Ervin R. Stutzman, dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va., will speak on his quest to know his father, an Amish entrepreneur who died when Ervin was three years old, at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Walnut Creek (Ohio) Mennonite Church, 2619 CR 144.
Dr. Stutzman’s ten-year search revealed tangled strands of relationships, woven by Tobias J. Stutzman’s ambition through the fabric of family, church and community. It led to his writing a book, “Tobias of the Amish,” released by Herald Press of Scottdale, Pa., in 1995.
Stutzman was born into an Amish home as a twin in Kalona, Iowa. After his father’s accidental death, his mother moved her family to her home community in Hutchinson, Kan. He was baptized into the Center Amish Mennonite Church near Partridge, Kan. He later joined the Yoder Mennonite Church near Yoder, Kan.
After marrying Bonita Haldeman of Manheim, Pa., the couple served five years in Cincinnati, Ohio, with Rosedale Mennonite Missions, where Stutzman was co-pastor of the Mennonite Christian Assembly.
Ordained as Bishop
In 1982, the family moved to Lancaster, Pa., where Stutzman became associate director of the home ministries department of Eastern Mennonite Missions. In 1984, he was ordained as bishop of the Landisville District of Lancaster Mennonite Conference.
He was moderator of Lancaster (PA) Mennonite Conference, 1991-2000, and moderator of Mennonite Church USA, 2001-2003, the newly-merged denomination joining the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church.
The EMS dean completed his undergraduate work at Cincinnati Bible College, earned an MA degree from the University of Cincinnati, a master of arts in religion degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and a Ph.D. in communication from Temple University.
Stutzman joined the seminary faculty in 1998 and was named dean in July 2000. He is also founding director of the seminary’s Preaching Institute.
Telling His Story
Stutzman has three additional books published by Herald Press – “Being God’s People” (1986), “Creating Communities of the Kingdom,” co-authored with David W. Shenk (1988) and “Welcome” (1990).
Stutzman notes that “Tobias of the Amish” is more than a book about his father – “It’s also the story of a family and faith community struggling with the challenges of a modern world.
“I hope that my story will encourage others to embark on the arduous but deeply-rewarding task of delving into their family lore,” Stutzman states. “Gazing into my father’s face has helped me to see my own.”
The program at Walnut Creek Mennonite Church is open to the public. For more information, call 330-852-2560.