Update Newsletter


September 2019 Volume 42 Number 10

Handel’s Messiah: Planning Ahead

By Ernie Steiner

An exciting opportunity awaits singers who participate in Mennonite Choral Society’s rendition of Handel’s Messiah.  This year the chorus will be accompanied by the Indiana Wesleyan University orchestra for the Saturday evening performance.  Additional accompaniment will be provided by Dr. Scott Lehman on the organ and Mike Wilson on the piano.  Soloists for Messiah are: bass, Dr. Coner Angell, who is on staff at Taylor University; alto, Loralee Songer, also on staff at Taylor University; soprano, Lisa Dawson, a staff member at Indiana Wesleyan University; and tenor, Joseph Ittoop, a graduate student at Indiana University.  Brent Hyman will direct the choir and orchestra. 

 Many of the older singers in our congregation sang for Dr. Burkhalter in high school. This would be an excellent opportunity to activate those vocal cords again!  Make Messiah a part of your Christmas celebration.   Rehearsals begin on Tuesday, October 1st at 7:00 pm in the choir loft at First Mennonite. They continue every Tuesday night through December 3rd with a final rehearsal on Saturday, December 7th in the afternoon before the performance. The Saturday evening service will begin at 7:00 pm with the orchestra accompaniment. On Sunday, December 8th, a shorter, seventy-minute performance will begin at 3:00 pm, featuring the choir and soloists. Come join the voices of the Mennonite Choral Society. WORTHY IS THE LAMB!  


Baked Goods Needed

Calling all Baked Goods! You are to appear baked, wrapped appropriately, and labeled to travel to the Michiana Relief Sale by 9:30 am on Friday, September 27. This includes cakes, cookies, breads, rolls, and pies.


My Coins Count

Attention! Quarter Towers will be collected in the morning service on September 22. Checks made out to “First Mennonite/Memo: MCC” are also very welcome. These monies go specifically towards MCC projects that provide access to water.

Estate Giving

Our church often receives a gift from the estate of someone who wants to remember the church in their final financial plan. Many have asked, “What happens to that money?”

The Ministries Council approves all distributions. Usually, the gift is given with a specific purpose in mind. For example, it may be designated for a building project or a missions project such as the meat canning program. In that case, the money is put in the designated fund. Sometimes the gift is given with more general instructions, such as “give it to missions.” When that happens, the family of the donor is contacted to see if they have any suggestions, and the family’s wishes are always considered.

When the gift is a large amount, leadership appoints a committee to formulate a plan for the distribution of the gift. They consider the wishes of the family of the donor and also look at the needs of the church and various missions opportunities. When they have a plan, it is always brought to the Ministries Council for discussion and approval. The money is then distributed in a timely fashion.

 All gifts are welcome and appreciated. The amount of the gift is included in the treasurer’s report. The name of the donor and amount of gift are not announced because the family usually wants to keep it private. All gifts are given to the glory of God!


 Michiana Relief Sale

The Michiana Relief Sale is almost here -- September 27 & 28. Did you know besides all the food booths, craft items, baked goods, quilt, and other on-site sales and activities at the Elkhart Co. Fairgrounds, there is also an online auction? Check out the details at:




There are over 200 pictured items listed, including 2 round-trip bus tickets to Florida, a weekend getaway in Michigan, Hummer Tera Wind Chimes, Menno Tea, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn (1 large bag every month for a year!), Handcrafted Dulcimer, and LOTS more! 


Running the Race

By Lana Shoaf


“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”                                                 2 Timothy 4:7   


Have you ever stood at the finish line of a cross country race as a spectator? It’s inspiring, really, those first runners bounding through the finish line on gazelle-like legs eyeing first prize with sweat dripping past the eyes of determination. Valiant efforts of the next runners show in grimaces and mud-splattered calves, but the real gift as a spectator comes when the last runners cross.

These straggling, struggling runners spend the most time on the course. Some limp, some cry, some vomit or gag as they take those last few steps as competitors. And I stand, watching with a lump in my throat. Without knowing each runner, I can see some of them are running despite illness, injury, or some other unseen inhibitor. Others look like they may just not have trained for the race, but all of them chose to run and are choosing to finish, whatever the cost.

And let me tell you a secret about watching cross country. If you stand past the finish line, where the runners are corralled after the race, you will get the best reward. After the race, some runners get to the corral and grab a cup of water offered to them and simply lean over to catch their breath. Others will collapse and lie on the ground, sometimes crying, expressing great distress until their physical symptoms of being pushed to the limit subside.

Then a beautiful thing happens. The runners who have been recovering longer will often step back into the corral to help a distressed competitor. They may get them water, remove their timing chip, or grab an arm to heave over their own shoulder in order for them to stand and walk away. In the aftermath of the race, these runners experience deep community because they know the pain and feel the great intrinsic reward for finishing.

Their reward is mine too, and I think it’s because their race mimics the journey of life. Some smoothly navigate life and fly into death with swift beauty. Others get to the end, a little beat up, but with a determined smile. And still, others find the days grueling and the nights dark and long. They limp, gasp, and weakly look up, longing to glimpse the finish line. Perhaps injury or illness or hardship took its toll, but whatever the source of their desperation, they commit to finishing the race.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul encourages believers to “keep your head” and “endure hardship” through life and acknowledges his own commitment to finishing well when he saw the finish line in view (v.5-6). Paul’s wish echoes in the hearts of believers today, choosing to run well and finish well, no matter what the journey holds.

What bliss on that day -- our own finish-line day! I can only imagine the exhaustion turning to deep community, not only with those who have gone before, but with the One who journeyed every step with us. The One who saved us. The One we will enjoy deep community with forever and ever.  The reward awaits all who “long for His appearing” (v. 8). What a perfect and lasting reward.


        Among Our People

Connie Nagel spent several days in the AMH with heart issues.

Orlando Sprunger was admitted to AMH in Decatur with heart issues from August 6-9. 

Doyle Lehman had nasal surgery at Lutheran on August 12.

Phil Wulliman had knee replacement at Parkview ONE on August 13.

Bill Coblentz had heart catheterization at Lutheran on August 14. Admitted to AMH from August 20-22.

Anita Marble had knee replacement surgery and is in rehab at Swiss Village.

Deloris Christy - admitted to Lutheran on August 16 for tests. She continues in rehab at Swiss Village.

Mary Bauman was at AMH from August 20-22.

Jamie Cressman returned to Lutheran for chemo treatments from August 26-31.

Kim Ringger had an appendectomy and was at Bluffton Regional from August 26-30.

Nancy Mock was admitted to AMH and transferred to Lutheran for tests on August 30.

Betty Liechty was admitted to Lutheran on August 31 for a broken hip.  She had surgery and then was dismissed to Swiss Village rehab on September 5.

Floyd Liechty had rotator cuff surgery at Parkview ONE on September 3.


Dinner For Eight

            Last sprin