April 2021 Update Newsletter

New Interim Youth Pastor Brings Heart and Experience


Seth Ringger ended a one-year commitment as prayer coordinator for the R.E.A.C.H. program in Columbus, Ohio in December, the same month Youth Pastor Bill Helmlinger submitted his resignation. Seth stepped from his prayer coordinator position into an interim youth pastor role here at First Mennonite. He serves all youth from grades 6-12, along with six volunteers, and oversees the Young Adult group.

Through R.E.A.C.H., Seth also served on a short-term missions trip to Southeast Asia and then led a team to the same location the following term. His experience in leading a team of three young adults to Southeast Asia prepared him most for this interim role. Seth says, “I have a lot of flashbacks to leading my team in Asia when I come up against a challenge or a feeling of inadequacy.” He recalls a specific relationship with the only other male team member, feeling inadequate to connect and lead such a person. Their differences created a challenge and at one point, the young man struggled enough to ask Seth if he could return home. Seth simply listened and prayed with him and the young man decided to stay with the team. At their final meeting, the young man told Seth, “I don’t know what I would have done without you.” Through this relationship, God demonstrated His work through Seth despite his feeling of inadequacy.

Same Challenge, Different Group

Seth says the feeling of inadequacy has been one of the greatest challenges. However, now the pressure is greater as he leads 30 youth instead of three young adults. The church staff is reading Paul David Tripp’s book, Dangerous Calling, which lays out the pitfalls of people serving in full-time ministry. One chapter about fear and being operated by fear has been especially influential to Seth. He explains, “‘The Fear of Me’ is a section that really describes my challenges. Few things in life will expose weakness, self-doubt, criticisms, etc. like serving in this occupation. I’ve felt that a lot.”

Seth didn’t expect this feeling, but the weight of so much administration in a job hinging on relationships brings tension. Seth says, “I’m such a relationship person, and that is truest with my relationship with Jesus. With so much of my job in the administrative, it’s pulled me away from the relationships for the bulk of my hours. I can feel distanced with Jesus and with people.”This brings a certain pressure if left unchecked.

“I can place these unexpected expectations, feeling like I need to live up to people’s expectations which makes it easy to feel self-doubt,” Seth reflects. Once Seth recognizes this added pressure, he’s learned to turn to prayer. He says, “I’ve been more dependent on prayer and my relationship with Christ so that I can minister out of that. I can’t minister without staying close to Jesus. So, I guess my greatest challenge has also been my greatest blessing.”

Surprisingly Delightful Perks

Despite some challenges, Seth really likes the schedule of a youth pastor. His flexibility means he can set his own schedule in ways making the most impact in service to youth. He enjoys arriving at his office at 9:00 each morning and then figuring the rest of his schedule around meetings with students, staff, local youth pastors, and parachurch leaders. Seth loves the spontaneity his new schedule brings.

Seth also loves his office at the church. He enjoys the view, his telescoping desk, and the office set-up. Seth typically stands while working on his computer, since his desk allows for that, raising and lowering at the press of a button. His office is organized to flow according to Seth’s organizational system. Seth says, “I’m not usually that organized, but this office really offers a way to make my system work.”

The most delightful perk of all for Seth is watching God work. His feelings of inadequacy are often met with God’s provision. Seth says, “I feel at times I’m underqualified or ill-prepared, but I have to step into those roles anyway. Watching God take the things I’m not gifted in and pulling those pieces together beautifully shows me He really is making Himself known in my weakness.”

The church community as a whole has also been one of many pleasant surprises. Seth feels a great desire in people’s hearts to participate in the church body, especially after COVID. He also watches people carry out acts of kindness in quiet service, never acknowledged publicly. Seth says, “There are so many people attending here that are so faithful to encourage individuals and the church as a whole. It’s been neat to see that from a person on staff’s perspective.” Seth’s new role on staff gives him eyes to see First Mennonite in a new way which offers an appreciation fueling his vigor to serve the youth.

Looking Ahead

Currently, Seth is leading the youth through an “Identity” series. They are asking hard questions about who they are in Christ and what that looks like in their own worlds. The series is leading into summer small groups with a weekly big group meeting. The focus of one group will be current events in the world; for example, how social justice is being skewed in our culture right now to a more “cancel culture” view. Seth’s excitement grows when he thinks about challenging students to understand how we can engage current culture and value people without canceling pieces of them. Seth’s driving question for this group is, “How can we value people, knowing that we are all created in ‘Imago Dei’.”

A second group will discuss the journey from all the knowledge we learn at church to cause transformation in our lives. This group, called Head to Heart (H2H), will ask questions like, “Are we relationship with Jesus? Am I in consistent communication with Him? Are we pursuing new depths with Jesus?”

