About Us

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What is Rochester Mennonite Fellowship?

Rochester Mennonite Fellowship is a gathering of people inspired by the Mennonite vision in Rochester, New York. Over two dozen households meet weekly for worship, and many of the adults are also members of small groups. We are a lay-led congregation, with no pastor. We are a member congregation of the New York Mennonite Conference which is itself a member conference of Mennonite Church USA.

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Can anyone visit?

mas_8806Yes! Everyone is welcome to come visit us any Sunday morning or any other time we are together for worship. It’s a good idea to look at our calendar or send us an e-mail to make sure our schedule hasn’t changed for a particular Sunday.

Members of the congregation have come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of us were born and grew up in Mennonite homes and communities. Some of us grew up in other faith traditions, or with no religious identity at all. We all have been drawn to the Anabaptist ideals of the Mennonite Church and the longstanding tradition of this congregation that the church is a welcoming and supportive family. We would love to talk with you about our faith journeys.

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What is the worship service like?

potluck-1080We have no pastor, so different people from the congregation lead our worship services. That means that from Sunday to Sunday the service will vary somewhat. However, most of our services follow a basic pattern. We are informal and flexible in our gatherings. Most visitors will find much that is familiar about how we worship.

We praise God in song and in words. We read the Bible. We share our stories so we can learn from each other. The younger children usually have a short time set aside for them. We pray, for ourselves and for the whole world, for the raining down of justice and of peace and an end to violence.

beavercamp-2016-1375The worship service typically lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. Afterward, during the school year—from September through June—we normally have an education hour. Children go to their Sunday School classes, while the adults usually choose between a Sunday School class of their own or an informal discussion time. Visitors are always welcome to stay.

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What are our core values?

potluck-1092Rochester Mennonite Fellowship is a Christian community whose core values include Reconciling, Affirming, Mutual participation, and Following Christ:

Reconciling

  • We restore right relationships: Between each other, between us and God, and between us and the rest of creation.
  • We work with and support those who work with the marginalized and oppressed for peace and reconciliation, locally and globally.

Affirming

  • We are a community of safety and welcome.
  • We recognize, embrace, and cultivate the gifts of each person in our community.

Mutual participation

  • We all share responsibility for, and actively participate in, the life of our community.
  • We build and sustain relationships, which involves caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of one another.

fallworkday-00163Following Christ

  • We are disciples of Jesus Christ and model our own lives and faith after his example and teachings.

In all these things Rochester Mennonite Fellowship affirms its connection with the Mennonite church and identifies with its values and traditions.

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What is the congregation’s mission?

We have a formal mission statement:

God calls us to be disciples of Jesus Christ, inviting others to join us. As a Christian community in the Anabaptist tradition we offer healing and hope to one another and to our world through worship and the practice of spiritual disciplines, by creating a supportive and welcoming community, and by offering a clear witness for Biblical peace. We seek to encourage one another to be faithful to God’s word, mission, and work in the world, as revealed though Jesus Christ, joyfully helping each other hear and heed our own calls to ministry.

Though we are a small congregation, we are committed to the way of peace, and contribute to several mission projects.

  • Kathy Kern is a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams and beavercamp-2016-1349has spent much time in the West Bank city of Hebron. She has also served in Haiti, Chiapas (Mexico), and central Africa.
  • In local outreach, we are supporting Partners in Restorative Initiatives (formerly the Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center) by lending space in our building.
  • We provide space for the work of Eileen Metzger in spiritual direction for those interested in deepening their spiritual life.

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What is the history of the group?

IMG_2494Rochester Mennonite Fellowship started in the mid-1970s when a group of believers in the Rochester area with past connections to the Mennonite Church started meeting informally in homes for prayer and study. We wanted to maintain and intensify those Mennonite connections with others of like mind.

The group began with no pastor or other staff. (Thus, we called ourselves a fellowship, rather than a church, to make clear we were not structured like the typical Christian congregation.) Over the years as we have grown we have continued our tradition of sharing leadership. We take seriously the idea that the church is a priesthood of believers, and have confidence that God has given us the gifts we need to be a faithful, thriving community. We believe we have been successful in providing appropriate leadership, worship, education, and administrative needs from among ourselves for this part of the body of Christ. At the same time, we are very grateful for the many and rich gifts given us by our friends, families, neighbors, and the larger church.

Nancy Retirement Party-0230Although our origins are in the house church tradition, a growth spurt in the early 1980s meant we could no longer fit comfortably in a living room or basement. In our quest for space to accommodate our increase in numbers, we have gathered for worship at YMCAs, the Harley School in Rochester, and the Friends’ meetinghouses in the city. A continued expansion in size led us to seriously consider the question of whether we could have our own church building. Moving forward in faith, we purchased land early in 2003 for a church. With many gifts and a grant from the JoinHands Mennonite Church Building Program, and much donation of labor, we constructed a modest building in a residential neighborhood in Rochester. We moved into our new home (pictured above) on Hillside Avenue in the Cobbs Hill neighborhood of the city in April, 2007.

DSC_0156With continued growth and energy, we decided we could support a voluntary service unit in Rochester. Our first group of volunteers arrived in late summer 2010 for a year of working in the area in various organizations and living in community under our guidance. With the downsizing of the national program, the program ended in 2016.

Who are the Mennonites?

Learn more about Mennonites here.

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