Kelly Bates Oglesby is grateful to share life with her husband, Herman. She is lead pastor of Parkview Mennonite Church in Kokomo, Indiana. Kelly is committed to cultural competence, reconciliation ministry and pastoral care.
Parkview Mennonite Church is comprised of a diverse array of people who trod different special paths to become part of this community. The congregation is rich in love for God and seeks to extend abundant hospitality. Howard-Miami Mennonite Church planted our congregation as an intentional urban outreach.
Since 1945 Parkview has been committed to living out faith as a Mennonite congregation.
Presently, there is fervent prayer and faithful witness to expand our outreach in the community, Mennonite Church USA and the broader kingdom of God.
As we balance our enthusiasm for growth and commitment with sacred consistency, there are increases in anxiety. Gathering for Sunday morning worship there are divergent preferences for worship styles. Shall we sing traditional hymns or contemporary selections? How do we incorporate the young children into a congregation that is not accustomed to the authentic needs of children to engage in worship and the increased movement and noise these children gift to the service? How can we introduce new music without overuse of technology? Then there is the pastor, me, I have brought dynamic changes in bible translations, use of my ever-present phone, and my prophetic call to reach out and to expect God to move in wildly mysterious ways.
Parkview is experiencing growth within the congregation and growing in the ways we relate to the community.
The Holy Spirit keeps us balanced as we are becoming, it does not yet appear what we shall be in the end. Parkview is becoming spiritually active in new ways and reviving some of the foundational characteristics that defined the origin of Parkview. One of the greatest instruments to keep our balance and chart our growth is the Purposeful Plan, we embrace and integrate the priorities into our visioning, teaching, and witnessing. We have found these priorities are able to help us live out our faith from a Mennonite perspective. This is especially true since our congregation has former Beachy Amish Mennonites, cradle Mennonites, grafted Mennonites, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Christian converts that now connect together for worship and fellowship.
Our congregation is diverse in many ways.
We have rural folk still farming, former manufacturing laborers that saw their community diminish as jobs ceased, we have small-town people struggling to survive in an area hit hard economically and now awash with the social struggles that accompany poverty. Many of our older members reach out to the children and youth of our community realizing the ones they serve faithfully will not join them in worship services. We have homeless people in our congregation as well as those with health limitations – both cognitive and physical. We gather in full awareness that in our presence there are those identifying as homosexuals, those struggling to reconcile their deep and long held faith perspective that holds homosexuality is not acceptable. After accepting my position of lead pastor, the congregation began to absorb the lived experience of racial minorities in this congregation, Mennonite Church USA and this nation. Parkview embraces all who come and we hold fiercely the commitment to extend Christian love and hospitality. There is strong commitment to support the work of Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Church USA even as we serve and witness in our local context.
Yet, the fortitude of Parkview is sustained by our commitment to Christ, congregation, and community.
There is a palpable love and effusive hospitality in the congregation of Parkview. The beautiful people of Parkview are a genuine reflection of Christ in the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, in middle America. As America and even Mennonite Church USA struggles to respond to the present social and political upheavals of gender equality, racial injustice, economic disparity and health care crisis, Parkview has resolved to live out the commands of Christ. We seek to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It is not easy to stay together. We bring preferences and past experiences to bear on our current faith experience. However, we have committed ourselves to centering and grounding ourselves in Christ, communing beyond and despite our preferences, and past or present experiences, so that we might live out the purposes of God.
We understand God has called people who are not culturally similar into covenant relationship in order to create a community that is bound together by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, and finds greatest commonality in faith in Christ.
It is this understanding that allows Parkview to yield to the Holy Spirit and form our collective identity: as Christians living our faith through a Mennonite perspective.