First Mennonite Church Seeks a Full-Time Pastor

FIRST MENNONITE CHURCH Indianapolis, IN is seeking a full-time pastor with excellent preaching skills, experience and maturity to work as part of a pastoral team. We follow MCUSA salary and benefit guidelines and are located in a large, thriving city. Full job description is available here or at MCUSA pastoral positions.

Contact Robin Helmuth, search committee chair at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Statements of Solidarity and Support for Racial Justice

A reflection

In these last few months, as we have struggled with COVID19, people across the world have experienced what it feels like to be constantly vigilant to threats. We have seen other people approaching and feeling ourselves worried that they could endanger us. We have been restricted in what we can do, where we can go, and who we can see. We have worried for the lives of our families and friends. We have felt economic hardship. We have felt the accumulated stress in our bodies, in our dreams, in our moods, and in our relationships.

Yet, this feeling of constant vigilance is only new for some of us. Many people of color have felt the stress of constant vigilance throughout their lives… Wondering if today they will have to withstand more dismissive, belittling, or degrading remarks. Wondering if their simple presence in a neighborhood will lead to a call to the police. Wondering if they will be stopped while doing something perfectly normal. Wondering if their interaction with law enforcement will leave them dead.

It all-too-often leads to death. Even when it does not, this vigilance takes a toll on the body, mind, and soul. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

– Todd Grotenhuis


A confession

We have been complicit in the continuation of racial divide. We have contributed to the pain of our Black and Brown sisters and brothers. We listen but we don’t hear. We name the need for change, but we don’t do the work. We contribute to the pain of generations by our assumptions, our trite words, our fragility and our privilege.

– Mary Liechty


An example

I have lived most of my life in a white bubble. Learning about racial injustices always got me fired up in a cerebral way growing up, but I never felt it in the marrow of my bones on a daily basis. I never asked my friends of color how I could walk beside them or what their experiences might be like. I never sought out resources or educated myself on racial injustice in immediate, tangible ways. That time is over. I now strive to live my life and raise my family in an ANTI-RACIST fashion. This means using my voice, my resources, my social connections, my job, and my white privilege to NAME white supremacy and actively work to dismantle it. It is uncomfortable, overwhelming at times, and there is ALWAYS more to know. I am learning to embrace this discomfort, lick my privileged wounds, and move forward. Doing nothing, or just feeling sad, is no longer palatable. 

– Carla Schmid


A call to action

If we at First Mennonite Church Indianapolis want to be Christ…ians, we need to teach what Jesus taught and model our lives after how Jesus lived his life. White supremacy and racism maintains that people of color are inferior to white people and don’t deserve to have equal roles, resources or opportunities in American society. This is the polar opposite of what Jesus taught when he was on earth. Jesus didn’t spend his time and energy trying to accumulate power and wealth; neither did he attempt to exert his will or control over others. Jesus taught that the last- the oppressed, the weak and the poor- shall be first, and the first- the powerful and the rich- shall be last. This suggests that not only did Jesus favor justice and equality for people of color, but that he favored positions of power for them. To walk in the path of Jesus, white Christians must be in the forefront of helping to create a societal structure in America that provides for an equal sharing of power, resources and opportunities with people of color. This is a challenge for white American Christians, as it is never easy to let go of power and resources you already have in your possession. Yet, this giving away, this giving up for the benefit of others, is the way of Christ, the way of the cross.

– Paul Hartman


A prayer

May we learn to listen and be present with those who are speaking their stories, recognizing the complexity of each individual. 

May we fully receive the anger, frustration and sadness that we must hear. 

May we respond in ways that both amplify Black and Brown voices and challenge white voices when they excuse or deflect the daily violence perpetrated on people of color. 

May we reject leaders who incite hatred through the language of violence. 

May we recognize the trajectory of racial inequity in this country and beyond. 

May we insist on systemic change.

May we own and name the bias in ourselves and speak it, every day. 

In Jesus name.

– Mary Liechty

What If…

For some 500 years Mennonites have differentiated themselves by adhering to some fundamental beliefs. No one belief by itself makes Mennonites different, but taken as a whole they certainly can claim a unique status. Among these basic principles are the priesthood of all believers, separation of church and state, simplicity of life-styles, not swearing an oath, belief that community is both vertical and horizontal, that the Bible is central, adherence to believer’s baptism, and abstaining from military service. While these principles do not mention it specifically, Mennonites have attempted to live out those principles with practical service.

It appears that during the Coronavirus epidemic people are even more willing to serve by offering to help, checking in on neighbors, or planning to help once out from under the restrictions.

