April 2019 Volume 42 Number 5
By Brent Hyman
Is there a canon of music that has endured the test of time and shown itself to be of such endearing quality that everyone should experience it? Scholars have debated that for centuries, and the debate only seems to be getting more muddled as the twentieth century has produced a larger variety of musical styles and genres than all of the rest of music history combined! If there is, indeed, such a canon of music that everyone should know, I believe most of the pieces on this concert would be in it. As I’ve searched to see what musicologists think, I’ve found many top 100 or top 10 lists that would agree with my choices.
Generally, the Mennonite Choral Society has performed either an oratorio or a sacred concert in the spring. In the first half of the twentieth century, there were a variety of works presented, but The Creation by Haydn was definitely a favorite. A rotation of The Creation and Mendelssohn’s Elijah began in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Gradually the Brahms Requiem and Mendelssohn’s St. Paul oratorio made their way into the rotation which continued throughout the rest of the twentieth century.
There are other monumental oratorios written in English and other languages (particularly Latin) that would be wonderful to sing and experience. However, these large and difficult works would prove daunting to sing beautifully in just 14 rehearsals. Even the four oratorios on the previous rotation have been a challenge to prepare as numbers in the choir have gradually diminished in the spring. I wanted the choir to have the chance to experience some of these great classics, and thereby add some variety to our spring schedule. The trick, though, was to find a way to experience these masterpieces without overwhelming the choir. My solution was to pick and choose some of the greatest choruses from a variety of choral works, composers, and periods of music. I hope you will find these musical selections to be every bit as wonderful, uplifting, and fulfilling as I have!
Since the 1970’s, the spring oratorio has always been on the first Sunday in May. This year is no exception. The spring concert, which I am entitling “Choral Classics,” will be presented on Sunday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m. Composers from antiquity such as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Faure will be represented along with a few more recent composers. Consequently, listeners will experience music from every period of music from the Baroque period until now. The texts will focus predominantly on the crucifixion of Christ and our response of repentance and praise! Sarah Steffen will be a featured soloist on several of the selections, and Chara Fennig will play the violin on one of the pieces. Of course, we are also very fortunate and blessed to have Scott Lehman and Mary Beth Huser accompanying on the organ and piano. The concert will be under an hour, and a love offering will be received. †
Senior High Youth attend Fusion
A group of high school students from First Mennonite Church attended a large youth gathering at Indiana Wesleyan University on April 5th-6th called “Fusion.” The two-day, high energy event featured Bible teaching, a concert, pizza party, archery tag, dodgeball, rock climbing, inflatables, basketball, and karaoke. The main session of Bible teaching brought by Jeff Wallace was biblically sound and other speakers offered separate sessions of teaching. The highlight of the weekend was the concert by For King and Country featuring well-known songs like, “God Only Knows,” “Priceless,” and to everyone’s surprise, “Little Drummer Boy.” The performance of “Little Drummer Boy” was a highlight for Estella Ringger who said, “They surprised us by saving that song for last and they just shouted, ‘Merry Christmas Indiana’ and began playing their famous version of the song!”
Youth Pastor Bill Helmlinger enjoyed watching the students interact with the other students and play the games offered. He too felt the concert was a highlight and appreciated the sound teaching from Jeff Wallace. This was the first time the church youth group attended the epic event at Indiana Wesleyan. Students stayed in student housing on campus and enjoyed the food from the Student Dining Hall. Students enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the buffet style Dining Hall and Grace Shoaf said, “The dessert buffet was my favorite!” The midnight pizza party was also a hit, giving students the chance to play games late into the night. †
God Grows the Seed
By Lana Shoaf
“He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4: 26-27
Spring planting season in Indiana holds a completely different feel than does the harvest season of fall time. Farmers work the ground, preparing the fields for seeds, and pray for the balance of rain and sun during the growing season to yield a crop of plenty. There is little the farmer can do to coax the seed to sprout, strengthen the stalk, and fatten the fruit for the time of harvest. Perhaps it is this lack of control over the growing that gives spring a sense of apprehensive hope. History and nature prove to the farmer the growing season will produce a crop, but there is a measure of faith thrown out with the seeds in spring.
Harvest happens on the other side of this faith. Crops brought in are weighed and sold with a sigh of relief and a thankful heart. A sense of fullness and assurance ease the apprehension and offer confidence in the process.
Jesus connects the planting season and farmer with the kingdom of God. Believers throw out seeds of truth and ministry with apprehensive hope, knowing God’s faithfulness and nature will tend the seeds sewn in ministry. In the context of ministry, so many believers fall into the trap of feeling they coax, strengthen, and fatten the faith of people. Mark 4 demonstrates man’s inability to grow a person. This is the mysterious work of God. He alone can grow the seed into a person capable of producing fruit and ultimately the seed to throw out on their own and begin the process of multiplication.
I have fallen into this misconception too. Sometimes, when I have extended the gospel and discipleship, I take the results personally and believe the apparent success or failure is measured equally with my ability. Of course, this leads to much discouragement in ministry, as my ability is limited to planting season. God asks me to throw out the seed of the gospel and watch Him mysteriously grow a soul into the knowledge of His kingdom. I can do a little to nurture that growth, but the miraculous, soul-changing work is done by Him.
