Kaitlin Heatwole, a 2011 peacebuilding and development graduate and office coordinator in applied social sciences at EMU and Nathan Hershberger, a 2012 philosophy and theology graduate, won the Anabaptist research paper competition sponsored by the Sider Institute at Messiah College. Photo by Jon Styer.

Couple Competes Separately, Wins Together

What do you do with old research papers? If you are Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) graduates Kaitlin Heatwole and Nathan Hershberger, you submit it to a competition and win $500 each.

Heatwole and Hershberger tied for top honors in the Anabaptist research paper contest, sponsored by the Sider Institute at Messiah College. The institute awarded Heatwole and Hershberger first place without knowing one small detail about the duo.

“They didn’t realize we were married until after they had announced the winners,” said Heatwole, who tied the knot with Hershberger in August 2010.

In awarding the couple a first-place tie, the committee stated in its award letter, “We decided to do something that we think has never been done before and may never be done again – award two first-place prizes to two individuals for two very fine papers.”

Heatwole graduated in 2011 with a degree in peacebuilding and development and now serves as office coordinator in applied social sciences. Her paper, “The Changing Relationship Between Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Anabaptism,” allowed her to focus on Anabaptist institutions and “how they negotiate both the social justice and theological motivations for their work.”

I’m drawn to the motivations and methods for development and how they change over time,” said Heatwole. “I examined how MCC’s relationship to the Anabaptist principles has changed over time and highlight similarities in this shift to broader sociological trends of development.”

Hershberger, who graduated from EMU in May 2012 with a degree in history and philosophy and theology, wrote his paper, “J. Denny Weaver, the Creeds, and Scripture: Thoughts on the Orientation of Anabaptism and Approaches to Theology,” on the differences between Weaver’s approach to scripture and theology and some contemporary approaches.

Hershberger said he wrote his paper in the fall of 2011 for his contemporary theology class.

“I spent a lot of time on atonement theology – thinking about the meaning of Christ’s death – and in particular J. Denny Weaver’s approach to that question, summed up in the book (and phrase) ‘The Nonviolent Atonement.'”

Heatwole and Hershberger heard about the contest through a friend and plan to use their combined winnings to buy a new laptop.

“Whatever is left over will go toward rent and groceries,” said Heatwole.

The Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan Studies facilitates the exploration and interpretation of the three theological traditions that have shaped the “personality” of Messiah College’s founding denomination, the Brethren in Christ Church.