Alumni Awards honor distinguished recipients Oct. 15
Every year, four awards are presented to deserving alumni and friends of the College. This year’s award recipients attended a brunch in Messiah’s private dining room Oct. 15 where they were formally recognized for their contributions and received their framed certificates.
Kenneth Letner ’73
Alumni Christian Service Award
The Alumni Christian Service Award recognizes a lifetime of exemplary service in a ministry, missions, or service setting. Kenneth Letner ’73, who passed away Sept. 8, 2008, posthumously receives the 2009 Alumni Christian Service Award. During his time at Messiah College, Letner was introduced to the Brethren in Christ Church (BIC). After earning his Master of Divinity from Ashland Seminary in 1978, he served as the pastor for youth and Christian education at Lancaster (Pa.) BIC Church, senior pastor of Cedar Grove BIC Church in Mifflintown, Pa., director of education for the General Conference, and secretary of the board at Locust Grove Mennonite School. In 2002, he was appointed as bishop of the Susquehanna Conference of the BIC Church. His wife, Linda, accepted the award on his behalf.
The late Kenneth Letner ’73 received the Alumni Christian Service Award and, accepting on his behalf were (from left) his son Kurt, daughter-in-law Megan, wife Linda, daughter-in-law Dawn, and son Kyle ’01.
David L. Parkyn Ph.D. ’74
Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award
The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award recognizes a lifetime of vocational achievement in a manner that embodies the mission of Messiah College. David Parkyn ’74, recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award, has served his alma mater in a variety of roles from 1981–2004: campus pastor, professor in the biblical studies department, director of general education, executive assistant to the president, and vice president for planning. The son of Primitive Methodist church workers, he serves as the president of North Park University in Chicago.
David L. Parkyn Ph.D. ’74 (shown with wife, Linda), who has served Messiah in many roles, won the Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award.
Shannon (Barkley) Ilbawi ’04
Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award
The Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award honors a person who has graduated from Messiah College within the past 10 years. This year’s winner, Shannon Ilbawi ’04, received a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. “While she was there,” says director of the Agapé Center Chad Frey, who nominated her, “she started a medical mission trip that was so successful, UPenn has adopted it and promoted it as a core part of their school.”
Shannon (Barkley) Ilbawi ’04, unable to attend the presentation, will come to campus at a later date to accept her Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award for her contributions in the field of public health.
Alumni Appreciation Award
The Alumni Appreciation Award recognizes an individual who has contributed to Messiah College in an extraordinary manner. Calvin High, the recipient of the 2009 Alumni Appreciation Award, has supported Messiah College with his time, skills, and funding for the past 25 years. In addition to his gifts to the College, he has served on Messiah’s Board of Trustees and as an emeritus trustee. Along with his company, High Construction, he oversaw the Jordan Science Center development project. Ken Martin, a former Messiah vice president who worked with High on the Board of Trustees, remembers High’s dedication to the Jordan project. “He would show up at odd times to do a walk-through,” says Martin. “A standing joke with employees was that the site had to be ‘Calvinized,’ a tribute to the orderliness and cleanliness of High Construction.”
Calvin High won the Alumni Appreciation Award for his College support and management of the Jordan Science Center project.
Anyone can nominate an individual either in writing or online. The alumni council reviews the nominees and then sends its recommendations to the president’s office for final selection.
The Alumni Christian Service Award recognizes a lifetime of exemplary service in a ministry, missions, or service setting. The 2009 Alumni Christian Service Award is presented posthumously to Kenneth Letner, class of '73.
Family and friends of Ken, Ken heard the call of the Lord in his life—first when Christ called him to follow at the age of 10, then when he was called into the ministry during his teens, and again as he began his time as a minister, director, and bishop in the Brethren in Christ Church. Many hear the Lord calling them, but what sets Ken apart is the fact that he both listened and followed.
During his time at Messiah College, Ken was introduced to the Brethren in Christ Church, and it was within this denomination that God called Ken to serve. It was during this time that Ken met his wife Linda, a faithful partner in his ministry. These two individuals together dedicated their lives to following the call of the Lord, grounded in a commitment to their heavenly father. During Ken’s time in seminary, his talent as a minister and leader was recognized so strongly that he accepted a position with the Lancaster BIC Church before his graduation. God gifted Ken with leadership skills that aided his ministry, and Ken used those gifts faithfully, serving as director of education for the General Conference, Secretary of the Board at Locust Grove Mennonite School, and eventually as Bishop of the Susquehanna Conference of the BIC Church.
Through his ministry to numerous congregations, his dedication to the work of Christian camps, and his tenure as bishop, Ken planted seeds in the lives of many, shepherding others as a true servant leader. Canadian Pioneer Nelson Henderson once said that “the true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Without question many still feel the comfort of that shade today as Ken’s legacy lives on. Ken's life of service is exemplary because he "walked in a manner," as Paul instructs us Ephesians 4, "worthy of the calling" to which he was called. He extended a hand of ministerial service to each individual whose life he touched.
Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recognizes a lifetime of vocational achievement in a manner that embodies the mission of Messiah College. David Lee Parkyn, Ph.D. , class of 1974, is the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award recipient.
