February 2021 Update Newsletter

Keeping the Organ Excellent

Organ updates approved at the yearly business meeting gave the green light for cleaning up ranks of pipes in old material from the last project, and an update to the computer controller for the whole instrument. When Dr. Scott Lehman approached the trustees with a request to improve the sound of some pipes through a professional cleaning, he didn’t expect the approval of the updated control panel. He told them the panel would perhaps need replaced in the coming years, but the trustees wanted to bundle the project to include both the cleaning and the updated computer element. Lehman is pleased.

Dr. Scott Lehman became the church organist in 1986 and saw much-needed improvements to the instrument in the 2000 renovation. When he began, the aging pipes from the 1947 renovation caused subtle variances in sound. The materials in the 2000 update greatly improved the instrument, and, as Scott noted, the materials just continue to get better and better as manufacturing and technology advance. The renovations this year will see the best materials yet. These improvements, likely unnoticeable to the untrained ear, will be extremely helpful to Lehman in preventing any “bad” sounds. As is, the organ can sometimes produce these off sounds which Lehman works around, often reducing the flexibility in choosing sounds. The hope, Lehman says, is for the organ to work as it should so whoever is playing doesn’t have to do “workarounds.”

Renovations to the organ by Reynolds and Associates from Marion, Indiana will take place in the spring or summer of this year. Dr. Scott Lehman is most excited to improve the organ as his quest in keeping the organ at First Mennonite an instrument of excellence. In the history of the church organ, he wants to be remembered as an organist who left the organ better than he found it. First Mennonite is blessed through Lehman’s meticulous care of the organ and the level of excellence he brings in his talents to the organ keys each Sunday. †

Notes of Appreciation

First Mennonite Church Family,
With all the uncertainties, hardships, and changes of 2020, we were truly blessed by the Missions Festival donation. It can feel overwhelming at times not knowing exactly how things will turn out, but this past year has presented itself as an amazing opportunity to live out our faith.

We say God is in control, but do we truly believe that? We say that His timing is perfect (Proverbs 16:9), but do we hold too tightly to our own plans? We say that God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), but do we trust Him in that?

God continued to show Himself to us throughout the year.uses a bilingual Christian school as our tool for discipleship. This past August, the government closed school doors and required that students do at-home learning. It was hard to accept this, BUT GOD provided us with an opportunity to disciple our Dominican teachers. They received a Bible class, math class, library training, and more. We were able to use this time to disciple those who will be discipling our students.

Freedom emphasizes that, from preschool to 12th grade, we will be able to invest 18,000 hours of discipleship time with our students. We lost many of those hours this past year by having to close our doors. Our students began to struggle, BUT GOD opened doors for us to go out into the bateyes. We were able to strengthen relationships with the communities. Our students were able to interact with us more outside of the classroom. We built new friendships with many new people. Our newest missionaries were able to get to know the families of our students. The gospel was shared on many occasions.

Freedom, through seeking the Lord, has continued to do the work God wants us to do here in the Dominican Republic. It hasn’t been easy or simple. It’s been a struggle and a real reminder to stay focused on what we are called to do. We chose, in the midst of the uncertainties, hardships, and changes, to Love God, Love People, and Live our Design. God was so kind to us in 2020. It is evident in the way He continued, and continues, to work.

We can’t thank you all enough for walking this difficult road with us. Your prayers and support are not taken for granted. We are blessed by your love for missions and your desire to be faithful to God's word!

Thank you all for investing in what God is doing through our family here in the Dominican Republic!

We love you all,
Katie, Kurt, Max, and Derek

Thank you so much for blessing the clients of the Hope Clinic with the wonderful baby shower gifts. We are blessed with so many wonderful items to help stock our shelves!
This ministry is truly a community effort, and it would not be possible without your prayers and support. Thank you so much for your ongoing partnership with us.
We consider it an honor that you chose to join God’s hand at work through the ministry of the Hope Clinic!

The Hope Clinic Clients, Board of Directors, Volunteers and Staff

To my dear Brothers and Sisters at First Mennonite:

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support shown to me during Vickie's illness and passing. The many cards, meals, and gifts have been greatly appreciated, along with the numerous expressions of sympathy and assurances of prayers on my behalf. I thank God for each of you!

While it seems she is gone way too soon, I am thankful for the many years we had together. In all of this God is good!

-Bill Beachey

The family of Lena Nagel would like to thank Pastor Jeff, Pastor Jim, Brent, Scott and the sound team for creating a wonderful memorial service in honor of our mother and grandmother. Lena loved the Lord and His church dearly. Even on the COVID shutdown Sundays she would wake early, get her breakfast and get settled in to watch the online services. Thank you to all of the behind-the-scenes people that make this possible each Sunday. We’re truly thankful for our church family.

