Eastern Mennonite University

Special 90th anniversary issue

What is this Place?

On Our 90th Anniversary...

"What is this place where we are meeting? Only a house, the earth its floor. Walls and roof sheltering people, windows for light an open door. Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near."

prayer book
Loren Swartzendruber, pictured on the cover of the 90th anniversary issue, holds the Hymnal: A Worship Book. Photo by Matt Styer.

These words, from "What Is This Place" – Hymn No. 1 in Hymnal: A Worship Book – are applicable to the walls, windows and doors of this learning institution over the last 90 years.

The 2,000-plus people who make up EMU's student body, staff and faculty are standing on the shoulders of thousands who came before them, who built this institution brick by brick – sometimes sacrificially donating money for construction and sometimes literally lifting girders for walls and nailing down sheltering roofs.

The stories in this issue are a reminder for "we in this place [to] remember and speak again of what we have heard."

The final words of the hymn capture the essence of what EMU's physical space provides: "This is the place where we can receive what we need to increase: God's justice and God's peace."

Be sure and note the six lessons on page 31, especially the parts about physical changes to the campus being necessary at every step of our 90-year history, about these being possible only thanks to donors, and about how all of this enables EMU to continue to prepare students to "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God."

In this issue you'll find articles on two music professors who each have devoted three decades to EMU – Kenneth J. Nafziger, music editor for Hymnal: A Worship Book, and John W. Fast, an exceptional organist.

Think back on your experiences with EMU – remembering how this place helped shape you, or perhaps one of your loved ones – and ask yourself, as we who work here ask ourselves, what can be done to maintain the tradition of "dreams, signs and wonders sent from the past."  

Here's one suggestion: schedule EMU's Homecoming and Family Weekend, held in mid-October each year, into your life. Check out the program this year and join alumni, faculty, staff, students, family and friends in celebrating EMU's 90th anniversary.


Loren Swartzendruber

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