The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association has selected three alumni to recognize with awards during Alumni Weekend, May 19-20:
Richard Littlebear ’83, Lame Deer, Mont., will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award. He is president of Chief Dull Knife College, a position he has held since September 1999.
Dr. Littlebear’s work has included education specialist, director of elementary school bilingual projects with Indian children and parents, college English instructor, lay advocate in the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Court system, grant writer, coordinator of community education in elementary schools in Lame Deer and Busby, Mont., and legal investigator who served as a translator for non-English speaking clients.
He was instrumental in designing the test for Cheyenne language speakers, helping implement the Class 7 Licensure process. He also developed the idea of a language immersion camp to provide experiential Cheyenne language and cultural learning opportunities for Cheyenne people who do not know their native language to begin the process of learning and speaking it. Dr. Littlebear is one of seven members of the Northern Cheyenne tribe who both speak fluently and write the Cheyenne language proficiently.
Joan Banman Wiebe ’57 and Leonard Wiebe ’57, North Newton, will receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award. The Wiebes have spent their career in church work, including church planting.
Leonard was the founding pastor of two Mennonite congregations, Maplewood Mennonite Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1960 and Peace Mennonite Community Church in Aurora, Colo., in 1986. In between, he was pastor of Faith Mennonite Church in Newton. In addition to congregational work, he has served on several conference- and church-wide committees, including the Commission on Home Ministries of the General Conference Mennonite Church (1980-92), the GCMC’s Commission on Overseas Mission (1999-2001) and the board of Mennonite Mission Network (2001-03). He is currently on the Western District Conference Home Mission Committee, where he has served since 1999.
Joan has served as a music teacher for K-12 in Wakarusa, Ind., and the director of Maplewood Mennonite Church Preschool in Fort Wayne. She was executive director of the General Conference Mennonite Church’s Women in Mission organization from 1977-86. From 1988-99, she held administrative positions at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colo., and directed an Elderhostel program sponsored by Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo.
The Wiebes retired from pastoral ministry in 1998. From 1999-2001, they were co-directors of the Development Office for the General Conference Mennonite Church. They have also served in several interim pastorates.
For more information on the award recipients, see the spring 2006 issue of “Context” magazine, which will be mailed to alumni in early April.