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A School on the Prairie
A Centennial History of
Hesston College, 1909–2009

John Sharp

Summary: This 100-year narrative history of Hesston College tells the compelling story of Kansas Mennonites at the turn of the twentieth century who developed a powerful vision for educating their children. Decade by decade the story unfolds, from difficult beginnings through two world wars, the Great Depression, cultural transitions, theological challenges, financial crises, and shifting demographics. The book offers a rich tapestry of faculty and staff whose passion inspired and motivated students to serve church and world.

"Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this history provides a fascinating look at the growth and development of an most important institution of Mennonite higher education." —Felipe Hinojosa, Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University 

"Hesston College is even more than a School on the Prairie. Sharp captures the wind of the spirit of God that generated the character and quality to plant a school on the plains and enlivens the college today as a gift to the Mennonite church." —Elaine Moyer, Associate Director, Mennonite Education Agency

"Brimming with personalities, landscape, dreams, and issues, this account of what for a decade was the largest ‘Old’ Mennonite college vividly connects the dots in a century-spanning picture. —John. L. Ruth, Author, The Earth Is the Lord’s: A Narrative History of Lancaster Mennonite Conference. More. . . .

"Sharp’s voice is that of a storyteller with a keen sense of place, phrasing, and the curious facts that make the story come to life."—J im Mininger, in the Foreword

Market: Historians; alumni, faculty, staff of Hesston College; students, scholars, pastors, libraries; anyone interested in Hesston College history and Anabaptism-Mennonite higher education.

Shelving: History—Anabaptist, Mennonite, of higher education, of Hesston College; Higher education—Mennonite. BISAC: History, Religion. RTM: 430 History/American; 690 Religion/Ethics.

The Author: John Sharp, Hesston, Kansas, is a teacher, writer, storyteller, tour leader, and former pastor. He was director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee, Goshen, Indiana, and currently teaches at Hesston (Kan.) College. He is married to Michele Miller Sharp and has three young adult children.

Quote: "Soon the pair passed through the town and emerged on the open prairie. The driver halted the horse at the edge of a wheat field recently harvested. Directing the hired hand to follow him with stakes and hammer, the man in the Stetson stepped off a large rectangle, roughly the size of a Pennsylvania barn. The hired man drove stakes into the dark, sandy Kansas soil, marking each of the four corners. ‘There has been talk of a new Mennonite school somewhere here in the west,' explained the farmer to his curious hired hand. 'And, if they want this field for that school, they can have it.’" —John Sharp, in Chapter 1

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House LLC
Copublisher: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA
Publication date: November 1, 2009 (copies available now)
Pagination: 504, with 150 photos plus notes, bibliography, index, and more
Format: 6 x 9 trade paper
Price: $29.95 US/Can. ISBN 13: 978-1-931038-64-5; ISBN 10: 1-931038-64-3


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