It all started with the story of Fred Beltram and a generous gift…
Fred Beltram had a passion for peace. After serving in WWII as a non-combatant medic, Fred came home convinced more than ever of the need for peace. Throughout the rest of his life, he had become a member of several peace organizations including Veterans for Peace.
Much of Fred’s church involvement had been with the Baptist faith. When he moved to Florida, he discovered the witness of peace in the Mennonite tradition. This prompted him to participate at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville, FL, though his home was in Old Town about an hour away. Emmanuel became his church home for his remaining days.
Upon Fred’s passing around 2007, he left generous donations for his peace organizations, and to his beloved church he also left his home, his place of peace, his “Final Forest”.
That is the story of Fred and his relationship with Emmanuel.
The Mennonite Meeting House (1236 NW 18th Avenue) is now the home of EMMANUEL MENNONITE CHURCH, a welcoming community in the Anabaptist tradition of radical discipleship and active peacemaking, and THE BELTRAM PEACE CENTER, where events and programs funded by the legacy from Fred’s estate are offered.
BELTRAM PEACE CENTER 270 will be an extension of the values and services of Emmanuel and The Beltram Peace Center at the Old Town estate: Fred’s home and 40 beautiful acres of truly pristine Florida hammock forest. (By the way, 270 are the numbers from Fred’s address…!)
BPC 270 will be a Place of Healing and Hope through Creation Care and Service to Veterans.
I never met Fred Beltram, but his spirit of peace is palpable there at 270. The eternity of nature takes over, and one can’t help but stop and sigh and breathe a new reality. Healing and hope speak out!
The project, Beltram Peace Center 270, merely presented itself to a willing listener.
What Emmanuel Mennonite Church is offering is hospitality to veterans seeking to hear nature’s voice of peace.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is providing services to help preserve this spectacular site.
A veteran now lives in the home that Fred built, and he cares for the grounds.
An organization called Warriors Institute will be coming out for retreats, providing biofeedback and recreational therapy for veterans seeking respite.
Emmanuel’s hope of hospitality is that this gift will be “regifted” a hundred times over.
Thank you, Fred Beltram.