This year Lancaster Mennonite Conference selected Jeremiah 29:4-14 as a focus Dwelling in the Word
text for the year. As we dwell in this text in staff and board meetings, I have grown in my conviction that
God has a specific word for LMC in this text. In verse 7, God's people are instructed to "seek the peace
and prosperity of the city" in which they found themselves. As exiles in a place far from home, God's
people were called to pray for and invest themselves in the well-being of their new neighbors.
So it is with the church today. In Acts 1:8, just prior to his ascension, Jesus made it abundantly clear that
the mission of his followers begins at home in Jerusalem. God intends for his people to be a Kingdom
presence in the local neighborhood, a presence that invites people into a relationship with Jesus.
I wonder if we have allowed the church to become an abstract construct of organizational imagination.
Perhaps we have forgotten that the church is a specific people located in a specific place and called to
represent the Kingdom of God in that place. A church that fails to do so is in need of renewal.
Can we recover a mindset that understands the church as a people called by God into redemptive
engagement of the local culture? As we live into a missional church vision, my prayer is that
congregations all across LMC will find ways to invest themselves in the spiritual and material needs of
their local community. As people of Christ's peace, we will always think local first!
L. Keith Weaver is moderator of Lancaster Conference. He is a member of Blainsport Mennonite Church in Reinholds, Pa.
Bhutanese Nepali Church-Lancaster (BNCL)
New Danville Mennonite Church
As a little girl, I remember being in the garden on July-warm Wisconsin days with my mother and
siblings. She worked bent over, plucking beans from verdant bushes and smooth pods from pea vines.
Deftly she tossed them into recycled ice cream buckets. I invested my energy in finding the fattest pea
pods, sliding them open like natural mini-Ziploc packages, and popping four or five plump peas into my
eager mouth. They were like candy.
Ten years ago my wife and I were part of a small missional community that sought to reach
out to our neighbors and friends. In 2004 we took invitations door-to-door to personally invite
people to a block party.
For many years, opening my own salon was a distant dream. It was something I thought about, but
always dismissed by saying “it’s not the right time.” At the end of 2013, seven years into my hair career,
working 40 hours a week behind the chair, loving my work and enjoying my clients, I was very content
with my life. I thought about doing more, about making my career into–dare I say, a ministry?
Barely tall enough to reach the pedals of the Allis Chalmers G, I slowly crept the tractor down the long
row. Behind me, Grandpa Phares Livengood whistled softly while spraying grapevines with a hand-held
wand. This special Saturday morning ritual was significant in my odyssey to manhood. I can still hear the
sounds of tractor, sprayer motor, and birds in my ears. The mysterious smells of the sprays we used to
battle Japanese beetles, chestnut weevils, and funguses whispered promises. The togetherness Grandpa
and I shared as we mixed fungicide and insecticide to follow the every-two-week schedules for fruit and
nut crops remains palpable. These sounds, smells, and sense of togetherness defined our relationship.
To some people, Church for the Needy (CFN) may sound like a strange name for a church. It sounded
strange to me the first time I heard it. But we all need our Savior Jesus, thus we are all needy. As Jesus
said, we first seek his kingdom and his righteousness and all the material and physical things that we
need will be given to us.