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alumni awards

Melodie Davis
2005 Distinguished Service award

Melodie Miller (C 75) Davis was out gathering eggs one day on her family’s farm in Goshen, Ind., thinking about her future. An active member of North Goshen Mennonite Church’s youth group, Melodie had discovered a passion for “capturing experiences on paper.” As a result of the column she was writing for her church about the youth group’s activities, she was urged to pursue her gift. I want to be a Christian writer. She wrote her goal on a piece of paper and tucked it away.

Since that day in the henhouse, that goal has been continually affirmed. EMU now presents Melodie Davis with the annual distinguished service award for the way she has served those around her as author, columnist, producer, wife and mother, teacher, co-worker, friend, and volunteer. In her many roles, Melodie has steadfastly embodied Christ’s call to love our neighbors.

Melodie enjoyed a well-rounded education at EMU. English professor Omar Eby encouraged her as she eagerly enrolled in every writing and communications class offered. She found spiritual nourishment in her involvements with the Saturday Adoption program, gospel team, and Y-church. She even played basketball for two years. Of course, one of her favorite extracurricular involvements was The WeatherVane. “I got hooked on the byline,” she admits.

Still, when she graduated in 1975 with English degree in hand, she wasn’t sure what to do with it. An opportunity to pursue work in writing or communications was appealing, but so was service abroad.

“In some ways, it would’ve been much more exciting to go [abroad],” she said. But as she considered her relationship with now-husband Stuart Davis, a native of Rockingham County, Melodie’s eyes were opened to the needs in the community right around her. One month after graduation, she was hired by Mennonite Broadcast, a radio production agency. Thirty years later, the organization has expanded greatly to include production of the Third Way Café website, resource videos, television network programs, and other media. It’s now called Mennonite Media, just down the hill from EMU.

Over her 30-year tenure, Melodie has adapted to everchanging media and “left an indelible print on the organization,” says director Burton Buller. She is now staff writer and producer of radio programming, which includes scriptwriting for video and television series and web editing, among other things. She has won numerous top awards for her work. Her “Parenting on the Edge” radio spots were recognized in the 2003 Gracie Allen Awards. Since 1980, she has authored eight full-length nonfiction works; most recently Why Didn’t I Just Raise Radishes? Finding God in the Everyday (Herald Press, 1994). She also works part time as editor for two publications of the Shalom Foundation, Living and Together.

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Melodie began as secretary for the Mennonite Hour radio program back in 1975, but within two months was ghostwriting for the “Heart to Heart” radio show. She created a spinoff newspaper column on family life, values, and spirituality that was renamed “Another Way” in 1987, and continues to be published on the web and syndicated to ten newspapers.

Judging by the number of hours Melodie spends corresponding with those who contact her through her columns, “Another Way” has had a great impact on its readership, says Sheri Hartzler, Mennonite Media’s production associate. “I think her writing has affected not only Mennonite Media, but many, many people beyond the walls of the building,” she said.

Though staying in town didn’t look “exciting” at first, Melodie feels fortunate that her job fits her Christian calling; she sees the work she does as a ministry.

—Andrea Kniss, current student