LION AND LAMB CELEBRATION CAPS 25TH YEAR
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Elizabeth "Libby" Hostetler had a dream but no money to make it a reality.
A Bluffton faculty member in education, she wanted to create a resource for children to gain necessary skills for developing a vision of peace. While supportive of the idea, the then-college was unable to commit funding, leading Hostetler to the only other possible source she could think of, Lima businessman and Bluffton alumnus Herman Parent.
"Herman was the person I knew who was so generous with his time and service to others," she explained. And after they talked, Parent’s generosity extended to providing the first $20,000 for what would become The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton University.
Hostetler, the Lion and Lamb’s director until her retirement from Bluffton in 1999, was among several speakers May 5 as the center capped its 25th year with a celebration in its original campus home, Musselman Library. The program also included songs and readings with the theme "Peace Grows, Peace Shows"—the title, too, of a watercolor by 2011 graduate Megan Yoder that was commissioned for the silver anniversary year.
"With small steps over time, peace will grow and peace will show," said Louise Matthews, a 1978 Bluffton alumna who has directed the center since 2004.
When Dr. Lee Snyder, Bluffton’s president at the time, proposed the position to her, Matthews was a substitute public-school teacher, filling in for teachers on long-term maternity leaves. Although she enjoyed teaching, she also recognized what she considered the importance of teaching values in addition to academics. While she wasn’t sure about assuming the Lion and Lamb responsibilities, the director expressed gratitude that Snyder and Dr. James Harder, a vice president then and Bluffton president now, "saw potential in me that I didn’t feel ready for."
The job, Matthews added, has proven to be "a wonderful way" for her to express her love for children and to help instill values in them. And this year, she has begun accepting invitations to address older students and adult audiences as well.
She also noted that Bluffton’s focus on the arts and on global community has strengthened the center’s mission—to promote the study of peace and justice, cultural understanding and nonviolent responses to conflict, especially for children.
Visiting the university in 2006, Ted Lollis, a photographer from Tennessee who captures images of peace art worldwide, called the campus collection "one of the world’s greatest concentrations of peace monuments," Matthews said. Soon after that, she added, the Lion and Lamb became a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace.
Promoting global community, both Bluffton-area volunteers and international students on campus share information about their home countries with visitors to the center. As a result, for example, "Iraq and Afghanistan are somebody’s home," not just places where the United States has been fighting wars, Matthews pointed out.
She noted the center’s multigenerational aspect as well, saying her grandchildren now visit with their classes at school. That echoed Amy Lehman Mikesell, who said the Lion and Lamb has impacted her in three roles: as a Bluffton student who worked at the center for four years; as an educator who implemented ideas she learned there as a special education teacher in Lima and who directs current Bluffton students there as a visiting instructor of education; and now, as a mother of two young sons whose teachers include the Lion and Lamb in their curricula.
"The Lion and Lamb was an innovative idea at its founding. Today, it remains an innovative tradition at Bluffton University," said Harder. "It has truly had a remarkable impact over the years," he added, citing statistics that indicated 2,700 people participated in the center’s programming last year.
Its reach has been extended in the last couple years through cataloging of its collection for online access. Circulation of Lion and Lamb materials through the Musselman Library catalog means the collection "can be known by persons the world over," said Mary Jean Johnson, library director.
It’s all part of the center’s growth from its beginnings as Hostetler’s project. "The ownership broadened," the founder said. "That’s what has to happen for peace to happen."
Bluffton public relations, 5/8/12