Tag Archives: Millersburg Mennonite Church

Alice always made me smile

By Bruce Stambaugh

Alice.

Alice always made me smile. Oh, she could be annoying. Even when I’d kindly caution her to keep her voice down, that didn’t stop Alice from being Alice. Nor did that stop me from liking her.

I got to know Alice at our little church in Millersburg, Ohio. I can’t even remember how long I’d had the privilege of being Alice’s friend. She was a friend to many, to whomever she met really. Alice just had that kind of outgoing, unabashed personality.

Nothing held Alice back. If she wanted something or wanted you to know something that she knew, she’d share, any place, any time. Tact and appropriateness of timing were never part of Alice’s arsenal. Ironically, consideration of others most certainly was. It’s what motivated her, drove her, caused her to fearlessly blurt out her innermost feelings with no compunction.

Alice could be a pill, even a pest. If she had your number, especially your phone number, Alice would find any old excuse to call you. Alice often rambled on and on if you would let her. That’s how much she loved you.

Alice attended church whenever possible. Other good folks went out of their way to provide transportation for her.

Alice loved Helen Steiner Rice poems. She’d read them aloud every chance she got in church, often in honor of someone’s birthday. Of course, Alice did so long after other announcements had already been made. Spitfire that she was, Alice didn’t need a microphone. She would just shout out her comments, prayer requests, and recitations as the spirit moved.

Alice could pull this off because everyone knew her situation. It wasn’t toleration mind you. It was admiration for her unequivocal love for others and her fierce desire to share whatever was on her mind. Nearly 99 percent of the time, her thoughts and concerns were for others, not herself.

Alice receiving communion.

As Alice did her readings or made her proclamations, knowing smiles radiated from all around the congregation. Every worship leader graciously acknowledged her comments and the service continued without a hitch.

In addition to poems, Alice loved a good joke and prank. Though often silly and uncomplicated, Alice laughed her wicked laugh as she told and retold the punch lines. Once when our infant granddaughter squeezed Alice’s index finger and wouldn’t let go, Alice was in heaven. She joyously reminded me of that incident whenever she could. That was Alice.

Several years ago, I escorted Alice to Texas to visit her only living brother, whose health was failing. People thought I was crazy to take on that formidable task.

Though dependent on a wheelchair, Alice traveled with no problems. The further we got from Millersburg, the quieter she got. The return trip proved just the opposite.

Alice listened to my every instruction. Deep down, she and I both knew just how much this journey, paid for anonymously, meant to her. Witnessing Alice embrace her brother Floyd was one of my lifetime thrills.

Quixotic as she was, Alice married late in life on the most romantic day of the year, Valentines Day, Feb. 14, 1970. She and her husband Charlie lived right behind our church. In recent months, Alice was confined to a nursing home, substantially reducing her mobility. Alice recently died there at age 95.

Alice’s unbridled love for life was an excellent gift to us all. In her memory and in her honor, I hope that same devotion becomes an exemplary measure of living out our own lives.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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Thankful for a colorful send-off

blooming dogwood, saying goodbye

Dogwoods abloom.

By Bruce Stambaugh

We couldn’t have picked a better time to move. The lush Ohio springtime ensured a colorful goodbye for us.

When it came to flowers and blooming trees and shrubs, it was, in fact, one of the most beautiful springs in memory. We didn’t have to go far to appreciate the beauty either. The pink dogwood tree I bought for Neva for Mother’s Day several years ago burst the brightest and fullest it had ever been.

Its sister dogwoods bloomed just as showy. Their lacy white flowers opened early and stayed late. I couldn’t have been more elated. Those trees and I go way back. Before our move from Killbuck, Ohio to our home near Berlin, I transplanted several trees from the little woods behind the house we had built. Three wild dogwoods were among them.

The trees graced our place with shade in the summer and sheltered nests of American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and Chipping Sparrows. In the fall, their berries turned fire engine red while the leaves morphed from green to crimsons before winter’s winds blew them away.

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But it was the few weeks in the spring that I always treasured when the lovely, soft pedals bloomed pure white, crisp as snow, frilly as the daintiest lace. The lilacs also joined the show. Their lavender heads were full as possible. Their fragrances perfumed the air for days and days, temporarily compromising the simultaneous barn cleanings of the local farmers.

