Zambian choir leads outdoors seven congregation worship in Lancaster, Pa, USA

A choir from Zambia leads worship as Mennonites from Lancaster, Pa., city churches meet in Lancaster County Central Park for worship and a carry-in lunch.png

More than 400 people from seven Lancaster city churches gathered at Lancaster County Central Park Sept. 15 for a Sunday morning worship service.

A choir from Zambia led the outdoor church in worship.

Congregants told stories of how God is moving in their churches. People spoke of reaching out to their neighbors. One couple told how a Muslim family lived with them while they got established in the Lancaster area. Some described conquering fear. A woman spoke of God’s call on her life to be stretched.

The idea originated with Josef Berthold, pastor of West End Mennonite Fellowship, according to Brian Miller, lead pastor of Sunnyside Mennonite Church.

“Josef floated the idea for the service at a gathering of Lancas­ter District pastors,” Miller said.

During the children’s portion of the service, the children walked between members of the audience, who were seated on the hillside on blankets and lawn chairs. They carried signs that spread their message of peace.

“Coming together in worship and fellowship helps us to see ourselves as part of something bigger and more diverse than our own congregational stories,” Miller said.

About 10 years ago churches on the southern edge of Lancas­ter city had a combined service in the park for several years.

“We have changed as a district in the last 10 years,” Miller said. “I think coming together helps us to see who we are with new church plants among us, new people among us, and diverse gifts, and stories as congregations are continually changing.”

The seven churches in attendance were Laurel Street Mennonite Church, Sunnyside Mennonite Church, Rossmere Mennonite Church, West End Mennonite Fellowship, Mosaic, Connect and River’s Edge.

“It was great to see the beautiful diversity of the group as folks gathered in circles around the pavilion to eat together and get to know one another,” Miller said.