May 19 | Reflections by New Members

Joey Schulte

I grew up in Cridersville nestled between Lima and Wapakoneta in Northwest Ohio. I went to mass every Sunday like clockwork just like my entire, very large extended family did. Between punk rock and dreading Sunday School, like many a Catholic youth, I decided I was an atheist by the time I was 15. I still attended church though week in and week out as cultural and social practice. However, unlike many young catholics I would soon have an epiphany experience at a youth retreat during eucharistic adoration. This experience would carry me through college as a relatively devout Catholic with transubstantiation being an anchoring foundation of my faith.

As the years went by after having moved to Columbus to finish school at Ohio State, I began to see cracks in my faith and disagreements with the Catholic church that I could no longer reconcile within myself. I couldn’t justify the exclusion of women from leadership, I believe in bodily autonomy, and thought the church should be open and affirming. I no longer believed I could successfully help reform the church from the inside. I came to the conclusion that I was legitimizing an institution that I could no longer support, and if I couldn’t believe all of it then I shouldn’t believe any of it.

I traditionally have surrounded myself with secular individuals, as in my experience, they were far more likely to care about justice issues. Making the transition back to atheism was relatively easy and more comfortable in my day to day than calling myself a Christian. Fast forward a few more years, and I would start working with a good friend who would many years later become my wife. Outside of work we developed a rapport of debate, and would attempt to convert the other. I would tell Kiley that Christianity and religion did more harm than good in the world, and, this is a bit of an exaggeration, she would try to convince me that I was going to hell if I didn’t change my heathen ways. We became fast, close friends.

Many years later when we no longer worked together. We finally went on our first date. Kiley no longer believed in hell, but I was told that if I ever hoped to marry her I would have to find some faith. I eventually got on board after attending church with Kiley for some time and finding a small world of churches that are open and affirming, share my values, and do not get too hung up on whether I believe a particular article of faith like bread literally becoming the body of Christ.

After some searching and trying to find the perfect fit for us, we decided to finally check out the church of my old roommate, Adam Glass, as he is the type of Christian whose values made sense to me. We have found our church home here and are excited to build community, seek justice and grow together at Columbus, Mennonite.

Kiley Orchard

Good morning.

Joey talked a bit about how we arrived here at Columbus Mennonite. And because of that, and because I’m not always the best at talking about myself, I’d instead like to talk about all of you. About the things that initially drew me to this church, and the reasons that we have chosen to stay.

It’s because of the way you care for vulnerable populations. It’s because of the apartment upstairs, your support for Edith, and your care for the people who have lived there since. It’s because of BREAD. It’s because you opened your doors to those experiencing homelessness on some of the coldest nights this winter. It’s because of Keeping CMC Safe. It’s because of your note on the back of the bulletin each week that tells people who they can contact to report an issue or concern.

It’s because of your commitment to peace and justice. It’s because of the Reparations Fund and where you include it in the budget. It’s because of Mennonite Action and the Peace Candle we light each week. It’s because of the Micah 6:8 banner outside.

It’s because you are inclusive. It’s because of the sensory backpacks and the hearing devices and the ramp to the pulpit. It’s because of the hymnal you created and use, one that not only includes inclusive language and theology, but when it doesn’t, it’s because you suggest alternative lyrics or interpretations of its words.

It’s because of your commitment to the earth. It’s because you encourage reusable nametags and bringing your own dishes to potlucks. It’s because you collect food scraps and have gardens and consider tree-planting an act of worship.

It’s because of your commitment to transparency. It’s because you send out the Leadership Team meeting minutes and include the bylaws and organizational structure on the website. It’s because you *have* an updated website. It’s because you hold congregational meetings and believe in shared leadership.

All of this, of course, is because of you. It was quickly apparent to both Joey and myself that this was a church whose members were involved, not only in the actual worship service but in the larger decisions of the church. It’s because of the way you approach these decisions with thoughtfulness and care. It’s because of the way you give–often and generously, of your finances, your creativity, your knowledge, and your time. It’s the way you leave room for questions. And it’s the way you live your lives outside of the church building. I am amazed and humbled by the ways you all make our world a more caring, just, and peaceful place.

And finally, it’s because of the membership commitment we are reading today. I don’t always know exactly what I believe about God, but I do know that these are words—and that Columbus Mennonite is a body—I would like to commit to. Thank you.

James Laspisa


Like many of you, I’m not native to Columbus, but migrated here.. 

Since my arrival from Toledo, I have been searching for a Church that is NOT ONLY “Open and Affirming”, but MORE IMPORTANTLY truly “Christ centered”. 

I first found one that is EXTREMELY accepting, but when you look beyond their welcome to the Gay and Lesbian community, you find them lacking in what it means to truly “follow Jesus”. 

I found another that is quite involved with local missions, but even though they proclaimed to be a welcoming congregation, as an openly Gay man, I never felt REALLY accepted there – more like TOLERATED. 

I KNOW I”M SHOWING MY AGE, but can anyone else remember the story of “Goldilocks and the three bears”?

In it, Goldilocks tries three bowls of porridge – the first bowl is too hot, the second is too cold, but finally the third bowl is neither too hot or too cold, but “JUST RIGHT”

IN MY CASE I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find a church that is neither “too hot” or “too cold”, but JUST RIGHT

I was resigning myself to living with compromise when one lazy. rainy, Saturday afternoon late last fall, my Inner Voice told me to  Google “Open and Affirming” churches ONE MORE TIME.

I found a website called where you can check for welcoming churches in your area. I saw the “SAME OLD, SAME OLD” from other websites I had visited, but then I saw COLUMBUS MENNONITE CHURCH 


Not knowing that much about Mennonites, I figured that Mennonites were basically “AMISH WITH WIFI” and “ASSUMED” that they would be socially conservative and thus not accepting of people like me.


I eagerly checked out the CMC website, ESPECIALLY the statement of LGBTQ inclusiveness

I attended for the first time the first Sunday of Advent

As fate would have it, shortly after beginning to attend, I found myself in a serious health crisis.

I’m sure most of you have heard of my emerging battle with Cancer, as believing in the power of prayer, I have submitted several Prayer Requests via the weekly Tuesday email.

This reaching out has resulted in OVERWHELMING kindness and support. Columbus Mennonite really WALKS the talk”. It’s a place WHERE I CAN GROW in what it means to follow Jesus, WHILE BEING MYSELF.



Laura Cavanaugh

Faith has always been deeply integral to my identity. I was raised the child of a pastor and
grandchild of missionaries in a very conservative Presbyterian and cultural worldview. In
seminary as I studied theology and art, I became involved in a variety of expressions of church
to intentionally expand my experience of spirituality, and in further training to become a spiritual
director my experience broadened beyond the ecumenical to the interspiritual. I tend to find my
spiritual mentors among the mystics and monks and my connection to the Sacred through
contemplative spiritual practices.

In the 13 years we have been married, Matt and I have made multiple cross-country moves and
experienced starting over in building community many times, and with varying levels of success.
In the short months we have attended Columbus Mennonite, we have found an overwhelmingly
warm, accepting, and genuine community who—despite barely knowing us—has already been
a generous and very present support to our family, particularly meaningful after a long season of
feeling very much alone.

It is a rare privilege to find in a church community a safe and open container where we can
foster in our child a spirit of curiosity, kindness, and collaboration with the spirit of Love so
evident in this sacred place. I consider it an honor to join in today with this ever-expanding story
CMC is living into. I hope in the weeks and months to come—in what small ways I can—to
share in return what resources, time, and wisdom I can offer as we find our place here among

Thank you for so warmly welcoming us in.