DISTRICT: Western PA
LOCATION: 115 Maple Grove Road, Belleville, Pa.
DATE OF FOUNDING: 1868
AVERAGE SUNDAY WORSHIP ATTENDANCE: 105
WORSHIP SERVICE: Sunday School – 9:30 a.m.; Worship Service – 10:30 a.m.
PASTOR: Alan Kauffman
Maple Grove Mennonite Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary in August of 2018. We were the first Mennonite Church in what we know as the Big Valley in north central Pennsylvania. While there were other Anabaptist groups, including Amish in the area long before 1868, we emerged from a progressive split from one of the Amish churches. There are currently many expressions of Anabaptist faith in the Big Valley, including three different Amish groups identified by the color of their buggies: yellow, black, and white. In many ways, our community mirrors Lancaster County but without all the tourists, traffic, and restaurants.
When we ask the community around our church who they think Maple Grove is, the answers we get depend on who you ask. There are still some who equate Mennonites with Amish. These people are somewhat surprised to learn that they are welcome to worship with us and can join our church. Visitors generally respond by saying they find the Maple Grove congregation warm and welcoming.
Maple Grove has developed a number of leaders and pastors over the decades. We identify and develop emerging leaders consistently and send them in various ways. Alan Kauffman, the current pastor, was raised and nurtured from within the congregation. He was later identified as having pastoral gifts and was first called to serve as pastor at Glade Mennonite church (also part of LMC) for 12 years before returning to Maple Grove in 2003. Because many leaders were identified, trained and called over the years at Maple Grove, we were one of the featured congregations in a video focused on internal leader development back in the 1990s. The Mennonite Church produced this video to highlight this “called from within” process and encourage other churches to do the same.
Maple Grove gives in a variety of ways, and we engage the community around us and beyond. We regularly offer our facilities and our van to people in the community. We participate in a number of mission efforts, including a local homeless shelter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Operation Christmas Child, MDS, Sewing Circle, MCC, Meals on Wheels, Vacation Bible School and more. When there is a need, we rally to meet the need as we are able. In 2015, Evan Yoder, a young adult in our congregation, was involved in a swimming accident, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. We were a major part of a larger community effort to raise money and to build him a state-of-the-art apartment attached to his family’s house.
We are in the middle of a five-year goal focus. In our first year, we focused on the Bible with our “Year of the Bible.” Currently, our focus is missions. We are considering the start of a “Parents Nite Out” program, which provides babysitting services for the parents in the congregation and the community in order to give couples time alone for a few hours. Yet to come will be a two-year focus on current congregational structure.