Friday, December 05, 2008

John Eberly

The success of thousands of student exchanges between the United States and other countries can be directly traced to one man - Indiana native John Eberly.

Eberly was born near North Webster, Indiana in 1904. His parents saw no need for any of their 13 children to have much education, so John literally ran away from home to attend and graduate from high school. With help from the North Webster Church of the Brethren, Otho Winger, and high school teachers Glen and Viola Whitehead, he graduated from Manchester College in 1929 and earned a master's degree from Indiana University in 1932.

While serving as president of the Northern Indiana Youth Cabinet, he met Ollie Heaston who was president of the Middle Indiana Youth Cabinet. They were married in 1925.

Eberly taught school and served as a pastor in Indiana from 1927 to 1948. He was one of the principle founders of Camp Mack, along with L.W. Shultz and others.

In 1948 Eberly accepted an assignment to Italy with the Brethren Service Commission. One of his duties was to distribute breeding stock being shipped to Europe by Heifer Project.

He pioneered the Brethren Student Exchange program in 1949-50. Two groups of teen-agers from Germany were brought to the U.S. to live with farm families and attend local high schools. Fifty were chosen from refugee camps and another 40 from a rural youth group in southern Germany. His first effort was so successful that 400 students were approved in 1950.

Eberly returned to the United States in 1950 to become director of the Brethren Service/Church World Service Center at New Windsor, MD. He continued as administrator of the student exchange program which in 1957 received interdenominational support and became known as International Christian Youth Exchange.

In 1964 Eberly became the Church of the Brethren representative in Washington D.C. where he regularly testified before Senate and House committees on behalf of the church.

He retired to Indiana in 1970 and remained there until his death in 1985.

Source: Planting the Church in a New Land