by Greg Law
Frederick Mennonite Church began around 1950 when some Perkiomenville Mennonite Church members wanted to expand their outreach further west. The original meeting place was the Bertolet Meetinghouse (which had no indoor water or bathrooms) in Frederick, PA. In 1966 our current location was built (with indoor plumbing) across the street from the Bertolet Meetinghouse with an addition in 1994.
The first minister was unsalaried which was common for the time. Gradually, we moved along until we had a full-time pastor. After his departure, we had a half-time interim pastor. Over the past few years, we mostly utilize a “self-employed truck driving preacher” from within the congregation as our main speaker.
Once a month we forgo the normal Sunday morning routine and have a potluck breakfast together in the fellowship hall. This is followed by a free form gathering around the same tables where each person is encouraged to share. We share prayer requests, concerns, how God is speaking to us, and sometimes choose a song to sing together. We really do feel like a family!
Being a small congregation presents challenges, but it also provides the opportunity of being able to know each other pretty well. We have a weekly women’s Bible study and a monthly men’s breakfast which are both open to anyone from Frederick or beyond.
The Bertolet meetinghouse
Twice a year we partner with several other small Mennonite congregations for a joint service and picnic in the summer and a rotating Thanksgiving service. Frederick also hosts two hymn sings in the old Bertolet Meetinghouse in June and October. For many years there has been a nursery school in our church building that runs during the school year. This has provided some connections to the local community.
Our location does not help us in our desire to be more connected to the community, since we are not on a main road nor centrally located. However, we are on the same road used to get to the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, so we do get a lot of traffic for a few days in August. We open our church building for interaction, prayer, cold water, and bathrooms during the festival.
Perhaps the biggest recent change for our congregation has been having a “roommate.” Through a God-led encounter, we connected with a small Assemblies of God congregation (“Ignite”) that needed to relocate its meeting place. From that encounter, we now have two congregations using the same building at different times. Frederick uses the building first, then Ignite follows. Both of us overlap in the lobby between services and we have been known to even sneak in on each other’s services. The shared space has worked well and we are grateful that our church building is being used more regularly.
We love what Jesus has done for us and want others to know Him too! The pandemic has changed worship patterns, and we’ve seen many views of Grant’s sermons on Facebook. Only time will tell if any of those watching from home choose to unite with local congregations. We’d love to see new faces.
Frederick Mennonite is like a gem: small but precious, hidden until you can see the inner beauty. Come visit us – if you can find us! (526 Colonial Rd, Frederick, PA 19435)