|Senior Trip to Jamaica|
Tomorrow (Friday) the Ephrata Mennonite School Seniors head to Jamaica for their Senior Missions Trip. You can follow their trip at ems2022seniortrip.blogspot.com. Please keep them in prayer as they travel.
|May 2022 - The Month Of May|
The Month Of May
It has been said that “April showers bring May flowers,” and indeed, after April showers, we are enjoying the beauty of green grass and blooming flowers. May is one of my favorite months of the year. Usually by May, spring has fully come to Lancaster County. The days are warm, the mornings are cool, and the evening dews are refreshing. In the school calendar, May is always an exciting month. Graduation and a season of change beckon our seniors. And the endless days of summer beckon our children (and staff).
We look forward to events like the Spring Program, Track and Field, and the Closing Day ceremonies! We “get through” finals and all the “end of year” grading. The EMS Board engages in the School Leadership Review (SLR) process by visiting the classes, talking to students, and interviewing parents and teachers. And finally, the EMS staff reflects back on another school year where God was faithful through all the twists and turns that each year holds.
This May we are excitedly watching the new school rise up from the ground. Almost every day I go out of my way to drive by the new school, to observe the progress, to pray for the workers, and to commit to the Lord all of his work that will be done for the next hundred years or so (as the Lord wills) on that land. I thank the Lord for all the amazing ways He has led this work, from providing the ideal site (I still struggle to believe sometimes God gave us literally the perfect site upon which to build the new school), to providing the ideal buyer for our current building (our brothers/sisters at Bethesda Christian Fellowship).He provided the ideal contractor (Hoover Building Specialists who also believe in the value of Anabaptist Christian education), the ideal design consultant (Dale Yoder from Cornerstone Architecture), and ideal favor with the township. We have also been so blessed by the strength of our subcontractors (many of them from our wider Anabaptist community). The expertise brought to this project is truly humbling - and providentially, “for such a time as this.”
Please continue to pray for the ongoing fundraising. The fact that God has provided over $9 million is stunning. Our community is incredibly generous. One remark was “only in Lancaster County” can that kind of support be raised. It stands as a testament to the character of our community. I write this, not for our glory, but for the glory of the Lord. His people, when moved by Him, do great things for His Kingdom. And it has been so encouraging to see how people in our community have given in ways that “keep their right hand from knowing what the left hand is doing.” Not one single giver has asked for their name to be posted on a building. I commend you as a community of givers for this commitment to the way of Jesus. Your Father in heaven sees what is done in secret and will reward you accordingly. Please continue to pray that God would provide the funds. It is our desire to be in the building with zero debt!
Jesus taught us to “ask and you shall receive” because God is a good Father. James, the apostle, noted that you have not because you ask not. So we do ask unapologetically, that God would provide all the funds for the new school. Not so, God forbid, we can indulge our own passions, but so we can humble ourselves before the Lord and lift His name to the heavens. And so that all nations may know that the Lord is God.
In the month of May please pray for us here at EMS that we will finish the year well. Pray that God would continue His perfect way in us so we manage the flurry of year-end activities. And pray that the new school would be used as a tremendous tool for the Kingdom of God. It is humbling to be a part of the EMS Legends!
Mr. Joshua Good
|Ephrata Mennonite School Plant Exchange on May 5, 2022|
Ephrata Mennonite School Annual Plant Exchange
598 Stevens Road, Ephrata, PA 17522
Thursday May 5, 2022
Plants accepted for the exchange include: houseplants, fruits and vegetables, herbs, perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, bulbs, seeds, and water plants. No invasive plants accepted.
Questions please contact: Mrs. Heller (717) 738-4266 ext. 108
|Grandparents Days 2022|
Grandparents Day 2022
Psalm 89:1 describes the opportunity we have to host generations here at school as a celebration of God’s mercy: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”
At Ephrata Mennonite School we want to give grandparents and their grandchildren the opportunity to interact on our annual Grandparent’s Day. It has been several years since were able to do it, and are happy to offer it again! Grandparents Day is split so that it occurs over two days. If the last name of grandchild(ren) starts with the letters A-M, Grandparents Day is on Thursday, April 7. If the last name of grandchildren starts with the letter N-Z, Grandparents Day on Friday, April 8. It is possible to switch to the alternate date if necessary. Upon arrival at 9:45 AM on Grandparents Day, go directly to the gymnasium. With our school growth and full classrooms, we will not be offering classroom visitation this year. On both days there will be a short musical performance at 10:00 AM in the gymnasium by elementary classes and a description of the ongoing campus expansion. The morning will conclude on both days with a complimentary lunch served in our school gymnasium at 10:50 AM. Students will join their grandparents in the gymnasium to eat lunch with them.
