Nathan Koontz is from North Newton, Kansas. After graduating Bethel College in 1999 with majors in Art and Psychology, he and his wife, Esther, served for three years with Mennonite Central Committee in Egypt. Upon returning to the U.S., they settled in Kidron, Ohio where Nathan attended Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, OH. From 2006-2011 Nathan served as Associate Pastor at Faith Mennonite Church in Newton. Then he was Director of Prison Ministries at Offender/Victim Ministries until 2013, followed by a six-year term as Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care at First Mennonite Church in Hutchinson, KS. He joined the pastoral staff at Bethel College Mennonite Church on Oct. 1, 2019. He serves as Pastor for Community and Worship. He and Esther have three children. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking and poetry.
Roger Neufeld Smith Interim Pastor
Roger was born in Newton and grew up on a farm near Walton. He attended First Mennonite in Newton and graduated from Newton High and Bethel College (1975) with a BA in chemistry. But he discovered he’d rather work with people than chemicals! He graduated from AMBS in 1986 and married Cynthia Neufeld in the AMBS Chapel in 1987. Their first call was to Southern Hills Mennonite in Topeka where they remained from September 1988 to July 2018. They were just too great a team to break up! (And they evolved, changed, grew in ministerial duties, reinventing themselves according to the needs of the church). Roger took most administrative responsibilities and did most of the preaching. Cynthia was worship planner, organist, choir director and did some preaching. They raised their two children Kara and Micah in Topeka.
Roger has been active in the Western District Conference and served as Moderator-elect and then Moderator July 2002-2007. In Topeka he was on the board for the Justice Unity Ministries Project (JUMP) and active in the Interfaith Council. When Roger and Cynthia retired in 2018, they served as co-leaders of Mennonite Mission Network’s Service Adventure Unit in Jackson, Mississippi from 2018-2020. In 2019 Cynthia and Roger received the AMBS Ministry and Service Recognition Award. Roger’s last assignment was at First Mennonite Church, Beatrice 2020-2022.
Roger has a passion for justice, a love of theology and Biblical studies, a love for the church and the courage to dig into communal processes and administration, a special heart for youth in the church, a love of music, a great sense of humor, a love of socializing, and a tender heart. We welcome him to BCMC as interim pastor; we are eager to explore with him over the next months how God will move in our midst.
Elizabeth Schmidt Congregational Care Coordinator
Elizabeth works with the pastoral staff and the Deacons to coordinate the care and support of the congregation. A large part of that work will include fleshing out a new version of our visitation practices, reactivating and re-energizing visitation after the disruption of Covid, and developing new ways for us to show our care for each other. She will serve as the volunteer coordinator for visitation.
Much of Elizabeth’s inspiration for this new role comes from three Scripture passages.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 (English Standard Version)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (as she memorized it, and as exemplified by her mother)
And a song from her high school years: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. They that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love. Beloved, let us love one another. First John four, seven and eight.”
Elizabeth’s hope is that we can savor both the old and new wines of caring and compassion, with a lightness that brings joy and fun into our shared lives, at whatever age or stage we find ourselves.