CHICAGO (Mennonite Mission Network) — As representatives of the kingdom of God in union with the Lord Jesus, our congregations must become more unified across an area. I suggest this manifested unity is like that which draws from historical traditions of church folk or groups coming together from near and far to help one another with the building or strengthening of houses and security for families, as well as the planting and harvesting of crops.
Our current impact for peace, justice and diminution of violence through could be greatly enhanced by a united showing of love for neighbors in and around congregations while sowing seeds for salvation and shalom. In order to show love for neighbors, as the Lord instructed in the story of the Good Samaritan, we must give time and energy from our own legitimate interests to address the needs of other individuals, congregations and neighborhoods. The Lord sent disciples in pairs to deliver, heal, and spread the good news of the kingdom, bringing joy-filled results and victory over satanic forces, according to Luke 10:1-19. Can anyone deny that violence is the work of satanic forces?
I suggest designating at least two willing representatives from each congregation in a particular urban—or geographic—area to meet monthly at a different congregation on a rotating basis. Coming together with intentionality about praying, working and evangelizing jointly could help us reach our potential to have an impact on our community and grow in our diminution of violence.
In Chicago, pastors are praying together through ministerial alliances like the Pastors of Englewood Inc. and West Side Ministerial Alliance or groups like Chicago Area Mennonite Pastors, but much of our activity is reactive rather than proactive. However, these groups and organizations like Chicago Opportunity for Peace in Action offer potential for planting these seeds.
Imagine what could be accomplished if two “ambassadors of reconciliation” from each congregation in the Chicago area came together at one designated congregation on the first Saturday of each month to work in teams around that congregation for prayer, community edifying projects and evangelization efforts. Then consider how area-wide fellowship and mutual appreciation could be enhanced while sharing a Saturday meal and the next day sharing in a communion worship experience by the teams with that congregation.
Barbara Elaine Bryant is assistant minister at Englewood Mennonite Church, Chicago.