In previous years I’ve written a January blog to recap the past year. It’s basically a long list of happenings, with lots of commas. It’s a little overwhelming (to write and probably to read), and I inevitably leave out something important. This time I’d like to pare it down to a highlight from each month. Hopefully this captures a sense of where we’ve been together and, especially if you’re new-ish, gives a window into what we do and value as a congregation.
January | Drew Hart spoke at our Winter Seminar which we promoted to Mennonites around Ohio. We were joined by groups from as far away as Cleveland and Cincinnati in considering how the church might confront racism in its many forms.
February | Our worship theme for the month was “We are Sermon on the Mount people.” We looked at how these core teachings in Matthew shape us as peacemakers.
March | Our annual comforter knotting party contributed toward a record year of productivity for the Piecemakers. Many knots were tied, many tasty bowls of soup eaten, many conversations had. Reserve March 2 and 3 this year.
April | Guest speaker Laurel Neufeld-Weaver spoke about congregations creating a safe and healthy environment for children. Our Keeping CMC Safe policy guides us in these commitments.
May | We welcomed 19 new members. Around 80 of us joined 2500 other people of faith from Franklin County at the BREAD Nehemiah Action to do justice. Ongoing initiates include implementing restorative practices in Columbus City Schools, and a One ID card for county residents that would give homeless, undocumented immigrants, and others access to city services. We formed a green block with our new CMC T-Shirts which read “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.” A matching banner was hung on the north side of the church.
June | We began the summer Twelve Hymns Project series. The congregation selected twelve hymns that we find most meaningful. Summer worship included singing the hymns in different styles, a sermon about the history and theology of the hymns, and a personal reflection from someone for whom the hymn has special meaning. A new hymnal project is in the works, to be completed in 2020.
July | Several of us attended the biennial Mennonite Church USA convention, in Orlando. We passed a resolution affirming our commitments to Palestinians and Israelis, to work for a just peace and reject antisemitism in all its forms. The gathering also included the Future Church Summit in which we were given time to collectively dream about the future of our denomination. There was a noticeable absence of delegates from conferences who have chosen to no longer affiliate with the denomination.
August | In less than a week’s time we discerned we would be a Sanctuary congregation. Concretely, this meant we would host Edith Espinal to enable her to avoid deportation and keep her family together. She first entered the church on Labor Day, was back in her home for most of September, and has been living with us since October 2. The Columbus Dispatch named her case one of the top ten local stories of 2017.
September | Our annual retreat at Camp Luz in Northeast Ohio included opportunities for play and fun. Children created small boats from found objects, and youth created trash fashion which they showcased at the Saturday evening talent show.
October | This month included the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. This is the event most commonly referenced as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Soon the Anabaptists pushed this even further through the Radical Reformation.
November | We experimented with having our fall congregational meeting on a Sunday morning rather than evening, during the Sunday school hour, followed by the Harvest Potluck. Turn out indicated it is a preferred time.
December | The children presented the Ohio premier of the Christmas play “Angels in the choir.” Advent worship encouraged us to consider Mary as a model for inner sanctuary. Coloring pages optional.
Blessings as this new year unfolds. I’m especially grateful for all the unscheduled and unseen ways you practice caring community with one another.
Sunday’s Epiphany sermon, “Behold: Stars, Child, Church” is now posted.