My Garden Legacy

I must have been six or seven when I first remember eating fresh peas straight off the vine in my grandmother’s garden.  Wow. I will never forget that pop of sweetness on my tongue! And no carrot ever tasted fresher, or more flavorful than those I pulled straight out of that black Manitoba soil, with no seasoning except a bit of residual dirt. I learned to love garden vegetables early. My grandmother had a huge garden. While I don’t know the actual dimensions, suffice it to say, one could easily get lost in there– or safely sneak fresh goodies without fear of getting caught! I loved that paradise.  It was magical. Grandma grew absolutely everything in that garden. I wish I could talk to her now, and hear what she would have to tell me about it.  When I was growing up in Kansas, my parents usually planted a vegetable garden, and my mom always loved her red geraniums and bright orange begonias just like her mother did. But other things held my attention back then. Now in my adult life, I have always enjoyed a garden. Every year I marvel at the miracle of a seed. The Great Force of life that pushes goodness out of dirt, scraps, waste, and refuse. Such a beautiful metaphor for grace, love and forgiveness, such a perfect symbol for the renewal of spirit and blooming of the soul—true transformation.

I like to think that part of my grandmother lives on in me. My mother and several family members living locally are lucky to have a start from Grandma’s fuchsia peonies that once thrived in my grandmother’s magical garden.  Though I cannot bring plants across the Canada/US Border, I cherish some of those family peonies from my mother’s home in South Bend before they moved. And though my vegetable garden, of course, does not even begin to compare to Grandmother’s, who grew hers to feed her large family of 13 children, I believe my flower garden may not be far off. This season I hope to stretch my flower growing capacity once again as I try my hand at starting seeds indoors.  Many of the seeds are flowers that she grew, like cosmos, zinnias, snapdragons, sweet peas, four-o’clocks, marigolds and petunias.  I am reminded of Grandmother every spring when I get out and start digging in that great, green earth. The days are getting longer now, and I’m starting to feel the gardening bug. It’s time to start getting my peas and carrots and potatoes in the ground. I am ever so grateful to my Grandmothers–both of them. They inspired me to love the earth, to treat it well and realize it will give back three thousand-fold both in beauty and in bounty. I have so much gratitude to them for their amazing, determined efforts to feed their families well–and for that little garden bug planted in my soul.


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Top Ten Transformations of 2020

  1. The most popular sections at the grocery became the spice shelves and baking goods aisle.
  2. Turned out our neighborhood did have a lot of people who lived in it. Who would have known!
  3. More of us understood the differences between “wants” and “needs”.
  4. The reason for common courtesies such as covering your mouth and nose when sneezing became obvious.
  5. “Hobby” became more inclusive, such as reorganizing storage shelves for the third time in four months.
  6. Wearing clothes for longer than a few hours in a day was regarded as a major hassle.
  7. Uneven gray won “Hair Color of the Year” award.
  8. “Family time” had a whole new meaning.
  9. Learning about statistics, graphs, data trends and charts was taken off my list of life goals.
  10. Personal space was renamed to the much more contemporary term, “social distancing”.

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Adventures in E-Learning: A Conversation with the Schmuckers

The Schmucker family has spent the entire past school year experiencing e-learning from home. Caitlin (3rd grade) and Nora (Kindergarten) attend an IPS district school that has swung between virtual and in-person options.The girls will remain virtual for the remainder of the school year. As with so many families, virtual learning has had many ups and downs, but the Schmucker family has also been able to find the silver linings.

Do you like e-learning/learning at home? If so, what do you like about it?

Caitlin I do like learning at home because on my breaks I can do whatever I want. And I like it because we have another good teacher (Mom).
Nora I like it because I can play with my toys on my breaks.
Mel We love being able to go on walks or play outside whenever we have some time between meetings.
Jason I’ve been working from home for a year now and it’s been nice to see Caitlin and Nora more often during the day.

You have been virtual learning for a long time now–has it gotten easier/more comfortable over time?

