ACRS Breakfast with Richard (Dick) Benner: Anabaptist Politico

Where Northlawn, West Dining Room

Duration 1 hour 30 minutes

On MONDAY morning, Dec. 10, 7:30 – 9:00 in EMU’s West Dining Room, Richard (Dick) Benner will share parts of his many-faceted life with us. “Many-faceted” is not a space-filler but a true descriptor of who Dick is. He is a creative theological thinker, but not a theologian; he is a social analyst, but not a sociologist. He is a businessman but sits on no bank boards. As editor of The Canadian Mennonite, he is a thought-smith of a whole Mennonite denomination (a people so determined not to be dominated by Americans that they separated from their neighbors to the south), yet he is a blue-blood American holding no Canadian passport! He carries ecclesiastical clout, but he wears no sacred mantel (ordination). If Mennonites had talk shows, Dick would be a regular guest. He is a Mennonite-politico. Apparently the Canadian government thinks so too. Deciding that the Anabaptist values expressed in his editorials were too “political,” the Canadian Revenue Service sent warning shots testing the tax-exempt status of the magazine.

Richard is an EMU (EMC) grad; holds a Masters of Mass Communication from Arizona State. In the ’70s and early ’80s Dick and his wife, Marlene, developed a small one-paper operation of which Dick was owner, publisher, and editor, into a chain of weekly highly successful left-leaning newspapers in conservative Pennsylvania Appalachian country. Then in 1984, in the midst of a nasty political challenge (and just before the digital challenge to hard-copy newspapers), this savvy journalist-busiman sold his very sizable enterprise for cash. In Anabaptist fashion over the next two decades, he used his economic freedom to explore a variety of church and para-church journalistic business ventures. Woven through the midst of all this is a parallel narrative of a very severe battle with cancer. Not an ordinary story; not an ordinary life. On Monday morning we’ll have opportunity to follow Richard through this journey.

Join us Monday at 7:30. If you wish to eat a full breakfast please go through the cafeteria line, then bring your food to the West Dining Room. Coffee and pastries will be provided. Please share this announcement with your friends and others interested in Dick’s life and times—extraordinary commitment, exemplary courage. Next month’s presenter and story-teller is Allon Lefever—entrepreneur, educator, churchman.

Intended Audience General Public