What follows are a few of my own reflections about our life together here at Neffsville Mennonite Church during 2022. But, as the ad says, 'your mileage may vary'.
What a year it has been. We began 2022 with a spike of surging COVID infections. This was happening, even while we mourned the non-COVID deaths of a number of friends who left us way too soon. It was a difficult way to start the year.
We are grateful that the COVID infection rate began to ease. As it did, more and more of us felt comfortable coming to worship again.
In 2022, we observed and celebrated our 70th year anniversary. Our church historian, Rick High working with Dean Smith, coordinated a number of events (videos, previous elder discussions, etc.) that reminded us of our journey over the last 70 years. Thank you, Rick and Dean, for your efforts.
In this year, we also wrestled with the decisions that were made at the MC-USA Special Delegate Assembly regarding the call by some for greater inclusion of LGBTQ persons. Some were grateful for the decisions that were made. Others were deeply offended by those decisions, and many others simply don’t know what to think. We continue to pray and we continue to engage in the difficult discussions that these questions raise. How can we love and honor each other, even when we find ourselves in deep disagreement?
We also began sharing our facilities with the Hispanic church Casa de Amor y Misericordia. This church has grown from an initially small group of 12 meeting in the pastor's living room to approximately 35 who gather for worship each Sunday in the Journey House.
We said goodbye and Godspeed to Keiko Kereh our worship intern from Lancaster Bible College and welcomed back our own Katelyn Robbins as our summer pastoral intern. Katelyn is now back in Boston studying for her M Div at the Boston School of Theology.
We did a summer trial schedule switch. Some found this very helpful. Others lamented the loss of visiting time after worship. In September we reverted back to our accustomed time.
In July, we welcomed Eszter Bjorkman as our Associate Pastor for Youth. Eszter has already made a significant contribution to our youth and to our congregation.
In July Rashard traveled to Mennonite World Conference in Indonesia. Both Rashard and the church have experienced the benefits of that trip.
In September, our pastor, Hunter Hess was able to take a much-needed sabbatical. A number of persons stepped up to preach, provide pastoral care, and to share in the various ministries of the church.
In the fall, we welcomed Jen Browne as a nursery staff person. We also said goodbye to Julie Hess, our administrative assistant, and welcomed Julie Smoker as her replacement.
We saw the reestablishing and strengthening of a number of ministries of the church. These include our Children's Faith Formation, the Adult Sunday School Support Team, our WNO Team, and our Missions Team.
In addition to the missionaries we support through the budget, Bob Unruh and his team continue their ongoing work in Peru. We had a significant number of persons involved through our Local Service Opportunities.
God is good! I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a very competent and dedicated staff as well as many willing volunteers. I look forward to what God will do in our midst in 2023.
In His service,
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