We would miss the peak display of iris, gladiolas, coneflowers, and cosmos. We knew that was part of the cost of moving.

Besides, we found love and beauty in other places. We met with as many friends and family as we could who had played important roles in our lifetime of Ohio living. Most of those gatherings occurred in the days and weeks just before the move.

Knowing time would be short, we actually began the goodbye process nearly a year ago. I did a farewell tour of the schools where I had served as principal for 21 years. I made my rounds one last time as a township trustee, too. I bid farewell to constituents who went out of their way to make my job easier.

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Our immediate neighbors held a potluck dinner for us and gave us a generous gift. Neva and I even made one last stop at the Farmers Produce Auction near Mt. Hope. Of course, we had to patronize Dan and Anna’s food stand.

Time didn’t permit us to meet with everyone of course. But we shared meals, stories, laughs, tears, and hugs with many, many folks. Some people sent us cards. Others popped in for a few moments for a final goodbye.

All of those contacts were bouquets more beautiful, more fragrant than any flower arrangement and blooming shrubs could possibly be. We deeply inhaled those most meaningful relationships.

Millersburg Mennonite Church

Greeting us at church.

Our final send off came from our little church of 46 years, Millersburg Mennonite. Without those characters and their unswerving support, we wouldn’t be the people we have become. I had to blame somebody.

Those gatherings empowered us to accept the reality of changing locales. The love and well wishes expressed gave us the strength we needed to begin anew. We can never, ever thank them enough.

As we drove out the drive for the last time, the dogwoods were at their summit. As lovely as they were, they still couldn’t compare to the radiance of the loving, lifetime friendships we had made.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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Holiday hospitality highlights church walk

Church walk visitors By Bruce Stambaugh
By Bruce Stambaugh

The visitors came from near and far. All were treated to a good measure of holiday hospitality during the first Candlelight Church Walk held in Millersburg, Ohio on Dec. 10.

Five Millersburg churches were chosen for their close proximity to make it easy for people to walk from stop to stop. At each church, visitors were kindly greeted with a combination of church history, tours, Christmas displays and holiday refreshments.

Visitors were given a map to follow to guide them from church to church. They were heartily greeted at each church, which was festively decorated according to its own holiday traditions.

Yet, many common elements connected the quintet of denominations. The candlelight segment of the walk came in the form of luminaries that lined the front sidewalks and guided visitors into the individual sanctuaries. The luminaries were unique to each church, giving visitors a foretaste of what was inside.

Jim and Kim Sabo drove three hours from Bridgeport, West Virginia to do the tour. The Sabo’s consider the area their second home. When Mrs. Sabo happened to see the church walk mentioned online, they didn’t hesitate to do the tour.

At St. Peter’s Catholic Church, a couple that had retired to the Millersburg area for the peace and quiet found it in the sanctity of the walk and the people they met along the way.

Visitors to the Faith Lutheran Church marveled at the handmade decorations on the lovely Christmas tree at the front of the church, and rested at tables in the fellowship hall to enjoy homemade cookies and punch.

Live nativity scene by Bruce Stambaugh

Millersburg Christian Church featured a live nativity scene in the sanctuary.

A live nativity scene brought a respectful hush over those who passed through the Millersburg Christian Church sanctuary. The nativity actors, all attired with period costumes, filled the pulpit area.

At First Presbyterian Church, visitors enjoyed refreshments upon entering the foyer, and could inspect the decorated sanctuary at their leisure. Louisa Erb, of Mt. Eaton, said she had always wanted to see the Presbyterian Church but never had.

“I like architecture and the church is very nice,” she said.

Making the piano sing by Bruce Stambaugh

Arlene Yoder made the piano sing at Millersburg Mennonite Church.

Several members of Millersburg Mennonite Church provided visitors with seasonal music that included various musical instruments. Each church provided a variety of refreshments.

Friends Lisa Lawhead, of Millersburg, and Cindy Funk, of Shreve, met at a local restaurant, and then decided to do the tour. Lawhead echoed a comment heard at nearly every church.

