by Ken Burkholder, pastor at Deep Run East Mennonite Church
There was a spirit of anticipation, joy, and camaraderie, at the combined worship service between the Mennonite churches of Deep Run East and Deep Run West on Sunday, August 6. Barry Schmell, who grew up at Deep Run West and is currently a hospital chaplain in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, began his sermon by telling a story about when he was a boy. As a child, Barry would ask his parents why their family drives by three other churches on the way to their church. He also asked them, “why does our family worship at Deep Run West, while many of our relatives worship at Deep Run East?” His parents responded by saying, “When you get older, you’ll understand!”
Well, whether we’re children, or adults, it’s not always easy for us to understand, nor explain, why there are two Mennonite churches across the street from each other both named Deep Run Mennonite. I routinely hear this question from people in our local community, and those who are newer to the congregation. It’s almost as easy as trying to explain why there are two different Mennonite conferences within close geographic proximity named Franconia and Eastern District!
But, I’m grateful for opportunities, such as this joint worship service, which help to strengthen our connections with one another. In this service, we incorporated persons from both congregations in the various elements of worship. There was also an opportunity for people to greet one another, and to pray together in small cluster groups. A logistical detail to arrange with this joint service is how to handle the offering! We invited people to bring their offerings forward, and place them in the basket of their choice – one basket marked Deep Run East and one marked Deep Run West. Our worship service was followed by an informal fellowship time with coffee and baked goods.
My prayer is that occasions such as this joint worship service help to strengthen the bonds of relationship, mutuality, and shared faith between Deep Run East and Deep Run West. It may even help us all, whether young or older … understand … how much we share in common!