So what is the What if…? Service is innate to most Mennonites. What if rather than responding to government-offered alternatives to the draft, what if Mennonites would volunteer for such service – even when no draft is existence. What if Mennonites of drafting age would show up at conscription centers and announce that they are here to help in any way needed, as long as they were not asked to carry weapons? Without weapons these volunteers might even choose to put on the military uniform if a peace emblem prominently displayed. What a wonderful opportunity this would be to pass out tracts about the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7), to participate in evening discussions, and, in case of war, volunteering for go to the dangerous front lines aiding wounded soldiers!

The military might understandably be doubtful, shocked, even suspicious, but eventually might slowly adopt a new mode of thinking, and, in some cases, even become converts. What if we were bold enough to try this new way of evangelizing? I believe the world might take notice.


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MennoExpressions Volume 33, No. 2 | Spring 2020

Articles in this Issue

We Will Overcome by the MennoExpressions Editorial Board

Service While Standing Still by Mag Richer Smith

What If… by Erv Boschmann 

A New Way of Seeing by Carla Schmid

The Bumps in the Road by Kevin Schloneger

Leprosy, foreign languages and new cultures by Heidi Boschmann Amstutz

My Connection to Missions by Doug Schwartzentruber

Sewing Seeds of Service by JB Miller

A Year of Growth and Giving by Karla Hovde

Expanding Horizons by Carol Mullet

Obituaries by Erv Boschmann

The Bumps in the Road

Facts: My wife Lisa and I served with MCC starting in June 1994 for a three year term in Zambia. We served on a catholic mission where there was a school and hospital in the “bush”. I was a math teacher and Lisa was a nurse. We both worked in our respective profession with the Zambian’s at St. Joseph Mission in the copper belt of Zambia. We returned to the US earlier than expected in May 1995.

There is so much more than Facts. So much so that I will say the experiences we had in Zambia made us better people, made us more caring, made us have a better marriage.

We arrived in Zambia not knowing much at all about Africa. We found a lot of hardships. The poorness of the people, the rough living conditions, the lack of jobs available, the scarcity of medical facilities and supplies, and schooling children was financially out of reach and many had to travel great distances to attend.

But, with all of the hardships, the people were kind, caring, willing to help.  I loved playing soccer with all the children every Sunday afternoon. I started to plant a couple of banana trees in the front yard of our house only to have many people come over and dig for me. Lisa enjoyed her walks and sitting around talking with the other Zambian nurses. Lisa and I did everything together! No friends to talk to. No phones within 30 miles. No internet all! Our relationship became stronger.

But there were a lot of bumps in the road as we experienced our Zambia service. And when I say bumps, I literally mean horrible roads. Every road, every interstate had major crater problems that were unavoidable. With all these decrepit road problems, Lisa’s back problems came back in a vengeance. She needed back surgery. She was pregnant with Marie. We made the tough decision to end our MCC assignment earlier then we wanted.

Our bumps in the road changed to more challenges. Coming back in May, I could not find a teaching job. We didn’t know where we were going to live. Lisa was unable to work. I felt empty for not completing an assignment I signed up for. We felt we let our Zambian friends down, but we had no choice.

Lisa and I took these bumps and moved forward. The lack of finding a teaching job led me to the financial services industry. We have found ways to help the poor and marginalized. We have instilled a sense of volunteerism in Marie and Nolan. We have tried to look at ways to connect with foreigners.

We are so happy we went to Zambia. We are so happy we had bumps in the road to make us come back early. We are so happy that our life bumps has lead us to the places we have lived and the experiences that made us better.

Listen to God’s call. Be open to change. Take risks. Work through disappointments. And enjoy the life you have.


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Service While Standing Still

I grew up spending many days at Aunt Lucy’s house. In Lucy’s room there was a bulletin board with a large heading: “THINE FOR SERVICE,” and as a nurse, a children’s Sunday School teacher, a neighbor, a friend, and certainly as an aunt, Lucy lived out that motto more than anyone I knew.

Mag with her Aunt Lucy

As a child I remember Edna Ruth Byler, the founder of MCC’s self help ministry, bringing her trunk-load of mother of pearl jewelry (actually only pins) and Palestinian needlecraft into our living room and setting up shop for a few days. And there was Grandma, in her 90’s, hunched over her sewing machine, still piecing comforters for Mennonite Central Committee. That field trip I took to the city to shop for items for MCC Christmas Bundles was an annual highlight.

And my college education had a motto: “Culture for Service.”

Being a Mennonite-Anabaptist has meant looking for ways to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and shelter the destitute.  Following Jesus has meant looking out for the needs of others, as much as we look out for ourselves, and “THINE FOR SERVICE” has meant, in addition to our own daily arenas of service, supporting our sisters and brothers who are doing the hands-on, front -line action in all areas of the world.

As I write this, service in the Kingdom of God now includes social isolation, considering the needs of others and doing our small part in flattening the curve of spreading a virus. “Looking to the needs of others“ means walling up, staying home and standing still. This is NOT the kind of service we have known before.

