An Evergreen Forenoon

Part of the crew that moved me to Evergreen

Part of the crew that moved me to Evergreen

My forenoon at Evergreen began with a 7:30 A.M. Men’s Breakfast called by Chaplain Dan Petry.  He invited us to to prepare by thinking on three things:  1. What about our country and world causes the most concern or fear? 2. What needs to change to put your fears or concerns to rest? What have you heard, read or seen lately that gives you hope?

Just before going to breakfast I had listened to President Obama defend the Iran nuclear deal.  I reported two things that I heard: 1. It is possible to change, and 2. we have shown what we can do when we do not split.  Yes, he used the word “split.”

A gladiola from a bulb I bought and planted in the Stoltzfus garden

A gladiola from a bulb I bought and planted in the Stoltzfus garden

I told the ten men at breakfast that what concerns me most in the world is the spirit of division in the church.  (The concern is deepened by some reports I am reading from the Mennonite Assembly in Kansas City.)  I continued by telling them that 1st John 2:8 has been a sustaining motto for my life:  “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him (Jesus) and in you (the church), because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. I tend to turn my back to the dimming darkness and face the rising light on the eastern horizon. So I see hope in the words of outgoing Mennonite Church USA moderator Elizabeth Soto Albrecht:

There is much work ahead of us,” she said in closing her two-year term. “We should not let our disagreements drive us apart. We have done peace work in Colombia, Israel, all over the world, but we have not learned to do peace work among ourselves quite yet.”

I continue to ponder the book “Reconcile – Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians” by John Paul Lederach. If I understand him,  if a disagreement divides traditionalists and progressives both parties are at fault and both lose effectiveness.  I want to think and write more about this in future posts.

From the men’s breakfast I went to the Samhedrin, another meeting of retired men from the Goshen College and Greencroft communities.  Our guest speaker was Anna Ruth Hershberger who represented the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.  Seminaries are facing many difficulties, some of which Hershberger described as “holy terrors.” On the other hand she eloquently listed the new scholars being added to the faculty at AMBS and their commitment to the Bible, Anabaptist faith and mission.

My computer desk at Evergreen, Apt. 83

My computer desk at Evergreen, Apt. 83

Since  our speaker was an officer of the development team for AMBS she naturally concluded her presentation with the need of the seminary for financial support and a vigorous “shoulder tapping” ministry throughout the church that will add students to the seminary.  Click here to connect directly with Anna Ruth Hershberger.

Let’s do what we can to support Anabaptist Seminaries so that they continue to be centers of training for church workers and neo-Anabaptists in the Christian community 



About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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9 Responses to An Evergreen Forenoon

  1. Betty Kelsey says:

    Martin, I knew you were in rehab at Greencroft, but your move to Evergreen is new news. I received your message the other day. If I had called back I may have heard about the change. I am happy about your move–I think you will be happy there and closer to “My Joy” and the discussion groups you find stimulating. Visitation has been heavier at church. Also I feel the effects of aging, too. I have plantar fasciitis that makes it painful to get around. Will try to be in touch soon.


  2. Judy Stoltzfus says:

    Hello Martin, It was good to hear about your day at Evergreen, especially since we did not get to see you at the Krady Reunion. I missed you … and Rachel and Eldon as well.
    I have been enjoying your blogs even though I do not respond very often.
    Keep up the theme of reconciliation and unity in Christ.
    Your niece,
    Judy Stoltzfus

  3. Lloyd Gingrich says:

    Martin, Do not talk about split & division. Think in terms of parting ways. At the turn of the 20th century LMC and old order Mennonites parted ways over automobiles,singing, revival meetings, S.S. and English preaching. In the 1960s Franklin Co., & Washington Co. Conference parted ways. Both groups are doing well. To avoid a split one side will have to give in. Paul & Barnabas parted ways and later reconciled.
    When an impasse is reached parting ways is better than quarrelling.
    Amos asked the question,” can two walk together except they be agreed?” LWGingrich.

    • Lloyd, you have given good counsel. Words are powerful and should be used carefully. As I read the record it seems to me that Paul and Barnabas continued to hold each other in high recard in spite of a sharp disagreement. According to Col. 4:9-11, John Mark was a nephew of Barnabas. I hear the argument between Paul and Barnabas about the young man. But I also hear a possible agreement that he should have an opportunity for more seasoning, and that Barnabas should take his nephew under his wing on a separate journey to Cyprus. This seems to have been a good experience for the young man, for later Paul found John Mark to be a useful companion. I believe Barnabas, John Mark and Paul may have had communion before they parted ways. It seems possible to me to agree to part ways without doing violence to the Body of Christ. But that may not always be so I will try to be more careful in the use of split and division.

      • Lloyd Gingrich says:

        Martin ,Thanks for your kind reply. Another thought came to mind after I wrote my comment. History tells us about Bishop Noah Mack in LMC in the early years of the 20th century. Bishop Mack had to excommunicate members who were violating conference rules. When he excommunicated them he said, ” Now when we meet on the street we meet as brothers,”
        Many of those members who were excommunicated came back.
        The sin is not in the parting but in the attitude before during
        and after the parting. Parting ways should not be the first option when groups or
        individuals disagree. But when an impasse is reached parting ways is better than quarreling. Two tools Satan is using to distract the church from focusing on the great commission.
        Is the focus on sexuality and climate change. Paul & Barnabas
        did not let their disagreement keep them from doing their work.

  4. Pingback: When We Do Not Split - Tame Bear Weblog Tame Bear Weblog

  5. Peter Oakley says:

    Martin, the President indeed talks about what we can accomplish when we do not split.

    Statement from the President Regarding Iran

    President Obama quoted President Kennedy, who stood before the American people and said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

    The more we think of “the other” as neighbor, like ourselves, the more we can begin to understand all the perspectives that set nations one against another, and begin to heal, and join, and erase boundaries.

  6. Jep Hostetler says:

    Keep up the good work Martin. The three chaplain questions are provocative. I, like you, tend to look toward the sunrise instead of the miseries and violence all around us. Still, I try to do what I can to improve our community. Recently I spoke two times before the Goshen Board of Education, encouraging them to hasten the demise of the R……. Mascot, moniker, and appearance in the school system. Small actions sometimes do help to add up to change.

  7. Sam Troyer says:

    Let’s keep moving towards the Light. I too appreciate your blog but don’t often reply. I am just not that much of a computer guy. Jep I liked what you shared at GHS on retiring the Redskins mascot. Bethany is ahead here in that they easily transitioned from the Braves to the Bruins.

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