December 2021 Update Newsletter

December 2021 Volume 45 Number 1

A 2021 Rendition of Handel’s Messiah
By Brent Hyman

After last year’s COVID restrictions, this year’s Messiah presentation by the Mennonite Choral Society was almost back to normal. The choir loft was almost as full as usual, and there were good crowds both nights. We had approximately 110 singers, many of whom were conservatives from rural Adams County, Fort Wayne, Grabill, and Elida, OH. Singers also came from Decatur, Bluffton, and Portland. Nineteen of the singers were from First Mennonite Church. We even had one gentleman this year (who has relatives in our church) who drove from Indianapolis each week to rehearse and sing with us. It’s great to see the choir loft so full of people outside of our community, but I wish more people from our community would avail themselves of the opportunity to sing. I think sometimes we take for granted what an amazing thing this is for a community the size of Berne.

For me, the highlight on Saturday night was the very first chorus. There’s always an added bit of excitement and adrenaline that first night, so that first chorus is often charged with energy! Also, we added some slight changes in dynamics that made the first chorus (“And the Glory of the Lord”) come alive in a fresh way. The choir got softer right before the men all came in at full volume singing “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” The huge contrast in volume highlighted the power and solid, unwavering truth of God’s Word. The other large choruses were also highlights for me this year. The power of the choir, organ, piano, trumpet, and timpani all resounding together as we sing of the victory of the Lamb is heavenly! One last chorus that always hits home to me is “All We, Like Sheep.” Although we treat the vast majority of this chorus as comic relief (comparing ourselves to sheep wandering all of over the place, disregarding the voice of the shepherd and turning our own ways), the last page of the chorus is a startling reminder that “...the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” You can hear the weight of our sin being placed on Him. In all of the years I’ve been directing Messiah, I’m not sure if I’ve ever gotten through a performance of this chorus without shedding a few tears of guilt for my own sin and gratitude for what Jesus suffered on my behalf.

For the most part, things went as planned this year. The one big exception was that our soprano soloist got sick the week of the performance and was unable to come. Once our choral society president Ernie Steiner was made aware of this unfortunate news, he immediately started making some phone calls. It wasn’t long before he found Lisa Moore, a voice professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, to take the vacant soprano position. We are very grateful she was willing to rearrange her schedule in order to sing the soprano solos on such short notice!

Before the choir went out to sing on Saturday night, I reminded them that we were singing to the glory of God, and that so much of Messiah speaks of God’s glory. “And the Glory of the Lord,” “Glory to God,” “He is the King of glory,” “Blessing, and honor, glory, and power be unto Him,” are just a few of the lyrics in the choruses that proclaim the glory of God. I shared Psalm 66:2 with the choir: “Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious.” I believe it was every musician’s desire to do just that. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! †

Tributes to a Former Youth Pastor (Part 1)

 When former youth pastor Bob Sprunger passed away, many memories began to surface about Bob’s energy and influence with youth among our congregation and beyond throughout the years. So many memories flooded in that this tribute column will appear in two editions of the Update: this one (December) and next month, January 2022.

 Some remembered trips with Bob like college visits in the 90’s. Karmen Sprunger-Knopfmeier said, “He drove down to Indy to take me to dinner for at least two of my years at Butler. So giving of his time and genuinely invested in each student!” Erin Dubach-Schoch shared a similar memory and agreed Bob was a “great youth pastor.” Athena Sherwood-Aaronson remembered, “...that Bob used to take students out to lunch to get to know each of them! He and another youth leader even drove to several student’s colleges their freshman year to still invest in their youth. They drove all the way out here to Liberty University in Virginia my freshman year!” It’s no secret that Bob was willing to go near or far to connect with young people. Mark Sprunger remembers, “He took me to the Galley one time” and Monika Bodmer commented on a trip to South Africa!

Longer tributes submitted for the Update contained in the paragraphs to follow demonstrate Bob’s ability to include everyone through the love of Jesus in his ministry.

