1992 Culture for Service Awards

Goshen College Bulletin, September 1992

The Alumni Board has named four alumni to receive the Culture For Service Award at the Oct. 3 Alumni Banquet. The four recipients are Minnie Swartzendruber Graber ’44, Paulos Mar Gregorios ’52 (Paul Verghese), Irene Lehman Weaver ’32  and David E. Yoder ’54.

The awards, begun four years ago, were created to recognize alumni whose lives and achievements represent outstanding examples of the college motto, “Culture for Service.”

Minnie Swartzendruber Graber ‘44 is known for her deep devotion to the church, which was often channeled through work with women. Early in her 17 years as a missionary in India (1925- 52), with her husband the late J.D.  Graber, she proposed opening the annual meeting of mission women to women from the Indian Mennonite congregations. Minnie, with her excellent Hindi and loving spirit, participated in that historic first meeting, which took place under a large kussum tree at Balodgahan. An organization similar to WMSC in North America emerged and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It has been a constant source of stability and strength in the life of the church.

Minnie engaged in evangelism in the villages, taught in the high school, mastered Indian cuisine and shared the couple’s home with a stream of guests. There were difficult days in the development of the church, and a friend remembers that she never worked with anyone as loving as Minnie.

Returning to Elkhart in 1942 when J. D. was called to be Secretary of the Mennonite Board of Missions, Minnie remained active in the church. She helped establish sessions for women in the Indiana-Michigan Conference meetings. From 1950 to 1959 she was president of church-wide Women’s Missionary and Service Commission.  Under her leadership WMSC made the transition from being a wing of the Mission Board to independent but cooperating status. She also traveled widely in the church.

Retiring to Greencroft, Goshen, in 1977 Minnie continues her role as hostess and carries on a voluminous correspondence supporting the two central concerns of her life, world-wide missions and womens’ place in the church.

Minnie and J.D. had two children, Ronald and Eleanor (Mrs. Alan) Kreider, and there are now seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.  The joy of Minnie’s later years is to see her children and grandchildren find their places in service to Christ and Church.

Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, (Paul Verghese ’52) is Metropolitan of Delhi, the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East. From his base in India he has ranged the globe, giving distinguished service to the church.

Among his many honors and awards are the Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Service and Inspired Leadership of the World Church and The Distinguished Leadership Award for Extraordinary Service to Peace and Unity.

Principal of the Orthodox Seminary, Kattayam, India, Paulos has served eight years as president of World Council of Churches and has held dozens of other lectureships and committee and academic appointments.

Paulos earned an M.Div. from Princeton, the S.T.M. from Yale and the D.Th. from Serampore. He received honorary doctorates from Budapest, Leningrad and Prague.

A prolific writer, he has to his credit hundreds of periodical, symposia and encyclopedia articles and at least 14 books, including the recent: Science for Sane Societies, 1988, The Meaning of Diaconia, 1988, Enlightenment - East and West, 1989, Too Bright a Light, 1991. He writes from a unique vantage point as inheritor of three traditions: the cultural-spiritual heritage of India; the religious-spiritual heritage of Eastern Christianity; and the conceptual formation of Western Civilization.

Being born in India and growing up there until age 18 led Irene Lehman Weaver ’32 naturally to an international, transcultural life. She graduated from Goshen in 1932, with majors in biology and home economics, studied one year at New York Biblical Seminary and later completed a pastoral care term at Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem.

From 1933 to 1976, Irene and husband Edwin (deceased) served the church as missionaries in diverse cultures – two years in Chicago, 21 years in India and 20 years in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. She had full appointments in her own right under Mennonite Board of Missions and was able to leave her own distinct impressions, as well as supporting her husband’s efforts.

In all of these settings Irene was a Bible teacher and had a leading role in work with women. Her sensitivity and appreciation for local cultures heightened her effectiveness. Working among the independent churches of Africa, Irene earned the love and trust of the people. Irene has shared the fruits of her rigorous devotional life with her family and others. She continues to be in demand as an inspirational speaker.

With Edwin, Irene wrote two books and a collection of letters about their experience in Africa, The Uyo Story, Kuku Hill and Letters From South Africa.

Irene and Edwin were married in 1933 and became the parents of three children, Carolyn Esch (Mrs. Victor), Elizabeth Shima (deceased) and Jerold.  She is “nani” to 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, to whom she keeps close.

Retiring to Schowalter Villa, Hesston, Kan., in 1979, Irene is a special and beloved neighbor to her fellow residents, carrying out a voluntary visitation ministry and singing in the Villa Trio. She lives in gratitude for God’s leading in her pilgrimage.

David E. Yoder ’54 is chair of the Department of Allied Medical Health Professions, School of Medicine, the University of North Carolina. He leads 70 professionals in seven fields. He is also a professor of speech and hearing disorders and director of the Carolina Literacy Center.

Since 1956 David has devoted himself to helping children with cognitive, motor and severe speech impairments.  He excels as clinician, teacher, researcher, consultant, writer, seminar or workshop leader and administrator.

David took master’s and doctoral degrees in speech pathology-audiology at Northwestern University in 1955 and the University of Kansas in 1965. He is in demand internationally for seminars and workshops, having conducted more than 500 nationwide and in Europe, Japan, Taiwan and the Soviet Union.

David was founder and first president of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Association and is a past president of the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association.

He is co-editor of five books, including Decision Making in Speech Language Pathology and Handbook of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.  His research includes studies of language comprehension of mentally- retarded children and communication skills for deaf-blind children from birth to five years old.

David’s colleagues admire him not only for his work but also for his warmth and wit, describing him as truly a giant in his field.

Married to Delores Stump ’54, they have two children, Lisa Yoder Hofstede and Eric and two grandchildren. David and Dee have been active in the Presbyterian Church wherever they have lived.

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