Newest youth minister making his mark

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS

Todd Lehman, the new youth pastor for First Mennonite and Trinity Mennonite churches in Hillsboro, is getting rave reviews from Ken Peterson, pastor of First.


“He’s doing a super job,” Peterson said.


Lehman, 24, began his duties as youth pastor for both churches Oct. 16. The two churches discussed the possibility of dividing the youth group into two separate ministries before hiring him, but decided to continue as one group.


“I think they’re actually stronger now than they were before, because of going through that process,” he said.


Lehman graduated from Dalton (Ohio) High School and attended Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.


For the first two years of college, Lehman was a pre-med major. But after spending a year in Australia, between his sophomore year and junior year, his life took a different path.


“Over the course of that year my perspective on the world grew, and I came back from that and changed to a Bible major,” he said.


“During my summer between my junior and senior year, I was an intern in a Mennonite church in Buffalo, N.Y.,” Lehman said.


Then during his senior year, he was part-time youth pastor for Zion Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg.


In April, he graduated from EMU with a degree in culture, religion and missions.


Following graduation, Lehman found an opportunity to talk to Ritch Hochstetler, conference youth pastor, who was conducting a two-week youth ministry course in Harrisonburg that summer.


“Just because I was looking for a full-time job, and I knew he was a conference youth minister, I asked him what possibilities he knew of,” Lehman said.


The result of the conversation was a position with the two Hillsboro churches.


Lehman is single and is living in Hesston, about a 25-minute drive from Hillsboro. He shares living quarters with a former college roommate to help defray expenses, he said.


“Most of my hours are spent in my office at First and the youth room is at Trinity,” Lehman said.


One of his plans as youth minister includes expanding the horizons of his youth members “beyond the local community where life is fairly comfortable,” Lehman said.


“I’d like to see us set up a partnership, an on-going connection, with an urban-youth group in another city.”


He said he feels he can relate to his youth group members because he isn’t too far removed from them in age.


“I hope I can bring a sense of strong spiritual commitment to them and hopefully that’s a good place to start,” Lehman said.

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