Upon realization of this, I first feel great relief! I am responsible for throwing out the seed alone and I can completely trust God to do the rest in ministry. But then, I look at myself as a seedling, sprouted and growing for the purpose of multiplication and wonder, “Do I look to God for growth, or do I believe more in the efforts of man?” If I am relieved that God alone can grow the person with whom I share the gospel or disciple, I must challenge myself to assess the measure to which I depend on God for the same growth. Do I allow Him to encourage and build in me the strength required to live a fruitful life in the faith? Or do I wait around for the hand of one in ministry to encourage me? When I reflect on times in my life when I have waited around for man’s hand to grow my spirit, I see a thirsty soul. Man cannot do God’s mysterious work. †
Notes of Appreciation
The family of Glen Grandlinard would like to thank the church for all the support and prayers after Glen’s passing. Thank you to Pastor Jim Schwartz for the special service. We also want to thank all the ladies who prepared and served the delicious meal.
Family of Glen Grandlinard †
Among Our People
Brad Linthicum was admitted to Lutheran on March 13 with blood clots and dismissed on March 19.
Roy Lehman was at Adams County Memorial Hospital with kidney stones March 23-24.
Ryan Holley spent several days at Parkview with cellulitis.
Kevin Grandlinard was a patient at Bluffton Regional from March 26-28..†
Youth Dominican Trip Update
Youth Pastor Bill Helmlinger is organizing a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to serve with Freedom International. Presently, the trip is completely funded! This is a huge answer to prayer. Please continue to pray for the students and leaders preparing for the trip. Pray that God would continue to mold their hearts and prepare them for His service before, during, and after the trip. †
The Women’s Ministry team is hosting a Kingdom Royalty Tea on May 11th at 3:00 pm. The tea will take place in the church patio and women are encouraged to wear a dress. Hats and gloves are encouraged too, but completely optional. A semi-traditional English High Tea menu will be served with finger sandwiches, scones, and biscuits with cream and jam and sweets. Hot tea, coffee, and cocoa for the children will be provided.
The tea will offer fellowship and a speaker with a focus of royalty. Women will leave the tea knowing and understanding their place in the Kingdom of God and how they are loved and positioned with God’s authority in that Kingdom. †
Bible Memorization Program
Scripture memorization for kids at First Mennonite is encouraged through a program geared for each stage in a child’s development. A book is issued with assigned passages and information for children to memorize at each grade level. A child recalls, from memory, the passage to volunteers on a Sunday morning at the designated Bible memory table in the church patio. The volunteers keep a record book at the table to record memorized Scriptures.
The program begins and ends on the first week in September each year. Students who have completed the memorization requirements for their age are recognized during a Sunday morning service.
The requirements for the Bible Memorization Program are as follows:
Kindergarten: John 3:16
The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31)
List of Disciples
First Grade: Path through Psalms
Psalm 23 (in part)
Bonus: Psalm 23 in one setting
Second Grade: Books of the Bible
Old Testament Books of the Bible by
New Testament Books of the Bible by
Bonus: All Books with headings
Path Through Psalms (Part 2)
Third Grade: The Lord’s Prayer- Matt. 6:9-13
10 Commandments- Exodus 20:1-17
Bonus: Exodus 20:1-17 in one sitting
Fourth Grade: Beatitudes- Matt. 5:3-6 and Matt. 5:7-10
“I Am’s” of Jesus from the Book of John
Bible Memorization (Cont.)
Bonus: “I Am’s of Jesus” in one sitting
Fifth Grade: Romans Road
Bonus: Romans Road in one sitting
I Corinthians 13:4-8 †
Preparations for Michiana Sale
The 2019 Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale will be September 27 & 28 at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds. Last year’s sale brought in $477,800 which aides those suffering from natural disasters here and around the world. The “pre-planning” stage has begun in Goshen for this year’s Relief Sale, and there are team openings on both the Craft Sale and Booth Committees for both now and during the Sale. See Lois or Nicki Lehman for more information. †
The Farmers and Artists Market held in the church parking lot will begin again on Saturday, May 11. Das Merit will open for its tenth consecutive season to serve the community. The open-air market is a wonderful summer activity for Berne, but takes a number of volunteers, vendors, and customers. Anyone wishing to be involved in the market for the 2019 season can contact Rod Lehman at: 260-589-4764. †
Registration for the 2019-2020 preschool year will take place in the church patio on April 29th from 6:30-7:30 in the evening. Any child who is 3 or 4 years old by August 1, 2019 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 589-2588. Families who attend First Mennonite are given preference and should call before registration. †
The Senior Fellowship Activity will enjoy breakfast at an area restaurant and then go to Fort Wayne for a Tin Caps baseball game on Wednesday, May 22nd. They will leave at 8 a.m. from the east parking lot of the church. There will only be a few steps to negotiate at the ballpark. The cost will be $25 per person, which includes breakfast (including tax and gratuity), ball game ticket, and bus expense. Make a reservation by calling Stan Von Gunten at 589-3887 no later than April 21, as an exact ticket count is needed by that date. The return time is approximately 3:30 p.m. †