Friday, March 27, 2015

All Creatures Great and Small - The Bird Spa Loves Them All

All things bright and beautiful, 
 all creatures great and small, 
 all things wise and wonderful:  
 the Lord God made them all.

1. Each little flower that opens, 
 each little bird that sings, 
 God made their glowing colors, 
 and made their tiny wings.  

2. The purple-headed mountains, 
 the river running by, 
 the sunset and the morning 
 that brightens up the sky.  

3. The cold wind in the winter, 
 the pleasant summer sun, 
 the ripe fruits in the garden:  
 God made them every one.  

4. God gave us eyes to see them, 
 and lips that we might tell 
 how great is God Almighty, 
 who has made all things well.  

Grasshopper - "I'm ready for my close-up."

I would steal the first verse of this Anglican hymn for book titles, but James Herriot beat me to it. We watched the entire series - All Creatures Great and Small - during a Netflix binge.

The hymn happens to describe perfect gardening - all creatures great and small. We have two neighbors who tried various poisons and have suffered the consequences.

The primary cause is work and expense: the result, an impoverished garden. One can hardly imagine all the work involved in created a rose garden full of weeds. It took various herbicides plus landscapers cloth to diminish the roses and favor the weeds. Creating raised beds was a lot of
work for the man with good intentions, but each additional step was harmful rather than beneficial.

All creatures, great and small, were fashioned for a purpose. Our knowledge of Creation can enhance the work they do by design. One example is the Jackson Bird Spa
The total experience consists of:
  • The spa with seven birdbaths and many levels of food, various seeds plus three bags of suet.
  • The food and baths resting on wooden mulch and a newspaper layer below, which fosters critter life for the birds, keeping food dry and the soil moist.
  • The window feeder for small birds, and the adjacent Jackson EZ Bird Swing.
  • The aerial aqueduct (soaker hose on the fence), creating dripping showers for plants, birds, toads, earthworms, slugs, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.
  • Bits of string and lint for bird nests.
  • Mulched zones under the entire fence, also covering the vegetable and Three Sisters gardens.
Everyone's backyard will have birds, squirrels, and other creatures from time to time. Ours is alive with many birds and squirrels - feeding, drinking, splashing, vying for position at the food or baths - all the time. A starling may land on the file cabinet only to find a squirrel popping out to assert his dominance over the food scattered inside.

Dustmites are a good reason to change pillows.
They live on the skin cells we shed.

Starlings will check out baths and pick one, only to have another one land and take over. So the second choice becomes the alternative bath. Then a third lands and looks for a place in line or jumps in to force one out. The one shoved out may fly directly to the window to feed on suet bags.

If the starlings take off with the scout bird, the doves will dither and just go behind a tree, then return to feeding. Squirrels often feed at the same time, or one sits on the filing cabinet  and dares any bird to interrupt his eating.

The birds invited to the Jackson Bird Spa include - cardinals, mourning and rock doves, blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, chickadees, starlings, grackles, and woodpeckers. If I put seed on the window sill, a baby squirrel will come to feed there. 

I expanded the spa to make some spots useful for toads. I still need some crockery around the yard for toad shelters, but shallow water and frequent watering is a good beginning.

The pests eaten by all the birds, toads, and spiders is astonishing to consider. Anyone who doubts this should read just one example from the observations of nature enthusiasts.

People kill insect-killing spiders with insecticide.
Does that make sense?

Toads Eat:
The common toad usually moves by walking rather slowly or in short shuffling jumps involving all four legs. It spends the day concealed in a lair that it has hollowed out under foliage or beneath a root or a stone where its colouring makes it inconspicuous. It emerges at dusk and may travel some distance in the dark while hunting. It is most active in wet weather. By morning it has returned to its base and may occupy the same place for several months. It is voracious and eats woodlice,slugsbeetlescaterpillarsfliesearthworms and even small mice.

Toads eat slugs and many other creatures.My toads will get broken clay vases, not castles.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Backyard Ponds Re-Emerge after Heavy Thunderstorm.
Massive Fertilizer Dump from the Skies

Nothing is quite so satisfying as having a powerful rain finish off a day or two of planting roses, raspberry canes, seeds, and tomato plants.

