Voices Together Journey

The past couple of years have been all about processes and journeys. The new hymnal Voices Together had a journey all its own. From the beginning, the committee that put the hymnal together invested a lot of time on the process. I, myself, have also had an adventure in getting acquainted with the hymnal and its resources. This is part of that journey.

In 2008, the discussions started around creating a new hymnal. Hymnal: A Worship Book was starting to show its age. A committee was formed, and the group started the process of building a new hymnal. Their first step was to ask music directors and leaders from Mennonite churches in both the US and Canada to complete a survey sharing their favorite songs from Hymnal: A Worship Book, Sing the Journey and Sing the Story. The committee traveled to many churches throughout the US and Canada, including urban and rural congregations. These trips also included visits to churches where members are part of “non-traditional Mennonite” ethnic groups so they could learn about songs these groups were using in their worship services. There was also a HUGE fundraising campaign initiated to raise the money to publish this new book. Finally in the fall of 2020, 28 years after Hymnal: A Worship Book came out, Voices Together was published.

My personal experience with the new hymnal began in January 2019 with my first trip to the Music and Worship Leaders Retreat at the Laurelville Retreat Center in Pennsylvania. At the gathering, we were given a booklet containing some of the songs that were being considered for the new hymnal. For 40 hours, (minus the time for sleeping and eating) we were singing the new songs and looking at some of the resources that would be included in the new hymnal. I was in HEAVEN!! Singing with all those people and learning many new songs—it was food for my soul. At the retreat, we also learned that many of the songs we have grown up with or learned to love, had been slightly changed to make them more inclusive. There were songs from many different cultures and languages. It turns out that the new hymnal has almost 200 songs in 50 non-English languages, ranging from American Sign Language to Zulu. There are also contemporary Christian songs.

The next year, January 2020, I went to the retreat again. As before, we were introduced to many new songs and worship resources. The committee had worked very hard to make this hymnal useful in a variety of situations for anyone, whether pastor or layperson, to find prayers, songs, and readings. We were also given ideas on ways to use the songs in worship. One resounding theme was the inclusion of songs from Anabaptist and women artists. We learned about the amount of time the committee spent reviewing music and words, getting copyrights, changing texts (if allowed), and debating what should finally be in the hymnal. It was obvious that a lot of thought and work went into the creation of this worship resource.

Then the pandemic hit!

Production was slowed and Voices Together, that was supposed to be released in the Fall of 2020, was pushed back to January of 2021.

In the meantime, I found out the hymnal was available through an app. I couldn’t wait to see everything that was included. After downloading it on my tablet, I spent a lot of time scrolling through the songs, looking for old favorites and starting to play through the new ones. I also purchased the recordings of 70 of the over 800 songs included in the hymnal. The songs were recorded by several different groups, Calvin Community Church, Hesston College Bel Canto Singers, Eastern Mennonite University Chamber Singers, Menno Singers, and the Camps with Meaning Ensembles. I fell in love with many of these songs and have used them in the services at FMC (I sometimes forget that you all don’t know them!) Many of them spoke to me in different ways. I also took a course through AMBS that introduced new songs, then gave participants a chance to talk about them, work through how to incorporate the songs and introduce the hymnal and its resources to the congregation.

 I found songs that quickly became some of my new favorites, including VT 802, “Draw the Circle,” VT 582, “My Love Colors Outside the Lines,” VT 6, “Let’s Walk Together,” VT 42, “Could It Be That God is Singing,” VT 9, “Come Away from Rush and Hurry,” and VT 299, “God Lights a Lamp,” written by two of the presenters at the Laurelville retreat. There are so many I cannot name them all.

Soon after the hymnal came out, my dad ended up in the hospital and passed away. The new hymnal has several songs that have been helping me through this loss. They are songs that I find I cannot sing, but listening to them helps with the pain and sorrow. VT 653, “Nothing is Lost on the Breath of God” is one of these songs, which many of you know, as we have used it many times at FMC. The most significant song that has been added to my playlist is VT 612, “When Pain or Sorrow/Hold On”. This song was written by Anabaptist artist Adam Tice. At the Laurelville retreat, he told the story of a family member and the pain that follows when persons take their own life. When we sang this song, there was not a dry eye in the house. It is on the recordings from the hymnal, and the words speak of confusion, doubt, great sorrow, and yet the peace and feelings of support that can come from my church family. All these songs remind me that we have a God who loves us. We are a church together, and we help each other—whether it is in what we say or what we sing. Sometimes songs can say what is difficult to express only in words.

