Seminary Dean to Open ‘Writers Read’ Series

The language and literature department will hold its first “Writers Read” program of the new school year Thursday, Sept. 18.

Ervin R. Stutzman, seminary dean and professor of church ministries Ervin R. Stutzman, dean and professor of church ministries at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, will read from his works 5:30 p.m. that day in Martin Chapel of the seminary building at EMU.

Dr. Stutzman has written books that relate to his family of origin – Tobias of the Amish and Emma: A Widow Among the Amish.

Stutzman was born into an Amish home as a twin in Kalona, Iowa. After his father’s death in a traffic accident when Stutzman was 3, his mother moved her family to her home community in Hutchinson, Kan. He was baptized into the Center Amish Mennonite Church near Partridge, Kan. He later joined the Yoder Mennonite Church near Yoder, Kan.

Stutzman’s ten-year search to learn more about his entrepreneurial father revealed tangled strands of relationships, woven by Tobias J. Stutzman’s ambition through the fabric of family, church and community. It led to his writing a book, Tobias of the Amish, released by Herald Press of Scottdale, Pa., in 1995.

Stutzman notes that Tobias of the Amish is more than a book about his father – “It’s also the story of a family and faith community struggling with the challenges of a modern world.

“I hope that my story will encourage others to embark on the arduous but deeply-rewarding task of delving into their family lore,” Stutzman states. “Gazing into my father’s face has helped me to see my own.”

Emma, says Stutzman, picks up where Tobias left off.

The book, released by Herald Press in 2007, gives readers a close look at life in an Amish community, and how that society’s beliefs in the mid-20th century governed women.

“This book is about a young mother growing up alone with six children,” notes Stutzman, whose present family includes wife Bonnie and three adult children: daughter Emma and sons Daniel and Benjamin. “It’s also a story of a widow’s journey, from helplessness to independence. It’s a history and a story.”

Stutzman has three additional books published by Herald Press – Being God’s People (1986), Creating Communities of the Kingdom, co-authored with David W. Shenk (1988) and Welcome (1990).

Stutzman earned a BA in Bible and Christian ministries from Cincinnati Bible College, an MA in communication arts from the University of Cincinnati, an MA in religion from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and a PhD in communication from Temple University.

Admission to the program, which includes dinner, is $15, $7 for students. Reservations are required and should be made by noon Friday, Sept. 12, by calling the language and literature department at 540-432-4168 or email:

A season pass for all four Writers Read programs of the 2008-09 school year is available for $50.