For Harriet Lapp Burkholder ’37, daughter of Mennonite missionaries from Pennsylvania, life is a collage of growing up in India with a British education that emphasized the classics, coming to Goshen College, marrying an educator, mothering four children and living in China, then Massachusetts before settling in Goshen. Her early years in India gave her a vision for her life work. After receiving a Bible degree from Goshen College in 1937, she became the first Mennonite woman in North America to receive a bachelor of theology degree. Following that she took an assignment with the Chicago Home Mission under the Mennonite Mission Board. Her father thought she ought to get her masters’ degree in theology, but she married J. Lawrence Burkholder instead and began a career as Christian educator, community worker, wife and mother.
Her years with a young family were not routine. In 1944, with two small children she stayed in Goshen while Lawrence went to India and China with Mennonite Central Committee. The family joined him two years later in Shanghai.
In China the Burkholder household was the center for MCC activity and as hostess, Harriet seldom had fewer than 11 people for meals. During their stay, she taught English at Soochow University Law School. The Burkholder family, including now their three-month old baby, left China at the end of 1948 as the Communists were taking power. A fourth child was born later.
Harriet was a charter member of the Arlington (Mass.) Citizens for Peace, an educational, fund-raising group active in peace efforts during the Vietnam War and a member of the Goshen parents’ council. She has frequently spoken about China or peace-related subjects and served as a resource person for women’s retreats. She was one of the earliest members of the planning committee of the highly successful Afternoon Sabbatical Program, which was begun to bring community women to campus.
Harriet’s life as a Sunday school teacher, peace activist, international relations spokesperson, volunteer, wife of a pastor-turned-professor-turned-college president, mother and grandmother was a path chosen with a sense of God’s calling. Her life is a model of direct and supportive service.
J. Lawrence Burkholder ’39 grew up in Pennsylvania, the son of a professor at Shippensburg State College. He graduated from Goshen College in 1939 with a degree in history and Bible. He was active as a class officer and a member of the basketball and baseball teams, a cappella chorus, publications staff and other organizations.
He received the bachelor of divinity degree from Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1942, the master of theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1951 and the doctor of theology degree summa cum laude from Princeton in 1958. His teaching career at Goshen College spans the years 1949-84 with a 100year hiatus at Harvard University Divinity School. While in Massachusetts, he and Harriet were instrumental in starting the Boston Mennonite Fellowship, which he pastored.
Although he has dedicated his life to education, his experiences go beyond one field. After serving two years as pastor of the Croghan (N.Y.) Mennonite Church, he volunteered to work with refugees under Mennonite Central Committee. A one-year assignment in India led to three more years in China. There he directed activities of the National Clearing Committee (UNRRA) and flew supplies over the Himalayas to Chinese refugees.
This experience led to his passion for flying, a passion he still indulges. On a clear day he can be found soaring over Elkhart County in his ultralight plane.
When he’ became president of Goshen College in 1971, his own strengths – integrity, honesty, international perspective, scholarship, joy in learning and vision – added to the character of the college. One of his colleagues said he brought two significant academic contributions: extraordinary teaching ability and articulate advocacy for Christian liberal-arts education.
He arranged a teacher’s exchange with the People’s Republic of China, the first such exchange program in the United States. An expansion of the Study-Service Term, the program brings Chinese professors to Goshen College in exchange for a group of Goshen students going to teach English to scholars in China. In addition, he helped organized “The Uncommon Cause,” a much needed deferred gifts campaign to enlarge the endowment of the college. The campaign raised $20 million in gifts and pledges and estate commitments to Goshen’s endowment.
Lois Yake Kenagy ’47 is known for her energy and enthusiasm, vision and good sense. Whether as a board member, idea generator, coalition starter or friend, her thoughtful insights and candor make her a valued contributor at all levels.
Lois graduated from Goshen College in 1944, and then went to Europe with Mennonite Central Committee to help with refugee assistance following World War II. Upon her return to the States, she married Clif Kenagy of Corvallis, Ore., and became an Oregon farm wife.
While parenting their four children, Lois remained actively involved with her local congregation and the larger Mennonite Church. Through the years she served on the Mennonite Board of Education, the Goshen College Board of Overseers and the Goshen College Alumni Board.
She helped establish Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs in two Oregon communities, participated at the regional level and on the national governing board of New Call to Peacemaking and on the peace-and justice committee of her congregation and denomination.
After the 1987 death of their youngest child Eric in a car-bike accident, Lois and Clif established the Eric Yake Kenagy Visiting Artist Lecture at Goshen College.
In March 1990, she received the John Woolman Peace Award from the George Fox College Center for Peace Learning, Newburg, Ore. Her devotion to the church, to earthkeeping and to the causes of peace and justice are ample reasons to bestow the Culture for Service Award to Lois Kenagy.