Questions can be directed to the school office at (717) 738-4266.
|March 2022 - The Prince Of Peace|
As we move through the season of Lent and remember the sacrifice of Jesus, how He laid down His life in an act of suffering love, we are challenged and inspired, as His followers, to also embrace the path of a suffering servant. This morning as I am writing this, the contrast between the way of Jesus and the ways of this world could not be more clear.
Last night (Wednesday, February 23, 2022), in an act of violent aggression, a kingdom of this world, Russia, invaded another kingdom, the Ukraine. The images of destruction, injury, and war are emblazoned across the media. The weapons of this world, tanks, guns, armored vehicles, and helicopters are on full display. And all this while Vladimir Putin promises more violence, beyond what history has yet known, against anybody that would “get involved.”
The worldly kingdoms are categorically different from the Kingdom of God. Rather than laying down one’s own life in suffering love, the lives of others are taken through aggressive violence. Rather than “in honor preferring one another,” what is presumed to be “mine” is taken by coercion. And the really sad part is that people, just like me and you, made in the image of God, are being victimized and hurt. Sadly, that darkness, and the cycle of violence, or as Jesus said, “wars and rumors of wars,” will be a present reality until the Kingdom of God and the way of Jesus is fully established and conquers all.
How then shall we live? As we observe the desolation and brutality of the worldly kingdoms, let us commit ourselves more fully to embracing the Kingdom of God where love abounds. In the face of evil, let us guard our hearts against embracing the tools of the worldly kingdoms, violence, militarism, and death, as the supposed answers to societal issues. Let us remember we belong to a global Kingdom and
therefore let us weep and lament with our brothers and sisters, our fellow Kingdom citizens, who are in the places where they are threatened physically and emotionally. Our hearts especially go out to the EMS community members that are from the Ukraine or who have family members from the Ukraine that are impacted by these events. We are praying for you and for your families.
Let’s fast and pray for peace and that God’s will would be “done on earth as also in heaven.” Let’s commit ourselves to the work of advancing the Kingdom through the Lamb’s war, through the power of the cross, the way of the Suffering Servant. We fight, but our tools are not like the weapons of this world, they are paradoxically, and yet profoundly, more powerful. They are the way of the cross. Even so
come Lord Jesus! The Lamb who was slain for us!
Mr. Joshua Good
|February 2022 - In Remembrance Of David Sauder|
In Remembrance Of David Sauder
Mr. David Sauder, or Mr. Ephrata Mennonite School, as I liked to call him, has died. On Thursday, Jan 20, 2022, at 80 years old, he breathed his last and went to his reward. David leaves a long legacy of sacrifice and service given to the EMS community. Probably nobody in the entire EMS story was closer to the EMS history than Mr. Sauer. He arrived at EMS as a student in School Year 1947-48. School came easily for Mr. Sauder and he excelled scholastically and artistically in music. After four years at Lancaster Mennonite High, and another four years at Millersville University, the Lord, through the advice of an older mentor, led Mr. Sauder back to EMS as a teacher, and just a few years later, as the Principal, for no less than 41 years total.
In the hour of his passing, we celebrate a life given in the service of Christian education. Christian education takes sacrifice, and Mr. Sauder gave his entire working career to that service. David had a vision of Ephrata Mennonite School being a school of quality academics. He emphasized hiring professional teachers who were committed to teaching well including current teachers like Miss Birt and Mr. Schrock. And it was Mr. Sauder, in 2000, who completed the initial work to get Ephrata Mennonite School formal accreditation through the Middle States Association.
Mr. Sauder also prized the arts, and especially music. As a long time singer and musician, Mr. Sauder made it a point to ensure that singing and music classes were a regular part of the curriculum at EMS for all students. David also prized acapella congregational singing. He was something of an expert on hymn books and it was important to him that theologically and Biblically sound songs were sung. A few years ago, when we upgraded the hymnal used by EMS for singing acapella hymns, he requested a copy of the one we were desiring to purchase, so he could review it and provide me with his notes. Unsurprisingly he sent me a meticulous set of notes stating what he thought the “pro’s” of the book were (shape notes, new and old songs, etc) as well as what he was concerned about (patriotic hymns, limited Anabaptist song authors, etc). I valued the information he brought, and I affirmed his observations regarding the song book.
