Opening worship emphasizes unity

By Meg Short

KANSAS CITY, Missouri. (Mennonite Church USA) — This year’s opening worship, a combined service for youth and adult attendees, focused on drawing all together in Christ. Worshipers were encouraged to celebrate the fact that God is doing something great in the midst of God’s people.

The theme for the event was “Come Together on the Way.” Glen Guyton, chief operating officer of Mennonite Church USA, opened the service with prayer. He invited Erica Littlewolf, program administrator for the Mennonite Central Committee Indigenous Visions Center, to the stage to recognize the long list of indigenous peoples who used to occupy this area. In honor of those who continue to suffer from 500 years of mistreatment, Littlewolf read a poem by Simon Ortíz, Native American writer, entitled “Mid-America Prayer.”

Michelle Armster, director for Mennonite Central Committee Central States, spoke on Luke 1:1-24:3 and challenged the audience to reflect on the stories of those who have been oppressed, both in the Bible and recently, because they “remind us that the Jesus movement is costly.”

Michelle Armster addresses youth and adult during combined worship, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Kansas City, Missouri.
Michelle Armster addresses youth and adult during combined worship, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Kansas City, Missouri.

“There are challenging parables [in Luke] and perplexing teachings of Jesus and the religious, political, and economic institutions,” Armster said. “Those institutions wanted to keep people out, and only some in, to keep people poor, and only a few rich. And Jesus was confronting [the institutions] and demanding transformation for all people,” she said.

Armster discussed biblical women who are oft overlooked but actively participated in the ministry of Jesus. In Luke 10, Mary and Martha “boldly testified and joyfully preached the gospel.” Armster also said that stories of courageous women whose lives ended in horrific death in ‘Martyrs Mirror’ should remind us that we must help give a voice to those that society, or even the church, are trying to silence.

“We must speak up! We can no longer be the quiet in the land where a young man can walk into a church and murder at a Bible study,” she said, referencing the events earlier this month in Charleston, South Carolina. “The Jesus movement is not for the comfortable, or the satisfied, or the insiders. May we, like Mary and Martha, be bold for Christ once again.”

At the closing of the service, Nancy Kauffmann and Terry Shue of the Mennonite Church USA Leadership Development team invited all those in pastoral ministry to come forward and receive prayer.

Adult worship will be held from 8-9:15 a.m. each morning, while youth worship will occur at 10:45 a.m.-12 pm each day. Youth evening worship is from 7:15-8:45 p.m. All worship services occur in Exhibit Hall A. Worship service videos will be posted the following morning and will be available to view online for approximately 24 hours.


Image available:

Michelle Armster addresses youth and adult during combined worship on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Meg Short)


Official comments policy for users of Mennonite Church USA’s websites and other social networking tools. We reserve the right to remove any comment that violates this policy.

  • The purpose of comments is to engage in constructive dialogue.
  • Please provide your own full name.
  • Be respectful. If you’re offering criticism, focus on others’ ideas — not their motives, person, character or faith. Consider the log in your own eye before pressing ‘Enter.’

Comments are moderated. Comments with any content that is deemed obscene, libelous, defamatory or hateful toward an individual or group will not be approved. Comments will remain open for 10 days.

5 thoughts on “Opening worship emphasizes unity

  1. I am an ex-Mennonite. I am glad that I have found Jesus but not in the Mennonite church. It is funny how the Mennonites talk about unity and racism in Charleston, SC. I live in SC now and this has been a troubling issue. To some it may be about racism and hatred, to the rest of us, it is a uniting experience for ALL CHIRSTIANS regardless of race. My state of over 4 million people does not have a single Mennonite USA church. Where are the Mennonites? Oh ya, discussing unity and peace in other places but ignoring the Great Commission that Jesus set for us. Troubling times for the Mennonite Church!! Where is your faith? Where is your committment to God? That’s right, in peace, and love and harmony. I will keep my faith in God. You as a church can continue to keep your faith in peace and unity. If the church keeps continuing down this path, more and more people will leave and more and more churches will continue to shut their doors. I will continue to pray for Mennonites and HOPE they find GOD before it is too late!

      1. The statement was serious. You as Mennonites think the Charleston incident is about racism. The incident was done by a racist but it does not make it about racism. You Mennonites need to stop watching the regular media and seeing what is really happening down here. God’s love is being demonstrated in ways that you can only imagine. God is truly alive! Churches of different races and different denominations are coming together to worship together and heal together. Of course Mennonites wouldn’t recognize this, since you’re too busy talking about racism and not reaching out to the people of my state. God’s not dead but alive in SC!

  2. I’m serious. The 4th largest city in the U.S. has 1 English speaking Anabaptist congregation. Why?

Comments are closed.