Sunday School: 9:15AM
Worship: 10:30AM
7843 Smucker Rd, Smithville, OH 44677
330.669.2697
Douglas J. Zehr, Pastor
Miriam R. Zehr, Associate

Pastors Doug & Miriam Zehr

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 a 2018 graduate of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary with a Master’s in Christian Formation. She was licensed for ministry in 2011 and ordained in 2013.

pastor Douglas j zehr

Pastor's Blog

Revised OG Guidelines for COVID-19
by Church Board on 2021-05-28

Revised Oak Grove Guidelines for Covid-19

The church board is recommending revisions to Oak Grove guidelines for Covid-19, effective June 1.  This decision was made after we considered the recommendations received from the Oak Groves Reengagement committee and the recent loosing of restrictions by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the State of Ohio.  We also concluded that a high percentage of our active OG adult attendees are fully vaccinated, and that the vaccine is now available for any adult who chooses to receive it.  We hope these revised guidelines will continue to keep everyone safe. 

Worship Services: During the month of June, we plan to worship outdoors, weather permitting, or in the sanctuary during wet/cold weather days.  We plan to plan to return meeting indoors starting in July.  We will continue to live stream each Sunday worship service.

RSVP to Attend: RSVP will no longer be required to attend Sunday morning worship services.

Face Mask: Wearing face masks will not be required whether you are outdoors or indoors but those who have not been immunized, or are immune compromised, or feel more comfortable wearing a mask are encouraged to wear a mask.  Parents should decide whether their children should wear a mask.

Distancing: Distancing restrictions will be reduced to 3 feet outdoors and indoors which means using every other bench in the sanctuary will not be necessary.

Singing: Singing will be allowed outdoors and indoors while following the above mask wearing recommendation.

Offering: Marked offering containers will be available

Sunday School: Adult and children Sunday school will be allowed indoors and/or outside.

Restrooms/Water Fountain/Library/Access to areas in the main building: Restrictions will be removed.

Fellowship Hall: All guidelines will be revised to follow above recommendations.

Other Restrictions: You will see other restrictions revised going forward.

Note:  We will continue weekly emails from the church office.  Order of service and worship songs will be printed for Sunday mornings.

It is the Board’s hope that these recommendations will bring us closer to being a “normal” church fellowship.  We asked you to please respect each other’s choice for following these recommendations.  Thank you and may God bless you.

Oak Grove Church Board

May 22, 2021


Sabbatical Plan
by Pastor Doug on 2021-05-27

Hello, Oak Grove family & friends!

Taking a page from Miriam’s devotional word in  our April 29 Thursday email update ago, I would like to focus on Psalm 90 and share about my upcoming Sabbatical (June 1-September 28).

 “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; . . . they are soon gone, and we fly away. . . So, teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”  - Psalm 90:10, 12

In recognition of 45 years of ministry as a credentialed leader in the Mennonite Church, I have proposed using this time to prayerfully consider “Moving Forward to a Meaningful Future.” Since my personal future will include Miriam, the Lord willing, I asked her to join me in this prayerful work, so she is taking a leave of absence July 1 - September 28.

The original travel pieces of this proposal (including Mennonite World Conference in Indonesia, a teaching term with the International Impact College, and the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Christian Church International in Thika, Kenya) have been postponed, due to the limitations of international travel during this unprecedented time. I will take advantage of available time to work on the creative projects that have been proposed.

In addition, significant changes in our family in the last six months have impacted the focus. As announced earlier, our firstborn daughter, Sherah-Leigh, and her family, have decided to return to the area and will be taking up residence in BJ’s home of origin at Kidron. This brings our two oldest grandchildren back to Wayne county.

Also, our youngest daughter, Maria, has announced her intention to move to Ohio. She will be seeking employment and will live with us in Orrville for the time being.

So, the main consideration of my occupation is to look at “What might it look like to finish well?” 

  • What might transition to retirement look like personally?
  • How does one transition from an active ministry to meaningful retirement?
  • How does one transition to retirement and benefit the local congregation?

This will include:

  • Review of 45 years of credentialed ministry & Miriam’s partnership in ministry.
  • Learnings from ministry
  • Interview several retirees.
  • Research the current philosophy on meaningful retirement
  • Work with a Spiritual Director & Life Coach to develop “Moving Forward to a Meaningful Future” including personal options and opportunities for Oak Grove MC
  • Writing Retreat(s)

                  * Meaningful Retirement for peers
                  * Virtual Project Development for the International Impact College
                  * Issues series for social media

I an very grateful to a caring congregation for this opportunity!

Thank you.

-Doug


WE ARE BACK!
by Pastor Doug on 2021-03-18

CAN YOU BELEIVE IT? WE ARE BACK! A year after being isolated from our worship gathering space we are planning to return to socially distanced worship in the Oak Grove sanctuary. Guidelines we developed back in the fall for returning have been revised. Please note the major revision is in the 2nd paragraph asking persons interested in returning to in-person worship to RSVP by Friday noon for the coming Sunday's worship. We want to proved opportunity to safely accomodate all those who are ready to return. Thank you for your attention to the details. We look forward to seeing you!

