Tag Archives: Nelson Shenk

A Family Reunited

by Nelson Shenk, Boyertown congregation

Gaby & Kyle with their daughters

In 2005, Maria Gabriella (Gaby) left a dangerous living situation in Mexico and came to the United States to make a better and safer life for herself and her two-year-old daughter Citlalli.  In doing so, she and her daughter came as undocumented persons.  She eventually met and married Kyle Rhoads, who grew up at Boyertown Mennonite Church.  They had 2 daughters, Isabel and Kylene, and settled in Bechtelsville as a happy family unit.

They were attending our church for several months when Gaby and Citlalli decided to apply for their green cards so they could be here legally. That involved returning to Mexico and having an immigration interview at the U. S. Embassy.

In October 2017, she and her daughter returned to Mexico with trepidation.  Her daughter was approved and returned home to Bechtelsville in November, but Gaby was denied.  After the denial of her visa in the interview, she had to re-apply for a waiver.   In February 2018, her husband and 2 younger daughters visited her, and two-year-old Kylene stayed in Mexico with her mother.

Many phone calls were made to lawyers and politicians on her behalf.  Many people at Boyertown church wrote letters requesting her return so the family could be together.

Gaby reapplied and, after spending many months waiting, she went through the interview process again, including another medical exam and paying more money.  After 15 months away from her husband and daughter, her visa was finally approved in October 2018.  She and Kylene arrived home on January 24. 

On January 30th, a big celebration was held at church for her safe return.  Christopher Friesen, a member of the Germantown congregation, works for the law firm that processed Gaby’s paperwork.  He and Gaby finally met as we celebrated that day, which was another joyous occasion.

Gaby’s family is once again living as a family unit in Bechtelsville.  There are still some on-going complications with paper work, so please keep the family in prayer as life goes on and there are adjustments to be made. Our church family at Boyertown praises God for a good outcome for Gaby’s family.



Introducing Boyertown Mennonite Church

Boyertown Mennontie ChurchOur congregation was a “church plant” from the Bally congregation and began worshiping in Colebrookdale Township of Berks county in the year 1780. For many years these two faith communities continued to share pastors and many other aspects of church life. It wasn’t until the late 1940’s that Boyertown became completely separate with its own pastor and leadership. Our first buildings were located at the center of Boyertown, but in 1969 we built the present facility on a hill outside the borough of Boyertown.

Al Detweiler served the congregation for about 25 years until 1993. In 1995 the present pastor, Nelson Shenk, began serving upon Al’s retirement. The Leadership Team is made up of the pastor, two elders, and two deaconesses who serve the spiritual needs. The administrative body is the Church Council which is composed of the chair persons of various ministries within the congregation.

Our mission statement is: “We strive to be a Christian community of healing and growth.” We have become a faith community that ministers to a wide variety of needs within the Boyertown area and have attracted folks with addictions, background of abuse, poverty, etc. Folks have found this to be a place of safety and acceptance. As a result we are very diverse in every way possible.

We have been doing several annual events that expose us to our community and provide ministry to those who participate. These include Red Cross blood drives, a community yard sale, a pig roast, a Christmas bazaar, and a Christmas Eve service.

We are a very informal, blue collar congregation who has become known for how open we are to many different kinds of people. We pull together to minister to all of the needs of the folks that God has placed in our care.