To be sure, as with all leaders, Mr. Sauder wasn’t perfect. There were periods of time during his leadership that were difficult for the community. Also, from the late 1960s until about 2000, the larger Mennonite church itself, and consequently the EMS patron body, fractured several times. These were challenging times for school leaders to maintain unity for their constituencies.
Even during retirement, Mr. Sauder remained a faithful supporter of Ephrata Mennonite School. He and his wife Joanne were always at EMS programs and events. Only a few weeks before he died, I had the opportunity to speak with David on the phone. He expressed his deep regret over not being healthy enough to attend the 75th anniversary event in October, 2021. He also took time to bless me and affirm my leadership at EMS. It meant a lot. I know David would have loved to have been at the ribbon cutting for the new school - and yet God’s ways are higher than ours.
We are grateful for the life and legacy of David Sauder. Our prayers and condolences are with Joanne and her children.
Mr. Joshua Good
You can click here to see the David Sauder's obituary.
|January 2022 Update|
Into The Depths Of The Sea
When I lived in New York, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashannah (which occurs in September), was always a time of celebration and contemplation. While in our American tradition, we often celebrate our New Year with fireworks and New Year’s resolutions (as we seek to be the best version of ourselves), in the Jewish tradition they have some deeply spiritual motifs associated with the new year. In the Tashlich ceremony, each new year, they gather as a people by a body of water to celebrate a merciful God, of whom the prophet Micah speaks:
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
Each year the Jewish people formally express thanks to God for forgiving their sins and casting their sins into the depths of the sea. Though we lament that many Jewish people do not yet fully understand this prophecy of Micah as an explicit reference to Jesus (and we long for the day when they will embrace Jesus Messiah), I still find inspiration in the concept of celebrating at the end of each year, God’s faithfulness in forgiving our iniquities and sins and casting them into the sea. The truth is, despite all of our New Year’s resolutions, even if we manage to keep most of them, we all need the mercy of God to pass over our transgressions.
At the close of this year, as we move forward into the new year, let’s take the time to reflect on the mercy of God. The “scandal of God’s grace” is manifold and applies to all of us who are in Christ Jesus. Our sins in the past year God is willing to cast into the depths of the sea. There is therefore now no condemnation as we enter the new year. Here, now, in the EMS community let us then walk into 2022 in confidence coming before the throne of grace with boldness. He is a pardoning God we serve. He has a grace that is rich and free!
Please continue to pray for the EMS community in the New Year. Pray that we would allow God to rule and reign in sovereignty over us. Pray the EMS board and pastoral advisers would seek the wisdom from God as they provide long term direction and vision. Pray that God would bring families who are a good fit for our vision and mission for Christian education. Pray that God would provide the highly qualified staff we need for next year as we move into our annual contract/rehiring season this Spring. Pray that God would especially be with the fundraising committee as we continue to step in faith toward this ‘God-sized’ project. Pray that God would lead the building committee as they organize the new school construction and make many decisions. And lastly, most of all, pray that we would all walk worthy as we teach and disciple our children (and each other) in the way of Jesus Christ. May we all be more conformed into His image in 2022!
Mr. Joshua Good
|December 2021 Update|
Truths of Christ - Humility
A traditional Shaker hymn, often sung at Christmas, is entitled “Simple Gifts”. The text prizes the gift of simplicity and the freedom we find in humbly lowering ourselves “down where we ought to be.” How in “bowing and bending” we need not be ashamed, and by turning, we “come round right.” The theme of the song fits well with one of the profound truths of Christmas. That being, humility.
Beyond the pageantry of Christmas, the chiming of the bells, the twinkling of the lights, is the stark humility on display. God became flesh. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus didn’t consider His preincarnate position of power, or way of life, something to be held onto, or grasped, but instead He lowered himself by taking the form of a mere servant. Being incarnated as a man and being willing to suffer the fate of man, that is death, even the death of the cross.
What does adopting this principle of humility look like for us today? What things do we “hold on to” or grasp at? Do we worry about preserving “our way of life” or our status and influence? Do we ever step down from our positions of power to become servants? True freedom, true wealth, and true joy do not come from prestige, financial security, or personal recognition. True salvation doesn’t come from seeking to save our lives, but by losing our lives in Christ.
