From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Detweilers, Hershey honored for service

Date 14 Feb 2001 13:10:14

February 14, 2001
Beth Hawn
Mennonite Board of Missions
(219) 294-7523

February 14, 2001

Detweilers, Hershey honored for urban service with Lark Award

ELKHART, Ind. (MBM) – The 2001 recipients of the James and Rowena
Lark Award are Elizabeth and Wallace Detweiler from Morson, Ont.,
and Lester Hershey from Fort Ashby,
W. V.  The award is given annually to Mennonites who have
demonstrated creative leadership in evangelism and church
development in North America.  The award seeks to create a broad
awareness of Mennonite individuals who have demonstrated their
recognition that North America is a mission field by their work
with others to build God’s kingdom.

Lester Hershey will be honored for a lifetime of service and
commitment to urban ministry with the Lark Award at the Allegheny
Annual Conference to be held July 12 – 15 at Laurelville
Mennonite Church Center.  Originally from Youngstown, Ohio,
Hershey has an extensive record of service.  Internationally, he
participated with relief work in Spain from 1938 to 1940.  From
1940 – 1947, he was involved in Home Missions work with Mennonite
Board of Missions in Mexico.  Hershey moved to Puerto Rico in
1947 and gave leadership to church development and the Luz y
Verdad Spanish radio ministry.  Hershey was involved with
ministry in Chicago as the first Voluntary Service director in
1945.  He worked closely with the Spanish-speaking community and
with the African-American community and James and Rowena Lark.
This work eventually led to the establishment of Bethel Mennonite

Since retirement, Hershey has worked with churches in Mexico.  He
has also made significant contributions to ministry in North
America.  He served as interim pastor of Pinto (Md.) Mennonite
Church, from 1986 –1987 and 1993 – 1994 and of Martinsburg (Pa.)
Mennonite Church, from 1995 – 1996.  He has served as lead pastor
of Pinto Mennonite Church from 1999 to the present.

Liz and Wally Detweiler will receive the James and Rowena Lark
Award at the North Central Annual Conference, to be held in
Surrey, N. D., June 14 – 17, for their years of service with
native communities through Morson Community Bible Fellowship and
the United Native Ministries Council.  The Detweilers met in
Morson, when Wally came for a few weeks in 1964 as a member of a
gospel quartet to help Native evangelist Tommy Frances with
worship music in revival style prayer meetings.  Liz, an Ojibway
from Morson, became a Christian at one of the prayer meetings.

Wally left after his assignment, but returned later with a youth
group.  Liz and Wally corresponded and eventually were married in
May 1965.  They moved to Morson in August and became active in
the Morson Community Bible Fellowship.  They carried major
responsibility in the development of the church and Wally became
lead pastor in 1996.  Liz currently serves as the vice president
of the United Native Ministries Council of which Community Bible
Fellowship is a member.  The United Native Ministries Council
describes itself as, “an organization of representatives from
Native American congregations relating to the Mennonite Church.”

Church work is only part of the Detweilers’ ministry to Native
communities.  By opening their home to children through adoption
and foster care, Wally and Liz have kept Ojibway and Cree
children in the community.  In addition to their three biological
children, Wally and Liz also have six adopted children and three
permanent foster children.  In Morson only about 50 percent of
the students finish high school.  Education is very important to
the Detweilers and they have served as an example in their
community by insisting that all their children finish high school
and by sending many of their children to college.  They currently
have two foster children attending Goshen (Ind.) College.

The Lark Award honors the memory of James Lark, the first
African-American bishop in the Mennonite Church, and his wife,
Rowena, who were leaders in urban ministries and instrumental in
organizing and nurturing mission churches in a number of cities
throughout North America.

* * *

Joni Sancken

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