I had zero idea what i was walking into as you can imagine. But what i discovered was a very nice building full of exceptionally friendly and accepting people. One of the first things i noticed was the cross they had at the front of the room.
and this banner.
if any of you are wondering where this came from i found the bible quote for ya. It is referring to life in gods kingdom.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
I personally know some vegetarian Christians that feel this to be an important message. They relate this, as helping bring forth gods kingdom buy helping create a world, where one creature, does not need to harm another to eat and survive.
I also noticed this weird light that stood over the podium.
It was a building design choice that didn't go fully as planned and now they just spending days making jokes about it. The speaker today said that he was afraid that if we went over his allotted time that he would simply be "sucked up into it".
I am sure that more then one of you are wondering what people were dressed like, and my answer to that would be very modern and professional. I don't think i have seen so many women in suit jackets and slacks in one church service as i have seen here. And there was only a few men with full beards.
There was about 60 people, i would say average age would be around 55. which is slightly lower then most places i have been. Once again i stand in a church where i cant help but notice, that a lot of the seniors looks exceptionally happy and healthy for their age.
For the service i was invited by a lady to sit and meet with her friends who were all lovely Jr.seniors. One thing i really noticed about this church is people like to be INVOLVED! I know a lot of places where they have to scrape for volunteers and people that will actively contribute. Not here, these church member do an amazing job of steeping up! Beside all of the art, there is a lot of musical contribution. Instead of having your one token lady walk up to play the piano, we had a whole list of people stand up from the pews to contribute in their own way. I think this has to one of the few worships i have been to where someone preformed on the violin.
The service started and announcements were made, when it was time to greet everyone. The pastor announced that because of so many people having colds and flu that instead of shaking hands, that we should all try fist bumping! The entire congregation laughed and started awkwardly attempting to greet all the people around them. I turned around to greet a man in his 80's he looked at me and asked, "how hard do you do this?" as we carefully nudged fists.
After sitting down we continued with the worship thru song. I normally do my best to stretch my vocal cords, but the lady who had invited me to sit with her, we just just say that girl can SING. I am saying that when the vocal part started in the song, the intensity of her voice almost knocked me over. Just like BAM! Definitely gave me a run for my money.
I was informed early that today was not a regular church service, but mostly a report on the workings of their mission and charity groups abroad. The fellow their spoke a lot about the work the Mennonite Central Committee and their goings on in the middle east. There was an extensive amount of information covered, i could not even begin to recap it. But i will mention a few things that stood out.
One thing that was of interest was their organizations partnership with a Muslim agency to sponsor and help bring over a small handful of Syrians refugees to Canada. Another being that when asking local leader in these conflict filled regions what can be done to help end the violence toward Christians. There was a very distinct and shocking answer. They were told repeatedly was that the middle east need to build a "Relationship" with the Church. And more so , the church in North America. I know they say nothing is impossible with god, but man, I'm not sure about this one.
The local people there don't seem to be overly surprised with the rise of ISIS. They are just used to waves of radical Islamist groups flooding thru every so often. One very interesting quote that i believe was from an professor in Egypt, stated That Islam in the middle east constantly feels under attack by Christianity and globalization. Which taking a step back and looking at it i can kind of understand . But I also think it's silly. To think living in the global society makes you less of a good Muslim, is just down right ridiculous. If you come at it from a christian view that's like saying that we should all live like Hutterites and if we leave our farms and joining the rest of main stream society, that we are domed to immoral-ism and damnation. I personally believe that it is possible to very liberal and valid in ones faith. And to make my point let me introduce you to one of my favorite movies.
I also suggest this link.
Its addicting, enjoy.
I must admit that one of the thing the spoke abut that really hit me was a story about a young girl living in a refugee came who's family had to flee because of ISIS occupation. Her family was christian and knew that they would be killed if they did not leave. Her house was tagged with the famous "N" inscribed in Arabic.
This is the equivalent of making Jews wear stars in WWII. Except much worse. They will likely never return to their house, it is now inscribed on their outside wall that "this used to be a Christian house and now it is a ISIS house". They had picture of current state their house, and them mission worker asked them how they have them? And they replied, we asked our neighbor to take pictures and send them to us.Their neighbors are Sunni Muslims, who they have a very good relationship with. As this mission worker was told many times while he was there talking to locals, they say "We know how to get along."
When the offering was being given they said the prayer before and the pastor made a point of plainly saying "Thank-you for paying my salary".
There was a poem read today, which was a prayer saying thank you for the snow, and describing how it brings quite, beauty and tranquility to our world.
We had the children's time (there was around 8-10 kids today, more then most places) and the talk today was on taking a moment to thank god for our friends and siblings, the people that we socialize, play with and support us.
After the service there was tea/coffee and "Sunday school" which i was invited to. At first i declined because normally Sunday school is where they keep all the kids, but they clarified that there Sunday school is where adults go after the service to share their thoughts and opinions on the message and scripture that had been presented. Free thought is very much so encouraged here. And when it comes to opinions trust me when i say that some of these people really have their own opinions.
I was able to speak to the pastor latter and asked her how this church could possibly have any ties to the secluded plain dressing Mennonites that we often can identify, and she says that this church is just its completely is own thing and that their are many different types of Mennonites.
I noticed there was a lot of talk about member of this church going over seas to do hands on work. So i asked if the plain dressing Mennonites are known to do the same. She said generally no, but they do transfer financial support to the project of other Mennonite churches that do, including theirs. The last thing I pointed out was the Jewish starts i has seen in a few of the art pieces in the church. She said that they are just a bit of a small acknowledgement of the Jewish roots of our faith. It also should be precived as a act of goodwill considering that there can still sometime be bitterness between Jews and Christians.
I have decided that this church is like coffee. It gets you up in the morning and makes you feel all fuzzy and warm on the inside, and ready to face anything the world can throw at you. Even the -35 degree windchill and a frozen car windows.
Over all a great church, great experience. I would go back and visit any day. Peace be with you.