On Sunday (5/27/2012) Conrad, Diana. Zack and I went to the Forks Mennonite Church, a home church for us. The preacher was Gilberto Perez, a regional minister of the Indiana-Michigan Conference. (His parents live in Sarasota.) He challenged the church to move toward and welcome an Amish family that has said they might become members of Forks Mennonite. This sermon coincided with a major event in the Amish community.
Ida Stutzman, a 92 year old Amish woman, died, the widow of an Amish bishop, the mother of 10 children, grandmother of 43 and great grandmother of 98. Eldon Stoltzfus, our son-in-law, regularly visited her when he was pastor of the Forks church, and since then as the hospice chaplain by assignment. She asked him to preach at her funeral, and secured her bishop’s consent that it be done. She wanted descendents and her church to hear what Eldon had taught her.
Eldon has had rich cross-cultural experiences. This is another. He learned the high expectations of the family and has had long conversations with the local bishop and deacon. He participated in the visitation hours on Saturday. Tomorrow, 5/29/2012, Eldon will be a part of the funeral and burial of this matriarch He knows that Ida Stutzman wants him to speak of the love and grace of God. Pray for him, for the Amish community, and for Forks Mennonite.
Note: Eldon came home from the funeral filled with joy but exhausted.. He had been treated courteously by the Amish bishop and everyone else, but the long event was physically and emotionally demanding. He preached with freedom, but he realized that he was in a community for whom there was no other color than black and white. This illustrates what I am dealing with in my fantasy sermon posted elsewhere on this site.