I thank you all for your patience and your willingness to try new songs as we travel on this journey of learning the new hymnal. I hope you have found at least one or two songs that you have grown to like, if not love. And the journey continues…

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Eulogy for John Boyce

John became a friend soon after I moved with my family to Indianapolis in 1991 so I could attend law school. I met him here at First Mennonite Church. I base this tribute on a wonderful friendship of 30 years.

A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law. What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have given the right answer.” The next story following this vignette in Luke is that of the Good Samaritan. I should say first that although the word “lawyer” is used in this translation, legal experts in Jewish society at that time served a different function than lawyers do in our society. But I start the eulogy with that vignette because I think John saw the people in his personal and professional life as neighbors, and he did his best to love them as he loved himself. John once told the story of being asked this question, “How do you maintain a good attitude toward people who come before you in court, given the bad things they are accused of doing?” John replied, “They are God’s children too.”

Is there a kind of naivete in trying to love your neighbor as you love yourself? I believe John had a cup of realism that was just as full as his cup of idealism. I think that he saw the world as it is, filled with many beautiful things, but also as a place where people sometimes do awful things. He seemed to be good at letting go of the bad stuff, and in seeing humor in situations that were silly or absurd.

John was capable of getting angry when he saw that people were abused, and he was committed to protecting people from abuse when he was in a position to do so. He served in a number of professional positions where he was responsible for persons and programs that intervened in the lives of children and families where abuse and/or neglect had occurred. He had a large measure of knowledge and wisdom regarding the psychological and legal issues associated with abuse and neglect. This doesn’t mean that he never made mistakes, because knowledge and wisdom don’t always lead to the right decision or judgment in complicated and messy interpersonal situations. But we as a society would be blessed if all of the persons in such positions had the trained mind and the warm heart that John had.

Another way in which John loved his neighbor was his commitment to change policies and structures, not just individuals. He knew that one can’t be a good neighbor if one lives in a neighborhood where some people are treated differently or even excluded. He stood up for a society with just and equitable social and economic structures.

I would like to sum up with a paragraph from a letter I wrote on John’s behalf in 1995, when he asked Governor Evan Bayh to appoint him to a vacant seat on the Circuit Court bench in LaGrange County, Indiana. The focus of this paragraph is on John’s professional life, but it describes his personal life as well.

“John would be an excellent judge because of his strong commitment and idealism regarding social and economic justice. He has attempted to live out this commitment as a lawyer for Legal Services Organization of Indiana, Inc., where he has worked since graduating from law school. His willingness to work in a position which is demanding but pays only a modest salary demonstrates that his values and beliefs are more than just words. What John believes is such an integral part of his life that he practices it wherever he goes and whatever he does. This means that John has a great deal of integrity, honesty and straightforwardness. John will not say one thing, and then proceed immediately to practice or implement something completely different. His approach may not always be politically expedient, but it is refreshing to see someone live in a manner which shows greater concern for integrity than for what he can get for himself. With the public’s cynicism today regarding lawyers and public officials, John is the kind of person who would do his small part as a judge to build confidence in the idea that public officials are truly servants of the people. This value is sometimes given lip service by those in public life, but John is a person who would give it real meaning and substance.”

John was appointed by Governor Bayh to the position as judge of Circuit Court in LaGrange County.

It is with great sadness and a tremendous sense of loss that I must say “Goodbye” to my good friend, John Boyce. He fulfilled the law to love his neighbor as he loved himself. The neighborhood has lost a kind and a thoroughly decent man.

Shared by Paul at First Mennonite Church on September 17, 2022 during the memorial service for John.

