September 2021 Update Newsletter

September 2021 Volume 44 Number 10

World-Renowned Speaker Coming Soon

Dr. Kevin Leman is coming to Adams County! He is known around the globe as a radio and television personality who speaks with whit and candor from his extensive knowledge as a psychologist. Leman’s humor and relatability have landed him interviews with Oprah, CNN, Good Morning America, CBS The Early Show, LIVE with Regis and Kelly, Today, and The View. He is a New York Times best-selling author of Have a New Kid by Friday, and roots for couples to stay happily married. He founded Couples of Promise where he serves as president.

Adams County Strong invited Leman to share his expertise and humor. Adams County Strong is a collaborative group of Adams County leaders and churches who long to promote strong marriages, strong families, and, in the end, a strong community. The initiative began with a Lily Endowment gift given to the Adams County Community Foundation. The Foundation began Adams County Strong to organize events and utilize the funds in a way to promote strong families in Adams County. Bringing Dr. Kevin Leman to Adams County is one way they are accomplishing this goal.

Chris Hyman represents our church on the committee responsible for bringing Leman to Adams County. A couple of years ago at a South Adams Ministerial Association (SAMA) meeting, Susan Zurcher shared her heart for stronger marriages and stronger families in Adams County, which would lead to a stronger community. Her vision to build strength in our community included pulling churches together, with the help of the Adams County Community Foundation. Chris Hyman saw the need was great and signed up to be part of implementing Zurcher’s vision. The group meets weekly to discuss the needs of the community and to plan events. The first event the committee planned was a marriage seminar last winter to focus on strengthening marriages. This upcoming event with Dr. Kevin Leman shifts to strengthening parents.

Dr. Kevin Leman will travel to Adams County and spend Saturday, October 2, and Sunday, October 3, teaching four sessions. The first session on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. will be held at the Bellmont High School Auditorium, where Leman will speak about the content of his book, Have a New Kid by Friday. The second session will cover the same content at the South Adams High School Auditorium that evening at 7:00 p.m. The third session, titled “The Way of the Wise,” will be a church service at our church on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.. The final session, called “Making Sense of the Man or Woman in Your Life”, will be held at Adams Central High School on Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m.. All sessions are free of charge.

How did our church land this world-renowned teacher on our pulpit for Sunday, October 3? Hyman says the committee allowed any participating church to throw their name in a random draw and ours won! In fact, Hyman was excited just to have the opportunity to host him in our community, let alone our own church! Bringing an author like Leman to a small town is no small feat. Hyman’s prayer for the weekend of October 2 and 3 is that his wisdom will penetrate the hearts of those in attendance, and all will seek God’s wisdom when making parenting decisions.

First Mennonite will follow up with Dr. Kevin Leman’s visit with a six-week class for parents on Wednesday nights beginning October 6. The class will cover Leman’s book, How to Have a New Kid by Friday, with Pastor Jim Schwartz leading the discussion which will follow a 18-20 minute video each week. †

LMC Bishop Installation

On Sunday evening, September 12, our congregation joined with others in our Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC) district to install and welcome a new leader. The ceremony celebrated Jim Sutton’s retirement as bishop of the Great Lakes West District and ushered in the new bishop, John Nissley. He joins a group of 29 bishops appointed through LMC, each serving as conference pastors to the churches in their region. Keith Weaver currently serves as Moderator of LMC and is counted among the bishops. Each district within LMC has a bishop. Some districts share a bishop with another district and some districts utilize a team of bishops. These bishops oversee the work of their district and serve as a pastor to the pastors. They also represent their own districts at the bishop board meetings. For First Mennonite, the retirement of Jim Sutton and the installation of John Nissley will result in little change. John Nissley will serve our congregation moving forward and represent us, along with other Mennonite churches in our area, in board meetings.

Brent Hyman helped coordinate the September ceremony. He said the goal of the service was to bring people from the Great Lakes West District together to ask the Holy Spirit to guide the new bishop as he shepherds these churches. This goal was met through worshipping together, recognizing the past bishop, and fellowshipping with the new bishop to get to know them better. North Leo Church, which is just northeast of Fort Wayne, hosted the installation service because of its central location among the churches in our district. Mennonite churches from Michigan, Goshen, Central Illinois, and our area, were all invited to attend. Including this small congregation in such a way proved a blessing to them and the entire district. The service began with worship and then followed with recognition of Jim Sutton’s previous service as bishop to the district. Sutton joined the online service as he could not attend. A message from LMC moderator Keith Weaver encouraged all to be missional. Finally, John Nissley was recognized as the new bishop with a time of prayer, affirmation, and a commitment to pray for him as a leader. Nissley also shared his heart for the district. The service concluded with a time of fellowship and refreshments to get to know John Nissley and his wife and make new friends and old connections among the LMC attendees.