Some gardeners use inorganic fertilizers before it rains, but this article warns about washing a lot of pollution into the water table. In Midland, before a rain, I used Rabbit-Gro on the lawn, a product of Wormhaven.1. We had quite a few rabbits. Their hard pellets are easy to spread and dissolve in the rain, adding long-lasting nutrition and bacteria to the soil.

Inorganic fertilizers do not stay in the soil but move down into the water table. That supports the industry since everyone needs more. Massive farms have also added to pollution by having too much organic fertilizer for the ground to absorb.

Rain and lightning bring down usable nitrogen compounds for the plants to use, and the chlorine free water increases the growth of all soil creatures.

Seeds and plants are thirsty for water, so hours of rain are ideal to hydrate the plants and germinate the seeds.

The straw bale garden is showing signs of life, so I was pleased to have it soaked in nitrogen-rich rain. The websites and books tell me to add nitrogen to straw bales. Obeying the Maynard G. Krebs and Scrooge Prime Directives, I fertilize with rain, easily furnished in this area. No work and no cost!

Last year's roses are bursting with life, leaves sprouting on every cane, newly pruned. The new roses are just settling in. I water them heavily in the soil because I consider pre-soaking to be foolish and a waste of time. Pre-soaking produces those pale little leaves that may even appear in a new shipment. However, the only leaves that matter are the green ones created by the roots taking hold, growing root hairs, and sending nutrition into the plant.

Class - listen up. Almost everything in the garden happens at the root hairs, which consist of miles and miles of cells receiving usable chemicals from the fungi and giving up carbon to those marvels of decomposition. If we enhance the health of the soil by feeding its creatures, the soil will feed the plants.

Root Hairs 
Specialized epidermal cells on roots, known as root hairs, are extremely important to the uptake of nutrients. Root hairs dramatically increase the surface area of the root that is exposed to soil. Root hairs form because epidermal cells along the outer surface of a root have the ability to change from their normal shape and placement on the surface of a root into an extension of the root that grows out into the soil. Each root hair is a single cell, and these cells can grow to amazing lengths of up to 1500 microns (0.06 inch) and can be as thick as 15 microns (0.0006 inch). 

Only a small zone located just below a growing root tip contains meristematic cells coded to become root hair cells. These cells live only from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the plant and conditions. Root hairs are constantly being replaced as the growing tip moves into new territory. Still, an astonishing number of these cells can grow at one time. Some plants produce tens of thousands of them in an area no bigger than an inch or two around. For example, studies have shown that a single rye plant can have miles of root hairs growing in 2 cubic feet (0.06 cubic meters) of soil.  

Lowenfels, Jeff; Lowenfels, Jeff (2013-05-07). Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Kindle Locations 1306-1316). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Eyes of the Roots
Root hairs act as the eyes of a plant root. Calcium, one of the essential plant nutrients, moves into the root hair through the plasmalemma. The presence of calcium is necessary to complete the process that causes root hair cells to grow downward. As long as there is calcium coming into the root hair from the soil, the root hair cell elongates in the same direction. When an obstacle, say a small rock, is encountered, then that surface of the root hair cell can no longer take up calcium. Elongation in that direction stops, but it starts in another area of the cell where calcium does come through the membrane. Once the obstacle has been passed by the root hair, it reorients itself and travels in the original direction. Consider that this goes on all over those miles of hairs. Calcium shortages have obvious consequences here.

Lowenfels, Jeff; Lowenfels, Jeff (2013-05-07). Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Kindle Locations 1318-1324). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Sassy canceled her afternoon walk yesterday, when the rain started. so she wants her morning walk now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday - The Donkey Poem - G. K. Chesterton

The Donkey poem is one of the most popular posts on Ichabod, The Glory Has Departed.

The Donkey -

a poem by G.K. Chesterton

WHEN fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will,
Starve, scourge, deride me I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools, for I also had my hour,
One far fierce hour and sweet,
There was a shout about my ears
And palms before my feet.