Art by Annabella Habegger

So I am reminded of Darryl Byler’s father. Darryl, the long-time director of MCC Washington Office, shared in a sermon some years ago about his dad’s lifetime of active ministry. But near the end of his life, Darryl’s dad became a shut-in, and was stymied, not knowing NOW how to be useful in serving others. But then he began sending a note of encouragement to a different person each day. At his death, it was not his many years of active ministry that people were remembering, but it was those notes that became his lasting legacy.

There is a quote from MJ Sharp written on of a large vat in the Goshen Brew Company:  “We can always listen.”  MJ began his work in the CONGO with Mennonite Central Committee and then continued to work there under the auspices of the United Nations.  As many of you know, MJ and his colleague were abducted and murdered as they worked for peace among warring factions. Reporters from the New York Times and NPR describe MJ sitting under a banana tree with a warlord, listening to his story, offering alternative ways of meeting his goals. Over the course of several years, MJ and his team persuaded some 1,600 rebels to lay down their weapons, which impacted some 23,000 family members. Profound change and greater peace came from sitting still under a banana tree, listening.

In these days of being walled up and shut in “We can always listen.” We can listen to each other’s heart-cries. And we can listen to a SPIRIT OF PEACE that enables us to be bearers of peace to others. We can listen to a SPIRIT whose LOVE is larger than all our fears, We can attend to a SPIRIT who is creative and imaginative and offers us new ministry opportunities, when we stand still enough to listen. 

“THINE FOR SERVICE” does not stop when we stop our regular routines.  Always, always there are ways to reach out to those in need, to be of encouragement to one another and to keep those on the front lines (especially our health care workers and the MCC workers who are serving the most vulnerable) bathed and undergirded with our resources, prayers, and creativity.

LISTEN!


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About the artist

Annabella Habegger

Annabella Habegger is an artist living and working in Indianapolis. She graduated from IU Bloomington with a BFA in Digital Art. She enjoys exploring all types of media, often combining drawing with other materials.

My Connection to Missions

My parents were called to serve the Mennonite Church in Bragado, Argentina in 1961. I was four years old at the time, and went on to grow up in that small community of 30,000 people, in which there was only one other American family. The school system was very good, and hence I was not sent away to a boarding school like other MK’s (missionary kids), but rather attended schools locally, all in Spanish. My parents (Earl and Genny), my younger siblings (David and Donita) and I, fully integrated into the local community. Because of this total immersion, I learned Spanish at a very young age. I dressed, acted and talked like all of my friends, though they did know that I was “American”. We returned to the US when I was 16, when the church in Bragado called local pastors to continue the work that was started by missionaries 50 years before. We served under the Mennonite Board of Missions (Elkhart), which in 2002 became Mennonite Mission Network.

Though I have not served in long term assignments like my parents, I have worked at a Christian hospital in India, participated in medical mission trips to Senegal and Paraguay, and a building project in Puerto Rico. More recently, my life-long interest in serving others, both at home and abroad, made me receptive to an invitation by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to join a fundraising team for the “New hope in the name of Christ” campaign. The timing coincided with the celebration of the 100 year history of MCC, which began in 1920.

Art by Annabella Habegger

Did you know that MCC is now supported and sponsored by many Anabaptist denominations? It is exciting that a large group of believers is working together to address worldwide needs.  The work focuses on three areas: relief (responding to disasters), development (improving education, clean water, sustainable crops, etc.) and peace (building peaceful communities). Because of the great work being done by MCC, I gladly accepted the invitation to help support the campaign, and hopefully assure that this work can continue for another century.

We formed a team of six people from the Great Lakes Region of MCC (IN, MI, OH, IL) and began meeting in people’s homes during 2019. I am so grateful for FMC families that opened their homes to us during the silent phase off the campaign. This groundwork was necessary to launch a successful public phase of the campaign which has now begun in 2020.

The goal of the “New hope in the name of Christ” campaign is to raise 100 million dollars over a three year period. The money will be used for the ongoing operating expenses of MCC, in addition to supporting new programs and increasing the size of the existing endowment. This seems like a very lofty goal, and indeed it is. How can we respond? In addition to praying for the work of MCC, we can renew our commitment to support the ongoing work, increase our giving to help support new programs, or include MCC in our estate planning. We are very excited that the campaign is off to a great start. If you would like further information, please feel free to visit https://mcc.org/centennial/new-hope or reach out to me. And thank you for your support of MCC.


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About the artist

Annabella Habegger

Annabella Habegger is an artist living and working in Indianapolis. She graduated from IU Bloomington with a BFA in Digital Art. She enjoys exploring all types of media, often combining drawing with other materials.

