Centennial class graduates

Kayci Detweiler of Kokomo, Ind., receives her Hesston College diploma from President Howard Keim at the college’s centennial commencement.

The 137 members of Hesston College’s 100th graduating class walked the stage on May 9, 2010, in a 9 a.m. service at Yost Center, and were addressed by faculty/staff “polar opposites” Tony Brown and Dustin Galyon on the topic “We must be the change.” Brown, who is a social science faculty member and artist-in-residence, described himself as “introverted, quiet, drawn to the mystical and contemplative, African American, sometimes reluctant and cautious and at times find it difficult to trust.” He wondered how much time it would take to bring together a collaborative commencement address with Dustin Galyon, the extroverted public speaker who is Hesston’s associate director of Admissions and men’s basketball coach.

“Despite my initial impulse to question, I am honored to have had the privilege of working with Dustin,” Brown said. “Crafting this address collaboratively in a give and take fashion was a metaphor for what is needed as we look ahead to life in the 21st century.”

“I understand now that this exercise was an important lesson in realizing the importance of interdependence,” Galyon said. “The seductive pull towards individualism is an ongoing challenge for most U.S. citizens. What is imperative now is that we must find the way to be in relationship with each other and to be changed by each other.”

Angela Bishop, in her student address, picked up on the relationships theme as well, noting that the all-inviting community of Hesston College made her feel welcome when she arrived and shaped her into a “stronger, more confident person” during her two years there.

“This is the strength of Hesston College—valuing its students, making room for them and welcoming them to a Christ-centered community,” Brown continued in his address. “This is a place where educational and emotional growth occurs. It is a sacred place where we are on the journey to discover our calling and how we will be related to the world. This is a place where we all are challenged to live committed lives that make a difference.”

Galyon noted that through technology, people can have face to face connections with people all over the world, and classrooms have limitless boundaries, but “we must not lose sight of the importance of living in community where we meet and touch the souls of those where we live. The world needs us to be present, our families need us to be present, and our culture needs us to be present.

“We are living in a rather exciting time as an interest in Anabaptism is springing up all around the world,” he continued. “Anabaptism must stress the importance of Jesus as central in all we do. He is the reference point around which we center our lives…. The inclusive movement must embrace people of all walks of life, accent Christian discipleship, emphasize peace and justice consistent with the values of Jesus Christ, and serve a wounded and broken world…. We can live in exclusive communities or we can celebrate, invite and seek those who would join with us in living out the Anabaptist vision.”

“Though we must be informed by the past, we cannot allow the past to control the future,” Brown concluded. “What is clear and spoken so eloquently by Mahatma Gandhi is that for the sake of our future, ‘We must be the change we want to see in the world.’”

Travis Duerksen, student commencement speaker, encouraged graduates to embrace uncertainty. “The months of April and May start to bring the wonderful questions of relatives and friends: ‘Well what are you doing after this?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Where are you going?’ ‘How will you live?’ ‘Can you cook?’” Duerksen said. “But must we know exactly what will happen tomorrow? In a month? In the next decade?

“(I prefer to) trust in the one certainty that truly exists in this world, because when you look at it, all of the other ‘certain’ things that we plan on, plan around, and plan for, aren’t really certain at all.”

Quoting a phrase Melissa Roth, pastor of Mountain Community Mennonite Church (Palmer Lake, Colo.) shared with him; Duerksen said “Just walk through the doors that God opens for you.”

“I like it because it keeps that uncertainty, that excitement of not knowing exactly how everything will work out, just knowing that God is ahead of you…and all that is required on your part is that action of stepping through the door, and being okay with following for awhile, and not always leading, knowing everything, and planning about how stuff will work out. Because in the end, it’ll all work out.”

In other weekend events, the college’s Nursing department presented pins to the 45 members of the nursing class of 2010 Saturday morning, May 8. Bible faculty member Michele Hershberger returned from a sabbatical at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania, to address the class which includes her daughter, Erin. Hershberger spoke on the theme “Sleeping in the Boat” based on Mark 4:35-41.

Hesston’s Pastoral Ministries faculty commissioned five graduates at a Saturday afternoon ceremony. Pastor David Greiser of North Baltimore (Md.) Mennonite Church preached on the theme, “View from the front.” Greiser shared from his experiences of returning to the pastorate after serving for three and a half years as director of Hesston’s Pastoral Ministries program.

The college’s European Chorale presented a home concert Saturday afternoon before departing May 11 on a three-week tour that includes stops in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy. And sophomore Matt Lehman directed a production of Doubt, a one-act play.

Carol Duerksen is a 1974 graduate of Hesston College and a freelance writer from Goessel, Kansas.