M. Christine Benner, Peace Mennonite
I have known Rich Moyer for most of my life. Rich baptized me, he was the pilot on my one and only toboggan ride, and he introduced me to computer solitaire. If I donâ€™t stop myself, I can lapse into all of my Rich stories here and now. It is a common inclination among others I talked with who know Rich.
Conrad Martin, Richâ€™s coworker at Franconia Mennonite Conference, shared about a time when there was not a secretary at the office and Rich unquestioningly assumed duties that were not his own. Lee Howard, Richâ€™s good friend since their college years, told me about the day he walked into Dayton Mennonite Church in Virginia, not intending to attend the church more than once, and was greeted by Rich at the door. He stayed for years.
My father, David Benner, has known Rich since they were children. Many times I have heard the story from Dadâ€™s bus driving days when he subdued an unruly nephew of Richâ€™s with the mere mention of his name. Fern, Richâ€™s wife, reflected back to Richâ€™s role as a Sunday School teacher during their years in Boston. We who know Rich cannot help but tell stories about him.
Maybe we get our inspiration from Richâ€™s example. In preparation for writing this article, I sat down with Rich for breakfast at the Energy Station inVernfield where Rich told me about his life. Rich tells his own stories straightforwardly without excessive detail or explanation. An insertion of any sentimental digression is poignant. I realized, as we spoke, that I never really knew much about this man who had grown up across the creek from my father, had been my pastor, and always asked earnestly about me.
Rich grew up on a Salford Township farm full of honest work that prepared him for a life of service. Growing up in the Perkiomenville Mennonite congregation, Rich was exposed to examples of leadership both in his own family and in the church body. These role models set the ideal for Richâ€™s life in ministry. â€œThey gave hours to study, picking up people for church, teaching classes,
and praying for those not committed to Christ.â€
Rich and his wife Fern went to Boston to offer a few years of their lives to peace and healing in the city in response to the military draft, and the pattern of service in their life was set. Soon after they returned from Boston the first time, they were called to return as â€œcareer disciplesâ€ who would work in the community while supporting an Anabaptist church in the area. They stayed for six years living in a culturally diverse neighborhood where they saw both tension and growth among their neighbors.
Rich and Fern adapted even further when the draft ended, reducing the flow of young Anabaptists into Boston. The church eventually closed.Rich was disappointed, but they remained in Boston and joined an Assembly of God congregation. Rich began taking courses at a local college and something clicked. â€œMy mind was opening up again,â€ he reflected.
The Moyers traveled to Eastern Mennonite College to explore the possibility of further training. Rich completed his undergraduate degree in three years and spent a year in seminary. As school was finishing, Rich remembers feelings of uncertainty that plagued him at the time. He was left, like many young graduates, asking the questions, â€œWhat do I do now? Where do I go?â€
In September of 1979, the congregation at Perkiomenville was looking for a pastor and called Rich to serve. It was not a full-time role. Rich worked a few days a week at Franconia Mennonite Conference. Since Boston, where he had worked his way to supervisor in cost accounting for a meat packing company, Rich has been managing the books in one way or another.
Richâ€™s friends and family atttest to his integrity. â€œMy goal is to be able to have people who send money to the conference know that they can trust that the money will be handled with integrity, with no concern for fraud.â€ As treasurer, Rich worked with congregations to manage their money and understand the ins and outs of budgeting. He expressed special concern for people who were new to the job, who would not
otherwise know how to handle the complicated finances and tax forms for their congregations.
Richâ€™s interest in people extends beyond confusion over tax forms. Rich has appreciated the connections that his job allowed him to make. â€œI met church people, new people in the church, missionaries, pastors . . .â€ In the work of the conference, Rich acted as pastor and bookkeeper simultaneously.