by Mary Lou Cummings
“Welcome is one of the signs that a community is alive. To invite others to live with us is a sign that we aren’t afraid, that we have a treasure of truth, and of peace to share,” says Jean Vanier.
Perkasie Mennonite Church is a tiny but lively congregation that values welcome, whether of LGBTQ folks or others who have felt “outside the box” for many reasons. We aim to model Jesus (our succinct mission statement) in our daily lives in loving relationships and in service. Many, but not all, experience their faith journey through a progressive Christian lens. No matter where a person is in their faith journey, they are welcome.
PMC has had a long history of inclusion of those with intellectual disabilities, and several of these individuals have provided joy, humor, and spontaneity in our congregation for many years. Barbara Shisler has hosted a monthly Faith and Light chapter for many years, as well; this is a national program which offers fellowship in a spiritual context for community members with intellectual disabilities and their families.
In the past year, Brent Anders and Joe Matthew were invited to present two Second Hour seminars with resources, stories and language tips to help us all be more understanding and helpful in our relationships with LGBTQ attendees, friends, and neighbors. We are officially a Welcoming Congregation, and a number of our most recent new attendees sought us out for this open and welcoming environment.
PMC has trained many young people through the years, and finds joy in seeing these now-grown-up children living lives of faith and service in places around the country and the world. Today we have fewer children (although the ones we have get lots of love!), so we are exploring how to offer our wisdom and resources to young people’s programs run by others. Bucks Kids First is a program for at-risk kids (many in foster homes) which will be using our building for after-school mentoring four days a week. We also volunteer with other community programs like Bridge of Hope Bux-Mont, a homeless ministry for single mothers.
Hosting Patchwork Coffeehouse and Soul Talk (a progressive Christian study group) are other ways we reach out to the community. Favorite volunteer opportunities include FISH, MCC Material Resource Center, MCC, Care and Share, and ministries to the homeless. In recent years we have also hosted “Listen, Live, Local” events, including one evening inviting community conversation on gun control, and another on bridging the gap between right and left in the U.S.
The PMC community enjoys singing a capella music from the three Mennonite hymn books, and is looking forward to dipping into the new one next year. We value creativity in each other, which allows for both rich experience and change. One advantage of being small is the freedom to vary worship spaces and styles. During the summer, we meet more informally in our fellowship room, often around tables, and various members lead worship. “Every member a minister” is a favorite motto, which we take seriously.
Historically, our group was founded by Blooming Glen Mennonite Church as a mission outreach for young people in Perkasie. Over the years, gifted pastors offered leadership, such as Richard Detweiler, James Lapp, Jim Burkholder, Barbara Shisler, Beth Yoder, Wayne Nietszche, and Jessica Hedrick Miller, among others.
We appreciate your prayers as we seek to strengthen our relationships with people around us and model the love of Jesus that welcomes all people into God’s beloved community. Pray that we would be in tune to the movement of the Spirit in our community so that we can join in the good work that God is already doing.