First Mennonite played a vital role in the service by providing musicians for worship. Dr. Scott Lehman played the organ for the prelude, postlude, and all of the hymns. A brass ensemble from our church also went to serve, playing in the prelude, postlude, and one of the hymns. Those included in the brass ensemble were Matt Wheeler, Chris Hyman, Steve Sommer, Brent Hyman, Rick Sprunger, Camden Hyman, and Brandon Hill. Camden Hyman and Brent Hyman also led a couple of contemporary praise songs with the help of Dave Knuth, Matt Wheeler, and Tara Steffen. North Leo Mennonite’s pastor, Steven Showers, played the box drum with the praise band.

Overall, the congregation at North Leo Mennonite appreciated the vitality of worship First Mennonite brought to the service. They were excited to worship with the ensembles, which brought a celebratory mood for the installation. Perhaps most meaningful was the message given by Keith Weaver and the heartfelt thoughts of John Nissley. Weaver’s message about becoming more missional as individual believers and as a conference referenced the fourth chapter of Ephesians. John Nissley used the same passage to address the origins of the word “evangelism.” He noted the definition, “taking the next step,” and shared his heart’s desire to share the gospel and bring people to Christ, but also to help believers take that next step in their relationship with Christ. With prayer and the power of the gospel, the future is bright for the Great Lakes West District and for Lancaster Mennonite Conference. †

Lifting Fog

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. “  2 Corinthians 4:2

As summer turns to autumn, fog creeps into our early morning routine, occasionally canceling or delaying school. My kids missed an entire day of school because the morning fog interfered with bus safety and teenagers commuting in unsafe conditions. Fog’s ability to impair visibility demonstrates the seemingly impossible task of seeing clearly in a world filled with confusion and short-sightedness.

Autumn fog results from the cooling air mixing with the still-warm temperatures radiating from the ground. The resulting dense cloud makes the most routine route dangerous at any speed. Oncoming cars become visible only within seconds of passing, intersections become hesitant places of danger, and confusion sets in as surroundings become unrecognizable. The stagnant air allows the fog to sit for a while until the sun burns it away, usually to unveil a clear and beautiful sunny day. What was a hazard in the morning becomes bright and safe and familiar.

A life led by the way of the world is like making the way through a foggy morning. Clear direction cannot be found and danger approaches suddenly with fear and confusion guiding daily decisions. Believers, then, should not be surprised at the swirling confusion in the world with so many functioning in this debilitating cloud. They function through lenses of shame, deception, or truth of their own. These lenses, unique to each human, create great difficulty in navigating relationships and situations.

On the contrary, believers with a clearly communicated and unified truth effectively live as a child of God. Not only do they understand the clear expectations set before them through the Bible, but they experience the power of the gospel. These truths offer great light and clarity for relationships and situations, providing a life of wisdom and grace.

Living life with a clear vision offers an opportunity to extend the truth and clarity to a world around us living in the fog, so to speak. Much grace and wisdom are needed as believers take the hands of the fearful and confused, shedding light for them through the power of the gospel. God will dispel their cloudy vision with his Son! We must merely walk alongside them, showing them the way. What a delight to be holding the hand of one whose sight is renewed through God’s grace and glory. †

Notes of Appreciation

We would like to thank the church family for all the prayers, cards & gifts given as Dave was having radiation & chemotherapy for his throat cancer. He is now in remission & doing physical therapy. We are praising the Lord for your support. He plans to thank all of you in person during Prayer & Share when he is allowed to be in a crowd.

-Bonnie, Dave Flueckiger & Family

To The First Mennonite Church of Berne, we would like to thank all of those who helped us with Merlin Dale Alt’s funeral. We appreciate your kindness and your prayers.

-Betty Alt
-Mike Alt
-Greg Alt

To the congregation at First Mennonite, our brothers and sisters in the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ:

Giving thanks to our God, the Healer, and to your earnest prayers and expressions of love on our behalf.

We also want to thank you for your flannel board ministry. Our congregation has grown through the use of your flannel boards for our “Lessons from the Flannel Board” series of sermons.
Thank you also for your continued love and support for our grandsons, especially for Conner (Hyman) as he is baptized on September 19th. This brings our family so much JOY!

