This morning we visited the local Mennonite church. Don't worry, we got permission from our own leadership first. :-)
Why? We aren't going to leave our church. They believe the Bible, and we love all the folks there (especially the relatives). We've become familiar with some of the Mennonites in town, at the Pantry and the cake/book store. I chatted with a lady at an auction one day. The icing on the cake was the man who is going to put up our building is also Mennonite, and he pressed us to come visit. (I'm sure Dan at the Pantry, who is also the pastor, invited Bob as well, but I wasn't there so can't be sure.)
Why did we want to go? Behind the casual acquaintances is a bit of history. I'm not sure when I first became interested in the Mennonites... My favorite author as a child was (still is) Howard Pyle, who was a Quaker, and I loved (still do) to research... Follow my mind train here - I probably did some reading on these fringe denominations and had some early positive feelings built. Either way, when I was pregnant with Riah (Spring 2003) I began wearing a headcovering. I think this was brought on by personal Bible study; actually I'd read a blog or something about how the Bible did NOT demand women wear a covering, and the arguments just didn't hold water so I did more research. And when we started homeschooling Taryn I checked out zillions of curriculum options and landed on Rod and Staff - published by Mennonites in Kentucky. THEN we went to a homeschool conference where we chatted with a real live Mennonite at the Rod and Staff booth, and he gave us some teaching tapes from Charity Ministries, based in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Sooo, we've benefited a lot from the Mennonites; we appreciate their stance on many issues, and agree with several key doctrines.
Okay... We went to their church, Lighthouse something or other, and enjoyed it very much. There was a good crowd, including at least 4 visiting families. Families worshiped together (not separated by gender, as some do); there was a devotional, a song, and then we broke into small groups for Sunday School, then back together for 2 more songs and a sermon, parting comments, and one last song. It was over before noon. Our impressions: they sing BEAUTIFULLY, the girls liked the cape dresses, Sunday School was nice as all groups studied the same text, we felt welcome if out of uniform. At dismissal, everyone stood up and just started visiting with their neighbors, not even congregating in the aisle as we are used to. Several people came to us and chatted a while, and one young man informed us that it was his turn to host lunch and we were welcome to join (Bob declined).
Conclusion. If we could go there without missing our own church meetings, we would. I feel challenged to make more deliberate choices in my daily life. And I'm hopeful about future friendships within the community.