Much has changed in the 55 years since John Fairfield and Kathryn Stoltzfus Fairfield earned their high school diplomas, along with 75 classmates, at EMHS in 1966.
But some core elements remain steady, the couple — now married nearly 52 years — observes. EMS remains true to its Anabaptist roots, they say, and continues to challenge students to wrestle with what it means to be followers of Jesus, committed to peace and nonviolence.
They got to know each other their junior year, working on the Ember yearbook, volunteering with the Young People’s Christian Association, and singing in Touring Choir.
John’s family moved to the Shenandoah Valley from Ontario, Canada, so his father could pursue studies at Eastern Mennonite College. Kathryn came from a family involved in Mennonite education for generations. EMS alumni include her parents, Grant and Ruth Brunk ’34 Stoltzfus, and siblings: Eugene ’64, Allen ’61, Ruth ’67, and Helen ’74.
All four of the couple’s sons are alumni, three married alumni, and several grandchildren currently attend, or are alumni.
“I was ‘first generation Mennonite,’” says John. “But I feel just as much part of the EMS story as anyone.” His advice to people who may be new to the community and feel they don’t belong? “Put time and energy into the community,” he says. “Soon you will feel you belong.”
Read about John and Kathryn’s journey from EMHS around the world and back to the Valley again, as teachers, learners, justice advocates, and entrepreneurs committed to Kingdom building.