Equipping congregations to embrace God’s mission: Two congregational communities seek membership

Lora Steiner

At this year’s Assembly Gathered, to be held November 9-10 at Franconia Mennonite Church, assortment of facts, figures, and tidbits to help you get to know them a little better and welcome

candles.jpgWho: Peace Mennonite Church of East Greenville, (PA) pastored by David Benner.

Where: Peace Mennonite Church is located in the building that formerly housed
Shalom Christian Fellowship at 104 Main Street in East Greenville, PA.
The building was built by an Evangelical Congregational Church in 1929 and includes many intricate stained glass windows.

What: Each service includes a time of lighting candles to remember regions of the
world and ministries for which the church is praying. After the service ends, there
is time for coffee and snacks, which allows for fellowship and further discussion
on the sermon.

Peace Mennonite places a special emphasis on learning about and praying regularly
for many countries around the globe, as well as those who live in the neighbor-
hood. The congregation is working to send deworming medicine to a village in
Southern Sudan; is a supporter of the MAMA project (whose founder, Priscilla Benner, is a leader in the church); and has also befriended a group of persons with disabilities who live across the street from the church building.

Challenges: Peace Mennonite is a small congregation which brings with it the same challenges of any small church, such as making sure that someone is always available to preach the sermon or help lead other parts of the service, if those who regularly do it are away.

What you should know about the church: Peace Mennonite Church is a rejuvenation of what was Shalom Mennonite Church. In 2005, after a number of families left the area, Shalom decided to close its doors for a time of rest and revisioning. The church reopened in March 2006 as Peace Mennonite Church. Sunday morning gathering are intimate with around 20 persons gathered.

In their own words:
“A lot of what happens with church doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings.”
Above: Margaret Mower lights a candle during a Sunday morning service at Peace Mennonite Church.

From left: Duane Hershberger leads a discussion on encouraging your neighbors. Carson Hershberger plays guitar during fellowship time.

nwc.jpg Who: Nations Worship Center, pastored by Beny Krisbianto. Yunus Perkasa is the associate pastor.

Where: Nations Worship Center is located in the buidling that formerly housed Philadelphia Praise Center, at 1715 McKean Street in Philadelphia, PA. Nations Worship currently rents space in the South Philadelphia neighborhood and is hoping to purchase its own building soon.

What: A typical service includes time for giving testimony, sharing what God is doing in the lives of those who make up the congregation; attendees also read scripture aloud together. Nations Worship has a communal meal most Sundays and shares communion once a month.

The church offers assistance to the Indonesian community in Philadelphia from translation for hospital visits to navigating the immigration process.

Challenges: Like three-quarters of the estimated 10,000 Indonesians living in the city, many of the members do not speak English. Some are also first generation

What you should know about the church: The congregation is primarily Indonesian and worship gatherings are held primarily in Indonesian. Some Indonesians who’ve migrated to the United States have come for economic reasons, but many of them left Indonesia after the Jakarta riots of May 1998. The riots were directed at the Chinese minority in the country, many of whom are Christians. After that Indonesian Christians did not feel safe or had their businesses closed. Many came to the United States to start over. Some seek religious asylum status. The congregation includes about 70 persons on Sunday mornings and features table tennis tournaments in its worship space throughout the week.

In their own words:
“We are different but we can be used by God . . . We are one body.”
from left: Lora Steiner (foreground) interviews Yunus Perkasa, associate pastor, who recently arrived in South Philadelphia. Wanda Pesulima gives her testimony.

Photos by Timoyer