Informal Sunday - It's Bring Your Lawn Chair Sunday
Flowers on the Grounds
Adult FMCers in the "Slowest" Race Contest
Church in the Round
Working with the Youth
A welcoming faith community committed to Making peace, Seeking justice, Serving as the hands, heart and voice of Christ
First Mennonite Church seeks to be a welcoming community to all who come our way, and as one expression of our hospitality we are a member of the Supportive Communities Network, a network of Mennonite and Brethren congregations that support full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.
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!
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”)
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.
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.
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
embracing the process
preparing agendas and sending e-vites
meetings, meetings, meetings
meeting minutes and follow-up
Physical Design and Layout of Garden
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
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!
charging metal to make it rust-resistant
something used to lure fish
an upside-down polygon
what happens to the neigthbor’s bovine when it is in your pool too long
the time it takes gas to go from emitted to detected
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.
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.
A good night’s sleep doesn’t happen often for Sherry Mast, so when she woke up on the morning of August 20, 2021, after a restful evening’s slumber, she had every reason to believe it would be a good day.
It almost wasn’t.
As is her morning custom, the mother of two boys and grandmother of five, who loves the outdoors and enjoys reading, started her daily routine by making a cup of coffee when suddenly everything took an abrupt turn for the worse.
“I went to make coffee in my coffee maker, and I couldn’t make sense of it,” she said. “I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I picked up my iPad to look for instructions and I could see the words, but I couldn’t comprehend them.”
Retired nurse, living in Greenfield, Ind. since 2017, Sherry and her husband, who was out of town at the time, live in an in-law suite adjacent to her son Justin, the emergency preparedness and response manager with Eskenazi Health. Sherry quickly found Justin’s wife, Jessica, and told her something was wrong, so she called Justin who said they should rush to the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital as soon as possible.
Justin was there to greet them at the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health, where he told them to get checked in while he parked their car.
“Jessica and I walked up to the check-in desk, and this is where I see a miracle where there was nobody in line to report in, which I feel is pretty unusual,” Sherry said. “They immediately got me into a room, I remember trying to talk to the nurse who was trying to start my IVs.”
Sherry began an exhaustive battery of exploratory tests and a CT scan before a clot was discovered in her left carotid artery, which is the second main branch that arises directly off the aorta. The left and right carotid arteries carry blood and oxygen to the brain, head and face. A clot or blockage in the carotid can cause serious, if not fatal, complications.
“I had always told my boys that I do not want to be put on life support, and I was fortunate that the window after a stroke in which you can do treatment is very limited, and because they did not know when my stroke actually happened because I was sleeping, I wasn’t a candidate for the medications that they can give and surgery was the only choice,” she said. “I think everyone was concerned and my husband was in Michigan, and he found out his little Nissan truck could do 70-75 miles an hour pretty good coming back to Indianapolis.”
The last thing Sherry remembers prior to waking up four hours later in the ICU was a group of doctors standing around a computer plotting a course of action, which included emergency surgery.
“I had total blockage in the lower part of my brain that was causing my symptoms. They went in through the right side of my groin, Dr. Juan Tejada (an Eskenazi Health interventional neuroradiology specialist) later told me he in essence played a video game in my head to get the blood flow back in my brain,” she said. “He had to work on the back of my brain first to get the clot out of the way because they saw that’s where the circulation was cut off. Afterwards my husband and I looked at the videos of the surgery and you could see there was no blood flow in those veins, and after he removed the clot that was blocking them, you could see the blood flow rush back. Then Dr. Tejada went into my carotid where there was a large blockage and he did the same thing there, and my artery kind of went limp, so he put a stint in there to repair that.”
As Sherry regained consciousness following the procedure, she opened her eyes to see the most important people in the world to her.
“I immediately recognized my sons and my husband, which was wonderful,” she said. “It didn’t take long for hospital staff members to get me started with all the neurological testing by making me say certain words, stick out my tongue, lift my arms and all that kind of stuff. After I got back in the room in the early evening and up until 11 p.m., they were checking my neurological signs every half hour. Staff couldn’t believe how well I was talking and how well I could remember. I joked around with them asking them to spread it out a little bit so they’re not bothering me every half hour, but they explained it’s going to be every half hour, then after a while it went to every hour.”
As Sherry remembers it, her stroke happened on a Friday, and as frightening and dangerous as it was, she was on her way home the following Monday.
“It was during COVID, the ICU was filling up and they really needed my bed. If they would’ve decided to keep me, I would’ve had to go on to a different floor, so I told them I feel fine and I’m ready to go home. I had to talk the girls (nurses) into letting me go to the bathroom, and once my husband was with me in my room, they were willing to let me get up and do that.”
Sherry’s healing process happened so quickly that there was no need to schedule any follow-up physical therapy sessions for her. From the instant she returned home, Sherry was free to do just about whatever she wanted to.
“Two weeks after the stroke, my husband and I helped our oldest son move to Goshen, Ind.,” she said. “Four weeks out from the stroke, we went on a five-day vacation with three couples to Kellys Island (in Ohio).”
Sherry believes the spot-on advice she received during the morning of her stroke from her son Justin and daughter-in-law Jessica was instrumental in her surviving and healing quickly from the dangerous episode she experienced.
“I’d like to stress the importance of when you begin to feel some symptoms and something’s not right, not to mess around,” she said. “If Jessica would’ve taken me somewhere else, I would’ve had the complete work up there and then they would’ve transferred me to Eskenazi Health and hours would’ve been wasted. I think it’s better that when something doesn’t seem right, please don’t just say ‘well this will go away’ because time is so valuable in getting treatment.
“When I think of what it could’ve been, it’s a miracle … it’s a God thing that I’m still here. As I have told many of my friends, there was a stroke team waiting for me at Eskenazi Health and they knew exactly what to do, and I’ll always be grateful for all they did for me.”
The Eskenazi Health Stroke Center urges people to be diligent and aware of the symptoms of a stroke and to B.E.F.A.S.T. in your response by checking a person’s balance, eyes, face, arms and speech, before it’s time to call 911.
I have been involved with the Worship Commission since starting in 2018 as the chair-elect. It has been a great learning opportunity, and we have had a variety of different leaders over those few short years… When I started it was Bob Brown, then Gary Martin, followed by Bob & Mag, Frances Ringenberg, and now Monica! All of these pastors certainly “kept us running” in a variety of ways, but there was yet another who really contributed significantly when we needed it most: Andrea Grotenhuis!
In March of 2020 we began the new and frightening journey with Covid. The Trustees lead the planning behind the scenes. They contacted people with knowledge about technology who could brainstorm, looking for virtual ways of meeting together. Andrea (and Todd) became involved, and she really took the lead by sharing her ideas and time, along with Hollins & Jason, running through different scenarios to determine what would work out best for sound quality and recording. Andrea was scheduled to preach on what became our first virtual church service. She did so with her typical calm and forthright style. And that continued for many months—dealing with glitches, interruptions and mistakes with humor and grace. Andrea served as our worship leader, took part in nearly every pre-worship planning meeting, helped with children’s time and gave thoughtful suggestions as we sought to improve our processes and keep everyone engaged and in touch.
It was almost exactly one year later that we began meeting again in our FMC building. Throughout that year Andrea was a constant presence, guiding us forward and keeping us together. I can’t say enough about how much I have appreciated her leadership, her kind example and her openness to envision new possibilities for FMC!