Kelmed from Norman Teigen

Mid-Week Lenten Service - I AM the True Vine

Mid-Week Lenten Vespers, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Time 

The Hymn # 552        Abide with Me
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm    14                 p. 124
The Lections                            The Passion History
                                                 John 15:1-10

The Sermon Hymn # 342  Chief of Sinners

The Sermon –     I AM the True Vine
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn # 554 Now Rest Beneath Night's Shadow

KJV John 15 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

I AM the True Vine
The seven I AM sermons are being featured for Lent this year.
  1. John 6:48 I am that bread of life. KJV
  2. John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. KJV
  3. John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. KJV
  4. John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. KJV
  5. John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: KJV - Easter Sunday
  6. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV - Good Friday
  7. John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. KJV
One of our readers/listeners is a vineyard manager (husbandman). I have never grown grapes, but they are very much like roses in their growth habits. In this sermon, which is largely lost on people who have never farmed and never gardened, the Father-Son relationship is taught first.
Christ is the True Vine, and yet the Father is the manager of the vineyard. The Father-Son theme is especially prominent in John's Gospel, so we can see this is intended to be a message for the Christian Church for all time. Likewise there is a beautiful section on the work of the Holy Spirit, part of Jesus' farewell sermon on sending an Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
The Father-Son relationship seems obvious to us because we are used to hearing it and we have no reason to doubt it. This relationship is taught with unusual clarity, and this parable or sermon is part of that explanation found throughout the Fourth Gospel. As the Evangelist says, "He is the exegete" - in other words, the Son explains the Father to us.

The vineyard references come from the necessity of using wine in those days and the practice of raising grapes for wine. (I understand the marketing of grape juice is quite recent in our history.)
Isaiah 5 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry...
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
This is so easy in gardening and so hard for people to grasp if they have only dabbled. When my fondness for roses comes up in conversation, people pounce and say, "They are so much work." One woman began yelling at me about how much they sprayed and sprayed their roses, either warning or blaming me. My neighbor showed me all his rose beds, dominated by weeds, and told me how many weed killers and man made "barriers" he installed.
The easy concept is this - roses, like grapes, need pruning (purging) for two reasons. 
The first is removal of dead wood, which saps the strength of roses. Dead wood is fairly easy to spot. I had a tiny plant that seemed all dead wood. I pruned it several times to see if it had life left in it. Several days later I dug it out to make room for Big Purple. I looked over the tiny plant in my hand and saw two vigorous sprouts growing up to form new canes, so I planted it in a new place and watered it carefully. 
Pruning the dead wood is an instant signal for the plant to grow. So there is a play on words here. One cleansing is the removal of unbelievers. Those who lack faith in Christ do not bear fruit. They are purged - with elaboration to come.
The other purging spurs new growth, and dabblers cannot see how well that works until they do it. 
and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
If the rose has bloomed, it wants to set seed and the plant wants to quiet down. God has created many plants so that taking away the fruit makes them produce more and more. The roots grow more. The branches become more vigorous, and the blooming and fruiting cycles continue.
Rose hips, the source of vast amount of Vitamin C and the somewhat bitter rose hip tea, are the fruit of the rose (the seeds). They are more prominent in old fashioned roses.
So what does this mean, that we are purged or cleansed to be more fruitful? 
This is justification by faith, and nothing else than that. One cleansing is removal from the True Vine. The other is the removal of sin. The Good News of forgiveness releases us from the burden of regret, sorrow, and the urge to pay for our sins with emotional terrors or good works. That is the meaning of Romans 5:1-2