-The Family of Lena Nagel

Mennonite Central Committee, along with over 500 partners in 51 countries, offers sincere thanks to our friends and supporters at First Mennonite for your contribution of $18,993.26 during our 2020 centennial year. The coronavirus created challenges and opportunities for our partners, but your generosity allowed them to respond to the threat with information and creative resources.
Thanks to your support, MCC has been able to assist those impacted by twin hurricanes destroying food and property in Central America. Your support has allowed MCC to respond to the devastation of the port explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, with food, relief supplies, rebuilding and trauma healing activities for people, many who had previously fled the trauma of the Syrian war.
Your support has allowed our partners to walk with uprooted people around the world, including DR Congo, where food and gardening tools are helping feed displaced families. Finally, we offer prayers for peace – both for our own communities and for our neighbors around the world.

Thank you for offering hope and solidarity to vulnerable people through MCC in the name of Christ.

-Les Gustafson-Zook,
MCC Great Lakes

We are thankful to the Lord and to you, the family of God at First Mennonite!There are several ways to obey Jesus in His command to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel”. First Mennonite’s people do them well – giving, praying, sending, going and helping us to welcome the nations which have come here.You have once again, generously prayed and given financially to support missionary workers, including ourselves.

We are deeply thankful to you and to the Lord, as He continues to use us together to build the Kingdom of God for His glory!

-Eldon and Jan Claussen

2020, the year of major transitions and changes all over the world. We have all been affected in some way. Even in the midst of moving halfway around the world, settling into a new location and taking on a modified Wycliffe work assignment; God has been faithful in working out all the details. He is good and we thank you, as part of His body, for generously giving to us from His goodness through Mission Festival. May God's love overflow from you to others as He continually fills you.

Our Wycliffe ministry of getting God's word to the people of Papua New Guinea (PNG), could not continue without your part in it. Many people in PNG are now hearing God's word in a language that speaks to their hearts, through the work of Bible translation.

-Dan & Arlene Bauman

Wow! Thanks so much for the generous Christmas gift in the check that was sent! Being that the move and living in Finland will be a jolting experience financially– we appreciate this even more!
News made it across the ocean to Finland quite quickly about the astounding financial result of the Missions Festival. There is something really unique and special about FMC … and the further away from Berne we find ourselves, the greater we realize that.

Truly, the privilege Yarna and I have of being recipients of some of your prayerful, kind, compassionate and caring gifts is huge.“Kiitos,” “Tuasakidila,” “Merci,” “Dhanyawad,” Thank You!!(in Finnish, Tshiluba (Congo), French, and Hindi)…all of those places, you have had, or are having, Kingdom impact through your prayers and giving. We are grateful.

-Gordon & Yarna Claassen †

Adams County Strong Initiatives

About a dozen couples gathered at First Mennonite Church to participate in a county-wide marriage retreat presented by “Adams County Strong.” Adams County Strong is driven by the Adams County Community Foundation and includes a collaborative effort of community leaders and churches (including First Mennonite) to strengthen families in Adams County.

Thanks to a leadership project initiated by the Lilly Endowment GIFT Phase VII Challenge, funds are available through the Adams County Community Foundation for the specific use of building family unity in order to strengthen the community. The Adams County Community Foundation hopes to utilize these funds to provide opportunities to equip individuals, couples, and families with the tools needed to enhance, improve, and restore family relationships. These strengthened relationships will, in turn, strengthen the community of Adams County.

The marriage retreat held at First Mennonite in January was one such opportunity. FMC joined other churches in the county for a live broadcast of a keynote speaker and intentional times of conversation to build better marriages. Following the retreat, Adams County Strong sponsored marriage enhancement classes which are ongoing. A culminating event this spring will conclude this marriage enhancement initiative. Learn more about Adams County Strong at www.adamscountystrong.org. †


E. Byron Fox, 82, of Berne, Indiana passed away Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at his residence with his family present.

He was born on March 19, 1938, in Adams County, Indiana to Herman Paul Fox and Martha (Habegger) Fox. Byron married the love of his life Mildred “Milly” Foye on August 17, 1968, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Byron was a lifelong member of the First Mennonite Church in Berne where he sang in the Mennonite Choral Society, Men’s Chorus, Chancel Choir, the Praise Ensemble, and the Men’s Quartet. He sang at many weddings and funerals with Fred Stauffer, and he served as Youth Pastor at First Mennonite Church from 1970-1976. He was part of the Taylor University’s Men’s Quartet which traveled with evangelist Jack Wyrtzen in the early 1960’s. Byron worked as a teacher in various schools, including 36 years at South Adams. He was also co-owner of F&S Painting with Ted Schwartz for 28 years.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Milly Fox of Berne, Indiana; daughter, Sara Fox of Tampa, Florida; three sons, Ben (Dianna) Fox of Geneva, Indiana, Andy (Jesica) Fox of Lebanon, Indiana and Joe (Jackie) Fox of Mooresville, Indiana; brother, David (Judy) Fox of Berne, Indiana; sister, Carol (Rex) King of Decatur, Indiana; and seven grandchildren, Grant, Weston, Oaklyn Fox; Calvin Fox; Rebel, Monroe, and Story Fox.

