by Chris Nickels, pastor
A well-known children’s book has become a symbol for Spring Mount Mennonite Church—with a slight edit to the title. After helping a local relief worker collect supplies for the people of Haiti (following the devastating earthquake in 2010), she deemed us, “The Little Church That Could.” I think this name calls to mind both our history, as well as how we seek to participate in what God is doing in our community today.
Our congregation is located in the Perkiomen Valley—a community known today for recreational activities at Spring Mountain and the Perkiomen Trail, for hosting the Philadelphia Folk Fest, and for having the best cheesesteak (at the Collegeville Italian Bakery and Moccia’s Train Stop, and I am right about this). A century ago, it was a resort town for residents from Philadelphia. Local Mennonites found ways to build relationships with neighbors through Sunday School, summer Bible School, and eventually the founding of our congregation.
We believe that each member is a minister, and that it’s important to sit around the table with each other. A monthly Table Church service helps us worship in an unconventional way and lets us practice valued aspects of Anabaptist tradition—communal interpretation of scripture, and listening for the guidance of the Spirit. As fellow pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler writes, “In our Mennonite church, the interpretation of the Bible doesn’t belong to the preacher alone. It belongs to us, to God’s people. We ask questions, comment on what we’ve heard, fill in the gaps, tell each other ‘thank you’ for the work done here among us.” Ok, sometimes we argue a little bit, too. Yet the Spirit illuminates.
Building relationships with neighbors continues and helps us notice where God is at work.
Food insecurity is an issue here, which has led us to participate in supporting the Daily Bread Community Food Pantry and the Perk Valley Power Packs program. More recently, we sensed a deeper way that we could meet needs and also make friends in our neighborhood was by hosting free Community Meals. The meals are very well attended, and we hope that the neighborhood will view our space as their “meeting house” too.
The last few years have put us in contact with local veterans. Some of us received trauma training specific to military and combat veterans, and the whole congregation has demonstrated compassion to foster healing from the wounds of war. In cooperation with a local veterans’ network, we hope to soon establish a healing circle for veterans at our meetinghouse —a restorative, safe space where veterans can share their stories and civilians can listen and hold space for them. We are learning to see these relationships as a way we live into our calling as a Peace Church.
In order to better serve our community, we desire to make our building more accessible to all. Part of this work will entail raising support for physical upgrades. But it has also meant learning to support our members with autism in worship and church life and to learn from their giftedness. Our worship space includes a picture schedule (icons that depict the worship order) and a “success station” with sensory items, seat cushions, and information about local service providers.
The Spirit continues to form this “Little Church That Could,” and it is a joy to serve Christ together.
Prayer requests for Spring Mount:
* for the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit to surround our congregation, as a number of our members are currently struggling with illness, hospitalizations, and the loss of loved ones.
* prayer as we seek to build relationships in our community, that as we meet new people these may turn into growing friendships
 Melissa Florer-Bixler, Fire By Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2019) 35.