“Bob will forever hold a very special place in my heart. Youth group was the place where God took my parents’ faith and made it my own. Youth group was fun, but it was so much more than that. Bob’s compassion for those around him pushed me to follow his leadership. He had a way of teaching and imparting the role of discipleship that has stuck with me to this day. We make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. He engrained that in us until it became the cry of our own hearts. He was a worshipper, a lover of Jesus, and was never shy about it. He didn’t take the easy path and never expected us to either.

When I went into RAD with him as my director, I remember calling home crying from South Africa begging him to bring us home. His heart broke for us like a Father, but he knew that for our growth, we needed to stay…and I am so glad he made us push through. Bob saw me through so many seasons of life and eventually married Jean-Paul and me. He spoke into our marriage and believed in us as a team. There is no other person, outside of my parents, that grew my passion for Jesus as Bob did. Eventually, when God blessed Bob with Linda during my RAD years, they became the perfect team. We love them both dearly!

The verse that I will always hear Bob saying in all his funny voices to get us to remember is Hebrews 12:1-2, ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

Bob ran a great race, he fought an amazing fight, and he will forever leave a legacy that continues to shape all those whose lives he touched.”
-Rita (Biberstine) Tiendrebeogo (and Jean Paul)

“Bob was my Youth Pastor at First Mennonite and then was my Director at the RAD program for two years. I am extremely thankful for Bob and his leadership during my teen years and early 20’s. Without his leadership and desire to see me know and experience God's love, I wouldn't be following Jesus today. He believed in me and called the ‘gold’ out of me before I knew what that meant. His legacy is lasting. Bob was like a spiritual Father during those years. Since his passing, I have thought more and more about Bob and the value that he placed on people and seeing them know Jesus more. He truly did “Go and make disciples” as Jesus commands us to do.

Top moments I will always be grateful for:
1. Encouraging me to go to a SEMP conference in Chicago in between my freshmen and sophomore year of High School when other influences discouraged me to go. During this conference, I met the presence of the Living God. He came near and touched my heart...that conference birthed in me a desire to know Jesus.
2. Encouraging me to go to STAT before my senior year of high school in Harrisburg, PA, which further developed my relationship with Jesus.
3. Bob playing his trumpet to signify the start of the Assassins game (Mennonite tag) we played @ First Mennonite during youth all-nighters.
4. Linda and Bob being directors of the RAD program which further developed my spiritual life and birthed a desire for Evangelism. Bob calling me and asking me to join RAD when YES program was too full; then asking me to lead a Team to Sweden the following year.
5. Losing the keys to the Church van @ Bittersweet ski resort and Bob showing grace and kindness in a tough situation.”

-Jonathan Linn

“He would meet for breakfast at Coppess Corner when it was still there with the Adams Central students before school one day a week. And he would have a devotional with us. And after they tore that down he came to the school and cooked breakfast in one of the rooms and spent time with us before class started.

-Jamie Sheets †

Notes of Appreciation

Words again fall short to adequately express our thanks to each of you who gave to the Missions Festival offering!THANK YOU for your faithfulness to support God's Kingdom spread in the nations.We are once again amazed at your generosity! Thank you for supporting us in finances and prayer as we give God's love and share His Word with refugees in Fort Wayne.May God supply every need in your lives.Thank you, too, for the opportunity to participate in the MF this year.  -Eldon and Jan Claassen

I would like to thank all who prayed for me, sent a card, brought food, visits, and acts of kindness following my ankle replacement surgery October 1st. As I write this I am within about two weeks of completing the initial ten weeks of therapy. I have experienced much healing asnow can bear weight on my foot and walk without the help of a walker or crutches. I am anticipating some type of shoe to replace the boot at my Dec. 13 doctor visit.Although complete healing will take a number of months I am so grateful for the wonderful medical technology that we can experience todayfor a body that is fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator that will heal and accept new joints.  -Ernie Steiner

Dear First Mennonite,
Pat and I are so grateful for this year’s Mission Festival offering and for the amount that comes as a partnership with what God is doing through the work in our area. It makes us proud to be part of a church that values God's global work.really does. Few churches have that kind of a priority that is lived out in voluntary giving.

