The Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training met its goal of $1 million a few years ago, when Mennonite Church Eastern Canada used monies from the Schmidt bequest to top it up from $750,000. The banquet that had been a major fundraiser for the fund continued, however, with funding now going to support the Anabaptist Learning Workshop. The ALW works with lay leaders and leaders from new Canadian congregations, as well as providing events for trained pastors.
With Ralph’s death in 2017, the decision was made to have one last banquet on June 5, 2018, at Conrad Grebel University College, with giving going to the Learning Workshop.
Two tables were filled with Eileen and her family, and Eileen gave an eloquent thank you to the many who had been involved over the years to make this endowment a reality.
Ralph was a forerunner to the growth of pastoral training and formation through his many years as a pastor; Grebel president; director of theological education with Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in Elkhart, Ind., through the introduction of the Congregational Supervised Pastoral Education program; and as conference minister (1974-79), serving both the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec, pre-cursors to MC Eastern Canada. He also supported the development of female pastors during his years of active service.
Both Eileen and David Martin, the regional church’s executive minister, told the story of Ralph arranging for a final gift to the Learning Workshop during his last hospital stay. Ralph and Eileen both supported the ongoing training of pastoral leaders for MC Eastern Canada. Eileen made sure that Ralph’s final gift was delivered after his death.
As part of the banquet, Matthew Bailey-Dick, the Learning Workshop’s director, showed photos and told stories of the diverse events offered during the past year.
See also “Ending with hope,” about Henry Paetkau’s address at the banquet.
Henry Paetkau, this year’s speaker at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training fundraising banquet, and Eileen Lebold share a quiet moment at the final banquet at Conrad Grebel University College on June 5, 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)