"For no other foundation

can anyone lay than

that which is laid,

which is Jesus Christ."


I Corinthians 3:11
Pastor Jack Scandrett
Pastor Jack ScandrettThe ancient Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” summons me, all too often, to an inner posture of humility before a loving,  gracious, and Holy God. The biblical words that define my Christian life are grace and gratitude.

I grew up in an abusive, alcoholic home. My inner was child deeply wounded.  As a young adult, looking for answers, acceptance, inner peace and love, I explored many different things: Zen meditation, drug culture, and the military. 

In my twenty-eighth year the search for answers came to an abrupt halt when I was born again.  During a Bob Larson crusade at the Peoples Church, an Assembly of God Church, in Fresno, California, I discovered everlasting peace, acceptance, and understanding as I invited Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, into my life.  Soon after being “born again” I received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” accompanied by the phenomena of speaking in tongues and a vision of Jesus radiating His Spirit.

Over the years my faith in Jesus has matured. He, with much therapy, healed my inner man. Jesus has taken me on a healing journey through the valley of suffering, healing memories of childhood abuse, to a place of quiet mountain meadows and green pastures. He has given me the grace and wherewithal to forgive my parents. Catherine, my precious wife of 47 years, attests to His grace and love manifested in my life. Our five adult children and their spouses have thanked me for paying the price in Christ to restore a broken family legacy. Because of the work of Jesus Christ in me, my children have begun their lives with a godly foundation.   

Thinking I would be a Christian high school Biology teacher, I enrolled in Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s Christian Education program. During my first year at TEDS, while attending classes, I worked part-time teaching laboratory anatomy and physiology to nursing students at Trinity College. It was soon evident, God had other plans.  The second year at TEDS found me in the inner city of Chicago. I was enrolled in the SCUPE program, Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education.  Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary participated in the consortium. The year I attended SCUPE, was the year TEDS jettisoned the program. I lost a year’s worth of credit.  This was difficult. I was 34 years old with one child and second on the way.  The Mennonites assisted us, Catherine, Jacob and me, at this time. They surrounded us with love and support in a family like community of faith.  It was the Mennonites who also suggested I transfer to AMBS.  My third year found me attending AMBS, theologically and relationally at home.  Psalm 40:1-5 are the verses that clearly describe my faith/life journey.

For over 30 years I have been blessed to serve Christ as Mennonite pastor, teacher and chaplain.  On June 4th, 2017 I relinquished a full-time pastorate position to serve Christ as a transitional pastor in South Dakota, closer to grandchildren. Today it is an honor to be serving the Hutterthal Mennonite Church as their transitional pastor.

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Church Board Chairperson Dennis Schrock
Church Board Chairperson Dennis SchrockI had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home.  With that influence, I accepted Christ and was baptized at age ten.  I did not understand the finer points of Christianity, but I knew that God was to be in charge. However, I struggled with feeling spiritually inadequate throughout high school.  In college, my zeal cooled although I remained connected to church.  A difficult first year of teaching and a year of service at a church camp caused me to seek to reconnect with God, His forgiveness and His assurance that His grace was sufficient.

Within the next two years, I married Marcia and restarted my teaching career.  The only job available was at a small Christian school, Clinton Christian School.  My first job has been at Iowa Mennonite School.  I never intended to teach only in Christian schools.  However, after three years at CCS, I began to realize that this was to be my Christian ministry.  In all, I have been blessed to serve three Mennonite-sponsored Christian schools for a total of forty years.

Marcia and I came to South Dakota to take a teaching/coaching job at Freeman Academy in 1991.  Our landlord was a member of Hutterthal Mennonite Church and the church was within site of the house.  The people of Hutterthal accepted us warmly.  They have nurtured our faith and given us opportunities to serve.  They were exceptional supportive during Marcia’s successful treatment for ovarian cancer.  They have become our family here.

My spiritual journey continues as I learn more of God’s will, His power and His loving grace.  I have come to realize God’s people are the center of God’s plan for Christians.  We are called to walk with each other, support each other, and study God’s Word and will together.  It is the body of Christ that carries out the work of Christ. 

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Deacon Todd Koerner
Deacon Todd Koerner“I am not a slave to political correctness but rather a servant to the Lord.”

The above is a quote I ran across awhile back that really speaks to me.  It is a motto that I try to live my life by.  In this day and age that is not an easy task as we are constantly bombarded by the things of this world.  Jesus calls us not to conform to the ways of the world even though we need to live in and serve those of this world.  As I read the letters of Paul I can almost hear him use this quote even though these are not his words.  Paul encourages us to meet the people of this world where they are in their life, just as Jesus so often did during his ministry here on earth.  That is the kind of life I long to live as I travel this pathway here on earth.  I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  I pray that he can give me his eyes to see those that are in need.

As I grew up in the region between Marion and Freeman I attended Bethlehem CRC in Freeman where I was baptized and confirmed.  Growing up in a church setting I gained much knowledge about Jesus and the Bible.  This was mostly head knowledge that gradually changed over to a true relationship with Jesus as the years went along.  I remember dedicating and rededicating my life to Jesus several times over the course of my late teens and early twenties.  My walk with Christ is a continuing work where our relationship with each other grows and deepens over time.  My spiritual life has really matured over the last 7 years as I have been serving as Deacon.  For me it has been a humbling experience to be asked to serve the congregation here at Hutterthal in this way.  It has been a truly wonderful and stretching experience that continually draws me closer and closer to God.