Caitlin It definitely has gotten easier. I know how to do things better and I know the routine.
Mel In some ways it has definitely gotten better as we’ve adjusted to the routines and expectations. There have also been challenges though when the school switched from virtual only to in-person learning – this has happened twice and each time it takes a couple weeks to adjust to the new schedules and routines (their teachers have to manage both the virtual and in-person students). The majority of the students did go back to in-person learning and it sometimes feels like the virtual learners are overlooked/pushed aside.

What has been hard about learning at home? What do you miss about in-person school?

Caitlin What’s been hard is that I can’t see my classmates in person. I miss my friends.
Mel It’s been hard for Nora (kindergartner) to make friends through the screen. It’s been challenging for me to be a surrogate teacher (teaching is so NOT my thing).

Have there been any funny/notable moments you’ve experienced while e-learning?

Caitlin One of my classmates always has the song Let it Go from Frozen playing in the background whenever we are meeting. It’s so funny!
Mel Nora’s teacher has three dogs and when everyone was virtual and she was teaching from home her dogs were constantly barking in the background.
Performing a lava lamp science experiment with colored water, oil, and antacid tablets.

Any other thoughts or memories you think you will remember from this experience?

Caitlin  I’ve had a lot of cool conversations with my teacher.
Jason I’ve enjoyed getting to observe more of their school days and get a feel for the ways they’re learning, much more than I can when they’re in person. I will always remember how much Mel stepped up to be the at-home teacher – she’s done so much good for our girls.

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FMC 2021 High School Graduates

The Class of 2021 has faced challenges never seen before, and we are so proud of our seniors who have persevered through it all.   All four are graduating from North Central High School, with the actual graduation ceremony being on May 26, 2021, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum (exact format still being determined!)  Avi, Isaiah, Klaine and Paige have been part of FMC their entire lives and it is a joy to celebrate them.


Avi Sarkar

There’s always a spark of excitement in the air when Avi Sarkar is around. Sometimes that spark becomes a flame – like the time he accidentally started a fire in his chemistry classroom at North Central High School. As this spunky senior reflects on his high school years, there are many highlights. His choir experiences and his broadcasting work at WJEL have been favorite activities. Avi’s goals evolved over the years and he has realized how much he has cherished learning alongside his peers. He is a people person, and illustrated by the fact that his favorite church-related song is “10,000 Reasons, because Isaiah and I would sing this on the way to football and basketball games,” he says. Many from FMC have heard his voice on the airwaves on his sports podcast.

A fan of watching YouTube videos, Avi also enjoys watching the shows Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. A superhero theme is followed, in that his favorite book is Ultimate Spider Man and his favorite movie is Avengers: Endgame. You might find Avi eating a McChicken sandwich and listening to Lose Yourself by Eminem or filming one of the many videos that the Counterpoints had to turn in this year.

He has enjoyed his years at First Mennonite, especially Snow Camp when it snowed and the kids were able to go tubing. He advises the JYF to “Don’t do what I do.” (You’ll have to ask Avi yourself what he means by that!). Perhaps the pandemic experience of the past year has influenced his advice for the adults of FMC in that he says, “Live your lives to the fullest.”

As he looks to the fall, Avi will be attending IUPUI and in five years hopes he’ll be looking for a job. With your enthusiasm and energy, Avi, we know you’ll find a great one!


Isaiah Rosner

During his high school years, you could find Isaiah Rosner on several of North Central High School’s “big stages.” Whether it was playing his cello in the Symphony Orchestra in the auditorium or being in the press box announcing NC football games across the WJEL airwaves, Isaiah was working on goals he set years ago. “I wanted to be first chair cello (currently second) and get into sports announcing, both of which happened,” the senior recalls. He began announcing sporting events as a sophomore and enjoyed this activity that is leading to a career choice. Upon graduation he plans to go into a digital sports production program, either at Ball State or Indiana University.

When asked what might surprise people about announcing, Isaiah points out the action that happens before the contest even starts. “It takes a lot of time to prepare for the game broadcasts, and I’ve enjoyed collecting stats and prep information for every game. You have to be ready with information on key players and stats you can reference during the games as you think on your feet,” he says. 

