Left to right: Charles Marshall, Gerald Hughes and Annabelle Hughes converse after the anniversary celebration. All three are original members of the church.

By Zachary Headings
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

ELKHART, Indiana — When thinking of anniversaries to celebrate, one might not think of 63 as being a milestone number. But the congregation of Lee Heights Community Church doesn't care — they're committed to celebrating the anniversary of their church every single year.

Pastor Vikki Pruitte-Sorrells said that five years ago, the church decided to celebrate yearly the anniversary of LHCC's founding in 1956, to educate younger generations about the history of the church and its important role in the community.

LHCC's foundation has been built by believers who are excited and energized by Christ's word and work in this world, said Pruitte-Sorrells.

The church is focused on helping the next generations to follow Christ, said Vivian Brown, 91, an original member of the church. Brown goes to church every Sunday so that she can inspire the young people in the community to continue to be involved.

Even with declining membership, Brown feels hope for the future when she considers the church's large youth group. "They have their own outreach groups; they've traveled internationally," she said. "I am proud of their involvement."

Pruitte-Sorrells echoed Brown's excitement for the future of the church. "[We are] learning and looking forward to experiencing Jesus Christ in a very genuine manner. [My favorite thing about] being a part of a faith community such as Lee Heights is having the opportunity to experience faith without the boundaries of heavy ritualistic traditions."

Work in Progress leads worship

Work in Progress, an ensemble comprised of Mennonite Mission Network staff members Ann Jacobs, Lefuarn Harvey and Sandy Miller, led worship for the celebration on Sept. 29. Begun in 2006, Work in Progress has grown from a singing group into a worship leadership team focused on peace and social justice.

Church planters Helen and Vern Miller transferred leadership of the church plant to Lee Heights Community. Rather than move away, as was the practice at the time, they stayed in the area to continue being part of the church.

"This was a church plant that started out in the beginning with diversity," Sandy Miller said. "That's a little bit unique in that they're continuing to be very diverse."

Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, shared a message, "The Beauty of Church," from Ephesians 4:14. He encouraged the church to "think big" about what they can do for the community, and to not be limited by thinking about what they can do, but rather to think about what God can do.

"What's the next thing that needs to happen?" Guyton asked. "What are the needs [you] see in this community?"

As the church transitions into the next 63 years of its history, Pruitte-Sorrells said that LHCC's priorities are the same: "We are still focused on building the faith of believers of Jesus Christ, faith formation, and learning how to be peacemakers in a world that struggles to know peace."






​Zachary Headings is a marketing associate for Mennonite Mission Network.



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