The goal of this project is to engage the church board in the spiritual discipline of compassionate service in order to transform their spiritual depth and sense of God’s presence. The discipline of service is a natural form of spiritual practice for Mennonite Christians. Service is ingrained in the Mennonite spiritual make-up. Motivation for this project arises from the sense that Mennonite Christians do not perceive themselves to be particularly spiritual people. Yet, their lives belie that belief. Service is one of the keys to spiritual transformation.
The church board members of Zion Mennonite Church were asked to participate in four differing service opportunities. They served a Thanksgiving meal, cleaned a house used to shelter the homeless, packed health kits for developing world countries, and visited Zion shut-ins. Before each service opportunity, they reflect on Scripture chosen to encourage meditation on service. Directly following their service opportunities, they were asked to reflect on the presence of God during the service.
The project appears to have been a great success. The board members responded to the pre-service Bible study with excellent reflections. Their post-service responses show that they experienced the presence of Christ in the service opportunities. Most prevalent was the theme that Jesus was present in the faces and actions of the volunteers as they worked together, building God’s kingdom hand-in-hand. There were challenges, such as the fears involved in helping people who are different than we are accustomed to, and the struggle to find time to serve. However, the responses were overwhelmingly positive, and the project will be shared with the broader Mennonite Church.
Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD
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Hess, Frederick H., "Spiritual Transformation through the Intentional Practice of Compassionate Service at Zion Mennonite Church" (2012). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 101.