Get to Know:
October 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
Have you, your children or anyone you know attended camp at Heartland Presbyterian Center in Parkville, MO? Per the website, this is “Where your kids find belonging, love, and how fun our God really is!” If you have had any connection with this facility in the past 30 years, you may well know our “Get To Know” person this month.
Dan Scheneman, who was ordained as a GEPC deacon in January of this year, has served on staff at Heartland Center for three decades, as Program Director from 1993-2001, and as Executive Director since 2001.
Mr. Scheneman was born in Topeka, KS, at Forbes Air Force Base. As part of a military family, he moved frequently while growing up, including living in Lincoln, Superior and Lexington, all cities/towns in Nebraska, as well as in Ozawkie, KS, north of Lawrence in the Lake Perry area. Due to all of his family’s moves, he attended various churches, but was pretty much settled in at Presbyterian Church of Stanley (KS) during high school, while they lived in Overland Park. He graduated from Blue Valley High School, and attended MU for two semesters, before transferring to the Mid-America Nazarene College (now a university), from which he graduated with a degree in Human Relations. The Nazarene College was “truly my favorite school, as it was Christian and I enjoyed my biblical studies. But one of my favorite classes was at MU, Dr. Farmer’s New Testament course.”
Dan’s father, Ken Scheneman, is retired from the insurance industry, and his mother, Karolyn, is a retired hospital administrator. Older brother, Jeff, is a maintenance manager for Walmart, and younger brother, Kris, is an academic counselor for Texas A&M in San Antonio, TX.
During his college years, Dan worked at Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church as Youth Director for 3 years. He continued as a member of Pine Ridge for 25 years, serving as an elder, teaching Sunday School, helping with youth programs, directing Wednesday LOGOS program for elementary-aged kids and attending men’s Bible study.
While working at Heartland Center during summer camp he met a special young lady who was also serving on the summer camp staff, Miss Jennifer Lynn Norman, who grew up in Grandview, MO, graduating from high school there and continuing to earn a degree in math from Central Missouri University. Where to better meet the mate God has planned for you than while both are in His service? Dan and Jennifer dated for two years before marrying, 28 years ago last May.
Jennifer became Mrs. Dan Scheneman, and God has blessed their marriage with three children. Oldest son is Jonah, 24, who lives in the Northland and works for a children’s mental health hospital in Kansas City, KS. Next born is son Timothy, 20, who lives and works in an Intentional Christian Community for young adults at Heartland Center. Daughter Maggie is the youngest Scheneman child at 18, and is enjoying her freshman year at Maple Woods Community College for this year prior to moving on to MU. Jennifer is a 4th grade math teacher at School of New Life (SVN, Schola Vita Nova) in downtown KCMO on Independence Avenue. The Scheneman family is completed by Pork Chop, an elderly ½ German Shepherd, ½ Rottweiler.
In 2018 Dan and Jennifer, who had remained at Pine Ridge while Jonah was active in youth ministry, decided to seek a new church. And seek they did….visiting 11 churches before finding the one they felt God was leading them to. They had strong criteria, searching until they found a church home that was biblically grounded, had a strong youth program, and had dedicated Sunday School class times for children, youth and adults. They began attending Gashland in the autumn of 2018 and joined the following spring.
Initially, Dan and Jennifer attended an adult Sunday School class, but have not done so regularly since Covid struck. Dan is currently serving in a lead teacher rotation once a month for Children’s Church. And, as stated above, he has been a deacon since the first of the year. Son, Timothy, is in the Gashland youth group. Jennifer attends a women’s Bible study. When asked if he had favorite sections or verses of scripture, Dan replied, “I find myself always gravitating toward the gospels. Other than the gospels, Ephesians is one of my favorites.”
Dan has developed various activities, stating that during the pandemic he became an avid disc (frisbee) golf player. The family also competes in board and card games. Dan adds, “I really love hiking in the mountains and canyons of our national parks.” He is a movie fan, especially adventure, spy and science fiction. And he has particularly enjoyed “The Chosen” series. He describes a truly enjoyable trip last January to Israel, a location he hopes to revisit.
Among his expected duties over the course of his tenure at Heartland, he lists others that are perhaps a bit unexpected….horse wrangler, target range instructor (archery, hatchet throwing, sling-shot), climbing wall facilitator, hay ride tractor driver, to name a few. Dan has led multiple youth trips, including rafting, canoeing, horseback trail rides, and even spelunking! But perhaps most impressive of his numerous skills, he boasts “I am the only person I know who can eat six saltine crackers and then whistle within one minute. Try it, it’s hard to do!”
To return to Mr. Scheneman’s longtime occupation as Director of Heartland Center, he states, “I love my job!! I’m very fortunate in that respect.” Mrs. Scheneman co-directs a Sr. High Youth camp every summer with her friend, Suzanne Whitt (also a Gashland member). The camp is called the Amazing Race Camp, inspired by the TV show. Visiting Heartland’s website, you will find their Core Values: “Our heart – Love for God, Love for Kids, Love For Joy, Love for Service”….and the statement: “Heartland Camps – where your kids find belonging, love, and how fun our God really is!” Not hard to understand why Dan loves his job!