That does not give an excuse for sin but a reason to be fruitful - forgiveness received in faith, thanks to the grace of God in Christ.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Jesus teaches we are cleansed, forgiven, through the declaration of the Gospel, received in faith. So we have two kinds of cleansing - removal from the Vine, forgiveness to become more fruitful, and the method of cleansing - The Word I have spoken to you.
When we use Confession and Absolution, the Word spoken is in the Name of Christ. The Word is the Means of Grace, whether visible in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, or invisible in teaching and preaching. Where the Gospel distributes God's grace, forgiveness and eternal life spring up, as Luther wrote. And the fruits of the Spirit grow with abundance.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
This makes our relationship to the True Vine even clearer. And it fits the symbol of the grape vine (or the rose) so well. One does not separate the grapes from the vine. They are one. On the vine the grapes grow and ripen, never apart from the vine. Roses likewise must have the rose bush as their source. They are just as good as their host. 
We abide in Christ through the Means of Grace, through receiving the Word with sincere hearts. All the tricksters, wolves, and thieves want to make magic appear from their entertainments, but they do not have the Word, and consciously reject and persecute the Word. Therefore, the followers of the clown army cannot bear fruit.
This verse does not tell us to do great things, to become big successes, to build numbers that will leave people in awe. Only - abide in Me and I will abide in you.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Once again, this is what we now call a confessional formula, affirming the positive and rejecting the error. This hurts the feelings of those in error, but it needs to be stated often. I have seen some people change because they have been rattled by hearing their opinions did not match the teaching of the Word. 
This takes the previous Promise to another level - whoever abides in Him, because Jesus abides in that person - will be very fruitful. But without Christ we can do nothing.
The result of not believing, not abiding with Christ is five-fold:
  1. He is cut off from the Vine.
  2. He withers and dies.
  3. He is gathered up, just as I pick up pruned branches.
  4. He is cast into the fire - the promise of everlasting punishment.
  5. He is burned with the rest of unbelievers.
Throughout this Gospel, there is faith and unbelief. Unbelief is the foundational sin. Faith is access to God's grace, forgiveness, and eternal life.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
This is yet another Promise. Abiding in Him means asking in prayer and receiving from Him. This glorifies God, because the fruitfulness is the result of God's energy in the Word, which can only come from believers teaching faith, not from fakes teaching some other philosophy sugar-coated and made more palatable with snacks and cola.

Wicked Stawm, Part II.
Another Chance To Plant Before a Long Rain

Weather kitties look out the picture window.

Yesterday's major storm left little more than a little dew on the ground, if that. I was thinking, "Why am I watering each rose and each tomato if it is going to rain cats and dogs soon?" We had all the indications, including dark clouds and the chilling breeze before the rain lets loose. But in Springdale, the weather report often needs to be reversed, as in, "Big storm will approach and head north to Joplin and St. Louis, or south to Ft. Smith and Little Rock."

Long ago, I was at a softball tournament in Moline, where those events are sacramental - sitting in the bleachers and facing an approaching storm. This had to be the best game of the day, and no one wanted to leave. First a greenish patch appeared in the sky. We felt the air conditioning go on and the breeze kick up. Doubtless the players were energized by cooling air and the excitement of the crowd. The patch grew larger and moved toward us. The boiling of the clouds suggested a big one. No, let us finish the game! No one left the stands. The system moved over our heads and let go with the coldest, heaviest rain anyone could imagine. Everyone ran at once for the cars. And we laughed all the way.

One reader wrote, "I am fertilizing the lawn before the rain." I responded, "Rain is fertilizer." In fact, nitrogen compounds in the rain provide that instant greening in Creation that everyone appreciates. Farmers say, "Watering keeps the crops alive, but rain makes them grow."

That is why Isaiah wrote about the inevitability of rain and snow. They never return empty make the plants flourish, providing seed for the sower and bread for the eater. In the same way, God's Word does three things:

  1. It never returns void. 
  2. It accomplishes God's will.
  3. It always prospers His will.

Never void is the strongest possible description, the double negative allowing no exceptions. We often hedge what we say by using often or seldom or perhaps, which is honest since all human actions are subject to weakness and failure. But God says - never void. That explains why so many use gimmicks, tricks, entertainment, rock and pop music in church. They have no faith in God. They do not trust God's Word.

God's will accomplished includes both the good and the bad, from our perspective. For God, it is all good and in harmony with His will. If a congregation is split over genuine doctrinal difference, that is a good result. When Paul preached and a riot followed, that was good and accomplished God's will.

Nothing kills a minister's career faster than stirring people up. Synodical managers want everyone fat, happy, and asleep, just as they are. Luther's Reformation set Europe ablaze only because he taught the Word. The Pope tried to extinguish the Word with armies, executions, and torture. He failed. God's ironic humor shows in the threat of Muslim armies taking the Catholic Emperor's attention away from destroying the Lutherans altogether, so the Reformation was established.

God's Will Prospered means that His plans are accomplished so clearly that any believer can see how powerful God is. As I told more than one minister, "If God wants you to move, you cannot remain, no matter what you do. If He wants you to stay, you will see how that happens."

