Thursday, July 30, 2009

McPherson College receives generous gift for Christian service.

McPherson College has received a generous $2.7 million gift from the estate of Donna Rose McChesney Allen of DuBois, Pa. The gift establishes the Elsie Whitmer McChesney of Zenda, Kansas, Endowment Fund to educate students in Christian service and to prepare them for a life of Christian ministry and service. McPherson College is a Church of the Brethren school located in McPherson, Kan.

In preparation for this gift, which is named for Allen’s mother, the Philosophy and Religion Department has recently conducted a program review. In addition, McPherson College has gathered a team including faculty, church leadership, the campus pastor, the college president, and other staff to create a strategy for the best utilization of this gift.

"It is very exciting and almost unreal that in light of the current US economic crisis, we are now presented with such an extraordinary gift," said department chair of Philosophy and Religion, Herb Smith.

Smith added, "Donna Allen took almost all of the courses offered by McPherson College in philosophy and religion in her retirement years. As her professor, I found her to be incredibly pleasant, upbeat and appreciative. It was a treat to have her in class, and the students really respected her. The college will greatly benefit from her generosity."

"Donna was very focused on the Church of the Brethren and her family was tied to Kansas. She also thought highly of Herb and his wife, Jeanne Smith, and their work at the college," said Mary Workman, a close friend and 1945 McPherson graduate. Workman remembers Allen as a kind, giving person, with an interest in her family, her ancestry, and service to her church. She also was very proud of her husband, James B. Allen, who was a pilot and often flew President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roselyn, during his presidency.

The Church of the Brethren philosophy "Peacefully, Simply, Together," was a value Allen practiced in her daily life. "Donna had the simplest way of living you could imagine. You’d never know she had a dime," said Workman.

Education also was very important to Allen, who received a degree from St. Francis Hospital School of Medical Technology in Wichita, Kan., in 1943. She later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and worked as a clinical laboratory technologist for several hospitals in Pennsylvania. Later in life, she took religion courses at McPherson College. Eventually, she moved back to Pennsylvania where she completed the Training in Ministry (TRIM) program through the Church of the Brethren and was actively pursuing a master of divinity degree at the time of her death.

Service is a strong component of the Church of the Brethren faith--members of the church seek to serve their neighbors in many different capacities. Through its affiliation with the church, McPherson College students, staff, and faculty also have a long history of service. In this past year, the college has logged more than 7,000 hours of service through mission projects, community service, freshman and sophomore seminar courses, class projects, and individual efforts in McPherson, throughout the state, and overseas.

"With this gift, Donna Allen has underscored the commitment to lifelong learning and service that she demonstrated throughout her life," said Michael Schneider, president of the college. "Now, thanks to Donna’s foresight and generosity, McPherson College will have an opportunity to expand our commitment to those same principles in ways we could not have previously imagined."

-- This report is from a McPherson College press release.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline

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