-Pat and Sue McGavic †


Georgia J. Amstutz, age 95, of Berne, passed away on Friday, August 27, at Swiss Village in Berne. Georgia was born April 8, 1926, to William and Philippine Norr, who have preceded her in death. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Frederick Amstutz; eight brothers and sisters; and one great-grandson. Georgia is survived by her four children, Donna (Paul) Habegger, Deryll (Janice) Amstutz, Sharon (James) Blackford, and Norman (Deb) Amstutz; 13 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

Georgia loved quilting and made dozens of them during her life, and many were donated to the Michiana Relief Sale over the years. She taught Sunday School for many years. She and Fred also volunteered at Camp Gilead in Polk City, Florida.

Merlin Dale Alt, 86, was born on Easter day, April 21, 1935, and passed away Sunday, August 15, 2021. He was the son of Orval and Marie (Biberstein) Alt. He had three sisters, Lavera Gillette of AZ, Alice Grimme of Fort Wayne, and Berdella Liechty, deceased. He married Betty Settlemire of rural Lima, Ohio in 1958. They had three sons, Steven Dale, deceased, Michael Dean, Monroe, and Gregory Dee, rural Berne.

Merlin joined the National Guard in Bluffton, IN in 1958. He spent 51/2 years in the reserves and six months in active duty. Merlin farmed with his father, Orval, until Orval passed away; he was then assisted with his farming by his friend and neighbor, Dave Fox. After retiring, Merlin and Betty moved to Berne. He was a lifetime member of the First Mennonite Church of Berne.

Clifton J. “Cliff” Habegger, 97, of Berne, passed away on Sunday, August 22, 2021, at Swiss Village.

He was born in Adams County, IN, on September 20, 1923, to Jacob and Rosina (Schwartz) Habegger. He married Betty Moser on April 22, 1945, in Berne. She preceded him in death on September 27, 2017. They were married for 72 years. He was also preceded in death by his parents; four sisters, Selma Inniger, Martha Schrock, Metta Steury, and Rose Matthews; and five brothers, Joel, Eli, David, Jesse and Les Habegger.

Surviving are his sons, Doug (Joy) Habegger of Morton, IL, and Mark (Nancy) Habegger of Evans, CO; five grandchildren, Lana (Jared) Hart of Metamora, IL; Brad (Cali) Habegger of Morton, IL; Michael (Megan) Habegger of Meridian, ID; Katherine (Collin) Nichols of Kearney, NE; and Angela (Isaac) Boyd of Lake Forest, CA; 14 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Cliff was a WWII Army Air Corps veteran. Cliff and Betty were longtime members of the Indiana Airstream Club. They were members of Sowers International, a volunteer service group that traveled across the country in their travel trailers. He attended First Mennonite Church. His working career included the United States Postal Service in Berne, the Farm Bureau Co-op Lumber Yard in Monroe, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company in Fort Wayne, and National Mill Supply in Fort Wayne, until his retirement in 1986. †

Among Our People

Andy Dawson continues treatment and has been transferred to Parkview from Adams Memorial.

Joe Schwartz was transferred from Lutheran Hospital to Kindred Care in Lima to begin rehab, and then was transferred back to Lutheran Rehab for the next level of rehab.

Steve Bauman was admitted to Parkview for a couple of days for IV treatment. †

Relief Sale September 23-25

The Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale Board welcomes you to the 2021 sale. We are doing our best to balance the desire to have an in-person sale and stay as safe as possible in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Please note the following:

• The choir concert traditionally held on Sunday is canceled for this year.
• The Ted and Co. performance on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7:00 p.m. has been moved from the quilt building to the nearby Park Stage. A free-will offering will be taken. In case of inclement weather, an announcement will be made on social media by 6:00 p.m. that evening.
• Face masks are required for anyone serving food and expected in all buildings for the safety of all.
• Based on guidance from the Elkhart Co. Health Dept. we are making several modifications to implement safe practices, including regular sanitation, social distancing, and other measures.
• We will provide further updates if the Elkhart County COVID Advisory Level changes to red-based on the Indiana Dept. of Health data.

Please check our website ( and social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for updated information.

The sale will feature:
• A Thursday evening live performance by Ted and Company; presenting the Holy Surprises show.
• Regular activities Friday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. Come for dinner and browse the quilts; some of the food and craft items will be available for purchase, and children’s activities, including a cookie walk starting at 5:30 p.m., will also be available.
• On Saturday, celebrate with us at the live quilt auction. It’s the final day to bid on your online auction items, plus there are food booths, children’s activities, and more!
Check our Facebook page at “Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale” for updated information as plans are finalized. †