pastoral duties at Bethel Baptist Church and Evergreen Union Church, while also ministering at various care facilities and camp programs. In 1990 they moved to Longmont, CO to pursue master and doctorate degrees in Biblical Theology.  While there he participated in pulpit supply, teaching Bible studies and singing.

In 2000 they moved to St. Peter, MN to be closer to their children. In 2003 they moved to Nicollet, MN. While in Nicollet, they attended Grace Baptist Church in Mankato.  Bob retired in 2008 from Creation Inc. while continuing to serve in various aspects of ministry. Until finally, after a two year battle with cancer, he receive his final reward, to sit at the feet of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Tidings 2017