Barbara Hege Rissser is one of my second cousins. She was a member of the Marion Mennonite Church for a longer time than I, and probably heard J. Irvin Lehman, my father, preach more sermons than I did. Fellow ministers and my father for a time tried to enforce conservative practices on the Marion church. There came a significant Sunday when my father as the senior minister announced a major change in direction of their ministry. Barbara found evidence of this change on an old envelope and sent me the following email message today:
Guess what? When I was searching in my files for something else, I found an exact statement made by J. Irvin (as we called him) on an old envelope but no date other than a note to myself for an editorial on Nov. 5 for a New Year’s issue. Must have been when I was editor of Burning Bush. The following: “We thought it good to the Holy Spirit and us (meaning the Ministerial body) not to put other burden upon you but only that which is necessary.” Other ref. referred to included Isa.42:3 and Matt. 12:20. Both refer to a bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick he won’t snuff out. We were encouraged to share our faith and I think I added in my own words—Truth crushed to earth rises again but it may have been his own words also. Don’t quote me on that one.
This notes a change in my father ministry that is historically significant.