Pastor Douglas J. Zehr & Pastor Miriam R. Zehr
Doug and Miriam enjoy serving together in ministry and are delighted to be the pastoral team at Oak Grove MC. They have plenty of pastoral experience having shared ministry in three communities over the past 35 years. They were co-pastors of Brussels Mennonite Fellowship (1986-90); pastoral team members at North Leo Mennonite in Leo, IN (from 1995-2009); and have been at Oak Grove since 2009.
The Zehr team began their ministry at Oak Grove in May of 2009, Doug as lead minister and Miriam as associate minister with responsibilities for worship and education. Just recently, the Church Board offered a five-year extension which was accepted and will take the partnership until November of 2022.
Pastor Doug’s ministry has engaged five church communities since 1975. He was licensed for ministry in 1976 and ordained in 1983 by the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada. Doug is a graduate of Emmanuel Bible College (’78), Eastern Mennonite College (BA, ‘78), Conrad Grebel College (MTS ‘94), Ashland Theological Seminary (D.Min ‘06). He has served:
- Dungannon Christian Fellowship, Dungannon, Ontario (1975-77, 1980-1982)
- Brussels Mennonite Fellowship, Brussels, Ontario (1980-1990)
- Zion Mennonite Fellowship, Elmira, Ontario (1990-1994)
- North Leo Mennonite Church, Leo, Indiana (1994-2008)
- Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Smithville, Ohio (2009-present)
Pastor Miriam is a trained and experienced Secondary School teacher, serving at Western Mennonite School, Salem OR (1978-1980) and Rockway Mennonite Colligate, Kitchener, ONT (1991-1994), as well as numerous short-term assignments at various public schools in Ontario and Indiana.
Miriam is a 1978 graduate of Eastern Mennonite College (BS) and is currently a candidate to graduate in 2018 from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary with a Master’s degree. She was licensed for ministry in 2011 and ordained in 2013.
Pastor's BlogConfidence in the Lord Jesus Christ
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2017-09-06
Confidence in Jesus Christ
These are troubling times filled with uncertainty. Numerous issues stress us and preoccupy our minds. What do we focus on? Harvey recovery? Irma's advance? Immigration issues? Prospects of war with North Korea?
Often complicated by military conflicts there are flooding issues around the globe . . . Nigeria, South Sudan, China, and today the Caribbean to name just a few flooded communities.
I am reminded of personal times of stress as I hear news of the Kenyan Supreme Court nullifying the recent election results and wondering what that will mean for friends and colleagues across Kenya. It takes me back more than nine years . . .
Reflect: It was January 1, 2008, and the news from Kenya was disheartening. Following presidential elections, vicious tribal conflict led to more than 1000 deaths and 100,000 internal refugees. People were shocked that the political rivalries could lead to such violence in these times.
I sent a note to my friend, the principal of the Christian Bible Institute (CBI), the Rev. Timothy Gakunju, expressing my horror at the news emerging from the conflict and my sorrow for the turmoil and loss of life. I assured him of my prayers for his personal safety, as well as his family and the local body of believers at his church in Ruiru.
I suggested that the upcoming plan, as in previous years, to accept his invitation to join the staff for April sessions of the Bible Institue should be postponed until the situation calms down and sorts itself out. Depending on the developments, I might plan to join the August sessions.
I received an immediate response. Yes, he and his family were safe. And then there was a personal word for me. “Doug, you need to understand that here in Kenya our security is not in our circumstances, our confidence is in the Lord. We will expect to see you in April as we planned.”
I was truly challenged. Would it be foolish to travel? More than one person shared the sentiment that I would be crazy to travel to Kenya at this time. I knew the scriptures, like Jeremiah’s word, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (v.7). The promises of scripture seemed clear enough. But would I let God’s Word calm my fears and anxiety? Would God ask me to enter the country in such a time of uncertainty? Would I travel to Kenya at this juncture or would I pass? What would you do?
Read: Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (NIV)
Respond: Lord, sometimes the facts on the ground are overwhelming. Both brain and heart are agreed. May your Spirit reveal your way!
by DJZehr on 2017-08-30
Keep the Faith
by Pastor Doug on 2017-08-16
The past week started with tweets that taunted dangerous players on the world stage, the president continuing to play with fire. The week ended with racist taunting on the streets of America. I believe that there is a connection. And it continues to flow on.
What happened in Charlottesville, VA last weekend was evil. It was not “an egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
Hundreds of white men bearing torches and chanting and shouting slurs is racism clear and simple . . . It is religious extremism . . . and it is bigotry. It is a provocative effort on the part of very privileged folks to foment racism and hatred, and create violence.
It does not represent the America I know.
It is a cancerous growth which represents the absolute worst of who we are.
It certainly does not represent Jesus.
May God have mercy. May God have mercy.
Douglas J. Zehr, Pastor
Oak Grove Mennonite Church
Yes, This is Racism
by Guest on 2017-08-13
Today I share this important message written by John Pavlovitz:
As a writer and pastor, my job is to weave together words so that those words will hopefully reach people in their deepest places; to frame the experience of this life in a way that is somehow compelling or creative or interesting, causing them to engage with the world differently than before.