As Kingdom Citizens we seek to model ourselves after our king, King Jesus. This King inaugurated his kingdom not with worldly power, but through a life of service and love for all. He was the original and perfect servant leader. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, in and amongst our traditions, let’s consider the example of humility Jesus set by coming to earth as a mere mortal, by suffering at the hands of His people, by despising the shame, by laying down his life for humanity, and by offering forgiveness to all. Pray for us that we could faithfully live out our lives, in humility, as Jesus lived his.
Mr. Joshua Good
|November 2021 Update|
The Faithfulness Of God
The song Great is Thy Faithfulness is a Sunday morning favorite across the country. The text, taken from a lament by the prophet Jeremiah, describes the transcendent faithfulness and ever renewed mercies of God each morning. For thousands of years the beautiful impact of this Scripture has encouraged and revived those who serve God. At a very deep level, we all are painfully aware of our need for mercy. Even when we try to cover up our vulnerabilities with shows of bravado or put on outward displays of human righteousness, the truth is we know we do this because at a fundamental level we are aware of our own insufficiency. God in His love for us, while we are yet in sin, offers us the gift of repentance. And when we come to Him, just as we are “without one plea,” we find in Him an overflowing well of mercy that is renewed every day. We cannot comprehend the depth of His love and acceptance, and thus like the unforgiving servant, we find it hard to extend to others what God has extended to us.
But where we have a propensity for imperfect faithfulness, we can rest in God’s great and perfect faithfulness. Jesus, the perfect revelation of God, is the perfectly faithful friend. He is the perfectly faithful pastor. He is the perfectly faithful Father. He is the perfectly faithful King. He is the perfectly faithful teacher. In the midst of all this, it bears asking, “why have we like sheep all gone astray?” Why, in the face of such goodness, have “we turned to our own way?” Why do we not turn to God more quickly? Why do we not come boldly before the throne of grace despising the shame of our imperfections? Why do we not easily humble ourselves and drink from the well of grace and mercy?
The answer is, methinks, the original sin, pride. In the Catholic tradition, pride is one of the seven deadly sins and considered the most mortal and dangerous of them all. CS Lewis, in Mere Christianity said, “...the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison.” We are guilty, like Satan, of desiring the office of the Most High. We esteem ourselves higher than we ought and above others. Our pride and arrogance is the opposite of the likeness of Jesus, who being like God, didn’t cling to His position of power or equality with God, but instead became a servant, a mere mortal, who willingly gave up even that mortal life, for all of us. In the EMS community, let’s challenge each other, as Kingdom Citizens, to follow this humble example of Jesus. This year, we are memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, sometimes called Jesus’ manifesto. His words, “Blessed are the meek” are ringing in our ears. We are praying these teachings of Jesus would transform our hearts and minds.
As we enter this Thanksgiving season, let us with gratitude ask the Holy Spirit to graciously reveal to us, where it may sprout in our hearts, the essential vice of pride and arrogance. Let’s aspire to drink deeply from the well of God’s grace and mercy. Let’s remind each other of God’s perfect faithfulness and the safety we can enjoy by resting in His sovereign goodness. Let’s thank God for His faithfulness as we celebrate 75 years this year that God has allowed EMS to remain in raising up young people to know Him. Let’s bless the Lord and forget not his benefits (Psalm 103). He forgives our iniquities. He heals our diseases. He redeems our lives. He crowns us with love and mercy. He satisfies us with good. He renews our youth like the eagles. Bless the Lord. Great is His faithfulness.
Mr. Joshua Good
|Press Release Regarding Future Campus|
Press Release - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ephrata Mennonite School is happy to announce the kickoff of its Capital Campaign project.
Since 1946 Ephrata Mennonite School has provided a Christian education for over 2,000 children. In the last ten years we have experienced an 80% increase in enrollment. We’ve vastly outgrown our aging campus and have forced us to rely on temporary modulars. We need a facility that meets the needs of our students so that we can continue the work of teaching and discipling the next generation.
We are currently celebrating the purchase and closing on our new land location at 635 Stevens Road, Ephrata that was completed on Thursday, October 7, 2021. We are anticipating starting construction in the Spring of 2022 with a targeted completion date of August 2023.
The Campaign aims to raise $12 million to support the purchase of land and the new building. We have currently raised $7.5 million through the generosity of our community.