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FMC 2021 High School Graduate

Kaden Friend didn’t expect greatness at North Central as he walked through Door 1 four years ago but decided to pursue it. “I was considering not doing honors English,” he recalls. Yet he did take that class – and all other Advanced courses on his academic journey – including deciding to pursue the International Baccalaureate diploma. Kaden’s pursuit of doing well helped him achieve the class ranking of 5th in his class of 896 students. Pretty great!

Having half of his sophomore year and entire junior year scarred by the pandemic and its isolation, what he treasures most about his high school days is the interaction with other students and his favorite teachers. One can see a theme of interaction with this young man as his favorite youth group memory at FMC is of the van ride to Snow Camp for JYF. Yes, the three-hour van ride of music and laughs!

Studying has taken up a great deal of his time, yet he also found room in his schedule for a job at Rise and Roll Bakery in Broad Ripple. He enjoys the connection to Northern Indiana (all the baked goods come from Middlebury every day), and of course is not sad about leftover doughnuts to eat! You can also find Kaden shooting basketballs in the driveway, with NC intermural basketball also being a highlight of the “before” times his sophomore year and then again during his senior year. Watching YouTube is also a favorite pastime.

In thinking about advice to give the JYF, Kaden says “Make an effort to be involved.” He himself made the goal of being more involved and social in high school and feels this approach has given him a well-rounded experience of not just academics. For example, he was one of the co-leaders of Panther Quest, North Central’s freshman orientation program. Planning and leading a team to help 500 freshmen learn the ways of NC, especially in pandemic times, provided life lessons and friendships.

Come August, Kaden will experience his own freshman orientation as he heads to West Lafayette to attend Purdue University. He will be in the Honors College of the Krannert School of Management, studying accounting and business. Where will this experience lead him in five years (a question we ask all FMC seniors)? He pondered this, and with a grin said, “Doing big things, enjoying the real world.”

First Mennonite Church has always been part of Kaden’s world. From his baby dedication in 2004 to the senior sendoff held recently in May, the people of FMC have been Kaden’s village. Special shout out to Donna and Steve Haines who have come to birthday parties, “special person” days at elementary school and numerous soccer games through the years, showing Kaden what a church family is all about.

His perspective on being a kid at FMC has led to what has now been deemed “Kaden’s Challenge.” As captured in FMC’s weekly email, Kaden challenged FMC to continue advocating for our youth, to keep building good relationships, and to be a good community “’cause we’re a big part of a kid’s life.”

Thank you, FMC, for helping launch this bright young man into the world!

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Running The Race

We asked several people who have connections with FMC and Shalom about running races—literally. Their answers have applications for any life race we run. We will hear about race-running from Calvin Aschliman, Heidi Boschmann, Steve Glick, Gretchen Liechty Lynch, Brad Yoder, and Valerie Rago Yoder. They range in age from their thirties to their eighties. Several started running around the age of forty—or later. In this group we have local runners, an Ironman, a record breaker for the over-seventy category in a half marathon, Boston qualifiers, those who travel across the world to run marathons and make it a family event, those who coach and much more. Talk to any of them. They have a lot of insight to share about living. And let it be known that there are many more runners in our midst, so stay tuned for more in our next issue as well!

1. Preparing to Race:

Calvin: Having a race date on the calendar helps me when I don’t feel like going to the gym or running….

Valerie: There’s a physical and mental preparation. Building up to long runs and faster workouts train both body and brain to push through feeling uncomfortable.

Gretchen: I used to care only about finishing, then I discovered I could run pretty fast if I trained and stuck to a training program that worked for me. I had a strong running community, before COVID, for motivation and accountability. 

Brad: Just before a run, I prepare with 10 minutes of stretching to warm up my muscles and get my heart pumping.

Steve: Just prior to a run, I do some stretching, a couple of minutes on a stationary bike and a couple minutes on the treadmill. 

Life Lessons: Set a goal, make smaller goals to reach that goal, follow through, accept setbacks, build community……

2. What Does a Running Runner Think About?

Valerie: I generally just let my mind wander.

Gretchen: I prefer to run with others and chat. But if by myself, I’ll let my mind wander or listen to an audiobook or music.