David, American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey once said, "Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself." As a lifelong learner, you have dedicated your time and talents to serving others within educational communities. Your passion for education, as evidenced in your life's vocation, is one that is shared by Messiah College. You have dedicated your life to sharing your passion for knowledge and knowledge itself with students in a variety of contexts.
You’ve said that as an undergraduate at Messiah and during your time as a faculty member and administrator, you “discovered that learning is most noble when used to benefit others.” Your life decisions prove that not only do you believe this, you live it out. Not only do you strive toward personal edification through education but you also share your knowledge with others. You understand first hand the meaning of Proverbs 20:15 which states, "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." It is your passion for life, knowledge, education, and others that distinguishes you among your peers as this sort of jewel.
Experiences have shown you that education is not limited to the classroom. Your time spent at a young age in Guatemala gave you the foundational knowledge that we learn in community. Your time at Messiah College, first as a student and then as a faculty member, and your close work with President Sawatsky built on this foundation. One person from whom you learned was Dr. Ernest Boyer, whose philosophy of life is especially meaningful to you. He holds that, “the tragedy of life is not death, it is destined for us all. The tragedy of life is to die with convictions undeclared and service unfulfilled.” David, you demonstrate to those around you what it means to live with convictions declared and service fulfilled.
Alumni Appreciation Award
The Alumni Appreciation Award recognizes an individual who has contributed to Messiah College in an extraordinary manner. The recipient of the 2009 Alumni Appreciation Award is presented to Calvin High.
Calvin, Your generous support of Messiah College over the past 25 years is a testament to the faith you have both in this institution and your passionate advocacy for Christian higher education. Your gifts to Goshen College, Lancaster Mennonite High School, and your home church, Neffsville Mennonite, are noteworthy and the students and alumni of Messiah College appreciate your counting of our school among your beneficiaries. You live your life in a manner consistent with the mission of Messiah College. Intellect, character, and Christian faith are evident in your life which has been marked with both leadership and service in church and society.
You have supported Messiah through every major development campaign throughout your years of connection to the College. You give of your time and support Messiah College through your company, High Construction. Ken Martin, former Messiah vice president who worked with you on the Board of Trustees describes your dedication to the Jordan Science Center development project: “Cal…always knew what was going on. He would show up at odd times to walk do a walk-through. A standing joke with employees was the site had to be “Calvinized”; a tribute to the orderliness and cleanliness of High Construction.” Additionally, your service on the Board of Trustees and as Emeritus Trustee has been of great support during this time of growth for Messiah College.
In Corinthians 9, Paul writes, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.” You have exemplified cheerful giving in numerous ways through your relationship with Messiah College. President Kim Phipps calls your “insight and counsel” to Messiah College students a “blessing.” Your extraordinary support of Messiah sets you apart, and the Messiah alumni community, faculty and staff, and student body is fortunate to call you “friend.”
The Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award
recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has attended Messiah College within the past ten years for significant contribution to church, vocation, community, and or Messiah College.
As a physician who serves as a resident physician in the Family Medicine Department of the Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Downtown Family Medicine Clinic, Downtown Public Health Center, Seattle, Shannon Lynn (Barkley) Ilbawi ’04
, M.D. M.P.H., was not able to attend the alumni award luncheon where the awards were presented. But here you may read the nomination form that Chad Frey, director of the Messiah College Agapé Center for Service and Learning, submitted for Shannon:
Disarming you with an innocent smile and compassionate eyes, Shannon's winsome spirit embodies service, leadership, and reconciliation. I've known Shannon for many years, and our discussions have spanned issues from social justice to theodicy. Few things have escaped her gaze or are missed in her analysis. As her former supervisor, I had the privilege of working with Shannon in Student Affairs at Messiah College where she served as my Residence Assistant from 2002-2003. During that time, I observed Shannon quickly and compassionately penetrate the veneer of superficiality with students who found themselves at odds with institutional systems and policies demonstrating a unique ability to re-contextualize educational policies and procedures for disengaged peers as she carefully explored new perspectives and meaning making with them.
Far from being only an idealistic dreamer, Shannon’s imagination is matched only by her resolve to practice. This is evidenced not only in exceptional scholarship but also in authentic relationships and extensive experiences she has pursued at Messiah College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health respectively. In addition to being a gifted administrator (evidenced in her ability to organize and lead an international medical missions team at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as her excellent student programming in Residence Education at Messiah College), Shannon is also a very gifted interdisciplinary scholar and researcher.
Shannon has a view of the world that is much larger than most of her peers. She is able to situate herself within a global community where she has composed an understanding that balances conviction with civility and compassion with academic rigor. Shannon’s scholarship methodically incorporates responsible global citizenship with the careful practice of responsible medicine. As a result of her research and service experiences over the years, we have spent many hours discussing vocation together. Shannon talks openly about her deep desire to serve people in deep need, often musing about public health and the need for more leaders in the field who have not lost their passion or forgotten to responsibly serve the poor and disposed in light of limited resources and mounting political pressures.
Shannon practices medicine with the same authenticity and care that she generously extends to her friends and family. She rises to face challenges that others shy away from. Her care and intuition of people are extraordinary under pressure. As an exceptional scholar and talented leader, I highly recommend Shannon for Messiah's Young Alumni Award.