God delights in letting the wolf-preachers gather up huge crowds, to strip them of their money in their own lust for loot from the Prosperity Gospel. He brings down the entire circus in a moment, as we have seen with Mark Driscoll and Robert Schuller. As Driscoll yelled at his staff, "You are not the brand. I AM the brand." (The eighth I AM sermon was a failure.)

Isaih 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: 
  • it shall not return unto me void, 
  • but it shall accomplish that which I please, 
  • and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Working on John 15
The $5 bare root roses arrived, late last night. If you miss the John 15 reference, stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Big Storm Promises Ideal Planting Frenzy.
Bare Fingers Planting Bare Root Roses

Veterans Honor Rose

As they say in Maine, a "wicked stawm" was coming. That meant ideal weather for planting, so I went to work, with Sassy supervising. I bought various tomatoes at Walmart and planted them in the vegetable garden. The sunny (straw bale) garden was a good place to start the Scarlet Runner beans, so I planted them between cherry tomato plants, along the fence.

Later some roses arrived - Big Purple and Veterans Honor. Storm forecasts were more ominous and the weather turned cool and breezy. The push of chilled air is a sure sign of a thunderstorm on the way.

Mrs. Ichabod applied the lash to get me finished before lightning finished me off. Fortunately the rose garden's delightful soil texture extends beyond the mulched area. As I dug between the daffodils and tulips, the shovel sank quickly into the soil, except for one spot.

The Jackson and Perkins roses looked magnificent. This is how I plant bare root roses:

  1. I dig the holes in the lawn and apply Jackson Mulch afterwards. No hurry for the mulch.
  2. I trim the roots and place the rose into the hole, with support under the base, a little teepee of soil.
  3. I do not soak the roses before. I do not add fertilizer to the hole.
  4. I clip the roots a bit to make the rose fit into the hole.
  5. I scoop crumbling soil in with my bare hands and use upside-down sod on top for stability and decomposition.
  6. I water each plant slowly and generously. This settles the soil and hydrates the somewhat dried roots.
  7. Later I add wet newspapers and wood mulch around the new roses.
I finished and waited for the threatening storm to erupt. We had barely enough rain to moisten the driveway, but more is coming tonight.

Will Lutherans Come Clean and Apologize for Covering Up Abuse?
It Took the Mennonites Two Decades To Apolotize for Yoder's 100 Victims

President Hesburgh was there to give me the PhD diploma.
John Howard Yoder, as my advisor, carried the stole and placed it.

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by former leader John Howard Yoder

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary leaders publicly accepted responsibility and apologized for John Howard Yoder’s sexual abuse of more than 100 women in a worship service Sunday, March 22.

David Brubacher, left, and Ron Guengerich, right, members of the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary board of directors speak during a service Sunday, March 23, 2015 at the Chapel of the Sermon on the Mount in Elkhart. The service addressed the sexual misconduct of John Howard Yoder and the pain of his victims. (Sarah Welliver/The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Posted on March 22, 2015 at 7:59 p.m.
The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary community gathered in an emotional service Sunday afternoon, March 22, to acknowledge the pain and trauma inflicted on more than 100 women who were sexually violated by renowned theologian John Howard Yoder.

It was the first time AMBS publicly took responsibility for the abuse and neglect, which happened in the ’70s and ’80s and was first publicized by The Elkhart Truth in 1992.

It was also the first time leaders in the seminary publicly apologized to the women who were victimized.

“What was done to you, whether sinful acts of commission or omission, was grievously wrong,” current AMBS President Sara Wenger Shenk said during a lengthy apology. “It should never have been allowed to happen. We failed you. We failed the church. We failed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Yoder, who died in 1997, was a professor of theology at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary from 1960 to 1984 and also briefly served as dean and president of the Goshen Biblical Seminary. Those two seminaries combined in 1994 and changed the name to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2012.

Yoder also taught theology at the University of Notre Dame for 30 years.

  • READ MORE: The full text of The Elkhart Truth’s investigative series can be found at the bottom of this article.

Nearly two decades after he left AMBC, a denominational task force launched an investigation and confronted Yoder with 13 charges of sexual abuse. The Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference suspended Yoder’s ministerial credential in response and referred him to counseling.

