November 1, 2020

Salt & Light Online

A current connection to each week's session


The Love of Your Life
Deuteronomy 5:6-10, 6:4-9

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“Recite Them to Your Children”

In this study we see Moses concerned with remembering, creating mnemonics, so that future generations would be taught to love God and know God’s word.

In a search for metaphorical mezuzahs, I found a recent Zoom webinar, “Girls and Women Planting Peace Churches in Brooklyn.” The title reveals the inclusion of young people, and the webinar format was even more boldly inclusive of young leaders. Sylvia Shirk moderated the webinar, but for the opening words, closing benediction, and several stories in between, she passed the mic to 12-year-old Brooklyn church leader, Chloe Storbakken. The webinar offers stories of women planting churches in New York City, starting in the 17th century. One of the Mennonite church buildings previously served as a synagogue, so perhaps a real mezuzah is still on the doorposts of the entrance. I was struck by the formative memory shared by Ruth Wenger, who has pastored North Bronx Mennonite Church for 20 years. Wenger recalled:

I grew up on a farm in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, in a conservative Mennonite church, a large church, with lots of family around. I have lived in New York City for almost (a few months short of) 50 years. So this is my home, this is my identity, but I carry my roots with me. My leadership roots actually began in church. I loved singing, and I loved reciting poems. Every Christmas and Easter, all the children would go to the front and recite a poem, starting at about age 4, and I loved that. I thought it was so cool. I started teaching Sunday school to my peers when I was about 15, so that was my first venture into that kind of leadership. I grew up with no role models among women for doing pastoral leadership, but they did a lot of pastoral ministry as women, and many of them were strong, articulate people. Many of them were my relatives whom I really admired. I never had an inkling that I would be a pastor, because women weren’t allowed to be pastors in my congregation, in my conference. That was the very beginning of where I am now, and I’m grateful for that.

  • How did the faith ancestors in your current geographical location write the words on the doorposts?
  • How did faith ancestors in your family of origin recite the words to you or encourage you to recite them as a child?

1. “Girls and Women Planting Peace Churches in Brooklyn,” Mennonite Mission Network, September 30, 2020.

—Gwen Groff, bethanym@vermontel.net

© 2020

Resources for this session

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Gwen Groff is pastor of Bethany Mennonite Church in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. She lives in Plymouth, Vermont, with her husband and intermittently with her adult children.

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