President’s Letter: ‘More Blessed To Give’

January 13th, 2016

Loren Swartzendruber '76, MDiv '79 DMin and his wife, Pat.

Loren Swartzendruber ’76, MDiv ’79 DMin and his wife, Pat.

This issue, acknowledging and thanking our supporters for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, also features several donor profiles. Their stories of beneficence often began and ended with themselves: they had received great gifts in the course of their life and felt strongly about passing that gift that had so shaped and transformed them onward: To whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48)—and paraphrased versions thereof—were quoted by more than one donor.

Many of the 17 donors profiled in this issue shared that their first memories of giv­ing were of their parents opening their homes to strangers, helping various charitable causes through their businesses, or accepting in-kind gifts when a customer was too poor to pay for services.

But most remembered, at an early age, watching their parents tithe and sharing in that duty through either coins or portions of an allowance, often handed over in ceremonial ways according to one’s age: and in those memorable ways, being taught about growing in relationship to Christ through the simple—and often, small—act of giving the Sunday School offering (the “little tin world globe bank” was mentioned by more than one person!).

Les Horning ’86, MDiv ’98, associate director of seminary development, shared the lyrics of the tune he remembers singing to accompany the donation: “Dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping … hear the pennies fall! Every one for Jesus, he will get them all!”

Time, too, was expressed as a valuable contribution: “Our parents and grandpar­ents showed us even when you can’t contribute financially, volunteering to help others should be a priority,” says Jessica Stouff ’03 Moyer. Glenna Ramer ’77, who counts nine family members as EMU alumni including son Aaron Sloan ’13, observed gifts of time and service: family members worked near and far in voluntary service, participated in local disaster relief efforts, or welcomed strangers or acquian­tances in hospitable ways into home, community and church.

While some donors we contacted graciously opted not to be included, those who chose to share their stories often did so for the same reason that people endow scholarships or make memorial tributes: their giving is inextricably tied to those who taught them to give and those they hope to honor by passing on their gifts.

On behalf of our students at EMU, thanks so much to everyone who contributes to the vital mission of this institution!