“I have been by this church many times,” she said, “but had never been in it until tonight.”

Others, like Bill and Barb Roderich and Tom and Pat Albu, of Canton, made the drive to do the tour at the invitation of friends. They said it was more than worth the drive. The evening ended with caroling at the First Presbyterian Church.

Lead organizer Kate Findley, who attends the Presbyterian Church, said she and the other planners were pleased with the turnout.

“We hope to do this again next year,” she said. “We really thank all the people from each congregation who made this event go so smoothly, and of course thank those who chose to take the tour.”

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Christmas walking tour planned for Millersburg churches

By Bruce Stambaugh

A candlelight walking tour of five churches in Millersburg, Ohio is planned for Friday, Dec. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The tour is designed to coincide with the Advent season, according to Kate Findley, of Millersburg, who is coordinating the event.

“We want this to be a relaxing, enjoyable evening for families,” Findley said. She is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Millersburg, one of the participating congregations.

Findley said that the churches will be decorated for the holidays, and that each church will have representatives on hand to provide historic information about the church.

“Participants can also enjoy music and refreshments at each stop,” Findley said.

Churches participating include Faith Lutheran, 187 South Clay Street, First Presbyterian, 90 South Clay Street, Millersburg Christian, 125 North Clay Street, Millersburg Mennonite, 288 East Jackson Street, and St. Peter’s Catholic, 379 South Crawford Street.

Findley said people can begin at any church they choose, and tour at their leisure. Maps will be available at each stop to guide people from church to church.

“Everyone is invited to complete the evening at the First Presbyterian Church, at 8:15, for a time of Christmas caroling,” she added.

“This is an opportunity for people to visit church buildings that they may have never been to before. Some people might attend their own church and drive by others, but have never seen them.”

Findley said the five churches were chosen because of their close proximity.

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to walk from church to church. But they also have the option to drive the tour.”

Parking is available at each location.

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Tipping the Teacup: A frugal fashion show

Naomi Raber

Naomi Raber checked her hat before making her entrance into the fashion show.

By Bruce Stambaugh

A fashion show sponsored by a thrift store sounds like the punch line to a bad joke. But that’s exactly what happened recently in Millersburg to the delight of all who attended.

Save and Serve Thrift Shop of Millersburg sponsored a memorable event titled “Tipping the Teacup” Friday evening, May 21 at Millersburg Mennonite Church. Part meal, part fashion show, part fundraiser, the enjoyable gathering was officially dubbed “a very special tea party and style review.” No matter how it was described, the evening became quite the social party.

Helen Glick, assistant manager at Save and Serve, organized and hosted the party, which was attended by nearly 150 people. That number included 23 individuals, children to grandmothers, who served as models for the fashion show that followed the heavy Hors d’ Oeuvres meal.

The church was filled with decorated tables set with china plates, teacups and saucers, all from Save and Serve. Bouquets of fresh cut flowers adorned each table.

After raiding a buffet worthy a cruise ship and having tea or coffee served to them, attendees were entertained while they ate. Rhoda Mast played the piano and sang. Others sang as well, including Kudzayi Nyakura, Rachel Miller, and Annie and Carrie Yoder.

After the meal, the patrons, who paid $20 each to attend, settled in for the stylish entertainment. They weren’t disappointed.

Carol Mullet of Sugarcreek served as commentator of the style review. Each volunteer model dawned pre-selected outfits obtained from Save and Serve’s inventory and wound their way through the audience as Mullet described their choice of clothing.

Zack, Kevin and Jonathan show off their outfits.

Zack Miller, Kevin Roth and Jonathan Reuel revisited years gone by with their outfits.

The wardrobes modeled ranged from prom dresses to hip garb to head-to-toe cowboy. Each model chose three separate outfits to wear.

60s dress

Back to the 60s.

Some wore exquisite clothing, while others exhibited crowd-pleasing silliness with combinations from by-gone eras.

The style show concluded with entrance of a black tuxedo complete with top hat worn by Dr. Roy Miller. He escorted Heather McDonough dressed in a lacy, black formal gown and contrasting red hat and veil. All the models had first option to buy the clothing they wore. After that, those in attendance could purchase particular items they had spied.