Pat has been busy preparing an online Business as Mission school and has about 6 students who are hungry to do ministry while doing a business that can sustain that ministry. So she's in the thick of online classes and coaching students.

I have worked hard this past year in running online seminars for believers in a variety of countrieswho are hungry to grow in learning about how to move in the spiritual gifts. God gave these gifts not for spectacles in the church but to empower believers to move out in their harvest fields to touch people with God's power just as Jesus did in his time. The core of moving in God's power is intimacy with God.we took subjects like Intimacy with God and what blocks us from getting closer,the kind of identity in Christ which thinks big and believes that God can use any of us to accomplish great things in his kingdom, using the spiritual gifts in sharing the gospel, how to cast out demons, how to heal the sick,to give words from the Lord appropriately. Many people were deeply touched by these and they were a lot of fun and hard work.

I'm preparing now for running a school in Switzerland (at their request) for next July so please pray for students for that. I havealso received a request for starting a school in Thailand which will probably happen in 2023. Pat and I are also getting teaching requests to speak on Discipleship which is an exciting topic to a group of University students which we really look forward to.Both of us are also coaching and mentoring groups of leaders and enjoy that.

Thanks for partneringwith us in this. It would be so much fun for you to meet the people who we are mutually working with.  Love, L& P in South Asia

With much humility and love, we want to say thank you for your generosity during Pastor Appreciation Month. Your affirmation of the pastoral staff never ceases to amaze and bless us. It is such a blessing to lead a congregation who willingly gives of their time, gifts, talents, and resources to grow the Kingdom of God. Your prayerful support and encouragement truly makes this church body a family we are pleased to lead. – First Mennonite Pastoral Staff

Dear Kingdom family at First Mennonite, Berne:
When (through the Community Health Evangelism ministry of Medical Ambassadors Int’l and Yarna’s and my involvement) thought patterns and behavior of individuals, then families, are transformed by the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit; when diseases (physical, emotional, social, spiritual) are prevented; when families no longer sell their children into the human trafficking system; when better yields come from harvests; when produce is able to be taken to market in mountainous areas because the local people were motivated & given ideas how to build a sustainable foot bridge; when the disabled (and their families) gain dignity; when children grow up not fearing the evil spirits … we acknowledge that it is from your caring, praying and giving towards God’s Kingdom expansion.THANK YOU, for all you do, year-long, and recently through the November Missions Festival.With much appreciation, Gordon & Yarna Claassen

I would like to thank the church for the prayer shawl given to me. Also, thank you for all your prayers and visits from Pastor Jim and Sara Meyer. I still have a long ways to go for healing, but am making progress. I would appreciate your continued prayers. -Andy Dawson

We would like to thank the congregation for their continued support of our family and ministry here in Burgos, Spain.Every year at Mission Festival you bless us with your prayers and generous gifts.From the time we left Berne more than 15 years ago, we have always felt supported and encouraged by you and we thank God for the ways you have blessed so many people in many different here in Spain continues and every year brings changes and new challenges, but we know God is with us every step of the way and that He will continue to lead us and guide us as we begin this new year. -Brian and Noelia Fox

We are so very grateful for how you partner with us & Global Disciples through financial support, love and prayer. Thank you! May you all have a blessed Christmas! -Love, Tim & Suanne

Thank you for including us in your Mission Festival giving. God has been abundantly faithful to provide for the needs of the school since its inception. It’s through the generosity of God’s people that we’re able to realize our God-given mission to educate and disciple children consistent with a Biblical worldview. Your giving also allows us to keep an excellent, Christian education within the economic reach of the families we serve. May you continue to be blessed for your generosity and dedication to missions! -In Christ, Lydia Fox & the Three Oaks Board †

Among Our People

Abby Tumbleson has been a patient at Parkview from COVID complications.

Joe Schwartz had surgery at Lutheran and spent two weeks in rehab.

