by Scott Roth, Eastern District Conference Minister
Roaring Spring Mennonite Church is nestled in the small, rural Pennsylvania town of Roaring Spring. The congregation had its first meeting house in 1898, when they bought their current building from the Methodists. In 1912, the congregation made a move from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Conference to Eastern District Conference. In 2002, Elsie Gonsman became the pastor of the church.
The town of Roaring Spring, over the years, has become economically dominated by the local paper mill. Over the years, the church has had a variety of ministries that focused on the local residents and surrounding farms of Roaring Spring. Currently the congregation is highly active in their community. They engage in hosting a weekly bereavement group, Bible studies in the local retirement communities, and work with other organizations where there are needs.
The average age of the congregation is 70+ and they do not stop being family together. Elsie, now 82, continues to preach and teach and lead the congregation into ministry. The congregation continues to find ways to be the church away from the meetinghouse and have an active role with other congregations in the area.
A couple distinguishing notes about worship on a Sunday morning at Roaring Spring: as they sing hymns, a reader tells the story of the hymn to be sung and explains why it was written and a bit about the author. Then the congregation sings to the music of the player organ; since they do not have an organist, they invested in a player organ that has hundreds of hymns pre-programmed into it!
In the past years, the congregation had sold its parsonage to help finance some improvements to the meeting house. As Roaring Spring congregation continues to navigate its future, one question they are asking is whether they should sell their meetinghouse and create a foundation fund to assist others in the community of Roaring Spring. Roaring Spring Mennonite Church continues to navigate what it means to be a family of God in the town where they meet. As their future is still to be determined, the congregation is faithful to the mission of Christ.
The church asks for your prayers as they are trusting God for their future after recent, unexpected expenses have put a strain on their finances.