A time to plant (a church)

Two weeks ago we had the annual gathering of the CMC Leadership Team and Ministry Council (board + commission chairs + pastoral and administrative staff).  It’s a time to step back from monthly duties, pose big picture questions, and think creative thoughts.  The purpose of this year’s meeting was to imagine together what church life might look like in the year ahead with re-gathering in person, ongoing Zoom possibilities, relationships across distance, and new ventures with church planting.

For that last part we were joined by Carolyn May and Joel Call.  The possibility of planting a new worship community in Columbus started as a small seed of conversation with Carolyn as she headed off to Union Theological Seminary in New York three years ago.  Over the course of her studies Carolyn felt affirmed in this path, and drawn to remaining in the Mennonite church and retuning to Columbus.  Parenthetically, for those who can’t picture Carolyn, she was our worship leader this past Sunday and preached the sermon in November about “Endarkenment.”  Since moving back to Columbus this summer our conversations expanded to include a few others within and beyond CMC, locally and in the wider church.  The meeting two weeks ago was the first chance for that larger group of CMC leadership to hear the emerging vision for planting a new Mennonite church.    

A pandemic is definitely a strange time to be forming new community.  Or perhaps it’s just the right time for us.  Our normal routines have been altered.  We’ve adjusted and adapted to creating new forms of togetherness.  It’s been challenging but has also come with holy surprises.

And since we’re using the planting metaphor…maple trees are able to reproduce when they are about 50 years old.  Oak trees are at peak acorn production when they are between 50 and 80 years old.  In the late 1950s a group of Mennonite students planted a church which became Columbus Mennonite Church which has blessed us all.  Now we’re of the age of peak acorn production.  It sounds like it’s time…         

As with any new ventures, there are many more questions than clear answers at this point.  Carolyn and Joel will be sharing more about this themselves in the coming weeks.  They do intend to begin with a small group type setting doing a book study about church life, open to everyone of all ages – no further commitment expected beyond an interest in discussion and pondering new possibilities.

As this vision is shared and shaped, I encourage each of us to consider how we might be supportive. 

Might this church plant be something you and your household – and neighbors or friends who don’t currently attend CMC – wish to be part of? 

Although there is not an immediate need for money, might you feel called to make a financial contribution (small or large!) toward establishing another inclusive peace and justice minded Mennonite congregation in Columbus?

How might you pray for and offer encouragement for this emergent group?

Stay tuned…and don’t hesitate to be in direct contact with Carolyn and Joel with your interest, questions, ideas… 

With good hope,