Although Yoder maintained he never intended any harm to the women, he never disputed the charges and he cooperated in the disciplinary process.

The women, who experienced sexual violations ranging from sexual harassment in public places to sexual intercourse, were largely left without closure — until recently. 

Mary Klassen, communications director at the seminary, said there has always been an undercurrent of stories and innuendo that surfaces and wanes every so often.

About five years ago, when Shenk came to AMBC as president, it surfaced again.
Women approached her to inform her there was unfinished business regarding Yoder’s actions, and she listened. Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, was hearing the same calls to action.

“The two of them decided it was time to move,” Klassen said. “It was the sense that there was unfinished business that made them open it up, because that’s the only way to move toward some type of healing.”

Shenk and Stutzman convened a discernment group to continue reconciliation work and answer ongoing questions about how the church responded to the allegations. Part of that effort included commissioning historian Rachel Waltner Goossen to tell the full story.

Goossen was provided access to previously closed files related to Yoder, and she interviewed 29 individuals including Yoder’s victims, his colleagues and former seminary administrators.

Sunday’s services were another step on behalf of the seminary to admit to wrongdoing and help the women harmed by Yoder heal and find closure.

About 50 gathered at an intimate morning session where women harmed by Yoder’s actions and the seminary’s inadequate response shared their stories. Current and former faculty, administration and board were also in attendance only to listen.

That portion was not open to the media, but Klassen said several of the women told her they had never been invited to share their pain openly and it was helpful. The session was also helpful to Klassen, who had read the articles and research but had never put a face with the names of the abused.

“It made it so real in ways that nothing else had, and that made the afternoon service that much more powerful,” she said.

Evelyn Shellenberger, who served on the Goshen Biblical Seminary board from 1976 to 1987 and was chair from 1983 to 1987, also met with the women and heard their stories for the first time Sunday morning.

She apologized for her part in allowing the abuse to continue, and said she did not know how to use her power as a board member to stop Yoder’s abusive behavior. She said she met with Yoder regularly for three years in attempts to change his way of thinking, but she now realizes that was not enough.

“As I listened to your personal stories, your painful stories, I couldn’t imagine why I was so silent about what was happening,” she said. “I realize now by speaking about you as a letter or a number, this was very depersonalizing. It made the pain you were dealing with seem less real.”

Shenk then read a public apology on behalf of the entire church community. She said she struggled at first with the thought of confessing to something that happened on somebody else’s watch. But eventually, she realized she must denounce the acts of evil that happened under the watch of the seminary.

“Along with so many others, we fell prey to our desire for a hero,” she said. “Enamored by the brilliance that put our treasured peace theology on the world stage, we failed to truly listen to those whose bodies, minds and spirits were being crushed. There is no excuse.”
Shenk apologized on behalf of AMBS for neglecting to listen and for isolating those who were abused.

AMBS faculty and board members stood together during the afternoon service and read statements of commitment, pledging to do all in their power to prevent future abuse and promising to listen to men and women who have experienced sexual abuse.

They resolved to be diligent in educating themselves about sexual misconduct and to follow the procedures set out in the seminary’s sexual misconduct policy. They pledged to create a safe campus environment for all students, employees and guests.

“We are not left without hope,” Shenk said. “We long for your restored trust, even on some distant day, for your forgiveness.”

WELS, LCMS, ELS management style.
Many stories are not even on this blog.

GJ - I took the Radical Reformation from Yoder, which was a great church history course, and he served as my main dissertation advisor. However, I never knew anything about this until something came out in the papers, about 10 years after I graduated.

Likewise, Stan Hauerwas was my ethics professor and one advisor on the dissertation. I did not know about his wife's emotional turmoil until I read his autobiography, Hannah's Child. My sister-in-law babysat for his son, and probably knew about his wife's bi-polar disorder, but we did not.

The Mennonites dealt more openly with this than any denomination I know about. It is good that they revealed their lack of action, or muted action at the time.

WELS would not fess up in public when DP Ed Werner went to prison, when Tabor helped in murdering his own wife, when Al Just knifed his wife to death, and when the vicar went to Michgan State Prison for having an affair with a minor girl in his vicarage parish.

The Lutherans practice Sharia Law:
it's the woman's fault...always.