GOSHEN, Indiana (Mennonite Mission Network) – Barbara Eichorn Bergey served God with compassion, professional excellence, and a commitment to prayer, whether she worked at a church camp in Pennsylvania, in an office in Indiana, or on another continent. Eichorn, 70, died May 16.
Stanley W. Green, executive director of Mennonite Mission Network, who benefited from Eichorn's expertise as executive administrative assistant for seven years, said, "God's mission lost a good friend [here on earth]. Barbara was a wonderful woman with a huge heart, a generous kindness, and a beautiful spirit."
Green praised Eichorn for "excruciatingly careful attention" in the days of carbon copies in triplicate and when editing required retyping the entire page of a document. He said she was determined "that there would be nothing in the public domain that would reflect negatively on the agency."
In addition to her administrative tasks, Eichorn prayed daily for her colleagues.
"I found great reassurance in the knowledge that Barbara not only enabled the work of the Executive Office through her gifts and skills, but she also prayed for me," Green said.
Eichorn's cross-cultural experience was yet another gift she brought to Mennonite Mission Network. She served three years in Honduras and three years in Kenya with Eastern Mennonite Missions.
After she returned to ministry in the United States, Eichorn played an instrumental role in the organization of the Support Circle, a community of mutual encouragement and spiritual companionship for 12-18 single women engaged in international mission.
"Barbara … held the Support Circle together," said Linda Witmer, a Circle member and one of Barbara's closest friends. "We developed a one-page letter with reflection questions. Every two weeks, we sent Barbara our letters."
Eichorn copied each participant's letter and mailed the compiled letters to women living in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. She archived the letters, updated contact information, and kept a scrapbook of annual retreats covering a period of 30 years.
"I appreciated Barbara's graceful communication, skillful attention to details, and efficient organization. Barbara's deep faith in God led her through life's challenges and gave her an ability to be peaceful in the face of death," said Linda Shelly, Mission Network's director for Latin America and a member of the Support Circle.
In 1998, Eichorn married Roy Bergey and, after five years, began using her administrative gifts in his business, Bergey Financial. She retired from Mennonite Mission Network in 2013. The couple enjoyed spending winters in Sunnybreeze, Florida, where they attended Sunnybreeze Christian Fellowship.
Born April 21, 1948, in Sturgis, Michigan, Eichorn was the oldest of three children. Her parents, Edwin Eichorn and Elma (Yoder) Eichorn Stauffer, and an infant sibling preceded her in death. Her stepfather, Glenn Stauffer, is also deceased.
She is survived by her husband and two stepdaughters, Krista Bergey of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lisa (Welby) Lehman of Harrisonburg, Virginia; one grandson, Grant Lehman; two brothers, Galen (Carol) Eichorn and Lewis (Linda) Eichorn of Sturgis; eight nieces and nephews; and 18 grandnieces and nephews.
Eichorn was a member of Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, where her memorial service was held May 19, followed by burial at the Locust Grove Mennonite Church cemetery in Burr Oak, Michigan. Gifts may be sent to Mennonite Mission Network to support Deb Byler's ministry among Mennonite women in Guatemala. Byler is a member of the Support Circle.