This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Pennsylvania congregations build bridges

Photo: Pastor Dawn Ranck Hower (left) preaches a sermon, “Tearing down the dividing walls,” while Wanda Coleman (right) translates at the annual joint service of Iglesia Menonita de New Holland Jesucristo es el Señor on Sunday, Oct. 4. 

“Tearing down the dividing walls” was the theme for the annual joint service of New Holland (Pa.) Mennonite Church and Iglesia Menonita de New Holland (Pa.) Jesucristo es el Señor on Sunday, Oct. 4.

The service began with music in both Spanish and English led by a combined praise team. Members from both churches participated in bilingual calls to worship and prayers.

Dawn Ranck Hower, pastor of New Holland Mennonite, spoke about how the New Holland community came together for a time of celebration and fun during the recent farmer’s fair and parade, and noted the ways that even in the midst of cooperation, there is much that can separate people. Using a passage from Ephesians 2, Ranck Hower encouraged both churches to use Paul’s words as a call to find true peace and reconciliation through Jesus.

“The text is ultimately a call for the church to be church; to be family; to be a place of reconciliation; to be a place where walls are torn down and open and honest and real relationships are formed; to be a place where Jesus is central and at the heart of all we do; and to be a place where our perceived enemies–those who are different than us–are welcomed as family,” she said.

The service concluded with taking communion together and sharing prayer requests as a way to demonstrate the churches united as one family. Following the service, a joint lunch was served where ham loaf sat next to empanadas. Members from both churches enjoyed a time of fellowship together.

This combined service celebrates the relationship between the two churches and their continued work together to bring the message of God’s love to the community.

The churches, along with Groffdale Mennonite Church in Leola, Pa., have combined youth programs and work together in local outreach. More information about New Holland Mennonite Church can be found at and Iglesia Menonita de New Holland by calling 717-355-2082.

Anabaptist World

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