Date Posted: August 15, 2012

Special Video Message from Curt Stutzman, Messiah Lifeways’ New President & CEO
July 2, 2013

We invite you to visit to watch a special video message and learn more about Messiah Lifeway’s new President, Curt Stutzman.


Next President/CEO Announced
June 5, 2013

Curt Stutzman original photo croppedThe Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors is very pleased to announce Mr. Curtis D. Stutzman as the organization’s next President/CEO. Curt’s selection comes after the Presidential Search Committee conducted a national search and evaluated an excellent pool of candidates. His appointment was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors. “We look forward to Curt’s leadership and vision. We are grateful that the search process was effective in finding a seasoned and capable person of faith to take the lead as our ministry moves ahead,” notes Glenn Heisey, board member and chair of the search committee. Curt will begin in this role on August 13, 2013. 

Curt comes to Messiah Lifeways after serving 17 years as the Chief Financial Officer at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, VA. In that executive role he managed several departments and helped guide an organizational expansion that doubled revenue and tripled assets to $58 million. Curt holds degrees from Messiah College and Regent University, including an MBA. He has also completed graduate-level coursework in Christian counseling and served for a time as an associate pastor and director of finance and administration at a church in Harrisonburg.

Curt and his wife Kathy have three adult children, Rachel, Libby, and Daniel, and two grandchildren. Two of their children are married and living in the Harrisburg area.  They plan to make their home in Mechanicsburg.

Curt and Kathy are long-time members of the Cornerstone Church of Broadway, where he’s served in various leadership functions over the years.  He is a charter member and past president of the Broadway-Timberville Rotary Club, and serves on several nonprofit boards in the Harrisonburg area.  Curt shares these initial thoughts:

“I am excited about joining the Messiah Lifeways family, and leading collaboratively with the strong team Emerson has developed during his tenure.  Messiah Lifeways is well-respected as a forward-thinking community with a strong presence in the region.  I look forward with great anticipation to walking together in relationship through all that God has in store for us in the next stage of Messiah Lifeways’ growth and development.” 

Messiah Lifeways Board Chair Wes Carr affirms that the board is delighted to have a leader of Curt’s caliber join the Messiah Lifeways team.  “We ask that you welcome Curt warmly as he assumes this new role.  There are many exciting initiatives on the horizon and we look forward to working together with Curt to continue the Messiah Lifeways ministry of serving older adults with Christ-like love.”

Please visit for additional information or click here for a pdf version.



Presidential Search Committee Update
May 16, 2013


As the time draws near for Emerson’s last official day as president on June 30, 2013, the Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors felt it was important to do some contingency planning in the event a new president is not in place by July 1, 2013. The Presidential Search Committee continues to actively meet with candidates for the role of Messiah Lifeways President/CEO.

In order to properly plan, the board has decided to name a member of the Executive Team as Acting President if there happens to be a gap between Emerson’s departure and the new president’s arrival. If needed, Julie Stout, Messiah Lifeways’ Chief Financial Officer, has agreed to serve as Acting President on a short-term basis. Julie has served as CFO at Messiah Lifeways for 10 years.

The board has full confidence in the Executive Team continuing to carry out strategic initiatives and operations during this transitional time. The Executive Team includes Gary Johnson, VP of Community Support Services; Nicole Sarver, VP of Messiah Village Operations; Kristen Heisey, VP of Marketing & Communication; and Julie Stout, CFO. During this transition, presidential duties will be temporarily reassigned to various members of the Executive Team. These new areas of responsibilities will be communicated as needed.

If Julie needs to step in as Acting President, her additional duties would begin on June 13, 2013 and continue until a new CEO comes on board. Emerson’s contract ends on June 30, 2013 but he is using some earned vacation time to fulfill the balance of his contract and will be out of the office after June 12.

We appreciate Julie and the rest of the Executive Team’s willingness to take on additional responsibilities during this transition. I understand that times of change can be unsettling. The board appreciates your prayers and your support as we seek to discern God’s will and be conscientious in fulfilling our duties to preserve Messiah Lifeways’ mission. Thank you.


Wes Carr, Chair of the Board 


FAQs regarding Acting President Announcement

Q: How long might Julie Stout serve as the Acting President?

A:   We are hopeful that her time of service may be between 1-4 months. It is possible she may not need to serve as Acting President.


Q:  Will everyone who reported to Emerson report to Julie?

A:   No, the Executive Team will be meeting next week to discuss how the president’s responsibilities will be redistributed during this transition. All of Emerson’s direct reports will be contacted directly next week with more information.


Q:  Is it possible a new president could be here by July 1?

A:   It is possible, but even if there is a gap, it is important to name someone as Acting President.


Q:  Why do we need to name one person as Acting President?

A:   While Executive Team will be sharing the responsibilities and taking on additional assignments, it is important to have one person as an official liaison with the board.



Presidential Search Committee Update
March 6, 2013

The Search Committee has been actively working with our search consultant since October 2012 to identify potential candidates to serve as the next Messiah Lifeways President. The search process will proceed at its own pace as we continue to dialogue with top candidates and seek to discern God’s direction.

