June 17, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session


Jesus Teaches about Justice
Matthew 15:1-9

Read this article as a Word Document

Traditions, rituals, and customs are not essential to how I live out my faith and devotion to Christ Jesus. But when I came to share and dwell among the Mennonites, the energy was charged, and we were all changed. I believe something better came from each of us.

I came to First Mennonite Church (FMC) of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2012. The congregation was traditionally and predominantly white, and I was definitely and obviously black. Our cultures came to the precipice of our demonstration and expression of faith. I came as a seminarian to a congregation that intentionally opened itself to journey with those being trained to serve the kingdom of God.

I bumbled and fumbled my way through the practices and procedures of collaborating and discerning. I shook and shocked the congregation with unscripted prayers and extemporaneous expressions of faith. I was welcomed and warned. I was not adhering to certain practices, and it discomforted some people. Others were energized and joined in the experiences I introduced. The thing I most remember and respect is Ryan telling me that my faith would not be restrained by the limitations of his experience or the traditions of congregation. Ryan gave footing to my exploration of First Mennonite’s history, practice, and possibilities.

Erv Boschmann, a congregational leader, pulled me aside and told me I was a holy conduit “bringing people together in unexpected yet holy ways.” He encouraged me to fly into sharing myself and opening myself. As a congregation, we bumped and collided as we journeyed together but they embraced me even when they didn’t understand me. I learned to enjoy God in diverse ways that I doubt I would have experienced if not for the people of FMC: how to discern and plan worship services, collaborate in leadership, and listen to four-part harmony.

The team that led and supported my journey at FMC deepened my faith in substantial ways. I engaged in Mennonite USA experiences and introduced FMC to the community I love in the same region of their church but just beyond their familiarity.

My way of knowing and serving God is steeped in a culture that believes we serve the living God, so our living must bear witness to God in practical and purposeful ways. We celebrated Pentecost by bringing gifts for the Damien Center, Indiana's oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization and leader in HIV prevention and care. Our gifts were what the Damien Center needed most at the time: toilet paper and powdered milk. Remembering the marginalized of our community, we refused to opt out of outreach and mission because we had given to God at FMC. No corban for us (Mark 7:9-13).

We expanded our faith practices and engaged deeper in living the call of God. Our lips expressed the faith in our hearts. We experienced God in wild and wonderful unexpected ways as we developed relationships of love and grace.

—Kelly Bates Oglesby, kellyoglesby@gmail.com

© 2018

Kelly Bates Oglesby of Indianapolis, Indiana, is our ABS Online writer for Justice in the New Testament, our Summer 2018 study. She is joyfully married to Herman Oglesby. Kelly enjoys writing and teaching. She is discerning opportunities for pastoral ministry.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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