The header is a sign of my wish for Spring to come.  

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Exploring and Subscribing to the OLD FOOL’S website


The Old Fool welcomes you

Recent posts and comments, archives of past posts, and categories of the posts are listed on the right of the opening page. If you ever wonder how my posts are written, click here.

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To better know me, go to my life and the longer articles named on the black ribbon above. Browse, comment and question as you wish. We journey on together in the pilgrimage of life and faith.

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Names and their Meaning

Image result for what's in a nameIn my last post I wrote that Covenant Mennonite Fellowship is the only church in Sarasota that has Mennonite in its name. A friend told me that it may be more accurate to say that Covenant Menonite is the only congregation affiliated with the MCUSA that has Mennonite in its name.  I like it that there are still congregations in Sarasota that identify themselves as Mennonite.  But, why do I like the flavor brought to mind by that name?

Negatively, Mennonite-ism began as a schism in the catholic, world wide church.  Sadly, Mennonite churches go on in their continuously schismatic way, each schism believing itself to be better than any other.

These thoughts remind me of a particular workshop for church leaders. The consultant enlarged the understanding of participants by asking them to repeat the phrase “who I am gives meaning to my name”. We repeated this phrase about ourselves to each other.  Then the consultant led us through processes that revealed to each of us our individual strengths and weaknesses.  A church’s name holds meaning. Does its behavior show that it is Pharisee-like, or on the contrary, does it show that it is open, welcoming, generous, serving, neighborly like Jesus?  Click on  behavior to learn how one church gives meaning to its name.

The College Mennonite Church retains both its name and its affiliation with MCUSA and  presents itself  as being open and welcoming to all. It adopted the following statement:

“We believe that all individuals are created in God’s image, and all people, regardless of age, gender, race, citizenship status, abilities, or sexual orientation, are welcome as full participants in the life of our congregation.”

The Preacher

To welcome such diversity is a challenge.  I paraphrase the text of a recent sermon:  Just as one body has many parts, so one Spirit forms the many parts of College Mennonite Church into  one body.   Click here and scroll forward 35 minutes to hear Lichti’s sermon.  

Preachers often begin or end their sermons by a reminder  they  speak in the name of Jesus.  Ponder the power implied by the use of that name.  Click on  Jesus name to see repetitions of the phrase. You may respond to this post in several ways:

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Bound together by Friendship.

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends;  for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you”   “Friend “is a beautiful word that may describe a near-intimate relationship.

The past week  friends became visible through the mists of memory.  A friend who lives in Sarasota bought  tickets for Joyce and me to see the Eugene Aleander Couture Runway Show in the Goshen Theater during  Elkhart County’s Fashion World.  My friend and I have a mutual friend whose work would be on display in a run way show in the Goshen theater.  

Joyce could not walk as far as the theater and it was beyond the limits of my scooter so we were uncertain how we would get  there.  At last we learned of neighbors/friends who planned to go and would take us.

Entering the Goshen Theater felt like crossing the boundary separating church and world.  Our request for admission was accepted and we were shuttled into a side room usually reserved for couples wanting to dance.  Being  offered a choice of beverage, part of me wondered if I was where I should be. Then I recalled that we being aided and abetted by friends whose walk with Jesus I knew well.

The show featured designs by my friend, Eugene Stutzman. He had been reared in an Amish home and in the Amish culture of Holmes County, Ohio. Now he is a retiree and was being honored during this homecoming celebration by Goshen College as an accomplished alumna. Mekayla Eppers, Mrs. America, from neighboring Bristol, Indiana, was the emcee of the runway show.

It is not possible for me to describe in words the beauty and the spirit of the show. Click here to go to the Face Book display of fashions worn on the runway and be introduced to significant persons in its planning.

Under water coral is a symbol of Life in Covenant Mennonite Fellowship

After the show I pushed my way to the front of the stage to greet Eugene who exclaimed in my ear that he was honored by my presence.  On the way to the theater’s exit I was hugged by more friends from the past.  They remembered me for my early advocacy for believing gays and lesbians and for my encouragement for the founding of Covenant Mennonite Fellowship in Sarasota.  Get access to that church’s history by clicking here.  Covenant Mennonite Fellowship is the only fellowship/church in Sarasota that retains “Mennonite” in its name.



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Visits with Pastors

Pastor Phill displaying Rhoda’s bible at her memorial service at CMC

Yesterday I chatted for an over an hour with Phil Waite, CMC’s lead pastor.  In her hospital room, Rhoda was asked where we were going to go to church.  She and I were visiting churches before deciding on a church to call home. and I did not know that we had yet made a decision.  So she surprised me. She responded firmly that we were going to College Mennonite Church and added with a smile, “I like Phil.”  In so saying Rhoda chose Phil to lead her memorial service in Goshen.

Phil continues to be my pastor. When he moved his office for a few hours onto  the Greencroft retirement community campus I leaped to the opportunity talk with him.

Phil illustrates bridgebuilding

Building bridges has been the theme of recent Sunday Services at CMC.  Phil has urged each member to invite one person to our services sometime this month, and I affirmed him.  I have learned a simple formula on how not to grow a congregation: merely neglect to extend personal invitations to  anyone new; just trust people to respond to the a sign that identifies a building as a church and says that everyone is welcome to attend its meetings.

That reminds me of the African American who saw such a sign and muttered to himself that “I kin read dem signs.”

He knew the exceptions –  everyone was welcome who was not a stranger, or different. That was a valid assumption that any ordinary person can make with good reason.  The sign blandly says “everyone welcome”, but those who need the church most know they are not welcome.

It is my belief that a church’s sign can be designed that will compel attention by passersby, that is informative, inviting and warm.  Mortuaries, markets, and other institutions do it.  Why ought not a Mennonite church do it, too. I’ve received an email from one of our women pastors that she is coming to my Evergreen assisted living for a tea.  I want to chat with pastor Pamila as with Pastor Phil.  I want to tell her again how much I appreciated the story of her life as she told it to the children of the church.




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