“The very best thing about working at EMU is the people with whom I’ve worked,” says Linda Alley, who concludes 27 years of service with Eastern Mennonite University in June. Alley is moving on from three positions, all at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. (Photo by Jon Styer)

Celebrating Service: Linda Alley plans to move ‘more fully’ into callings as spiritual director, retreat leader and writer

This year, several Eastern Mennonite University faculty and staff, among them Linda Lefever Alley, are moving into retirement after many years of service. To acknowledge their service and deep commitment to our community, we’ve offered the opportunity for them to share favorite memories of their time here, as well as advice for those of us still laboring onwards.

We’re delighted that Linda will be our first feature.

Please stay tuned as we continue to feature retiring faculty (at least those were responsive to our idea) in the coming weeks. A complete list of 2016 retirees concludes each article.

The comment box is open below for readers who wish to share greetings and memories with Linda, who can also be reached at alleyl@emu.edu or (540) 432-4698.


“The very best thing about working at EMU is the people with whom I’ve worked,” says Linda Alley, who concludes 27 years of service with EMU in June. “Some have mentored me; some have called me mentor. Some have taught me important life lessons or listened/laughed with me. It is always a good day when I meet a former co-worker as I’m out and about; those connections are a precious part of my life.”

Linda juggles three different positions at Eastern Mennonite Seminary (EMS), where she is currently administrative assistant for events, director of the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation, and director of the Congregational Resource Center.

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Linda Alley greets participants in the School for Leadership Training. (Photo by Michael Sheeler)

Ordained with the Church of the Brethren in 2010, Linda says her goal “in the next season of my life is to live more fully into the calling to be a spiritual director, retreat leader, and inspirational writer.”

She plans to visit EMS four-five days a month to meet with “ongoing and new spiritual directees,” as well as offer hospitality at her home, named Tranquility, which was built as a retreat space.

In September 2016, she will go on a pilgrimage in Galway, Ireland; the event, which includes walking and discernment with 12 others, is called “The Soul’s Slow Ripening.”

Linda has worked in a variety of EMU positions, beginning as an undergraduate work-study student with fellow student (and also retiring president) Loren Swartzendruber. She worked in the financial aid office after graduation for one year, then married Pastor Robert Alley. In the following years, Linda raised three children while living in West Virginia and Pennsylvania; “home engineer” was her title during this phase of life, she jokes.

Linda returned to EMU in 1991 to positions in the registrar’s office and student life, before joining the seminary staff in 2005.

Favorite memories at EMU (in her own words)

  •  Fall faculty/staff conferences have often renewed my energy and motivation for working in this place, especially through the worship and singing.
  • One year during a break, administrators and staff were invited to choose a task and participate in a campus workday together. Some planted trees in the new Commons parking lot area; I planted bulbs in Park Woods. A fun day where we ate, worked, and learned to know each other on a different level. Good community building time.
  • The first Christmas holiday, when EMU gave extra vacation days instead of an increase in wages. That 10 days (counting weekends) was so popular that they never went back! It is one of the many great perks of working here. I treasure the time with my family every year, a true vacation because nobody else is at the office either.

Some life lessons (also in her own words)

  •  No decision you make today is final, so don’t get uptight about making it. Life changes and you will change with it. Sometimes you will need to stop and evaluate to see if your choices still work or if God has a different call for you.
  • People are more important than things, titles or firmly-held beliefs. You will be remembered forever by the way you treat those around you. Love and grace endure.
  • Try to be fully present to the moment. You will miss extremely beautiful and important things if you just replay the tapes of the past or focus only on what is ahead. When you are truly present to the moment, you will find that God is present with you.

Other retiring faculty and staff

Also retiring are the following faculty and staff (position listed is most recent held): Professor Don Clymer, Department of Language and Literature, 17 years; Professor Spencer Cowles, Department of Business, 27 years; Jan Gerber, information officer, 23 years; Professor David Glanzer, Master’s in Counseling graduate program, 39 years; Professor Ted Grimsrud, Department of Bible and Religion, 20 years; Betty Hertzler, postal supervisor, 41 years; Eldon Kurtz, director of the physical plant, 28 years; Professor Roman Miller, Master’s in Biomedicine graduate program, 31 years; Jack Rutt, special projects support, 17 years; and Pamela Rutt, assistant director of the education graduate program at EMU Lancaster, 18 years.