Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thurl Metzger

While Dan West supplied the idea for Heifer Project International, Thurl Metzger supplied the hands that made it a worldwide success.

Born near Sidney, Indiana, he taught school from 1938 to 1942 while graduating from Manchester College in 1941. Drafted into the army in 1942, Metzger registered as a conscientious objector and was sent to a camp in Michigan. He later went to work in an agricultural unit at the University of Minnesota.

Unable to find a teaching job after the war because of his conscientious objector stance, Metzger began working with Heifer Project and became the organization's representive in Europe. When Ben Bushong retired as executive director in 1951, Dan West asked Metzger to take over the job.

Metzger immediately launched a campaign to increase support for HPI and guided its incorporation as an independent, nonprofit corporation in 1953. From an office in North Manchester, he successfully guided HPI during years of tremendous growth. He travelled extensively from the very beginning.

He also wrote extensively, and his stories were often published in Messenger. He wrote of his dismay that cheese, butter, and grain were piling up in warehouses in the U.S. while much of the world was still hungry. He appealed for more understanding of the problems in Latin America and urged Brethren to share food to build peace as a positive way to demonstrate the will of God.

HPI's impact under Metzger's direction has been felt around the world. In the late 1970s, the Korean Minister of Agriculture stated that half the chickens in his country were offspring from HPI chickens sent after the Korean War.

Metzger finally retired in 1981 after guiding HPI for 30 years. During a farewell address at his retirement, Metzger said, "The road to development is very long, it is filled with frustrations, and it is, in fact, more of a pilgrimage than a plan ... A sense of destiny requires that we have a firm belief that this is what God wants us to do ... and that we are willing to take risks, with God as our final evaluator."

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land: Church of the Brethren in Indiana