In my last post I wrote that Covenant Mennonite Fellowship is the only church in Sarasota that has Mennonite in its name. A friend told me that it may be more accurate to say that Covenant Menonite is the only congregation affiliated with the MCUSA that has Mennonite in its name. I like it that there are still congregations in Sarasota that identify themselves as Mennonite. But, why do I like the flavor brought to mind by that name?
Negatively, Mennonite-ism began as a schism in the catholic, world wide church. Sadly, Mennonite churches go on in their continuously schismatic way, each schism believing itself to be better than any other.
These thoughts remind me of a particular workshop for church leaders. The consultant enlarged the understanding of participants by asking them to repeat the phrase “who I am gives meaning to my name”. We repeated this phrase about ourselves to each other. Then the consultant led us through processes that revealed to each of us our individual strengths and weaknesses. A church’s name holds meaning. Does its behavior show that it is Pharisee-like, or on the contrary, does it show that it is open, welcoming, generous, serving, neighborly like Jesus? Click on behavior to learn how one church gives meaning to its name.
The College Mennonite Church retains both its name and its affiliation with MCUSA and presents itself as being open and welcoming to all. It adopted the following statement:
“We believe that all individuals are created in God’s image, and all people, regardless of age, gender, race, citizenship status, abilities, or sexual orientation, are welcome as full participants in the life of our congregation.”
To welcome such diversity is a challenge. I paraphrase the text of a recent sermon: Just as one body has many parts, so one Spirit forms the many parts of College Mennonite Church into one body. Click here and scroll forward 35 minutes to hear Lichti’s sermon.
Preachers often begin or end their sermons by a reminder they speak in the name of Jesus. Ponder the power implied by the use of that name. Click on Jesus name to see repetitions of the phrase. You may respond to this post in several ways:
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