We are well-loved children of God. Sometimes we know that, and sometimes we don’t. When we know it, we are humbled and nourished and eager to love as God loves. When we don’t know it, we listen poorly, work too hard and strive to be better than we are.
We are Mennonites. We are members of Atlantic Coast Conference (locally), Mennonite Church USA (denominationally), and Mennonite World Conference (globally). Theologically, we are guided by Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.
We are about 135 people when we gather. But if everyone came on the same Sunday, we’d be more like 200.
We are over 75 years old. The church was founded near Dillerville Road on the north edge of Lancaster in 1934 as Dillerville Mission. As the group that met on Sunday afternoons grew, the Sunday School became North End Mennonite Church. In 1971 the church moved into its current building and in 1981 was renamed Blossom Hill Mennonite Church.
We are 70-some children, and most of them are under the age of 13! Our worship services are pretty noisy some of the time. We are committed to nurturing children in ways that honor their uniqueness, and challenge them to learn to know Jesus, and how to be part of a community.
We are single and married. Attention is given to the reality that many singles feel that churches are couple oriented. We try not to be couple oriented, but to welcome the participation and voices of all, regardless of marital status.
We are welcoming. We welcome the involvement of all persons who confess faith in Jesus Christ, are committed to a life of Christian discipleship, and desire membership in a Mennonite congregation. As a faith community committed to reconciliation, we welcome those who may have been excluded in the past because of race, age, economic background, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical ability.
We do many things during the week. We are teachers, business people, students, church agency workers, nurses, cooks, mid-wives, doctors, retirees, farmers, chaplains, maintenance workers, administrators, missionaries, chemists, stay-at-home Moms and Dads, computer gurus, librarians, and some other things.
We have lived in many places. Many members of the congregation have spent time living in other countries as missionaries or relief workers. A few others travel regularly in their work with church agencies. It is not unusual to hear directly from another part of the world on Sunday morning.
We built an addition onto and renovated our original building. We held our first service in the new sanctuary on September 16, 2007 and held a dedication service on December 9, 2007. The project was a leap of faith for us, but we sensed God’s leading many times in the process of discernment. We are happy to now be able to provide meeting space for a wide range of community groups.
We’re not afraid to admit it when our faith is weak, or our doubts feel bigger than what we are sure of. Faith questions are welcomed. We find that it actually takes more faith to not know for sure…and yet believe, hope, and depend on God.
We like to sing. Much of our singing is 4-part a cappella, but it is not unusual for there to be piano, guitar or drumming accompaniment. Musicians abound among us. Finding time to practice seems to be the biggest problem.
We like to eat together. On the 2nd Sunday of every month, we have a pot-luck (everyone bring something) meal together following our worship service.
We do not hear the same person preach every week. The lead pastor preaches only two Sundays a month, and so we hear other voices from the congregation regularly, as well as guest speakers from beyond our congregation.
We believe that God intended for all of humankind to live together in peace. And we believe that in order for that to happen, we must be committed to being peacemakers in the world. That means we take the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount seriously, so that loving our enemies becomes our goal rather than killing them, or even hating them. We are conscientious objectors to war. We make this commitment only because of God’s grace and mercy.
We feel responsible to care for God’s good earth. We try to live gently and simply on the earth. We made decisions while building our new space with the environment in mind. We strive to adjust our lifestyles according to this commitment.
We want to be a sign of God’s kingdom on earth. Being a healthy community matters to us. We pay attention to how we are getting along with each other. God’s kingdom is something you can see, and when God’s people are treating each other as we’re instructed to do in so many places in the Bible . . .God’s kingdom on earth is visible. We pray for the strength and wisdom to reflect God’s kingdom on earth.
Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church, with roots in the radical wing of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Part of the group known as Anabaptists (because they rebaptized adult believers), the Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century. Modern day Mennonites number almost 1 million worldwide, with churches in North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Mennonites are known for their emphasis on issues such as peace, justice, simplicity, community, service, and mutual aid.
In keeping with their spiritual roots, Mennonites still believe in the close textual readings of the Scriptures and a personal spiritual responsibility as the basis of their faith. Radical from the beginning, but later considered conservative in many of their beliefs, Mennonites have come
to represent a spectrum of backgrounds and beliefs. Pacifism is one of the cornerstones of the Mennonite faith, prompting many young Mennonites to elect service to the church rather than military service. The Mennonite church emphasizes service to others as an important way of expressing one’s faith. A disproportionately large number of Mennonites spend part of their lives working as missionaries or volunteers helping those in need, nationally or internationally, through agencies such as Mennonite Mission Network or Mennonite Central Committee.
The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. To escape persecution, many Mennonites fled western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas or Catherine the Great’s Russia, giving these two groups distinctly different cultural heritages. When the Russian Mennonites were eventually forced out of Russia in the last half of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, many migrated to the western states and provinces, where today there is a large Mennonite population. Many people in the older generation of this group continue to speak a low German dialect called “Plautdietsch” and eat traditional foods. Swiss German Mennonites migrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, settling first in Pennsylvania, then eventually across the Midwestern states. They too brought with them their own traditions, including hearty foods and the German language. Today large Mennonite populations can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas, although Mennonites live in all parts of the United States and the world.
