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Ground Breaking for the Barn

ground breaking

Speech given by Merle Stoltzfus

It is my great privilege to represent the Nicholas Stoltzfus House Preservation Committee with a few words at this exciting occasion.  Each month there are a group of people we call the NSH Preservation Committee who meet to do the business described in this mission statement.  “To preserve the history of the early Anabaptists through the restoration of one of the only remaining structures left from the original settlement of Berks Co. PA, namely “the Stoltzfus House” which was occupied by Nicholas Stoltzfus whose roots reach into approximately 98% of the Lancaster County Amish and their descendants.  The Stoltzfus House and other artifacts of the Stoltzfus Family are being restored and preserved to remember the example of lives lived with a humble attitude of obedience, forgiveness and willingness to share and help others in need; all to the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  So, when you see Mose Smucker, Carole Wilson, Paul Kurtz, Sandy Kauffman, Ben Riehl, or Vivian Beiler today, thank them their dedication to this mission.  And, there are many others to thank as well.

Welcome to this exciting day for the family and friends of the extended family of Nicholas Stoltzfus.  Typically a group would not break ground for a building until at least half of the money for the project is in hand.  But, because this auction event is the one time when so many are here, we have decided to break ground in faith.  I say this cautiously because I publicly and clearly want to state that we are NOT presuming upon God in this action.  If He does not provide, we will not build.  Our Advancement Committee and the Preservation Committee agreed to do this at a time when many could join and be part of this event, not to presume anything.  So, welcome and thank you for being here to enjoy this event with us.

Part of our planning includes planning for the future layout and use of the spaces in the house and barn.  Calvin Kurtz has agreed to lead a committee to do this work.  Those who have worked on the preservation of this property over the past ten years are most aware of the opportunity in front of us. 
Few families have the privilege of knowing as much as we do about our lineage.  What a blessing to have a knowledge and understanding about our roots and be able to monument the faith of our fathers.  What an opportunity we have to honor our parents and at the same time cooperatively engage in preserving something that will positively influence our children’s children. 

The NSH Preservation Committee doesn’t think that a mobile home and portable potties properly seize the opportunity before us.  We don’t NEED a barn but, if we are going to seize the opportunity before us, we do believe that we need a barn. 

So, today we celebrate the fruits of some very hard work by many generous and diligent people.  The past six months have been an amazing experience for our advancement committee.  To date, we have many family members who have committed significantly toward the goal of $300,000.  If you haven’t been a part of it, you want to make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity.  We have a table set up to give you information and let you in on the opportunity.  You will want to visit that table today. 

Because the very air that we breathe and the next beat of our heart comes from God, I will close my comments by quoting portions of what King David wrote over 3,000 years ago at a ground breaking event.  The Chronicles say that King David had given his personal treasures of gold and silver and that the leaders of the families, the officers of the tribes and commanders and officials followed his lead and gave willingly.  Like this project, there was a broad scope of involvement with some large lead gifts by people who had been blessed by God.

David, the King praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in Heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.  In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 

THEN DAVID got very personal and I can picture him becoming emotional as he SAID, “But who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this?  O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.”

And so today, like the people of God 3,000 years ago, we Praise God for his provision and the privilege of being part of this project.  We thank God for the years of consistent service by many in this extended family.  We are thankful for the many who have already given toward the barn.  And we break ground, not in presumption, but in anticipation of the many more who will seize the opportunity with us toward making this barn a reality. 

Now if you will all focus your attention with me, we will break ground the old fashioned way; with a horse drawn shovel.