Byron was preceded in death by his parents; and brother and sister-in-law, Edward & Joyce Fox.

James L. “Jim” Humphrey, 81, of Berne, Ind., went home to be with his Lord and Savior at 10:10 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2021, at Swiss Village Retirement Center in Berne.

He was born on Feb. 22, 1939, in Elgin, Ill., to Charles and Arlene (Stewart) Humphrey. He was married to Annabelle (Annie) Amstutz, the love of his life, on Oct. 19, 1963, in Elgin. Jim graduated from Case Institute of Technology in1961 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He later attended Wheaton College Graduate School for Biblical Studies.
He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Elgin, serving in many capacities, notably as church moderator. Upon moving to Green Lake, Wisc., he attended the Terrace Shores Evangelical Free Church. After moving to Berne in 2014, Jim and Annie attended First Mennonite Church.

Jim was employed at Universal Oil Products in McCook, Ill., where he was a pilot plant engineer. He began his own company, Securitronics, Inc. in Palatine, Ill., where he designed, installed and serviced burglar and fire alarm systems for homes and businesses. He successfully operated this business for the next 20 years before selling the business to a national alarm company.

Jim is survived by his wife of Berne; one daughter, Naomi (Roger) Muselman of Berne; two sons, Ted (Cherie) Humphrey of Palatine, Ill., and John (Tracy) Humphrey of Lombard, Ill.; sister, Jeanine (George) McNabney of Elgin, Ill.; two sisters-in-law, Marilyn Stucky of Pretty Prairie, Kansas, and Lucy Fawley of Winona Lake; nine grandchildren, Sarah Muselman, Mark (Natalee) Muselman, David Muselman, Jeremy Humphrey, Jaedon Humphrey, Elisha Humphrey, Reagan Humphrey, Cole Humphrey and Elliot Humphrey; three nieces, Kathy Trim, Wendy Cermack and Kim Morris; and three nephews, Dennis Stucky, Lynn Stucky and Scott McNabney.

Anna Jane (Habegger) Fennig was born on June 21, 1931 to David and Barbara (Amstutz) Habegger in Monroe Township, Adams County, IN.

She had a wonderful upbringing in the Berne area and was active in the First Mennonite Church and in any musical opportunity that came her way. She graduated from Berne-French High School and attended Fort Wayne Bible College and Biola University. She married Martel Fennig on August 14, 1953, and together they began their life of service and adventure.

In 1957, with two toddlers in tow, they moved to Kenya, East Africa, where they were missionaries with Africa Inland Mission until their “retirement” in 1993. As true partners, they built and staffed three different boys’ high schools, turning them over to Kenyans once they were established and then moving on to the next school.

After their retirement, she and Martel continued to volunteer for months at a time in Kenya and Namibia. She was in a horrific car accident on February 11, 2003, which took the lives of Martel and her son Joe and left her permanently disabled. Since then, she has been a resident of Swiss Village where she received compassionate and loving care. In spite of being in constant pain, she lived her years there without complaint or self-pity, bringing joy to those around her and ministering to anyone who came in contact with her. Above her bed was the verse she lived by: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Anna Jane’s earthly life ended February 11, 2021, on the 18thof the accident that took her husband and son from us all. Survivors include her children -- Chuck (Carole) of Duncanville, TX, (Tom) Johnson of Lafayette, IN, Barbara of Fort Wayne, IN, and Sue (Dan) Skiendziel of Chelsea, MI.Also surviving are her grandchildren -- Daniel, Jonathan, and Matt Fennig, Alex (Laura) Johnson, Meredith and Heather Johnson, Arik and Stefani Skiendziel. Preceding her in death were her husband Martel, son Joseph, her parents, her step-father, Marcus Sprunger, brothers, Glenn (Ruth) Habegger and Merlin (Delores) Habegger, a sister, Donna Mae, and step-sisters, Marcella (Adam) Liechty and Eileen (Ernest) Sprunger.†

Among Our People

Janet McKean had hip replacement surgery on January 18.
Floyd Liechty had back surgery on January 19 and spent several days in the hospital before being dismissed.
Orlyn Lehman had knee replacement surgery on Feb. 10 and was dismissed on Feb 11.
Fred Lehman was hospitalized at Adams Memorial for several days with broken ribs and is now in rehab at Swiss Village. †

Update is the publication of the First Mennonite Church, Berne, Indiana. It is published once a month to keep our people informed about the news and events in the church.
Senior Pastor Jeff Linthicum
Editor Lana Shoaf
Among Our People Jim Schwartz