For more information about this project or if you wish to donate, please visit our website: www.ephratamennonite.org/build
Tonya Good, Community Relations Coordinator
717-738-4266 ext. 212
|October 2021 Update|
This year, as faculty at a Mennonite school, we are exploring the question of what it means to be an “Anabaptist Christian.” A key part of the Anabaptist perspective is the focus on Christianity as primarily being about discipleship. To the Anabaptist, though Christianity may include the following, it isn’t primarily a “sinner’s prayer,” absolution of personal sins, a crisis-conversion, avoiding hell, or even “getting into” heaven but it is primarily about being and living as a citizen in the Kingdom of God and being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. It is living out the radical teachings of Jesus as given in the Sermon on the Mount (which our community is memorizing this year). From this understanding we draw the term, Kingdom Citizenship, our core value of the year. The focus on literally following the teachings and life of Jesus is the essence of why the Anabaptist movement has historically idealized a suffering love (rather than violence) as the most effective way to resist evil.That is why we idealize giving rather than receiving, telling the simple truth rather than taking oaths, holding on to the sacredness and permanence of marriage (until death) between one man and one woman rather than alternative “marriages.” The focus is on building the Kingdom of God, on earth as also in heaven, by living like Jesus himself taught and lived. By taking up our cross like He did and being transformed into His image. The above is the essence of what we mean by our core value, “Kingdom Citizenship.”
This Anabapatist accented perspective, and the desire to disciple students in the way of Jesus, is the reason Ephrata Mennonite School (EMS) was founded exactly 75 years ago. It is a tremendous legacy we have inherited. At our fall banquet, in addition to celebrating our land purchase and having a ceremonial deed transfer, we will also be celebrating our “platinum jubilee” anniversary. Amazingly, through an act of God, we happened upon a former student, who, as a 7th grader, attended EMS on the very first day of EMS so many years ago. We are delighted to announce that she will be joining us at the banquet. You will not want to miss the inspiring story of God’s faithfulness. Get your tickets asap at ephratamennoniteschool2021banquet.event brite.com or by contacting Mrs. Tonya Good so we can plan the event effectively. We look forward to celebrating the evening with our parents, grandparents, and other community members. Due to limited space (and large number of our student count) we are asking that students (unless they are participating) do not attend the banquet. (The day before, we will be taking all our students up to visit the lot and pray on behalf of the project. They will get to view the property deed, the construction "coming soon" sign, and the site of the new school building, so that they can join in the celebration.)
As we study our core value of the year, Kingdom Citizenship, let’s take time to review with our children their Bible memory, the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s allow the teachings of Jesus to transform our lives and our relationships. Let’s be a community that models the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought down from heaven. And in that, and all the other things going on this year, let’s be gracious with each other, for blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy!
Mr. Joshua Good
|September 2021 Update|
Celebrating the goodness of God by establishing altars is a recurring theme in the Bible. Especially in the Old Testament, the stories are told of God’s people taking time to gather together and build an altar as a way of remembering and marking what God had done in their story. In one well known instance, recounted in Genesis 12, the Lord said to Abram:
Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation...in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed...To your offspring I will give this land. So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent...And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. (ESV)
In this passage God calls Abram to what must have surely been a scary venture, leaving his father’s house and his family, in an act of faith in God’s great promises to him. That faith in God’s promise to use Abram to bless, for generations, those who came after him, provided the impetus for Abram to obediently step into the calling God placed on his life. After reaching Canaan, God again appeared to Abram to give him the land he promised. As a way to memorialize what God did, Abram pitched a tent and built an altar.
We are really excited to take inspiration from this story. And in a small way, our current journey, with regard to land acquisition and a new campus that will also provide a place that will be a blessing to future generations, mirrors that of Abram’s. And likewise we are pleased to also “pitch a tent” and gather together as God’s people to also “build an altar” to honor God’s goodness in our story.
On Thursday evening, October 21, at 5:30 PM we will be hosting a celebratory banquet, on the land God gave to EMS, at 651 Stevens Road. (This event will take the place of our annual banquet.) Tents for Rent will be erecting a large heated tent, dinner tables, lights, etc. on the premises. Big John Nolt’s will cater the event.
We will gather as a people to exult in the goodness of God by “breaking bread” together. Among other ceremonial markers and “altars,” the program will include a time of specific prayer between the seller, First United Methodist Church of Ephrata, and the Ephrata Mennonite School community. We are excited because we believe in faith that greater things are yet to be done! Please make plans to come celebrate with us. As before for our banquets, we will use a ticketing system on Eventbrite (https://ephratamennonite.eventbrite.com).
Mr. Joshua Good