There is a unique kind of bonding that happens when people work shoulder-to-shoulder together on a project. The leadership team of Doylestown (PA) Mennonite Church identified the value of this important bond in the sweat, dirt, and hands-on nature of service projects as something they thought would not only help their surrounding community, but also enhance congregational relationships.
In late 2019, the pastors and ministry leadership team of Doylestown discerned that congregational life would be strengthened by designating regular times of serving together beyond the church walls. The relational connection that was built in service is special and distinct from the bonding that happens during Sunday morning worship and sharing. It’s not necessarily better, but it is different.
To be intentional about creating service opportunities, our congregation set aside the fifth Sundays of the months as “Days of Service.” We would worship through working together.
Even through the pandemic, we still served and worked together at places like Pinebrook Retreat Center in Stroudsburg, PA, The Simple Way in Philadelphia, Ripple Community in Allentown, PA, A Woman’s Place in Doylestown, PA and at a few of our congregant’s homes.
We have seen our relationships enhanced as we laughed, used our muscles, and faced rain, snow, and extreme heat in our adventures together. Friendships across the generations have been forged and deepened as teenagers have worked alongside octogenarians. Brand new relationships have begun as we engaged with people beyond our church walls.
“Brand new relationships have begun as we engaged with people beyond our church walls. “
Fifth Sunday Day of Service has not always been easy, but it harkens back to a time when Mennonite barn raisings were a significant part of our culture. The sense of community and accomplishment, the unity of purpose and gratitude for each other’s presence and contribution—these are values that we have always held but now experience more deeply. We are thankful for what we are learning and experiencing together as we join shoulder-to-shoulder in work that blesses others and shapes us.