The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600’s, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences. Unlike the Mennonites, they form an exclusive and tight-knit community, with the church dictating much of what may or may not be done: for example, each local church district would dictate rules regarding the use of telephones, if indeed they are permitted at all. While certain conservative branches of the Mennonite church still dress simply and require women to wear head coverings, Mennonites generally are not culturally separatist, choosing to embrace the larger communities outside of their church rather than forming a separate community around the church. Where the Amish believe in keeping themselves spiritually focused by limiting their interaction with modern society, Mennonites believe in practicing Jesus’ teaching of service to others in a broader context.
by Prof. John D. Roth
Our CovenantTrusting God, Following Jesus, Receiving the Spirit, we Nurture People and Change our World!
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for , the conviction of things not seen.” -Hebrews 11:1
We commit ourselves to love and trust God:
to provide for the journey
when we are sure; when we do not know; and when we disagree
for the future life of our community
“If any want to become my followers , let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it .” Mark 8:34-35
We commit ourselves to follow Jesus:
in the interpretation of scripture
by loving our enemies
by working for justice so there can be peace
by caring for the earth and its people
by living simply
Receiving the Spirit
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
We receive the Spirit:
by opening our minds and hearts to the Spirit’s transforming power
by being attentive and obedient to the Spirit’s movement and call
by hearing counsel from our brothers and sisters
We nurture people and change our world.
“Let love be genuine . . . love one another with mutual affection . . . extend hospitality to strangers . . . Bless those who persecute you . . . rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn . . . do not be proud. . .Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21It is through TRUSTING GOD, FOLLOWING JESUS, AND RECEIVING THE SPIRIT,
that WE NURTURE PEOPLE AND CHANGE OUR WORLD!
Affirmed April 9, 2006
Michelle Dula - Lead Pastor
Michelle Dula became lead pastor at Blossom Hill in April of 2015. Michelle holds a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education (Eastern Mennonite University), an M.A. in Reading Education (Millersville University of Pennsylvania), and an M.Div. (Lancaster Theological Seminary). Michelle has served as Associate Pastor at both Blossom Hill Mennonite Church and Akron Mennonite Church. She was also recently nominated to the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA. Michelle enjoys working in her garden, reading, traveling with her husband and two children, and entertaining in their home.
- (717) 569-5869
Mindy Nolt - Associate Pastor
Mindy Nolt became associate pastor at Blossom Hill in October of 2015. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with minors in TESOL; Spanish; Missions; and Justice, Peace & Conflict Studies(Eastern Mennonite University), a graduate diploma in Forced Migration & Refugee Studies (American University in Cairo, Egypt), and a Master of Divinity degree (Lancaster Theological Seminary). Mindy and her husband, Jared Hankee (MCC), have two adorable daughters: Willow (age 4) and Moselle (10 months). Together they enjoy music, sports,
camping, gardening and Lancaster city living. Mindy and Jared perform music together occasionally at local venues. She is a singer-songwriter and released an album, Movers and Lovers, in 2014.
- (717) 569-5869
Marsha Ruttkay - Office Administrator
Marsha Ruttkay is Blossom Hill’s Administrative Assistant, and has been working for the church since since 2015. She lives in Lancaster with her husband Lou and enjoys music, movies, exploring her roots, gardening, baking, bird watching and walking her dog, Ziggy.
- (717) 569-5869
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2014 marked the eightieth anniversary of Blossom Hill Mennonite Church! Throughout the year we marked this milestone in small ways, leading up to a celebratory Sunday morning worship service on November 9, focused on the story of our congregation.
“We are well-loved children of God.” So begins the description of who we are on our congregation’s web site (click “About Us” tab on the left). We chose this idea as a theme to build on for the November celebration. As we read and learned and relearned some of the stories of our history, we discovered that Blossom Hill has been a place for children—both those young in age and, more broadly, children of God. It has been a place of invitation and calling, a place of nurture and rest, and a place of challenge and inspiration. These themes continue to be important as you can see in our current covenant (click “Our Covenant” tab on the left).
We welcomed all the “children” to come home to Blossom Hill and help us celebrate our 80th anniversary. We were blessed by the presence of many who joined us for this celebration!
Audio files from the 80th anniversary year are available for listening. For those interested in hearing those who shared throughout the year, as well as the Sunday School hour and worship service in November, click on the links below.
1. History Moment: The 1930s (sharing on January 12, 2014 by Darvin Martin)
2. History Moment: The 1940s (sharing on February 9, 2014 by Darvin Martin and Sara Jane Wenger)
3. History Moment: The 1950s (sharing on March 9, 2014 by Steve Ness)
4. History Moment: The 1960s (sharing on April 13, 2014 by Darvin Martin and Geneva Rufenacht)
5. History Moment: The 1970s (sharing on May 11, 2014 by Steve Ness, Mamo and Mary Ellen Dula)
6. History Moment: The 1980s (sharing on June 8, 2014 by Daniel Ness)
7. History Moment: The 1990s, pt. 1 (sharing on July 13, 2014 by Arlan and Dori Preheim)
8. History Moment: The 1990s, pt. 2 (sharing on August 10, 2014 by Lin and Marla Hoober)
9. Anniversary Sunday School (sharing and reminiscing on November 9, 2014, moderated by Steve Ness)
10. Anniversary Worship Service (November 9, 2014; congregational worship, with guest speakers, Dorothy (Wissler) Zehr, David Miron, and Jane Hoober Peifer)