1994 Culture for Service Awards
Goshen College Bulletin, September 1994
The alumni board has selected three alumni from several dozen nominations to receive the Culture for Service Award. They are Edgar Lin ’67 of Taiwan, Emma Sommers Richards ’49 and Peter Wiebe ’49. The awards are presented annually to recognize alumni whose lives embody the Goshen College motto: Culture for Service.
Edgar Lin, Taichung, Taiwan, is a 1967 graduate with a major in biology. He came to Goshen after learning to know the late professor S.A. Yoder, who taught in Taiwan during a sabbatical. After leaving Goshen, Edgar earned his MA and Ph.D. degrees in ecology from Indiana University. Between the two degrees, he and Kathy Yoder ’68 taught under the Teachers Abroad Program in Kenya. In 1975 they returned to Taiwan where they have lived since.
Edgar teaches in the sociology department of Tunghai University. In addition, he has been active in speaking and writing on environmental issues that has resulted in his involvement in politics. A member of the Taiwan opposition Democratic Progressive Party, he was an elected member of the National Assembly. During his term of office he actively promoted peace and justice issues.
He serves as president of the Anti-Nuclear Coalition for Taiwan and contributes to the publication, Nuclear Report from Taiwan. He is widely published and serves on numerous boards and professional organizations. He and Kathy are active in the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. They are parents of two college-age children.
Emma Sommers Richards received her degree in biblical studies and went on to receive a master’s in education and later a Th.B. from Goshen Biblical Seminary before pursuing graduate studies at Northern Illinois University. She taught at Bluffton College and at Greentown High School before responding to a call to participate in overseas missions.
She and Joe were asked by the Mennonite Board of Missions go to Japan where they lived in Hambetsu and Sapparo from 1954 to 1966 doing evangelism and teaching English. Upon their return to the States, they served as team ministers at the First Presbyterian Church in Middletown, Ohio. Joe was invited to pastor the Lombard (Ill.) Mennonite Church and in 1972 Emma was asked to co-pastor with Joe. She was ordained the next year, becoming one of the first women pastors in a North American Mennonite Church. Much of the time they served as co-pastors they were also employed full-time in elementary education.
Emma has been recognized especially for her teaching style within the congregation and for her biblically-based sermons. In their years of pastoral leadership, at least 13 people from the congregation eventually pursued careers in full-time ministry.
Since her retirement from the pastorate in 1991, she has completed an assignment as president of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. She and Joe are now the conference ministers for Illinois. The couple has three children, Evan ’76, Kathy ’77 and Lois ’79, and nine grandchildren.
Peter Wiebe came to Goshen via Plum Coulee, Manitoba, graduated with a BA in 1949, then went on to graduate from Goshen Biblical Seminary in 1952. He is married to Rheta Mae Hostetler ’49.
His pastoral ministry spans more than 40 years during which he served as pastor at these Mennonite churches: Yellow Creek (eight years), Hesston (13 years), Oak Grove (12 years), and Trinity (since 1984).
He has long held a strong interest in Mennonite higher education and has been a board member and advocate for church colleges and seminaries. In the early 1980s, he conducted a study that showed the close connection between attendance at a Mennonite college and later participation in a Mennonite church. He found that a remarkable percentage of people who attended college remained active in the Mennonite Church and in the larger Christian church.
His commitment to higher education extends to his own family as he and Rheta Mae saw all of their children attend Mennonite schools – high school, college and seminary. He was recently honored by the Trinity Mennonite Church for 10 years of pastoral leadership in that congregation.