Steve: I never listen to music or use earbuds. I’m never bored.

Brad: All of the places I run now from our front door include trees, flowers, lots of grass, rippling streams, ponds, and some wildlife.

Heidi: My mind goes free: plans for the day, thoughts of yesterday, conversations, snippets from songs, thoughts of family and friends, prayers….

Lessons: We’re all different. Taking time to notice what is around us and in us is not wasted time. Find your groove to allow your goal to be met. 

3. What’s The Hardest Part of a Race?

Valerie: Toward the end – in a marathon, miles 18-26. If there are hills, those are hard!

Brad: Half the work is in the last six miles. 

Gretchen: The last 1/3. No matter what the distance, it’s painful and I just want to be done

Steve: Race Day is the most fun! It’s the long training runs (16m-20m) that are the hardest.

Calvin: Dr. George Sheehan, cardiologist, best-selling author, and runner who ran a 4:47 mile at age 51 said, “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that’s wants you to quit.”

Lessons: You’ve got to keep going to finish. It’s not always smooth; there may be discomfort. It’s not about winning. Believe in your preparation and follow through.

4. Why Do You Keep Running?

Heidi: Running is a pattern for me. Solitary morning runs…the pattern of running with muscles warmed and invigorating fresh air clears the mind and is good for the soul. 

Calvin: I enjoy the excitement factor. The excitement of being at the start line, the excitement of running with so many other people, the excitement of the spectators, the excitement of passing other runners, even the excitement of other runners passing me. A second reason is that it motivates me to stay in good physical condition.

Brad: I enjoy the health benefits of running and the experience of being outdoors, and those are the main reasons I continue running almost daily at the age of 80.

Gretchen: Running has kept me healthy; it’s an easy way to get in exercise. I’ve met some of my best friends running, and I just love races and runners.

Valerie: Running keeps me feeling healthy and is something I enjoy doing.

Steve: I think everyone gravitates toward endeavors that make them feel good and/or they have some talent for. Running makes pretty much everyone feel good…endorphins and all that! The running community is uniquely supportive of other runners.

Lessons: Find what motivates you. Learn to spend time with yourself. Look at long term goals. Make some friends who share your interests. Create healthy practices.

5. What else do you have to say about running a race?

Steve: There is a “food chain of runner talent” out there and it is a good challenge to maximize your talent …. and be happy with your place on the chain. 

Gretchen: I ran the Prague Marathon on May 8, 2022. The t-shirt and motto said “ALL RUNNERS ARE BEAUTIFUL.” I agree. The runners I know, on the whole, are beautiful on the inside and outside. They are some of the most honest people I’ve ever met. They are hard workers and goal oriented. They tend to care about others. If I find out someone is a runner, it usually means we will get along.

Calvin: After a race I reflect on the race for the next few weeks, as well as the next few months. … how I felt physically and mentally at various parts of the race and how I responded during the race to those feelings. But in all the races that I have run, I look at myself as a winner because… I signed up for the race; I trained with the race in mind; and finally… I participated in the race. In the Indy Mini Marathon last weekend, I came in 3762nd place. I was satisfied. Contrast this with high school and college competitions where only the top few positions matter.

Lessons: Find friends, have some fun, learn about yourself, pat yourself on the back for being alive, present and participating in life!

Brad Yoder shared the following with runners and teams he coached: 

Distance running is a challenging athletic experience, and along the way it also gives us some of the most important things in life:

  • Appreciation for the gift of life and health
  • Courage (from the Latin word for “heart”)
  • Persistence
  • Life-long friendships
  • Self-confidence in challenging times
  • Respect and appreciation for the hard work of others
  • Gratitude for how our minds, bodies, and spirits work together
  • Emotional maturity and independence
  • Expanded understanding of our personal strengths and limitations
  • Shared celebrations and disappointments
  • Awareness of the world beyond ourselves, and the United States 

More about these runners:

Calvin Aschliman started running at the age of 49. His most recent race was the Mini Marathon in May. He is looking forward to long, easy runs on the beach in northeast Florida when he and spouse Annie Stewart move there in January as retirees.

