Make new by grafting


The New Magazine

Lead Pastor Phil Waite and College Mennonite Church has been given a grant for a sabbatical leave that includes his family and the congregation.  The foundation for Phil’s activities was laid by Joe Springer.

Joe is a mentor to Phil’s son. Joe did a study of his mentee’s ancestral roots and collected the information into two booklets; one for the Waite root, and the other for his mother’s Bontrager roots.  Phil came to the Mennonite Church from the “outside.” He attempts to understand and describe his relationship to the Mennonite Church as a grafting in experience. (Read a biblical story of grafting in Romans 11. ) The information about diverse ancestral roots is guiding Phil’s travels and studies and also the conversation within the church that he helps to pastor.

The congregation will experience a kind of sabbatical also, as we contemplate our roles in expanding and enhancing ministry through grafting.  The congregation is publishing a new magazine with the hope that it welcome diversity and beauty.  The first issue came out in the month of April and is titled “Sing”.  On the front page of the second issue Phil reported his anticipated sabbatical experiences. (“Sing”is on line, and you can read the sevond issue by clicking here.)

image0-014My 56 years in Florida was a learning experience about the value of grafting in citrus trees and my crude attempts at church planting and growth by grafting. Jessica Bennet is the head of CMC’s food service department.  When I see her I remember her grandfather, Frank Bennet.  Frank was a Florida “snowbird”. He didn’t live in Tampa but he made frequent winter visits to Tampa because he owned a citrus grove south of Plant City. Bennet welcomed my family to the South by taking us to his citrus grove. He first took us to what he described as the “original” citrus tree. We learned that the tree had a strong root system and its fruit looked good to us, but on first taste, it’s fruit was unbearably sour. We spit it out.

Next, Bennet took us to a tree that had been grafted, and the fruit was wonderfully sweet. He advised us to visit his grove any time, and taste fruit until we found an orange to our liking.  He advised us to pick all the fruit we wanted from that grafted tree. I expect that no reader has ever tasted fruit from an ungrafted citrus tree. So, back to the metaphor.  I’m reminded of simple words attributed to the Master Teacher.  He said that by their fruits you shall know them.

The original anabaptist root is strong and enduring.  It has lasted for 500 years and the tap root reaches all the way back to the teachings of Jesus.  But the fruit of the original tree can be hierarchical, exclusive, divisive, and hypocritical.  A bud grafted to the original root may flourish and bear fruit that is true to Jesus, welcoming, tasty, and nourishing.

Original roots
may be vigorous and strong
grafts improve the fruit

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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4 Responses to Make new by grafting

  1. Merle Cordell says:

    Hey, I really like this one. I’ve had a little experience in grafting. not very successful in what I did, but in my English walnut trees I bought from Paul Shank. Penn State experts came to Paul to learn. I still am getting nice fruit from these trees. In fact I just ate a small handful with my breakfast. { Of course the Cordell name is a “graft ” among, hopefully into, the Mennonite stock}.

    • Merle, I thought of you several times during the past week. Rachel is continuing to down size and she and I went through some old files of mine. One I found interesting was Elizabeth Eshleman Martin’s account of the life of J. Ira Eshleman. Very interesting. What she didn’t say was that I received Occasional letters from J. Ira while I was in CPS camp with 10 dollar bills in them. He was a great encouragement to me. The Cordell name came up frequently in Elizabeth’s story.

  2. Del Yoder says:

    It seems from the evidence you present that the bumble bees you are concerned about are more likely carpenter bees. Some sources say the two look so near alike as to be virtually indistinguishable. Sources also say bumble bees nest in the ground. From personal experience, I know carpenter bees bore nests in soft wood, much as you describe. With the dearth of “honey” bees, carpenter bees are a major pollinator here in our mountains. Still, I would welcome knowing what the man sprayed to rid your complex of them. Probably illegal, at least in some states.
    Noted in the CMC report in MWR, the death of Harold Bauman. We had a bit of history. Thanks for welcoming us and guiding us to my cousin Mervin S. See you have started calling the lady My Joyce. God bless.

  3. You may be right. The person doing the spraying called them bumble bees and I assumed he was a professional exterminator and knew. What I saw looked larger than my notion of carpenter bees, but I don’t know. I must learn more. The welfare of all bee types is of interest to me. Your visit was a highlight for me. Come again.

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