Surprise visit connects congregations
The idea of a mystery church visit had been percolating in my mind for several weeks. I had prayed about it, brainstormed about it, and knew it required action. I finally e-mailed pastor Jeff Blackburn about my crazy idea. Several days later I was overjoyed to get an enthusiastic response: “Miriam, this is an excellent idea! We’re on board!”
Our church was to have a “Surprise Outing”, the end destination being Greensburg Mennonite Church. We would join them for worship, enjoy fellowship around their monthly carry-in meal, then participate in a game, “How Well Do You Know Spring Valley Folks?” The vision for the event was to bring people together, have good fellowship, be inspired, and lift each other up.
Over the three Sundays prior to the event, congregants were invited to participate, learning only details necessary for planning. By Saturday night participation had jumped to 75% of the congregation! No one but the two planners from SV knew the final destination and similarly, Greensburg hosts were only told guests were coming but not from where.
Sunday morning, praise the Lord, all passenger pick ups happened as scheduled. James Wenger, our SCC Regional Conference Minister, also joined us. As we traveled, attendees were asked to discuss the scripture passages for the morning service. We were warmly greeted at the door and later incorporated into the worship service. Family and friendship connections were highlighted during sharing time. Pastor Blackburn innovatively included history from both congregations in his message. Tables loaded with delicious food awaited us in the fellowship hall afterwards. The group game gave us some laughs and helped us get to know each other better. Having lost most of the trees in town in 2007, a gift of acorns grown in Canton was presented to the people of GMC.
To God be the glory for inspiration and answered prayer that the “Surprise” came together and worked out.
Pictured Above: (1) Pastor David Norris, Pastor Jeffrey Blackburn, Miriam Huebert-Stauffer, planner, Sapphire Huebert-Stauffer, Jade Huebert-Stauffer, Russet Huebert-Stauffer, Chris Stauffer. (2) Greensburg participants giving panelists their attention. (3) “How Well Do You Know Spring Valley Folks?”