The bigger events during the summer, like pond parties and bonfires, will be times to connect and build community. There is also the City Challenge trip and the Catechism trip, which will take considerable time and effort on Seth’s part. Then, before he knows it, Seth’s eight-month commitment will be over and the church will install the new full-time youth pastor.

Until then, Seth embraces the challenges, the schedule, and the youth from his office—across the table at a coffee shop, or in the youth room. Will you commit to praying for this interim pastor as he leads our youth? Seth’s experience and heartfelt service make him a great fit, but he welcomes prayers for God’s strength to be exercised through any weaknesses.†

Budding Thankfulness

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.” Isaiah 35:1

This week, budding cherry blossoms just outside my window danced in the chilly spring breeze. The sun broke through the clouds and I began to thank God for the brightening springtime.
I let the sunshine warm me from the inside out, embracing the signs of new life all around me. Springtime serves as a consistent reminder of God’s faithfulness. He brings forth such delicate beauty after a season of cold barrenness. This year, the feeling of newness brings welcome hope and a spirit of deep gratitude for a change in seasons.

The blossoms are a mystery to me, so delicate and beautiful yet able to withstand the wind and rain of spring. Some may fall to the ground, but the vast majority develop into small and sturdy leaves which will grow on branches loaded with fruit. The window of time to catch the delicate blossoms each year seems too short, but it must be part of God’s design.

The lasting difficult seasons of life are often followed by a sweet season of resting in the beauty of God’s complete care. Although the harshness of such a season may still be evident, resting in the care of the Lord brings about a sure and steadfast sprit of thankfulness. Sitting to rest in His care takes an intentional heart, but as Isaiah suggests for those returning to Zion, it is a heart full of gladness and rejoicing.

The fleeting season of the cherry blossom follows a growing season. We enjoy watching small bulbs develop, growing plump and soft as the weeks progress. Eventually, we pick by the bucketful and enjoy cherries fresh from the tree.

I anticipate a season of growing and fruitfulness after the barren season I’ve experienced. Just as the natural seasons, God has proven faithful to me in my spiritual seasons. If He brings me through a dry time, a season of growth and ministry follows.

Here is what I love about the season of producing: God could have left it with the blossom. God could have planned for the beauty of the blossom to be plenty enough to testify to His goodness and care. However, He wants others to be nourished, too. He doesn’t just want the wonder and adoration—He longs to see His creation bloom and then grow and multiply!

After a season of dryness and then budding hope, we experience growth and then production. This production leads to something others can really “sink their teeth into” and be nourished from themselves. After the fruit is enjoyed, the seed is left, planted to multiply the same fruit in another season.

God’s plan is brilliant. I must confess, the barren seasons are hard for my patience. But here I am, at springtime in my own spiritual season. I anticipate the growth even in the wind and rain! Then I expect a crop of fruit, enough to pass around and watch others enjoy. My final hope in this spiritual season is the multiplication of seeds planted.

I continue to watch my budding trees, growing ever greener. I can’t wait for the fruit to appear, but for today, I will be thankful for the delicate new life and the season of hope it symbolizes. †

Notes of Appreciation

Our family has been reminded again of the joy and privilege of belonging to the local body of believers here at First Mennonite Church. During Byron’s illness of the past few years and recent home going, you have prayed for us, sent many cards, offered words of encouragement, brought food, visited, shoveled snow, helped with yard work, sat with us, and prayed some more.

We are so grateful to all of you who have shown us love and care as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death. We also praise the Lord for the hope of the resurrection of Jesus. We will see and all those who have gone on before us. Thank you so much for caring for us.   -The family of Byron Fox

Dear Church Family,
Thank you so very much for that beautiful afghan (prayer shawl). It is very much appreciated.
Sincerely, Helen Mazelin

I wish to express my sincere thank you to my church family for your prayers, visits, words of encouragement, cards, and gift cards that have sustained me over the last 4 months as I underwent total hip and total knee replacement surgeries. Healing ultimately comes from the Lord and I am grateful for doctors who use their gifts and talents to help us in our time of need.   Orlyn Lehman †


Jean Marie Kirchhofer, age 93, was born March 25, 1927 to Albert and Marjorie (Harris) Kirchhofer. She passed away at Swiss Village on Thursday, March 18, 2021.

