Community Ministry – Community by Reynold Friesen

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

A movement started happening while I lived in the Niagara region at the turn of the century.  Small, independent wineries started popping up.  In the face of the large wineries, these smaller, often family run businesses have continued to flourish.  The same movement is seen with micro-breweries popping up all over.

The range of community ministry programs have also provided fertile ground for “micro-communities”.  Small bands of people that coalesce around some commonality.  The Alpha Bible study following our Winnipeg Harvest food bank is one example.  It’s small, and members come and go but it has enabled significant relationships and connections to develop.  Another example is our coffee time prior to Winnipeg Harvest.  Some guests wait for hours and have become good friends, exchanging phone numbers and expressing concern when someone has not shown up for a while.  Even on a smaller scale, the micro-communities built between a student and grandparent in our Harrow School Reading program is something to behold.  At first the children are shy but soon smile and hug their reading mentors as they bound into church.

Mennonites talk a lot about community, especially when it comes to the church.  One of the important roles Community Ministry plays is creating community where there was none.  Making connections, bridging differences, finding people to support one another, is a main task of what we do.  Encouraging communities or one-on-one relationships is how we turn our peace theology into practice.  May we continue not just to be a community but to seek to create new micro-communities where people feel connected to something larger than themselves; places to experience meaning, friendship, caring and support.