If one was “calling the story” of Isaiah’s high school days, you’d describe his favorite food – pizza of the pepperoni, sausage, bacon and ham with stuffed crust variety – along with his top TV shows Stranger Things, Impractical Jokers and The Office. His highlight reel would also include roller coasters, the Colts and Pacers as well as the pandemic-discovered hobbies of chess and magic tricks. The odds are good you may not know his favorite musician – composer Michael Giacchino – but many of his soundtracks would be familiar.

Isaiah has been at First Mennonite his whole life and has fond memories including the antics of Snow Camp. He especially enjoys the song “Strangers No More” due to decent lyrics and good tune. In granting advice to the JYF, he encourages them to “get involved in what you are interested in as soon as possible – at school or outside of school” as he wished he would have done broadcasting as a freshman. His advice for the adults is a bit more specific. “Don’t drive kindly – drive predictably.” He asserts that if you are driving the speed limit on a two-lane road, don’t make him late to his broadcast by blocking him. In five years, that call time just might be for his first job,” likely broadcasting random sports in the middle of nowhere.”

We have all enjoyed watching you grow up, Isaiah, and we’ll tune in to your broadcasts originating from Fargo!


Klaine Friend

Determined. Focused. Fun. These are just several of many descriptors that describe Klaine Friend as she wraps up her high school days at North Central. From a young age she knew she wanted to be part of the Counterpoints, the school’s award-winning show choir, and that goal was reached her junior year. Elected co-president of the Counterpoints by her peers as a senior, she has the dubious honor of leading the group during this most disruptive year ever. Along with her singing, she ran cross country for all four years – another feat of determination. 

When she walked in the doors of NC as a freshman, she set the goal of being in the Top 25 of her graduating class. Through focused effort and long hours of homework, she achieved that goal in her class of almost 900 students. It was wonderful that the school enabled the ceremony to be in person in March for the senior honorees.

Along with all the work, there has been time for fun as she has enjoyed hanging out with friends, going to parks and of course playing with her pandemic puppy.

Her biggest pet peeve right now is people asking her where she is going to college, as she awaits decisions from universities on the East and West Coasts. It appears schools in the heartland, five of which she’s been admitted to, let students know earlier than NYU and UCLA who won’t notify until the end of March. She does know that she wants to study environmental science, pointing out that her generation does not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road on issues like climate change.

Klaine has been at First Mennonite her entire life, and there are pictures from early days of VBS, Children’s Christmas Musicals and Snow Camps to mark the journey. Klaine gives a shout out to her mentor, Brooke Kandel, who has been a great role model. “With a big job at Butler and her kids, Brooke does it all but still had time for Starbucks with me and to come to my various plays and shows. I really appreciate it,” Klaine says. She also shares the fond memory of when her dad helped the JYF build a carpetball game for the JYF room. Her advice to the JYF comes with the wisdom of a Class of 2021 senior: “It gets better.”

A perfect afternoon might include eating sushi, sipping a chocolate milkshake and watching her favorite movie The Grinch while Snapchatting with her pals. After a year like this, trying to predict down the road five years almost seems a fool’s errand. Yet it is fun for Klaine to think about having a job in city with greenspace as she works to protect the environment. There’s no doubt this determined young lady will make her mark on the world!


Paige Longenecker

by Rachel Friesen

Paige Longenecker will be graduating from North Central High School this spring and will be heading to the University of Cincinnati in the fall to pursue a marketing degree at the Lindner School of Business. As an incoming freshman to North Central, Paige’s goal was to meet a good group of friends and she has achieved that, plus a lot more! Paige’s roommate at the University of Cincinnati will be someone she met at summer gym classes before her freshman year of high school. One of her favorite parts of high school has been the opportunity to meet all types of people—including lots of the “fun personalities” in her high school. Paige loves anything pasta, watching Netflix in her room with her cat, movie nights with her friends, hiking at Holiday Park with her dog, attending Taylor Swift concerts (she’s been to four so far) and watching shows with her family. Right now, Paige is re-watching The Vampire Diaries and The Originals (the sequel).

