Kansas Governor Sam Brownback attended the Bethany College Oratorio Society’s Palm Sunday performance of Handel’s Messiah on April 17. Brownback first toured the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery and then watched and spoke with the Lindsborg Swedish Folk Dancers before moving to Presser Hall for the Messiah. He was also reunited with fellow Festival visitor and Bethany alumna, Mildred Julius Stevens, who had been Brownback’s childhood doctor.

Brownback spoke to the audience before the performance about his experience with the Messiah. He had first attended about 25 years ago and was “thrilled” to be present again. Brownback called the Messiah Festival a “beautiful tradition” that began 20 years after Kansas became a state in 1861. He added that the Messiah is “the most fabulous piece of music ever written in the world—even better than the Beatles.”

Brownback concluded by saying, “In a healthy culture, beauty and truth travel together, and in the Messiah there is both beauty and truth.”

Bethany College President Edward F. Leonard III presented Brownback with a dala horse and Messiah Festival lapel pin to commemorate his visit. He said, “It was a pleasure to host Governor Brownback during the state's sesquicentennial year and our 130th Messiah Festival. We hope he enjoyed his visit to Lindsborg and my son, Quade, invited him back any time.”

The Messiah Festival of the Arts at Bethany College continues through April 24. To purchase or reserve tickets for Bethany College’s performances of Handel’s Messiah on April 24 at 3 p.m. and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on April 22 at 7:30 p.m., call Bethany’s Messiah Coordinator at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8137, or e-mail bunningb@bethanylb.edu. Special rates are available for students, churches and tour groups. Tickets can also be purchased online or in person at Presser Hall Box Office on Bethany’s campus, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a full listing of special events and exhibits during the Messiah Festival of the Arts, visit www.bethanylb.edu/messiah.

Every year since 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society has presented Messiah at the college. The society has performed Messiah across the plains, in Carnegie Hall and on national television. Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals in their search for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu.