In Behrens’ bequest, 75 percent was allocated to the college endowment for student scholarships and church relations. The Franklin College Board of Trustees followed institutional policy and directed the remaining 25 percent of unrestricted funds to the college’s most urgent need, The Future Unfolds capital campaign. The board’s additional actions included naming the new college softball facility Behrens Field and adding landscaping to the new Grizzly Park athletics complex; both were campaign goals.
“With her effervescent spirit, her deep faith, her passion for missions, her active participation in worship, her role with the Women’s Societies, Effie Behrens was a solid rock. Unafraid to speak her mind with clarity and conviction, she was a powerful force within the life and ministry of First Baptist for more than sixty years,” said Dr. George Tooze, retired senior minister of First Baptist Church of Indianapolis, where Behrens attended.
In addition to serving on the Administrative Council and as church moderator for two years, Effie was a Sunday School teacher for many years and active in the youth program there. She also was a past president of the Indiana Baptist Women and the American Baptist Church of Indiana. Her husband Otto had been equally active in church activities, serving on the General Board for American Baptist Churches USA. Effie and Otto valued that Franklin College’s American Baptist heritage aligned with their personal values, and their care for the institution mushroomed into deep commitment over their lifetimes.
Franklin College President James G. Moseley said, “Effie Behrens was a remarkable woman, whose faith and servant leadership influenced and inspired us. Effie’s sincere interest and involvement in fostering spiritual growth and enhancing the quality of life for Franklin College students distinguished her tenure as a trustee and embodies her legacy. We are humbled by Effie’s generous bequest and immensely thankful that the loving care which guided her thoughts and actions will bless the college and those it serves for many years to come.”
Effie’s service at Franklin College began in the ’70s, when she was a leader among American Baptists who joined together in fundraising for construction of a campus chapel, now known as Richardson Chapel. While Otto served as director of church relations, Effie also had a supporting role in building relations between the college and churches. After Otto’s death, Effie stayed involved with Franklin College, honoring her late husband’s memory by funding a full-time director of church relations position.
Founded in 1834, Franklin College is a residential four-year undergraduate liberal arts institution with a scenic, wooded campus located 20 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. The college prepares men and women for significant careers through the liberal arts, offering its approximately 1,000 students 30 majors, 35 minors and nine pre-professional programs. In 1842, the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with American Baptist Churches USA.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.