Please note that we will continue to Livestream worship on our YouTube channel.

             Guidelines for Indoor (in-person) Worship Services

at Oak Grove Mennonite (OG)

WELCOME!  The following are the guidelines OG plans to implement, as we move indoors (in-person) for our Sunday morning worship services.  We encourage everyone to show love, respect, grace, and space to those with different views as we move forward in this process.  Our guidelines were developed in conjunction with the recommendations by federal, state and county Covid-19 regulations.  Please keep in mind that the following guidelines are subject to change at any time.  If the Covid-19 health threat worsen and/or if the federal, state or county governments revises recommendations about church gatherings, we will adapt our plans accordingly.  If Wayne county moves to a Level 3 (Red) Covid-19 virus spread, we will revert to offering only live stream worship service.

Beginning Sunday 03/21/21, OG will hold its initial indoor (in-person) worship service.  Due to social distancing guidelines, the OG sanctuary will have a capacity for approximately 90 persons.  The plan for attending the Sunday morning worship service will require that each Oak Gove family send a RSVP (via email or phone call) to the church office, prior to Friday noon, preceding the Sunday morning service. The first 90 RSVP responses will be scheduled to be seated in the sanctuary and the balance will be seated in the overflow area (Fellowship Center) and the service will be seen live stream.  We will continue to offer weekly live stream services.  We plan to make every reasonable effort to accommodate all weekly attendees and will monitor this process and re-evaluate as needed.

**All are welcome, but if you have not been fully vaccinated, are immunocompromised, or have a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease) you may want to choose the live streamed option.  Persons who feel sick, even with mild symptoms such as fever, cough running nose or if you have had contact with any person who has tested positive, in the last two weeks, for Covid-19, should not attend.

**Face Masks: All person’s ages four and up are always required to wear a face mask.  This is to help protect all who attend.  Adult and child masks will be available if you do not have one.

**Building Entrance: Use the East or West main foyer doors to enter the building.  A greeter will be available to provide hand sanitizer, to give directions and additional information.

**Moving to the Sanctuary: If you have worn an outdoors coat, take it with you to the sanctuary (do not hang coat in the main foyer area), immediately check your church mailbox and then move to the sanctuary to be seated.  Please do not congregate in the main foyer. 

**Seating in the Sanctuary: Ushers will be available to help facilitate social distance seating and answer questions.  Please stay together as a family.  Every other bench will be used for seating.

**Order of Worship/Bulletin: Print your own copy and bring along Sunday morning or use your device.  We will have extra copies of the order of worship that can be handed to you if needed. The traditional bulletin announcements will continue to be sent out though OG weekly communication.

**Singing and Music: There will be no corporate singing.  Music will be instrumental (excluding wind instruments) and/or pre-recorded music.

**Offering: Marked offering containers will be in the front and back of the sanctuary or you can continue to use the mail or electronic donation systems.

**Nursery Service: Will not be provided.  The nursery room will be open if the family needs to use.

**Exiting the Sanctuary: Once the worship service has concluded the ushers will excuse one bench at a time starting at the rear of the sanctuary.  Families can use either the East or West rear foyer doors for exiting the building into the parking lot.  Please follow social distancing guidelines.

**Drinking Fountains: Will not be available.  We encourage families to bring their own water bottles.

**Restrooms: The education building restrooms will be available.  We encourage you not to use the restrooms unless it is an emergency (one person at a time).  Please wear masks while using the facilities and wash your hands after using.  Each person using the restrooms is responsible to clean surfaces touched (faucet, toilet handles, door handles), with provided sanitizing wipes.

**Library: The library will not be available for use, on Sunday morning.

**Education Building 2nd Floor: Access will not be available to this area.

**Sanctuary Basement Area: Access will not be available to this area.

**Sunday School (adult and children): Will not be available at this time.

**Cleaning Building: All areas used, during the weekly indoor worship service, will be thoroughly sanitized the following week.

May our faith, our mission, our fellowship, our love for one another and our relationship with God continue during these challenging times.

Oak Grove Church Board - Approved

March 15, 2021


Season of Lent Update
by Pastor Doug on 2021-02-22

Dear friends, as we introduced earlier, there are two compatible options - choose one or both for your 2021 Lenten journey.

 

First, our congregational LENTEN SCRIPTURE & PRAYER continues as a Wednesday evening Zoom gathering. The gatherings continue Wednesday evenings at 6:30-7:15 p.m. through March 31. I have included the schedule again today. And here is the link: CLICK HERE

This is an opportunity to share around the Word during the season of Lent. During our time together we will read the selected passage, engage each other with our observations from the text, and pray together. During this time, we will be practicing spiritual disciplines of accountability, scripture reading, meditation and prayer.

