The Old Fool once worked with mostly small churches. At present he is blessed to be a member of a large one. On Sunday morning, August 9, 2014, Gwen Gustafson-Zook, pastor candidate with special assignments in Spiritual Formation and Outreach, preached the sermon at College Mennonite Church. The text for her sermon was John 9:1-41 and her theme was Life on the Margins.
Gwen told vivid stories relevant to present times and interpreted the old story of Jesus healing a man born blind. She was delighted when I told her I saw in her sermon a connection between spiritual formation and outreach. If her call is confirmed by the congregation she will join a team of pastors, each having special assignments as follows:
Pastors: Phil Waite, – Team Leader; Lee Dengler, – Music & Choirs; Susan Dengler – Worship & Music; Willie Kanagy – Facilities & Finance; Daniel Yoder – Jr. & Sr. High Youth; Talashia Keim Yoder – Young Adults; Pamela Yoder – Community Life and Pastoral Care; Marty Lehman – Administrative Pastor
Coordinators: Sheila Yoder – Deaf Ministries; Claudia Granados – Hispanic Ministries.
Administrative Assistants: Kathy Harshbarger – Receptionist; Diana Hershberger – Database Management; Sandra Shenk Lapp – Communications.; Jessica Whiticar, Director of Food Services And then there are commissions who support the activities of this large church
On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 Pastor Phil Waite hosted a banquet for retired ministers and their spouses/friends. Since it was My Joy’s birthday, I joyfully invited her to go with me and we enjoyed the banquet together. I estimate that there were 40 or 50 persons present. The group was larger than the membership of many Mennonite Churches. Pastor Phil spoke to us on the question “Can a Mennonite Church be Large?”
He told us that he was trained at AMBS to be the pastor of a small church, which describes most Mennonite Churches. To transition from being a normal-sized church to a large one requires different expectations, strategies and goals.
The Old Fool provides links to the College Mennonite Church because many of its ministries excel in quality. I believe that every Mennonite Church, small or large, should be growing in size. I have learned to not despise small churches. They have strengths of intimacy and community that dare not be lost as the church grows larger. A large church can do what a small church cannot do.
Phil recommended that we read, “Inside the Large Congregation” by Susan Beumont. He concluded, as I remember it, that we must give our all to growth as a large congregation, or be content to shrink to a small church size.