Howard Miller has served as Pastor at Waynesboro (Virginia) Mennonite Church for 11 years. He served as the founding chair for the Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry and has served on the area Mental Health Task Force and the Community Health Forum. He loves to fly fish, bird watch and read.
Photo: Worship at Waynesboro Mennonite Church. Photo provided.
Waynesboro, Virginia is a small town of 30,000 in the Shenandoah Valley, nestled against the Blue Ridge mountain range. A couple of miles outside of town is the connecting entry point for Skyline Drive heading 109 miles north, and the Blue Ridge Parkway stretching 469 miles to the south.
Within the amazing beauty of this place is found all of the brokenness and pain of humanity.
Waynesboro Mennonite Church was founded in 1981 to begin a ministry with city residents who would not drive into the countryside to attend a church. From the beginning, there was a strong mission identity. The result has been a community-based congregation formed from many denominational backgrounds.
There are several ways WMC has been partnering with God’s redemptive mission in the world.
We have been learning to become growing and maturing disciples who are raising up new disciples. This renewed discipleship has included a strong sense of determination to be a blessing in and with our community.
Celebrate Recovery meets weekly to walk with persons struggling with addictions, hurts and habits. The 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous are used, but with a clear understanding that our “Higher Power” is Jesus Christ. Over the years we have had over 300 participants from the community. Several persons are now members of WMC, including our Celebrate Recovery leader.
There have also been numerous persons who have found new freedom in their lives. Recently a prayer ministry was launched with the specific task of praying for this ministry, knowing that our leaders and participants are in great need of spiritual strength.
Every six to eight weeks, we have a group that prepares a meal for Disciple’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen in the area. The board chair of Disciple’s Kitchen is a faithful member of WMC. Our participation in this ministry keeps us in touch with some of the needs of the community.
One week a year we host the local homeless shelter, Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM). We are one of a group of 20 churches who provide shelter during the colder months. Cots are set up in our fellowship hall for the week, and our congregation, along with Greenmonte Fellowship, provides a hot dinner, breakfast and overnight supervision. Around 50 volunteers are needed for the week.
This past year, we began a Kid’s Club for our community children. An evening of high energy games and Bible stories are shared with 20 to 30 children each week. Our volunteers are highly committed and sometimes stretched out of their comfort zones. Slowly, relationships are being fostered with parents in the community.
We desire to show the community a church that loves God and neighbor, breaking down barriers that divide and separate people.
We believe these small expressions are speaking to the power of Jesus’ kingdom reign. As God’s people, we are growing in our understanding of God’s loving invitation to all people and are seeking to give expression to that love in our lives.
Our worship draws us into closer relationship to God. Our belonging together as brothers and sisters in Christ give us ample opportunity to practice forgiveness, encouragement and service. Being sent into the world gives us the opportunity to practice loving the unlovely and to demonstrate God’s mercy and kindness.