Naun Cerrato’s roots are in Central America. He moved with his family to Elkhart in the 90s. Naun Graduated from Goshen College with a Bachelor of Science degree and completed his master’s at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2018.
It all started when a small group of people participated in some community events in Elkhart County. It was there that we noticed a need to start a new and fresh group that echoes the needs of our community. We noticed that Anabaptist Hispanics’ views were key in raising awareness to social issues, and we believed that Elkhart county would benefit from a fresh and new Anabaptist Hispanic Church that amplified the voices in marginalized communities. We hope to grow and to really make an impact in on our surroundings. We hope that Piedra Viva Mennonite Church will contribute to the conversation of social justice.
After some community and social meetings, a group of us decided not to ignore the impatience and excitement that was born in our hearts. When we heard testimonies from individuals looking to find a place of belonging, we were moved to act, and together answer the questions: What does it mean to follow Christ? How can we participate in God reconciliation?
Four Anabaptist families began to connect through social media and gather ideas and excitement about a vision that can bring many people together. One of the radical decisions that we made was to meet every Wednesday morning, from 5:00 to 5:30 a.m., to pray. We wanted to make sure we were serious and willing to commit to a shared vision. After a few meetings, we exchanged ideas over social media and decided that it was time to start a fresh and new Mennonite Hispanic church in Elkhart County. The church would be a community of belonging that would emphasize Jesus, reconciliation, peace and love for our neighbors and offer the community a church where they feel seen, but more than that, a congregation where everyone feels welcome.
One of the challenges we faced was finding a location to meet, since a house is very small and some of our families had children. However, this did not discourage us. Every day our small Mennonite Church is moved by compassion and we hope to grow and become a congregation of many. As Anabaptists, we at Piedra Viva to believe that Jesus is our center in this vision, where our members are not just numbers, but active parts of the body of Christ, discerning God’s will through the community of faith, where we can be witnesses of God’s reconciliation with the world.
One of the joys of this vision is that we are inspired by compassion towards people and love towards our neighbor.
The joy of being able to talk about reconciliation is just amazing. The joy creates an atmosphere of welcome for individuals who feel out of place in the community and want to belong.
As Anabaptist believers, we do not have the luxury to ignore the call. We want to offer a fresh congregation full of hope and passion for Christ and the community. We believe it is the Holy Spirit behind all this. As we planted this church, we expected commitment from all of us who shared this vision. We firmly believe that it is a call to attend to the needs of a group of people who are seeking belonging. And together we are no longer strangers or foreigners, but active members, happy to embrace peace, reconciled to God. Pray for us, as we are emerging.
We invite all to participate in our conversation about belonging. How we can learn new things as we continue in this work of planting a church?
This post is part of MC USA’s Peace Church Planting: Learn, Pray, Join initiative.
During the months of March and April, we invite you and your congregation to pray
- for MC USA church plants to grow
- for those who are sensing a call to church planting
- for active church planters
Consider what part you might play in Peace Church Planting:
- Sponsor a church planter to attend Sent 2019.
The Sent gathering is an important time for peace church planters from diverse communities to gather for worship, inspiration, resourcing, networking and empowerment. Scholarships to attend Sent 2019 are offered to planters on a case by case need for those who aren’t receiving compensation for working with a church. Unlike larger church plant networks who fund church planters, many Anabaptist church planters are bi-vocational and preparing for Sunday in addition to other jobs. Taking time off work to travel and participate in Sent may require taking a day without pay, in addition to expenses of travel and lodging.
- $65 will pay for one person’s registration
- Any amount helps contribute to the cost of a round-trip airline ticket
- $320 will pay for two nights of lodging, where conversation and networking happens in the “off-hours”
- Support church planting efforts in MC USA, with the goal of planting nine new MC USA congregations in 2019, through prayer and the ongoing Church Planting fund: mennoniteusa.org/give/churchplanting
- Are you being called to peace church planting? Find resources for church planters, learn more and consider attending the Sent Conference at Mennonitemission.net/ChurchPlanting.