Congregational Profile: Plains Mennonite Church

by Helen Lapp, Plains congregation

Plains Mennonite Church is located on the corner of Orvilla Road and Route 63 (Main Street), in Hatfield Township, where a group of God’s children have gathered together for Sunday morning worship and fellowship events for more than 250 years.  The original meetinghouse was built in 1765. 

All who come to worship with us receive a welcome at our doors, an invitation to join small groups discussing Bible passages and issues of faith and practice, along with an extension of ongoing love and fellowship.  Children and youth are offered love and quality time during a Sunday morning educational hour as well as during the worship hour. A typical worship service at Plains features confession, hearty singing, encouragement to live as followers of Jesus in a changing world, an open sharing time, and caring prayers.

Excellent food is shared with joyful conversation during our monthly potlucks in the Lower Fellowship Area.  We expect those who worship with us to give generously to support church-related ministries like Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Disaster Service, and others, as well as meeting local needs through community-run programs like Manna on Main Street in nearby Lansdale. 

When entering Plains’ parking area, you will see a recently developed park utilizing the land adjoining the church and cemetery. A welcoming sign reads “Plains Park: A Place of Peace in the Community.”  Many from the surrounding community regularly stop by for relaxed times within this Peace Park.  Some new warm friendships are developing as church members also enjoy the park. At times, neighbors choose to join our worship services.

For the past several years, an ad hoc task force has been meeting to study the issues surrounding immigration.  One of the tangible outcomes planned by this group has been an annual, “You are Welcome” Event on July 4. This community gathering has included free food, music and games.  One of the partner congregations for this event has been the Evangelical Center for Revival, a predominately Congolese congregation in Elkins Park.  One of our members, Jim King, had a prior friendship with several of their members, including Pastor Maurice Baruti.  The Plains task force and other church members visited the congregation one Sunday morning, and then Plains hosted a joint service this year on May 19.  After lively and high decibel music and an inspiring meditation by Pastor Baruti, a carry-in meal was shared with meaningful intercultural fellowship.

This summer, the congregation commissioned Crystal and Charles Conklin and their two girls to serve with the Mennonite Central Committee as country representatives to Cambodia.  A support team was established to walk with the Conklins during this process and to serve as a bridge with them and the congregation during their five-year term.

We appreciate your prayers as the congregation continues to:

  1. Search for additional pastoral leadership to work alongside Pastor Mike Derstine and Children’s Minister, Heather Gingrich.
  2. Grow in our intercultural awareness and welcome.
  3. Be guided by our vision, “Called to journey together with Jesus, we listen to God and to each other, join in the creative work of the Holy Spirit, and joyfully share God’s saving love, justice, and peace with our neighbors and world.”