Young Center Raises More Than $2 Million to Earn NEH Grant

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(Jan. 28, 2008) — The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has surpassed a $2 million fundraising goal to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) challenge grant of $500,000.

The NEH Challenge Grant–one of only 17 grants awarded nationwide in 2004–was designed to strengthen the Young Center’s program and scholarship and solidify its standing as the nation’s only research institute for Anabaptist and Pietist groups. As the NEH grant required a four-to-one match, the Young Center needed to raise $2 million by Jan. 31. The center recently surpassed that goal by more than $100,000.

The resulting $2.5 million endowment will create a faculty chair in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, enhance the Young Center’s Visiting Fellows Program, support research and teaching, and expand its collection of books and archival materials.

“The NEH challenge grant recognized the Young Center for its outstanding scholarship and programing on Anabaptist and Pietist groups,” said Elizabethtown College president Theodore Long. “By meeting that challenge, friends of the Young Center have expressed strong confidence in its work and have underwritten its expanding excellence. We are deeply grateful to have been honored with their support.”

Director of church relations at Elizabethtown, Allen T. Hansell, directed the NEH challenge campaign for the Young Center. “This wonderful effort has enabled me to relate to many individuals and groups with deep roots in Anabaptism and Pietism, including my own Church of the Brethren,” he said. “The high regard for the Young Center actually made an enormous challenge relatively easy to achieve.” He went on to thank those involved in the campaign and the donors, “for helping to make this a highly successful campaign.”

Donors will be recognized at a gala in April, which also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Young Center. The event will include a concert of hymnody of the Amish and Mennonite, Brethren, and Lutheran traditions, at 7 p.m. on April 5 in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. The concert is open to the public free of charge and will feature members of the Elizabethtown College Concert Choir, members of the College-Community Chorus, and musicians from the community. Music will include hymns central in the development of these faith traditions’ use of congregational singing. The ensemble will be directed by Matthew P. Fritz, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at the college.

A hymnody exhibit opens March 26 at the Young Center. The exhibit interprets some of the significant changes over time in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Lutheran hymn traditions, and illustrates how each tradition borrowed hymns from other traditions.

Statistics relevant to the fundraising effort:

  • 209 donors (86 percent are members of the Church of the Brethren)
  • 62 percent of donors live in Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts
  • 24 percent of donors are Brethren from beyond the the two districts, and most gave in memory of the late professor Donald Durnbaugh. The Durnbaugh Legacy Endowment, which became part of the NEH effort following his death, raised $377,000. Mrs. Hedwig T. Durnbaugh donated a large portion of professor Durnbaugh’s personal library of books and research papers to the Young Center.
  • 10 percent of donors were members of other Anabaptist and Pietist groups
  • 8 institutions (4 percent of the donors) contributed nearly $100,000.

–Mary Dolheimer is director of marketing and media relations for Elizabethtown College.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.