But there are times when to do this would be actually be a disservice to reality, when any clever wordplay would only soften the jagged, sickening truth; when clever turns of phrase might succeed in obscuring the horrid ugliness in front of us.
Sometimes we just need to say it without adornment or finessing.
What we’ve watched unfolding in Charlottesville, with hundreds of white people bearing torches and chanting about the value of white lives and shouting slurs, is not a “far Right” protest. When you move that far right, past humanity, past decency, past goodness—you’re something else.
You’re not a supremacist, you’re not a nationalist, and you’re not alt-Right.
This is racism.
This is domestic terrorism.
This is religious extremism.
This is bigotry.
It is blind hatred of the most vile kind.
It doesn’t represent America.
It doesn’t represent Jesus.
It doesn’t speak for the majority of white Americans.
It’s a cancerous, terrible, putrid sickness that represents the absolute worst of who we are.
No, naming it won’t change it, but naming it is necessary nonetheless. It’s necessary for us to say it—especially when the media won’t, when our elected leaders won’t, when our President won’t. It’s necessary to condemn it so that we do not become complicit in it.
This is our national History being forged in real-time, and to use words lacking clarity now would be to risk allowing the ugliness off the hook or to create ambiguity that excuses it. And yes, there are all sorts of other ways that racism and privilege live and thrive; ways that are far less obvious or brazen than tiki-torch wielding marches. There are systemic illnesses and structural defects and national blind spots that we need to speak to and keeping pushing back against, and we will. But in moments that are this clear, when the malignancy is so fully on display—we’d better have the guts to say it.
White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd of sweaty, dead-eyed, raw throated white men—are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children; those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. They need to be made accountable by those they deem their “own kind.” They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love.
Though all of us can eventually trace our lineage back to oneness, all carrying a varied blood in our veins—the surface level differences matter to these torch-bearers. They value white lives and white voices above anything else, and so we whose pigmentation matches theirs need to speak with unflinching clarity about this or we simply amen it.
So I’m saying it.
We are not with you, torch-bearers, in Charlottesville or anywhere.
We do no consent to this.
In fact we stand against you, alongside the very beautiful diversity that you fear.
We stand with people of every color and of all faiths, people of every orientation, nationality, and native tongue.
We are not going to have this. This is not the country we’ve built together and it will not become what you intend it to become.
Racism and terrorism will not win the day.
Singing a New Song
by DJ Zehr on 2017-01-14
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:3
Read: Psalm 40:1-11
Reflect: It was only a small church planting group, but all the members were residents of the close-knit rural community and were highly committed. Neighborhood connections facilitated many face-to-face relationships. One neighbor assisted another, whether it was a support group, field work, child care, children’s programming or community youth activities. The testimony of one community resident was: “I don’t know much about that church, but what I do know, is that if I went there, I would be welcome.”
With the writer of Psalm 40, our community was experiencing the missional work of life experience with intentionality. When the LORD does a work in one’s life, there is a “new song in my mouth” and “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” That work and its evidence with a “new song” have a missional purpose – establishing God’s community – a family of God in a biblical tradition. God is calling all people into community.
It took time to recognize, but as we “waited patiently” the LORD was “inclined to me (us) and heard my (our) prayer . . . drawing me (us) up . . . setting my (our) feet” on a solid footing (v.2). Being established with “a new song” illustrates the work of a missionary God, with a vision to gather and include those who have not heard, so that “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” It has been said, ‘it is not a matter of being a church with a mission, but serving a God whose mission has a church.’
Response: The work is Thine, O Christ our Lord, the cause for which we stand; And being Thine, 'twill overcome its foes on every hand.
Singing with Full Voice
by DJ Zehr on 2017-01-09
They numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb” – Revelation 5:11b&12a
Read: Revelation 5:11-14
Reflect: I was taken by surprise. As the family gathered to discuss the details of the funeral service, in unison the adult children declared, “Dad doesn’t want any singing! He didn’t like to sing.” As a relatively new pastor in this community, I was surprised to learn that the dearly loved deceased brother of this faith family, who had demonstrated such a cheerful, outgoing and caring spirit, had made such a request. While my immediate pastoral response was to honor the request, we talked about what the extended family and gathered community might need in a service of worship in which we are able to say our good byes and honor their dad’s life. I was able to eventually chide the family, “Your dad may be surprised since the insights that John shares in the Revelation indicate a lot of singing going on in heaven.”
John’s glimpse into heaven revealed “Then I looked, and heard the voices of many angels . . . myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,” (v.11-12). The scene continues, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, (v.13). John had already shared his first glimpse of heaven’s activity around the throne: “Day and night without ceasing they sing” (4:8) and “They sing a new song” (5:9).
We believed and agreed together that our departed loved one would be joining the heavenly crowd gathered around the throne. We just had to sing. Thanks be to God!
Respond: To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!