Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)
Located in the heart of Lancaster City, Pennsylvania, the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (CMCL) has been affiliated with Mennonite Church USA through the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1985. It began as a church-plant of about 40 members from the growing Akron Mennonite Church. The charter members desired to be an urban presence around these understandings:
Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, a peace church in the Anabaptist tradition, is a community of believers called to follow Christ.
- We believe the quality of our relationships with each other is a demonstration of our faith and belief in God.
- We believe the church is called to foster spiritual growth and use individual gifts through mutual care, teaching, and discipleship.
- We believe we are called to respond to human need on both global and local levels.
—CMCL Mission Statement
After 1984 fall planning meetings under the name “Lancaster Church Planting Fellowship,” CMCL began meeting in the Lancaster Opera Workshop. This colorful beginning led to the 1986 purchase of a vacant pink brick church building at 328 West Orange Street. The building had been used as the Theobald School of Ballet for 25 years. Phase I in 1986 renovated the lower daylight level for worship space and a 1987 dedication service. A 1990 Phase II completed the upstairs sanctuary of the meetinghouse. A 1999 three-story Christian Education wing provided for a bulging children’s program.
In 2010, CMCL was a congregation of over 400 with two worship services. In that same year, the diverse membership, with 70% college graduates, agreed to be collaborative in decision-making processes and committed to the inclusion and empowerment of each individual.
Newcomers have found their way into CMCL's midst from Unitarian Universalist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and non-church backgrounds. "Mennonite" no longer denoted only the ancestry of the Anabaptist Reformation movement. "Sitting with unexpected people in unexpected places" also described the creative worship which included all the arts along with jazz, classical, bluegrass, gospel, folk, Taizé chants and hymns. Former pastor Vernon Rempel observed that "the angel of CMCL is the arts." The challenge has been to include all preferences in CMCL’s worship and fluid seating arrangements. What has united all is the 2002 vision prayer which inspired the framework for the core values that appear in the weekly church bulletin (see website).
CMCL has practiced its name – community – in numerous ways. A Program Commission and a delegate Church Council support the ongoing vision and program of CMCL. Ministries in 2010 included Christian education, youth-mentoring and regular groups for 120 children; men’s and women’s gatherings and retreats; spiritual direction for individuals and groups; 19 small groups; events for creative artists, musicians and writers and the 2009 Parrot Gallery debut; Witness for Peace youth delegations and service projects; a Mom’s group; annual church retreat; a prayer shawl knitting group; Peace School; the Welcoming Dialogue group and Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender (LBGT) monthly pot-luck; Dinner Out for the homeless; a pre-school Mornings on Orange Street (MOOS) program for neighborhood elementary students; Bridge of Hope mentor program; refugee family support and advocacy for an emerging dental clinic.
Over the years, the church building has housed other programs as well: Lancaster Mediation Training, a music studio, Circle Legacy Organization (a Native American group), Narcotics Anonymous, Lancaster Lambda (an alcoholic’s anonymous group), Music for Everyone and various congregations and special needs programs.
CMCL’s Holy Spirit symbol is a unique piece of the church. The colorful wooden parrot flits from place to place in the worship space. Like the parrot, CMCL is raucous, boldly-hued and on the move – a congregation ever attentive.
Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. "2009 Congregational Profile." Web. 11 March 2009. http://cmcl.pa.us.mennonite.net/:/MiscDocs/Profile09_0318.pdf
Nerney, Catherine and Hal Taussig. Re-imagining Life Together in America: A New Gospel of Community. Lanham, MD, 2002.
Miscellaneous church documents, programs, bulletins, anniversary documents and visitor booklets in Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster’s archives.
Address: 328 West Orange Street, Lancaster, PA 17603
Pastoral Leaders at Community Mennonite
|Vernon K. Rempel||1986-1996|
|Ron Adams (Interim)||1996-1997|
|Ann Showalter (Interim)||1999-2000|
Membership at Community Mennonite
|Author(s)||Mary Lou Weaver Houser|
Cite This Article
Houser, Mary Lou Weaver. "Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2010. Web. 20 Jan 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Community_Mennonite_Church_of_Lancaster_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=139959.
Houser, Mary Lou Weaver. (2010). Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 January 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Community_Mennonite_Church_of_Lancaster_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=139959.
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