“The Mountains may shift and the hills may be shaken, but my faithful love won’t shift from you, my covenant of peace won’t be shaken.” says the Lord the one who pities you. (Isaiah 54:10) This has been a meaningful verse to Paige through the peaks and valleys of growing up. It reminds her that the Lord will always love her, and that the love of the Lord is endless. Paige’s favorite memories during MYF are of the DOOR trips. She found these to be spiritual, fun and a real learning opportunity. She got to know the MYF group better, as well as the people and environments around the group while doing service. Her advice to the FMC adults is to engage with youth and to the JYF she encourages them to Participate! Paige has found that the more you attend the MYF/JYF activities and go to Sunday School, the closer you get to the group. For her, some of the most memorable activities in JYF and MYF have been when the adults in the church joined them.

As her mentor, I (Rachel Friesen) have enjoyed our annual back to school shopping trips, Shoo-fly pie bake-offs and watching her grow up through our monthly small group get-togethers. Paige is a thoughtful and compassionate person who radiates a caring spirit. Paige’s long-term goals are to earn an MBA, embark on a career in marketing and have a dog of her own. Congratulations, Paige! We are looking forward to seeing your impact on the world!


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Joy of Creation

In God’s own image, God created them.

Genesis 1:27b

Created in God’s image, what characteristic of God did a human being inherit? One such characteristic is creativity. When creation was completed, God took pleasure in it and called it “very good.” Therefore, any time a human being creates something good, beneficial, beautiful, and pure, he or she is expressing a godly characteristic.

Recently, one Sunday, as the worship leader, Erv Boschmann showed us a marvelous specimen of creativity made by Mel Glick: A wooden cube having three cylindrical holes with axes through the midpoints of pairs of opposite faces, and equal diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of a nickel. Yet, a nickel was placed inside the cavity where the three holes overlapped! How did the nickel get in there?

Mel Glick, a long-time FMCer, had made several copies of the “holey cube” and had given them as gifts to different people. What a beautiful way Mel worshiped the Creator by engaging in an act of creation! What a creative way Erv led the worship service by using the “holey cube” as an illustration of the joy inherent in creation!

I was curious about the mysterious way the nickel entered the hole smaller than itself. Mel has gone on to his heavenly abode, so, I cannot ask him about the secret. Erv said he has a theory, but he does not know for sure. So, I will let my imagination run wild. Here are some of my ideas:

  • Make an extra channel along one cylindrical hole. Roll the nickel along that channel until it reaches the central cavity. Then fill the channel with liquid wood and varnish the cube.
  • Heat the nickel until it is red hot and soft. Using tongs, bend it and push it through the hole. When it reaches the cavity, bend it back to its flat shape and let it cool.
  • Soak the specimen in water and heat until the water boils. The holes will expand slightly. Push the nickel in to reach the cavity. When cooled and dried, the nickel will not come out.

Dear readers, let me leave you to construct other possible solutions to the puzzle, while I get back to the story of my interaction with Erv.

I wrote an email to Erv: “Mel’s “holey cube” is simply beautiful! In contrast, I am no good in making such objects. But I can let my imagination do what my hands cannot. A few months earlier, two undergraduate students in my calculus class wrote a scientific paper with me.’’ I attached our paper. Erv encouraged me to write an article for MennoExpressions related to our creative research.

My two students turned collaborators, Jaskirat Kaur and Jasmeen Lally, are pursuing the highly creative profession of medicine. The research they did with me demonstrates their creativity born out of curiosity and passion for truth and beauty. We studied the optimum diameter of the cylindrical holes that maximizes the total exposed surface area of the drilled cube (the original area of the six faces of the cube, minus the circular area lost on each face, plus the inner surface of the holes). When we studied the math problem, we did not have a specimen in hand. Instead, we used our imagination and a 3-D software called Tinkercad to draw the holes through the cube. To study the inner surface of the holes, we would fill the holes with molten metal, then cool until the metal solidified, and finally chip away the wood. In fact, we did none of these actions; we just imagined doing them. Inquisitive readers may freely download the artifact of our creation: the scientific paper.

Kaur, Lally and Sarkar (2021) calculated the optimal diameters of holes, oriented in many different directions, to maximize the total exposed surface area of the holey cube.

We also allowed the axes of the holes to pass through a pair of opposite vertices or the midpoints of a pair of opposite edges. I wish I could ask Mel to make me those new specimens. His creativity is just the right skill to complement our imagination. Since Mel is not with us anymore, we hope someone else with similar craftsmanship will step up to collaborate with us.