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Deacon Les Rensink
Deacon Les RensinkI was born and raised in the Dutch community of Boyden in northwest Iowa. Church attendance (twice each Sunday) and Sunday rest (such as was possible on a dairy farm) marked my relationship with God in my younger years. We also prayed before and after meals and my father often read the Bible at the kitchen table. This all seemed boring at the time, but seeds of faith were planted.

I recall deciding for Christ in response to a question in my Sunday School book. I also went forward at a Billy Graham crusade.

I attended a local church college, and while good things were happening there, they did not happen with the guys I was running with. I had some interest in the ministry and tried to engage some of the religion professors, but that too fell flat.

In my junior year I transferred to a secular university to study agriculture. I had always been told that I lived in a sheltered community, and that if I ventured too far away I would encounter a Godless heathen world. Believing this to be true and disenchanted by my Christian college experience, I drifted spiritually. Again, I often ran with the wrong crowd.

On my dorm floor were some men who were part of the Navigator ministry. They asked me about my faith and I told them I was a believer. They then asked me how I could reconcile my faith with my rather vociferous profanity. I gave them some sort of know-it-all answer, but they got me thinking.

I soon joined them in Bible study, fellowship, outreach, and weekend conferences. The biggest life change that came from this relationship was the realization that the Bible speaks directly to our everyday lives, and that we should regularly learn from it in both personal and corporate settings. This was the beginning of a love for God’s Word that has lasted a lifetime. It was also the beginning of my love for the beautiful Mary Buller who would become my wife.

After moving to Freeman we attended several area churches, but felt most at home at Hutterthal. I was especially attracted to the adult Sunday school program. In addition to the rich fellowship found there, it provides continuing motivation and encouragement to study the stunningly profound truths of God’s Word.

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Deaconess Charlene Friesen
& Church Custodian
Custodian Charlene Friesen“I have decided to follow Jesus.”

I am blessed to have grown up learning about God and always knowing about Jesus. I enjoyed attending Sunday School and remember with joy memorizing our first Bible verses, ‘Be ye kind, one to another’ Ephesians 4:32 and ‘God is Love’ I John 4:8. In our home we thanked God for our meals and our parents read a Bible story/devotional to us each night. We sang many church songs while playing and working together.

Still, during revival meetings conducted by Evangelist Vernon Duerksen, I felt I needed to make a personal decision to ask God to forgive my sins and from then on I would try to follow Him as best I could. February 10, 1963 was the beginning of my new life in Christ. I was 9 years old. My baptism later during high school years was a repeat of that earlier decision and an acceptance into the body of believers here at Hutterthal. I appreciated instruction from Sunday School teachers and Bible instructors at Freeman Academy. There were times when I realized I had a choice to make. Would my actions be based on the feelings of the moment or something greater? What choice would I make?

My life is so very blessed. I have no great hardships or trials. But always, choices are before us. What kind of wife and parent will I be? How will I treat others and respond to situations of need? Will I offer hospitality? Will I be generous? I have made mistakes and have regrets as we all do. Still, when a decision must be made or I have doubts, I tell myself ‘I have made a choice for Christ. How will that choice determine my actions?’ That is the underlying guide in my life. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15. This is the choice I make each day, and I want to live that decision. I choose God and God is Love. Love is a verb, an action word. With God’s guidance, I choose to live His love as best I can.

I believe Jesus walks personally with us each day and through his Holy Spirit readily offers His help to us. I treasure the specific incidents when I have seen His intervention in my life, His Hand with me. God is real! He loves us. He wants to walk with us as we walk with Him!
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Administrative Assistant Edie Tschetter
Administrative Assistant Edie Tschetter
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Artist-in-Residence Michelle L Hofer
Artist-in-Residence Michelle L HoferA number of years ago, I was struck by a vision of myself sitting at Jesus’ feet intent upon hearing what He was speaking. I was suddenly distracted by a loud racket coming from the kitchen where a group of friends were preparing supper. Although difficult, I began to tune out the noise of the other room and settled back into listening to Jesus. Sometime after having this dream, I jotted the following words on a piece of note paper: “You must reach the point at which you conclude: There is no other way to continue to grow and mature than to sit yourself down at Christ’s feet.” Every time I go to the desk where I pray and read, I now see those words and I am reminded of that vision. These words guide my life, they remind me of the work to be done within me, but they also speak into my calling and the use of my gifts to minister to others.

As a child, I came to the realization that God absolutely, without a doubt exists and that somehow He hears me and knows me. And I’ve been attune to the spiritual nature of myself and the world around me ever since. By far the deepest roots of my faith are those of silence, solitude and reflection. Walking out to the pasture, riding bike, swinging in the backyard – these were some of my earliest moments of quiet prayer and reflection. As I grew older, I found that same kind of communion with God in my artistic ventures. Today, I passionately seek out ways to bring solitude and prayer together with art and beauty and invite others into that place.

I am grateful to Hutterthal for having given me a space in which to do just that. I have so valued the community that I have found here – the fellowship we share. And when I thought that using my creative gifts here best was arranging a nice plant and flower display for the sanctuary or foyer, pastors such as Ken Peterson, Ivan and Rachel Friesen and Todd Jones invited me to explore other options, from providing sermon illustrations and bulletin covers, creating banners and installations, to leading prayer retreats and hosting art talks.

I cannot know for certain where I or we go next, but I have learned that a new leg of the journey only begins when we do as Mary did - when we ignore the hustle and bustle and noise of life, when we tune out the world and tune in to God, when I sit myself down at Jesus’ feet.

"Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." – 1 Samuel 3:10b

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