[singlepic id=3001 w=320 h=240 float=right]The Mennonite Church USA congregations in Pennsylvania’s third largest city hadn’t to anyone’s recollection gathered for worship together until Sunday, January 29, at the Vietnamese Gospel Mennonite Church. The four diverse communities—Vietnamese Gospel Mennonite Church, Whitehall Mennonite Church and Ripple all associated with Franconia Conference and Christ Fellowship, an Eastern District Conference congregation—met together to celebrate Tet (Vietnamese New Year) through an eclectic multilingual worship that featured singing in three languages, Scripture reading in six languages, and storytelling from each congregation on the theme of God’s abundance in a time of scarcity.
Vietnamese Gospel Mennonite Church pastor Hien Truong welcomed those gathered, explaining, “Vietnamese New Year is a marking of springtime. It’s a time of new growth and a special time of asking forgiveness and moving into new ways of building relationships.” While planned by a team from the four congregations, the gathered worship took on a Vietnamese flair with scripture blessings distributed to adults and traditional li xi gifts ($2 bills in red envelopes) for children. Afterward, the congregations enjoyed a carry-in meal that was held together around Vietnamese New Year foods.
According to Rose Bender, pastor at Whitehall Mennonite who also helped plan the gathered worship, “The worship service was such a joyous occasion for me because of the great diversity of God’s kingdom that was represented. It was a foreshadowing of heaven—all nations, all tribes—declaring God’s glory! . . . I am so excited to see what God is doing in the Lehigh Valley—and encouraged by four small congregations coming together and proclaiming God’s bounty as we face a new year.”