To conclude, I restate that when an act of creation, which produces an object, a concept, a writing or a recipe, there is a slice of the same joy that God experienced when God created the universe, the sky, the sea, the earth, all living creatures, and in God’s own likeness humankind.


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FMC Reopening Status and the Return of In-Person Worship Services

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 3, meaning that indoor gatherings of over 50, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. Individuals or groups wishing to make use of indoor facilities must have a representative receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office prior to meeting at FMC. The process is initiated by submitting this form. Additionally, in-person, indoor worship services have resumed. To reduce risk as much as possible, the FMC Covid-19 Readiness Guidelines have been jointly developed by the Pastors and Trustees, FMC medical professionals, the Worship Commission, the Faith Formation Commission, and the Facilities committee. Please familiarize yourself with this document and be prepared to follow practices described therein, which include, but are not limited to: wearing a mask at all times, maintaining a distance of 6 feet (between parties), and adhering to instructions posted in the building and communicated by organizers.

If you are interested in attending in-person worship solo or as a member of a small party, please have 1 representative submit an attendance request. The form opens on the Wednesday 11 days prior to the service and closes at the end of the day on the Sunday 7 days prior to the service. The forms are used to ensure our headcount stays within the appropriate level, keep a record of attendance, and assist with contact tracing (if necessary), so submitting a request for each service will be required for the foreseeable future. You will be notified of your party’s status at the email address entered during the week leading up to service.  

Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning service virtually and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.

First Mennonite Church Seeks a Full-Time Pastor

FIRST MENNONITE CHURCH Indianapolis, IN is seeking a full-time pastor with strong 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

FMC Reopening Status and the Return of In-Person Worship Services

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 2*, meaning that indoor gatherings of up to ~50, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. Individuals or groups wishing to make use of indoor facilities must have a representative receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office prior to meeting at FMC. The process is initiated by submitting this form

We are excited to resume worshipping together at FMC on March 28, 2021 (with up to 50 individuals initially). To reduce risk as much as possible, the FMC Covid-19 Readiness Guidelines have been jointly developed by the Pastors and Trustees, FMC medical professionals, the Worship Commission, the Faith Formation Commission, and the Facilities committee. Please familiarize yourself with this document and be prepared to follow practices described therein, which include, but are not limited to: wearing a mask at all times, maintaining a distance of 6 feet (between parties), and adhering to instructions posted in the building and communicated by organizers.

If you are interested in attending in-person worship solo or as a member of a small party, please have 1 representative submit an attendance request. The form opens on the Wednesday 11 days prior to the service and closes at the end of the day on the Sunday 7 days prior to the service. The forms are used to ensure our headcount stays within the appropriate level, keep a record of attendance, and assist with contract tracing (if necessary), so submitting an attendance request for each service will be required for the foreseeable future. You will be notified of your party’s status at the email address entered during the week leading up to service.  

Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning service virtually and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.


*Although the leading indicator metric we are utilizing has now been reported at ≤3% for three consecutive weeks, meeting the minimum requirements for moving to Level 3 as stated in the FMC Reopening Plan, Trustees are recommending we delay official transition to this level until having a chance to experience at least one event at Level 2, and to fine-tune new practices & precautions accordingly.

FMC Reopening Plan and COVID Tracking

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information is found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 2, meaning that indoor gatherings of up to ~50, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. However, prior to individuals or groups meeting, a representative must receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office. The process is initiated by submitting this form.

We are aiming for March 28, 2021 as the date of return to in-person worship services (with up to 50 individuals initially). Information pertaining to this event will be posted in the near future. Until then, services continue to be held virtually or outdoors (weather permitting). Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning virtual services and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.

FMC Reopening Plan and COVID Tracking

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 1, meaning that indoor gatherings of up to ~10, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. However, prior to meeting, an individual or group representative must receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office. The process is initiated by submitting this form.

Services continue to be held virtually or outdoors (weather permitting). Contact email hidden; JavaScript is requiredif you would like a link to join our Sunday morning virtual services and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.