Jean began her career as a cashier and later worked exclusively as a cashier in the Loan Department at the First Bank of Berne. She worked at the bank for 47 years and dearly enjoyed all her patrons. She retired on December 31, 1992. She gave back to the community and First Mennonite Church. Jean taught elementary Sunday school for 25 years and was the first woman Sunday school secretary. She was a leader of the Youth Mission Band and treasurer of the Women’s Mission Society. Jean loved music and was a member of the Chancel Choir and the Mennonite Choral Society. She was treasurer of the South Adams Arts Council and secretary of the Berne Celebration of the Nation’s Bi-Centennial.

Her loving family includes her sister, Cynthia (Ron) Krehbiel of Hesston, KS; niece, Deborah (George) Lehman of Harrisonburg, VA; niece-in-law, Rhonda Krehbiel of Gardner, KS and children, Chris, Sam, Courtney, and Amanda; nephews, Thomas (Susan) Krehbiel of Goessel, KS and their children Katherine and Jennifer; John (Rita) Krehbiel of Ottawa, KS and children, Joshua and Caleb; James (Julie) Krehbiel of Hesston, KS and children, Halle and Jamie; cousins, John Kirchhofer of Berne, Indiana and children, Laura and Tim; and Swid Kirchhofer of Detroit, MI.

She was preceded in death by parents Albert and Marjorie Kirchhofer; nephew, Tim Krehbiel; cousin, Tom Kirchhofer, and cousin-in-law Rose Kirchhofer.

The family expresses its gratitude to the wonderful staff of Swiss Village for the loving care they gave her.

Anna Marie (Amstutz) Neuenschwander, age 102, passed away peacefully on April 12, 2021 at Swiss Village, Berne, IN.Born on March 3, 1919, she was the daughter of Frank and Naomi Amstutz of Berne.

Anna was the valedictorian of her Berne French High School graduating class of 1937.She married Edward L. Neuenschwander on January 25, 1942 in Berne; they celebrated 57 years together.Edward died in September 1998.

Anna and Edward had six children: Laura, born in November 1942 (died in July 1943), Tom (wife Cheryl), Julie (husband Jerry), Margie (husband Terry), Alan (wife Jan), and Lynda (husband Dave).

Before marriage, Anna worked for the Berne Witness and then for Dr. Amos Reusser.After marriage Anna was a stay-at-home mother until all of her children were young adults. Anna moved to Fort Wayne with her husband and family in 1949 where she was then employed by First Missionary Church in Fort Wayne on their nursery school education staff.She worked there until the nursery school ceased to exist and then worked in the child day-care center at Lutheran Hospital. She was actively involved in many roles at First Missionary Church; including singing with “The Bonnet Singers” -- a group who sang old songs for audiences at many nursing homes, including Swiss Village.Since moving to Berne in 2003, she rejoined the First Mennonite Church.

Anna is survived by her five children and their spouses as well as 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, parents, and all siblings, she was also preceded in death by her first child, Laura Lou, and two grandchildren, Andrew and Daniel Neuenschwander. †

Among Our People

Carol Lehman spent several days at Lutheran with breathing issues.
Fred Wulliman was admitted overnight at Adams Memorial for tests.
Shawn Wulliman was in the hospital for tests and treatment for losing blood.
Mary Whitehurst had hip replacement surgery at Adams Memorial.†

das Märit Farmers & Artists Market

The 2021 season of das Märit Farmers & Artists Market will begin on Saturday, May 15 from 8:00 – noon.Our market continues to grow and attract new customers. On many Saturdays, over 400 visitors have come to the market.

Additional volunteers and vendors are always welcome.Many volunteers do not stay the entire time but come to set up and then return when the market is finished.Volunteers do not have to come every week, but all help is appreciated.

Vendors must “Make It, Bake It, or Grow It” in Adams and surrounding counties.No resales such as Avon, Tupperware, etc. are permitted.The cost of a space is $2.00.Tables are available for an additional $2.00.

Contact Rod Lehman at 260-589-4764 for more information about volunteering or becoming a vendor. †

Save the Date

Mark your calendar for Friday, June 11th at 6:00pm! A concert with kids in mind will play live at The Clock Tower lawn. This is a high-energy, faith focused concert to help kick off the community-wide vacation Bible school initiative. Community VBS this year will happen in back yards through the last three weeks in June. The concert will launch these backyard gatherings with excitement for learning more about the Bible. †

Preschool Registration

Registration for Berne Preschool for the 2021-2022 school year is on Monday, April 26, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. under the awning on the west side of the church. Any child who is three or four years old by August 1, 2021 is eligible. The registration fee is $40.00. Enrollment for morning and afternoon classes is on a first-come basis. For more information, please contact Greta Eicher Lehman at (260) 525-2588. Families who attend First Mennonite are given preference and should call before registration. †

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