Glick said the evening earned nearly $2,400 for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Proceeds from Save and Serve also are sent to MCC, which aides refugees in need of food, clothing and shelter around the globe. Emergency kits for Haiti following the devastating earthquake there earlier this year are an example of MCC’s services.

The Tipping the Teacup planning committee included Glick, Mullet, Janice Miller and Ruby Miller. This was the second year for the benefit fashion event.

formal and tux

Formal attire completed the benefit fashion show.

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A talented but modest handyman

Zack and Rachel Miller showed off the Living Acts house they helped remodel in Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Zack Miller, 26, never thought he would consider being called a handyman. He still doesn’t for that matter.

“If you asked anyone in my family, they would all say I would be the last person to be considered a handyman,” Zack shared modestly. Yet, when Zack described what he had done, it was pretty evident he fit the definition.

“I enjoy working with my hands,” Zack said. “I like to get things done.”

Over the past nine months, Zack got a lot done. Zack headed up the refurbishing of the house where he and his wife, Rachel, 25, live on East Jackson Street in Millersburg, Ohio. Their church, Millersburg Mennonite, purchased the house last summer. The house sits adjacent to the church’s parking lot east of the church.

The congregation bought the property last summer, and soon came up with a novel if not bold idea. The church decided to create a safe haven for young adults who wanted to deepen their own spiritual faith and find direction for their lives. The house was named Living Acts.

The Living Acts house was in need of some serious updating, according to Zack and Rachel. As the host couple for the house, leadership to remodel the home fell to them, with some able and needed assistance from their parents and the church.

“Most of my skills were in refinishing,” Zack said. He had some previous experience working on two different construction crews.

To get Living Acts house updated, Zack ventured into remodeling areas he had never done before, like electrical and plumbing. Zack had to do some plumbing in bathrooms and redo lighting fixtures.

“Zack removed and replaced a faucet and toilet,” Rachel said. “Mostly though we did a lot of stripping of wall-paper, sometimes seven layers.”

“Besides the wall-coverings, we did a lot of painting,” Zack said. “We also did dry walling, some plastering, and refinished the wood floors on the first floor, which included sanding, staining and varnishing.”

One of the first things Zack did though was to remove the extensive latticework that nearly enclosed the back porch.

“I wanted to make the house as open as possible,” he said. “That’s the idea of Living

Acts, to be open to people, inviting them in.”
Zack seemed most pleased with a cubbyhole closet he built in the finished attic of the home. He tore out part of a wall, cut off studs, and built storage shelves and installed rods for clothing.

They also removed a lot of outdated carpet, and replaced a counter top. They even replaced some kitchen cupboards. They also bought furniture and area rugs.

Altogether, the cost of the remodeling was $2,000, with most of that cost covered from the proceeds of a garage sale and a bake sale. Zack said the only two rooms in the house that weren’t worked on were their bedroom and the upstairs kitchen.

The remodeling wasn’t confined to the inside of the home either. Besides the back porch, Zack improved the landscaping, built raised flowerbeds, removed some stumps and planted berry bushes.

“Zack kept a running list of things to do in his head,” Rachel said. She and her mother, Arlene Yoder, decorated the house together.

“I have gained a lot of experience working on this project,” Zack said. “No project was as easy as I had hoped it would be.”

Zack works on the maintenance crew at Walnut Hills Retirement Community in Walnut Creek. Rachel is a registered nurse at Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg. Both graduated from Hesston College in Kansas, and Hiland High School.

They wanted the remodeling project to be completed before others joined the Living Acts house. They reached that goal.

Rachel’s twin sisters, Carrie and Annie Yoder, and Kevin Roth all moved in the first week in April, when Living Acts officially began. Each of the group has committed to being a part of Living Acts through August. An advisory committee from the church oversees the residents of the house.

“We share the household duties,” Rachel said. “We are each responsible for our own living areas, but we share in the cleaning and cooking.”

The Living Acts house is designed for up to seven people.

“But five would be an ideal number,” Rachel said with a smile.

(This article first appeared in the Holmes County Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH)

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