KIPCOR to welcome author/storyteller for concluding anniversary event

KIPCOR to welcome author/storyteller for concluding anniversary event

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College wraps up a year-plus-long celebration of its 30th anniversary with an event geared to the whole family.

And KIPCOR will partner with Kauffman Museum and local elementary school student artists, art teachers and librarians for the April 22 event.

KIPCOR is bringing author and storyteller Rafe Martin to campus for a special performance April 22 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall. This is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support KIPCOR’s work and programming.

In addition to the program in Mem Hall, Martin will speak in Bethel College’s convocation April 23 at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, which is also open to the public.

He will do eight more performances in local elementary and middle schools and speak to Bethel’s Children’s Literature class in his four days in the area.

Martin has written more than 20 books. He is noted for being a children’s author but also brings his words to life as a master story teller, who has performed for audiences of all ages.

Many of Martin’s books are his telling of folk tales with multi-cultural themes related to peace, nature and the beauty of celebrating differences between people, rather than using those differences to create division.

His writing has been translated into many languages, including Afrikaans, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Swedish, Xhosa and Zulu. He has appeared in thousands of schools, libraries, festivals and conferences in nearly every state – including Alaska and Hawaii – and as far away as Japan.

In the weeks leading up to Martin’s appearance at Bethel, area art teachers and librarians will be leading elementary-age children in exploring Martin’s books and responding with their own artwork.

A special exhibit, “Newton Kids Create: Storytelling through Art,” opens at Kauffman Museum April 22. There will be extended museum hours that day, 1-5 p.m., to enable the public to view the exhibit either before or after Martin’s 3 p.m. performance.

There will be a reception and book signing in Mem Hall after Martin performs. Newton’s Faith & Life Bookstore is organizing the book signing and will have copies of Martin’s books for sale.

It’s also possible to pre-order books by stopping by Faith & Life Bookstore at 606 North Main Street in Newton during regular business hours, by calling 316-283-2210, or by e-mailing

Martin’s time at Bethel and in the community is being made possible by the KIPCOR Peace Lecture Endowment, the Newton Et Cetera Shop and donors Jay and Linda Goering of Moundridge, Jim Juhnke and Miriam Nofsinger of North Newton, and Jerry and Leann Toews of Goessel.

“Local school PTOs, art teachers and librarians have been very helpful in generating enthusiasm and coordinating Rafe’s schedule,” said Dan Wassink, director of KIPCOR’s Community Mediation Center and chair of the 30th-Anniversary Planning Committee.

Also on that committee are Jeff Koller, Donna Zerger and Kirsten Zerger, all of Moundridge, James Lynch, Wichita, and Berneil Rupp Mueller, North Newton. “Beverly Buller and Carol Flickinger have been very important as our committee liaisons to the PTOs, art teachers and librarians,” Wassink added.

For more information about Rafe Martin’s local schedule or his work, call KIPCOR at 316-284-5217, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or see Martin’s website,

Martin’s undergraduate degree in English is from Harpur College (now Binghamton [New York] University), where he was the first to earn “highest honors” in English, and he has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Toronto, where he studied with such notable figures as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan.

Martin and his wife, Rose, ran a bookstore for 10 years, during which time he received the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award from the Women’s National Book Association as “the bookseller in the U.S. and Canada who has been most creative and successful in bringing children and books together.”

“Rafe has won numerous other awards,” Wassink noted. “According to the local educators we are working with, the most prestigious ones are the IRA Teacher’s Choice Award, the American Bookseller’s Pick of the List award [two times], the NY Public Library 100 Best Books, and the Parents’ Choice Gold Award [three times].”

Martin also received the Empire State Award in 2008, given by the Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association. This one-time award is presented to a living author or illustrator currently living in New York State, and honors a body of work that represents excellence in children’s or young adult literature. Martin shares the honor with such luminaries as Jerry Pinckney, Madeleine L’Engle and Maurice Sendak.

Born and raised in New York City, Martin has lived for more than 40 years in Rochester, New York, where, as well as being an author and storyteller, he is also the founding teacher of Endless Path Zendo, a lay Zen Buddhist practice community. His latest book for adults is Before Buddha was Buddha: Learning from the Jataka Tales. Rafe and Rose Martin are the parents of two grown children.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to