Heidi Boschmann has been running for a long time. She started in 6th grade when encouraged by a teacher/coach. Heidi regularly runs 3 miles 4-5 times a week and does one half-marathon a year, as well as an occasional 5K.

Steve Glick is a brother to Carol Mullet and lives in Goshen, IN. Though active on his track team in high school, he only started running distance races in his late 50’s. Steve has run 11 marathons all over the world and will do his last in London in October, after which he’ll be focusing on shorter distances.

Gretchen Liechty Lynch grew up at FMC and now lives in Bavaria, Germany. She ran in middle school then took a ten-year break before running again. Gretchen has run 19 marathons, one Ironman, one 50K and one 50-mile race, along with other shorter distances

Brad Yoder attends Shalom Mennonite and started running at age 38. He is a retired professor from Manchester University, where he also coached runners, and has much to share about education and running. At age 70 he smashed the record for his age group in the Monumental Marathon.

Valerie Rago Yoder started running in 6th grade. Her most recent long race was the Indy Monumental Marathon. She loves her long weekend runs at 10 plus miles.

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Milestones: Spring/Summer 2022

Elvin Plank retired in April from Indiana Health Centers where he was CEO and President. Elvin served many years in healthcare.

In May, Elvin and Lisa Plank celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.

Erv and Priscilla Boschmann will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on August 17th!

Jana Miller retired from teaching at the end of the school year after 36 years in the classroom.

Moving to a different home has been a big transition and a lot of work for both of these couples. You can find their new addresses in the church directory.

  • Allen and Cindy Mast
  • Paul and Ethel Hartman

Marita Miller, daughter of Michael and Jana Miller, was married to Jason Illescas on May 28 at FMC. They currently live in Indianapolis. Marita is a physical therapist in the wound center at IU Health-Methodist. Jason is in flight school with the Lyft program to become a commercial pilot.

Milestones is a new feature to help our church family keep in touch.  We would love to feature your news. Please send it to Gaynel at the church office (email hidden; JavaScript is required) or Carol Mullet. (email hidden; JavaScript is required)

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Top 10 Terms Learned Via the Race to Upgrade the Memory Garden

Take the mix and match quiz below this blurb! Some of the matched answers are real and some have “looser” connections. Send your answers to me at email hidden; JavaScript is required or put them in my mailbox by July 10th. Of all perfect scores, a random one will be drawn for you to have ice cream from Graeter’s! Mmm, good!

The reason for this Top 10 is to acknowledge the countless hours of imagining, planning, meeting, and working performed by the entire Memory Garden Committee, plus additional volunteers.

Planning and Visioning

  • discussing our purpose
  • setting goals
  • revising periodically
  • embracing the process

Committee Meetings

  • settings dates/times
  • preparing agendas and sending e-vites
  • meetings, meetings, meetings
  • meeting minutes and follow-up

Physical Design and Layout of Garden

  • picking professionals
  • off-site meetings with professionals
  • meeting design architects and landscapers on site
  • determining the best matches for our vision
  • being flexible due to supply chain and labor issues

Keeping the Congregation Informed

  • First Things First
  • MennoExpressions articles
  • one-on-one conversations
  • Sunday morning sharing
  • visual displays in Fellowship Hall

Projecting Costs and Paying for Plantings and Materials

  • getting advice from others with experience
  • selecting and establishing fundraisers
  • promoting the fundraisers
  • giving thanks to the donors

Continuing the Work

  • bulbs and amaryllis sales
  • stones for paths
  • arborvitae, red buds, tupelo, and crab apples
  • benches and pillars
  • engraved brick pavers and plaques with names

With the above in mind, how many hours would you estimate the committee and other volunteers have donated in the last 18 months? 40 to 50? 100 to 200? more than 400? The answer is approximately 300! At a conservative rate of $50/hour for many of the services, this is at least $15,000 worth of time donated. Thank you to each person from the congregation and from the committee for running this race together!

Now, to your long-awaited Top 10 quiz! Enjoy!