Obituaries

James W. Sauder, a long-time member of First Mennonite Church, died March 4, 2020 at the age of 74. A native of Wauseon, OH, he came to Indianapolis in 1965 to fulfill his I-W duties (alternative service) and then chose to stay in the city. Married to his wife Judy for 53 years they had two children Mark and Christen.  He worked as a bookkeeper, a bus driver, and his consuming hobby was singing in barbershop quartets. He was awarded Barbershopper of the year in 1997; and in 2019 received his 50 year membership pin in Salt Lake City. Condolences to the family.

Jim will be remembered for his happy-go-lucky outlook on life, his laughter, his fun-loving interaction with anyone he came in contact with, and his faithful attendance at FMC.

Scott Hood, 30, son of Gloria and Mike Hood of FMC, passed away suddenly on March 23. Scott was baptized at FMC, lived in Chicago, California, and in 2019 moved back to Indianapolis. A celebration of his life will be scheduled after the pandemic passes. Condolences to the family.  Please remember the family as you listen to this music.

 


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We Will Overcome

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.

Hebrews 6:19

Help each other bear your burdens! In this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2
By Dorothea Lange – Public domain

We resonate with the image of this depression-era young mother who was looking for hope. She was destitute; she was looking for work, how could she feed her many children, and what will tomorrow bring?

In this COVID-19 time we too are looking for hope. We are looking for hope that our friends and family will be well. We are looking for hope that those most needy will be comforted. We are grateful for all the good deeds performed by our friends and neighbors; kindness is indeed contagious; and we are looking for a solution for this mysterious virus sweeping the world; we are looking for hope that the future will be bright.

It is curious that this challenge comes as we celebrate 100 years of MCC, whose slogan is to serve “In the name of Christ.” There has been a rather extensive discussion among the MennoExpressions board and writers how to structure this edition: some said to postpone it, some said it did not matter to them, some said to publish a special issue, and some said it would be best to have an opening statement, then proceed as planned.

And it was pointed out that during this self-imposed quarantine it will be good to have some celebratory reading. We will overcome!

Before continuing to read, do take a moment, go to YouTube, and listen to Yo-Yo Ma playing a J. S. Bach suite, and/or a version of your choice of “We Shall Overcome.”

Do share with us your hopes and fears.


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Leprosy, foreign languages and new cultures

In January 1991 (as the Gulf War had just started), I spent four months volunteering at the Leprosy Colony KM 81 in Paraguay. My great grandparents had volunteered there in the early 1950s. I had just graduated from Goshen College with a Biology degree, and had worked short term jobs in landscaping and in a laboratory. I was still figuring out next steps toward a career. Through family and friend connections, my friend Maria and I embarked on a four month service term in Paraguay. I volunteered at the Leprosy Colony which was 81 kilometers from the capital city (hence the name KM 81). Maria volunteered in a daycare (“Guardaria”) in Asuncion.

The Leprosy Colony is a compound staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists, a physical therapist, prosthetist and others. Local people travel hours for health care needs. There is a hospital onsite for those needing acute medical attention. There is also a clinic where people come for basic health care needs and medications. The Physical Therapist, Annie (a volunteer from Germany) would educate patients on the importance of daily foot inspection for any injuries or skin issues. Leprosy, while mostly eradicated in the US – but not in Paraguay – is a highly contagious disease. It damages nerve endings and decreases blood flow (similar to diabetes) which can also delay or prevent healing. If patients with leprosy have a small foot wound, the patient will not feel pain. Patients walk on a small wound unknowingly for weeks until a severe foot wound develops. Often patients need surgeries, and have resulting misshapen feet, or even amputations. The prosthetist assists in creating custom made shoes, or new prosthetic limbs as needed.

There were and still are many young volunteers at the Leprosy Colony from the surrounding Mennonite Colonies (i.e. Fernheim, Loma Plata, Bergtal), as well as from abroad. I spent my time with the young volunteers rotating between the kitchen, laundry room and general cleaning. Many of the volunteers were German Mennonites speaking Low German. I had studied High German throughout college, but this was different than the Low German spoken here. The patients were often native Paraguayans speaking Spanish. There are also many Indigenous people in Paraguay speaking Guarani. I learned that Paraguay is a melting pot of cultures and languages, making communication challenging at times.

On one “field trip” I was able to travel with a doctor to the outlying villages. Here the doctor did follow up visits with patients who were unable to travel to the clinic. He even took lab samples to check for the status of various diseases right there in their homes. It was a mobile lab!

A typical carved horn for drinking ‘mate’.

Despite my language barrier, I made friends and connections with other volunteers. On weekends off, I traveled by bus to Asunción to be with my friend Maria, and visit my Opa and Oma.

While adjusting to the language and cultural differences was challenging, this was a very rich four months away. This is one of the life experiences that helped to steer me into the path of Physical Therapy.


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