Sweet Serendipity: A long-time investment becomes
an opportunity to support new vision
Through the heart of the twentieth century, Eula and Ray Fyock were pillars of the Harrisburg First (Penn.) Church of the Brethren. They were lifetime deacons, and Ray was treasurer of the congregation for 25 years. Ray passed away in 1961. In recent years Eula has lived at Brethren Village in nearby Lancaster, and has been a member of the Lititz congregation since 1980.
Ray and Eula's enthusiasm and commitment shown in their church relationships carried over into their professional lives. An amusing anecdote from Ray’s work as an accountant and auditor was his superiors’ habit of dispatching him to audit pubs and bars, because they knew that he would not be attracted or distracted by the product lines of the establishments that he was examining! Eula, a junior high home economics teacher, taught Bible classes to the women at the Dauphin County prison, and has supported 26 children through the Childreach program of Plan USA, formerly known as foster Parents Plan. In her mid 90s, she continued to consistently maintain contact with three of those children.
On an ordinary day in 1956, Ray bought some Hershey Chocolate Company stock (now The Hershey Company.) Nearly 40 years later, enter Elaine Gibbel, a new member of the Bethany Board of Trustees at the time, making what she assumed would be an ordinary presentation about the Seminary to the Lititz congregation on Bethany Sunday. Several days later at Women’s Bible Study, Eula asked Elaine about making a contribution to Bethany.
Eula’s gift was far from ordinary. The Hershey stock investment had grown into an opportunity to give to programs and initiatives that benefit the church that she and Ray loved and supported throughout their lives.
Elaine was delighted to serve as the connection between Eula and Bethany. “Since I was new on the Bethany Board," Elaine recounts, "I didn’t know what to tell Eula specifically about establishing a scholarship, but I did tell her that Bethany's Advancement staff would be glad to talk with her about it. I immediately contacted the Director. He called Eula, met with her and later with her daughter and spouse, Joan and Phil Norris, and negotiated the details of the scholarship.”
The culmination of several serendipitous moments—a timely stock purchase, the faithfulness of a Board member, the willingness of a congregation to hear the Bethany story, and the response of a faithful servant—have become a blessing to those who have given and those who will receive. The Eula G. and Ray L. Fyock Scholarship will be available to students pursuing ministry through either graduate or academy programs, a legacy that will bless new generations of leadership, and the church they serve.
Eula lived several years to see her scholarship endowment support Bethany students. She died at the wonderfully seasoned age of 98, knowing she had provided support for the next generation of ministry leadership. Since Eula's death, her daughter Joan has continued to support the endowment both through current gifts and through several planned gift strategies. A new video of Joan telling her story will be linked here by early July. Watch for it!