Pauline Parr had surgery to implant a pacemaker. †


Bob Sprunger, age 65, died in Richmond, Indiana, on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.Bob was born in Quakertown, PA, on April 4, 1956, to John F. and Romaine M. Sprunger, both of whom preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife Linda (Cummings), brothers and wives: Tim and Suanne Sprunger and Tom and Kerrie Sprunger; nieces and nephews: Andrew Sprunger, Nathan and Roshni Sprunger, Lara and Mike Collett, Katie and Kurt Kline, Taylor Sprunger and Josiah Sprunger.Bob is also survived by Linda’s mother, brother, 3 sisters, their spouses and many nieces and nephews.

Bob grew up in eastern Pennsylvania.He graduated from Taylor University.Bob served as a youth pastor at Calvary Mennonite Church in Washington, Illinois, and then for many years at the First Mennonite Church in Berne, Indiana. He served as the director of the RAD discipleship training center in New Haven, Indiana.Bob pastored Bethel Mennonite Church in Hydro, Oklahoma, and served as a hospice Chaplain in Oklahoma.

As a pastor, Bob was known for his passion to see everyone have an opportunity to choose and follow Jesus.As a youth leader for many years, Bob’s enthusiasm for life and love showed as he touched the lives of many young people.

Deloris A. Christy, 89, of Berne, Indiana passed away on November 27, 2021, at Envive Healthcare, Berne, Indiana. She was born on December 12, 1931, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, the daughter of the late Elmer Liechty and the late Leona (Sprunger) Liechty.Deloris was united in marriage to Bryce Christy on July 26, 1952, at First Mennonite Church in Berne.He preceded her in death on August 30, 2020.
Deloris was a member of the First Mennonite Church in Berne where she served her congregation on the Kitchen Committee, Women in Mission, and Quilting and Knotted Comforts. She was formerly employed by Swiss Village as a CNA, but was mostly known for being “mom” as a devoted housewife.

Survivors include her daughter, June (Rick) Liechty, Berne, IN; son, Kent Christy, Berne, IN; son, David (Sandy) Christy, Dallas, GA; sister-in-law, Rose Marie Liechty, Berne, IN; 8 Grandchildren, Greg Christy, Gina Vinci, John Christy, Jason Christy, Jessica Singletary, John Christy, Jaclyn Byrd, and Kayla Shroyer , 22 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

Steven R. Bauman, 82, of Berne, Indiana passed away Sunday, December 12, 2021, at his residence surrounded by his family. He was born on March 31, 1939, in Decatur, Indiana to Sylvan and Ruth (Rumple) Bauman.

Steve was united in marriage to Myrna Amstutz on March 29, 1959, at First Missionary Church in Berne. They were married for 62 years before Steve’s passing. He was a member of First Mennonite Church where he was an usher, drove the church bus to take the children to church camp, and also he and Myrna were on the original committee to start Junior Church. Steve was a lifetime member of the Tri State Gas Engine and Tractor Association in Portland, Indiana where he showed Tractors for 42 years. Steve retired from the Postal Service after 30 years of service. He helped his father and brother farm for several years.

Survivors include his loving wife, Myrna Bauman of Berne, Indiana; daughter, Jan (Dr. Alan) Harshman of Bluffton, Indiana; son, Kurt (Jill Campbell) Bauman of Decatur, Indiana; sister, Rosie Hoffman of Berne, Indiana; brother, Doug (Candy) Bauman of Geneva, Indiana; sister, Kathi (Charlie) Tooley of Berne, Indiana; and four grandchildren, Zackrey (Becky) Bauman, Tori (Pierce) Bauman, Myranda (Brian) Bauman, and Jamie Harshman. Steve was preceded in death by his parents.†

Meat Canner Announcement
As we get ready to say goodbye to an old year and hello to a new one, the Peace and Service Committee is usually getting ready to host the Mobile Meat Canner in January. In recent communication with the MCC, due to lack of staff traveling with the canner, they will not be stopping in Berne. Following this news, the Peace and Service Committee met and decided to send funds to Goshen to help their canning project. We are hoping that MCC will be able to fully staff the mobile unit for the 2022-2023 canning season and Berne is back as one of the stops. †

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