By Pastor Paul Johnson and Barb Eichelberger, Outreach Chair, Mountain Community Mennonite Church

One of our historic Mennonite traditions is to be “Spirit lead” followers of the Way of Jesus.  Another historic tradition we all share is careful stewardship.  The congregation at Mountain Community Mennonite Church takes these Scriptural traditions seriously. Three decades ago, friends from across four states came to Palmer Lake, Colorado to raise a worship center. Our church was able to save half the cost of a new church from this volunteer labor donated by members, community and those travelling from far away.  Our church was born in gratitude from the grace of others.  We were able to pay off our mortgage years earlier than planned due to these kindnesses. As we began a three year renewal process two years ago, we decided to be stewards of Gods abundance in new ways.

Last year, church leadership began to remember with thankfulness the gift our building has been. We came to understand it is truly God’s House-we are not the owners.  We realized even as a small congregation, that we were called by the Spirit to begin to give back.

The congregation took the call seriously. We opened up our little used fellowship hall and Sunday school classrooms to anyone in the community who needed meeting space.  The local arts group was first.  They began monthly meetings there, and soon we had glorious art shows opening in the sanctuary on days not used for worship.  The art remained during the Sunday service to inspire our worship, generally for two weeks.  Next came Mountain Community Senior Services- offering free volunteer transportation to anyone over 62 needing a ride to doctor’s appointments, shopping or pharmacy pickup. They decided to open an office down the hall from the Pastors office.  For a small rental fee, our church offered telephone, internet and insurance coverage in addition to office space and meeting areas.

Then came something unexpected.  A large church in the community had no permanent building; they were meeting in a large rented auditorium.  Mountain Community invited them to use our facility to teach Spanish/English classes for a quarter.  A short while later, they asked for the use of our kitchen and eating area to cook and serve a Columbian take out dinner fundraiser supporting their missionaries going to South America.  Both events were a huge success.  This new church partner then asked to use our building for a youth meeting every Wednesday evening.  For a small fee to cover cleaning expenses, the youth group began meeting, and has grown from 12 to 40.  It is a true “Loaves and Fishes” miracle.  They now have a youth praise band performing in the sanctuary each week.

How did all this happen?  Not by luck.  It happened when our small congregation decided they might not be able to be all things to everyone.  But we had a gift-the gift of a building waiting to be used more than once a week for two hours.  It happened when we paid attention to the Spirit calling, and decided to take the risk to open our doors to something new.  Has it been easy? Not always.  There have been growing pains, and there have been tensions. But it is a good tension when something different begins changing the way we see life.  God works that way sometimes.

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