Ideally, the Board of Directors would name a new President before Dr. Emerson Lesher completes his service in June. If necessary, the Board of Directors could consider naming an interim President to serve while the Search Committee completes its work.

I am grateful for my Search Committee colleagues and appreciate their investment of time and wisdom. Please continue to keep the Search Committee in your prayers as we work diligently to complete this important assignment.

Submitted by Glenn Heisey, Vice Chair of the Board and Search Committee Chair


Presidential Transition Update
 January 9, 2013

Presidential Search Committee
The Search Committee has been actively working with our search consultant since October to identify potential candidates to be the next president and CEO of Messiah Lifeways. The committee reviewed information on a number of candidates, and during December conducted telephone interviews with several highly qualified men and women. As a committee, we have been pleased with the quality of the candidates with whom we have discussed this critical leadership position. It has been interesting to note that the Messiah Lifeways president and CEO position has attracted national attention, as well as interest close to home.

While we continue to consider new candidates, the Search Committee will move next to face-to-face interviews scheduled for late January. Please continue to pray for the Search Committee, the Board of Directors, and our potential candidates as we move forward with the selection process.

Submitted by Glenn Heisey, Vice Chair of the Board and Search Committee Chair

Presidential Transition Committee
The Transition committee met and began planning the transition events and calendar for the upcoming Presidential Transition. As part of this planning, the committee met with the board to receive input. Our staff liaison, Karin Bisbee, is coordinating events with various groups such as staff members and Residents’ Council. The transition committee will have additional meetings to finalize plans as the search committee finishes its process. Please keep us in your prayers as we work to make these months of transition a joyful celebration of Emerson’s service and also provide a warm welcome for our new President.

Wes Carr, Chair of the Board and Transition Committee Chair


Presidential Transition Update
 October 2, 2012

Assisting with the search for the next president of Messiah Lifeways is Kirk Stiffney of MHS Alliance. If you would like additional information regarding the search process or to share information please contact Mr. Stiffney at

 Presidential Transition Update
 September 17, 2012

The Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors took action at its September 11, 2012 meeting to select a search committee and search firm to help recruit the next president of Messiah Lifeways. The search committee is to recruit and recommend at least one candidate to the full Board of Directors for final approval.

The search committee includes five board members, a leader of the Brethren in Christ Church, employee representative and a resident/client representative. The search committee members are as follows:

  • Carl Bert – Surveyor and owner of a land planning firm
  • Wesley Carr – Principal of a financial services firm and current Chair of the Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors
  • Mona Engle – Nurse and business manager of a large physician practice
  • Thomas Fenstermacher – Psychiatrist and associate medical director of a behavioral health system
  • Glenn Heisey – Attorney and senior executive with a health insurance company
  • Pauline Peifer – Bishop and general church leader designee of the Brethren in Christ Church
  • John Rabenstein – Messiah Village resident, retired university professor and former president of Residents’ Council and Messiah Village Auxiliary
  • Geli Losch – Team member and Director of Community Support Services


Mr. Glenn Heisey will serve as chair of the search committee.

The Board of Directors also selected MHS Alliance from Goshen, Indiana to assist in the search process. MHS Alliance provides executive search services to faith-based organizations nationally and specifically many retirement communities and healthcare organizations.

In early October, the search committee, representatives of MHS Alliance and the full board of directors will be meeting to outline the next steps in the transition process. We will continue to keep you informed through future communications and updates on

Please continue to pray for all those involved in the search process.

Wes Carr, Chair
Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors


 Presidential Transition
 September 15, 2012

Hear a message from Wes Carr, Board Chair of Messiah Lifeways about Dr. Emerson Lesher’s plans to resign in June. Watch Video.

Dear Messiah Lifeways Residents, Clients, Team Members and Other Friends,

I am writing to share that on August 14, 2012 the Board of Directors received a letter from Dr. Emerson L. Lesher announcing his resignation from Messiah Lifeways at the end of his current contract term, June 30, 2013. Dr. Lesher has been the President of Messiah Lifeways for nearly 18 years and successfully led us through many changes. He helped us grow from a single site retirement village with a few community programs serving 950 people to a multi-site ministry serving over 2,000 people via a network of campus and community services with persons 55 and better. Emerson will be missed for his visionary leadership and commitment to organizational health. Emerson will be joining Mennonite Health Services Alliance as a Consulting Associate to provide consultation with non-profit aging services and healthcare organizations.

The board appreciates the advance notice Emerson has given so this can be a smooth transition. The board is implementing its Presidential Transition Policy and is forming a search committee to select a new president. The board will be sharing more information regarding the search process in the near future. We invite you to pray for the board during this critical time of selecting a new president for Messiah Lifeways. I invite you to read a message from Emerson on the Messiah Lifeways blog to learn more about his decision to resign.


The board wishes Emerson the best in his next season of life.


A. Wesley Carr, Jr., Chair

Board of Directors has been set up to provide periodic updates on the presidential transition. Please check back for up-to-date information from the Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors.