by Maria Hosler Byler, Associate Pastor for Youth and Family Faith Formation
In 2017 Salford Mennonite Church celebrated its 300 year anniversary, with the theme “Hope Meets History.” That phrase embodies the spirit of Salford: firmly grounded in our place and our story, with a willingness to embrace what’s to come. We are a joyful learning community eager to live and share the peaceable way of Jesus. Here are some of the ways we do this.
The first thing we hope you notice when you come into our congregation is our welcome and supportive presence. Salford has welcomed many who have had painful experiences in church and need a place to rest and heal. You will see and hear children in worship, both in the pews and leading the congregation. A few years ago, we adopted a welcoming statement that says: “We celebrate that all individuals are created in God’s image, in beauty and grace, no matter their age, gender, race, disability, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, and are welcome as members in our congregation.”
We also are a congregation that gives in many ways. We readily respond with gifts of support to needs around the world. Our sewing circle is one example of this; each month, 20-30 people, men and women of all ages, come together to quilt and knot comforters for Mennonite Central Committee. We partner with Advent Lutheran Church to tend a garden on our property, which provides produce for local food pantries and community centers. Salford members feel each other’s care and support in behind-the-scenes ways too – in providing meals, childcare, and accompaniment in hard times.
Salford is truly a learning community. Members of Salford have led and attended workshops through Better Angels, seeking to bridge the political divide. We have recently held trainings around racial conciliation and criminal justice, to help us discern how we follow Jesus in our specific place in the world. Workshops on the Enneagram have sparked lively conversations about our different motivations and ways of relating. Also, each summer we host Peace Camp, where kids explore Peace with Me, Peace with the Earth, and Peace with Others. Peace Camp participants include kids from within our congregation and even more from the local community.
All of these point to our continued desire for deeper relationship with God. As we are welcomed and welcome others, we can more deeply experience God’s presence with us. Our worship is rooted in Anabaptist tradition, but it’s also attuned to our modern context; when you worship with us, you will experience rich four-part harmony and also earnest reflection about current events. That’s the tone that we seek to live out when we’re together and when we’re apart.
Some prayer requests:
- For guidance for our search committee as we look for a new lead pastor. Pastor Joe Hackman’s role ended in early December, while pastors Beth Yoder and Maria Hosler Byler continue.
- For wise and energetic discernment of our vision for the next phase of our life. We hope to grow in our pursuit of peace, justice, and reconciliation; our connection to our local community; and our prophetic witness.