A new Mennonite observes convention

Jul 3, 2015 by

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Almost every interaction I’ve had with the Mennonite church has made me feel right about belonging here. I’ve observed this many times with my home congregation, such as the way certain songs are sung just when I was thinking of them, or the way gospel truths are expressed so simply during the children’s time.

Zahnd

Zahnd

As a new Mennonite, Kansas City (Mo.) 2015 is my first Mennonite Church USA convention. Already I’ve seen things that tell me I belong.

For example, I love that the convention bird’s name is Stella. Now I can say I have a Mennonite name!

As a more serious example, I was amazed to hear “The Word of God is solid ground, our constant firm confession . . . ” during Thursday morning worship. As a teenager, I discovered that song while looking through the hymnal I had ordered from the Herald Press catalog.

The words inspired me, so I sightread it and found the melody lovely as well. Before Thursday, I had never heard the song anywhere but from my own solitary voice. Though I hadn’t looked at the song for years, as soon as I heard it at convention, I could join in easily. It was a beautiful moment.

I’ve been in some interesting seminars with good topics at convention, including a discussion on millennials and the church, pastor Brian Zahnd’s story of how he came to believe in peace and rejecting war as the Christian way, and an introduction to “Anablacktivism” (Anabaptistism/black theology/activism).

I love that the Mennonite church makes an effort to be socially conscious for good theological reasons. I love that I can always count on songs being chosen for their meaning rather than their age. I love the hospitality.

I know no person, congregation or institution is perfect. We always have room to improve as we continue to follow Christ. I see many people in the Mennonite church seeking to follow Christ, and that gives me hope. Christ’s kingdom will eternally triumph despite our disagreements — isn’t that wonderful?

Jesus is Lord! Let’s remember that throughout the rest of convention week and beyond.

Rachel Stella is a former conservative evangelical who now happily calls herself a Mennonite. She attends Plow Creek Mennonite Church in Tiskilwa, Ill., and works as a journalist in La Salle.


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