  1. Cold joint
  2. Silent phase
  3. Veneer ties
  4. Anodized aluminum
  5. Hickey
  6. Bull float
  7. Nail hoe
  8. Donor pyramid
  9. Wire sinne
  10. Characters
  1. charging metal to make it rust-resistant
  2. something used to lure fish
  3. an upside-down polygon
  4. what happens to the neigthbor’s bovine when it is in your pool too long
  5. the time it takes gas to go from emitted to detected
  6. another name for committee members
  7. a faint memory from junior high
  8. tool used to trim your fingers
  9. worn to dress up suits or sport coats
  10. another name for a freezer

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Racing with Pastor Monica

Did you smell the burn of rubber in Indy? Hear the screech of tires? May in the Midwest means it’s RACING season in Indianapolis. The checkered flags go up in yards; money pours into the IMS, and spectators from all over the world line up to see which driver will be crowned victor and (bizarrely enough) watch a bottle of milk be dumped over the winner’s head after chugging some to follow tradition. It is a global phenomenon.

But what about the smaller, everyday races? The ones where there is no crowd and no trophy? What happens when conditions change, the track gets slippery, or there is no clear finish line?

Pastor Monica has officially crossed the starting line and begun her “race” as our Pastor here at First Mennonite Church. She has put in years of training, moved across the country, and now it’s “all engines go” as she begins her new life here with us. After the pomp and circumstance of Monica’s installation, the stadium has gotten quieter. The crowd has dissipated and there aren’t clear road markers as to which way or how fast she should turn. Monica relies heavily on her daily quiet time and creative life to stay in tune with her divine inner compass.

Here are some specific ways we can pray for Monica and encourage her as she stays the course and navigates around bumps in the road. Pastor Monica currently faces chronic health issues that sometimes leave her physically tired and frustrated. Please join me in praying for strength, direction, and serenity as she seeks and discovers next steps for her medical journey. As the Pastoral Team Search Committee continues our quest for adding a part-time pastor, please pray for patience as Monica attempts to support our new church structure & all of the commissions in the absence of another leader to share the load. 

When I asked Monica what a “successful” first lap around the track might look like for her first year of pastoring, she thought for a minute, broke into a huge smile and replied, “When I reach my 27th sermon, I will have preached more at FMC than I have everywhere else combined.” As Monica pours her soul, study, and meditations into her sermons, I hope we can whoop & holler our appreciation and celebrate with her when she reaches this milestone! 

Pastor Monica is not alone on her journey. We are all interconnected and racing right alongside her. The old model of a dictator-pastor who has all the answers, and a congregation as passive recipients of said pastor, is over. The health of our congregation is entirely dependent on all of us, and we are all a part of church successes and failures. We say we want strong youth programming? Well, we need teachers and youth sponsors to step forward. We want to become an anti-racist church? Well then, we all need to show up for the Widerstand audit results and be engaged in future anti-bias training. Do we want to be a church where all are welcome and connect with our neighborhood? Church Life is gonna need help! No one person can fill all of our needs, but if we are serious about the spiritual health of our church, we all have a part to play in the days to come.

I invite you to spend time over the summer discerning what role God is nudging you toward in our faith community. This could look like daily prayer, asking a friend or spouse for the strengths they see in you, or journaling during a sermon and paying attention to what words fill your being with purpose and excitement. Let’s be intentional in our thoughts and actions as we run this race together alongside Pastor Monica.

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Exploring Art

I have been passionate about creating imagery—art—all my life. In grade school, I started drawing portraits, and my work evolved to incorporate still life objects and landscape images as I pursued my master’s degree in fine arts. I like to create work with unsettling juxtapositions: images of quirky, man-made knick-knacks vs. nature, interior vs. exterior spaces, flat vs. dimensional, with the hope that viewers will be inspired to see all that surrounds them in a new light.

Bird – Tree
Mixed media – drawn image, wallpaper, acrylic paint
Cloud – Cloud – Cloud
Mixed media – thread, felt, wallpaper
Vase – Landscape
Mixed media – drawn image, acrylic paint, fibers
Landscape – Landscape
Mixed media – drawn image, acrylic paint

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