February 24 – Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15

March 3 – Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 9:2-8

March 10 – Psalm 19; John 2:13-22

March 17 – Psalm 107:1-3; 17-22; John 3:14-21

March 24 – Psalm 119: 9-16; John 12:20-33 

 

 

Second, the Orrville area Mennonite pastor's group is giving leadership to Lent 2021 - Fast. Read, Pray, Act.

If you missed the Ash Wednesday kick-off her is a link to the recorded event with Dan King: CLICK HERE

The series continues on the next two Tuesday evenings.

On Tuesday, February23rd, 7:00pm Zoom Call - Chistina Staats from EvangelicalImmigrationTable leads us in a Bible study focused on a biblical view of immigration. FOR THE NLINE ZOOM LINK CLICK HERE


The Season of Lent
by DJ Zehr on 2021-02-17

Dear friends, we want to share the very focused information on the Upcoming Season of Lent.

There are two compatible options - choose one or both for your 2021 Lenten journey.

 

First, we have shared a congregational opportunity for LENTEN SCRIPTURE & PRAYER as a Wednesday evening Zoom gathering.The gatherings will begin Ash Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. and continue Wednesday evenings through March 31. I have attached the schedule again today. And here is the link: CLICK HERE

This is an opportunity to share around the Word during the season of Lent. During our time together we will read the selected passage, engage each other with our observations from the text, and pray together. During this time, we will be practicing spiritual disciplines of accountability, scripture reading, meditation and prayer.

February 17 – ASH WEDNESDAY - Psalm 51:1-12; Matthew 6:7-15

February 24 – Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15

March 3 – Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 9:2-8

March 10 – Psalm 19; John 2:13-22

March 17 – Psalm 107:1-3; 17-22; John 3:14-21

March 24 – Psalm 119: 9-16; John 12:20-33 

 

 

Second, the Orrville area Mennonite pastor's group is giving leadership to Lent 2021 - Fast. Read, Pray, Act. The Schedule is Wed. Feb. 18; Tuesdays Feb. 23 & Mar. 2, and Sunday, Mar 28 - all 7:00 p.m. Zoom meetings. Here is the link for Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CLICK HERE

For more detailed information please contact the church office oakgrovemc.smithville@gmail.com

 


2020 Christmas Services
by Miriam Zehr, Associate Pastor on 2020-12-15

The hymn writer, Thomas Moore, penned the words:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish, come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish.

Earth has no sorrows that Heav’n cannot heal.

2020 has given us much to grieve and mourn.  We have experienced many disappointments and losses.  The Christmas season may be more difficult this year than most due to all that this past year has dealt us, either personally, as a congregation, community, nation or world.  Perhaps you are finding it difficult to “be merry and bright.”  The Longest Night service offers you an opportunity to lament all that has been wrong, to bring your griefs and name your fears and anxieties. 

The Psalms offer many laments.  The writer of Psalm 13 says: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”  The climax comes when he acknowledges: “But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

We, too, can lament, mourn, question and name our fears and anxiety.  But as a faith community, we can stand together and affirm our trust in God’s unfailing love.  You are invited to participate in this service at your convenience via live-stream which will be relaesed on Monday, December 21, 6:30 p.m.

 

Candlelight Christmas Eve Service 

LIVE-STREAM ON OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Thursday, December 24, 2020, at 6:30 p.m.

A one-hour service of carols, reading and reflection prepare us to celebrate the Incarnation.  


SEARCH FOR THE CHRIST CHILD 2020 NEWS
by Pastor Doug on 2020-11-24

Oak Grove Mennonite Church invites you to celebrate 

"THE SEARCH FOR THE CHRIST CHILD"

A LIVESTREAM EVENT

Join us for a presentation for the best of our 32-year tradition!

Sunday, December 6, 5:00 -7:00 p.m.

On our YouTube Channel - connect from our website's front page.

A special part of our tradition is to offer donations (canned goods, pasta, peanut butter, and other non-perishables) to our food bank partners. We will still collect these items on Sunday, December 6, from 1-6 p.m., in the Oak Grove parking lot, under the traditional Bethlehem Inn's STAR!

Financial gifts can be sent to, or dropped off, at the church office.

Oak Grove Mennonite Church, 7843 Smucker Road, Smithville, OH 44677.

 

 

 


Election Eve Communion
by Pastor Doug on 2020-11-02

As a reminded that our allegiance is to God, and that we have

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, and serve One Lord Jesus Christ.

Today: You are invited to join us for an Election Eve Communion Service on Monday, November 2nd at 7 pm. This service is planned by the 5 Church Partnership to remember and celebrate our unity, identity, and hope in Jesus during a time of division and tension as we participate with others in the national election. You are invited to prepare bread and cup for yourself at home and participate with us remotely.

The service will be lived streamed on youtube here.

The order of worship is available here. Or See here next

Election Eve Communion Service    -    November 2, 2020

Welcome                                                    Thomas Dunn

Call to Worship

One:   On this election eve we gather in worship.

ALL:    We chose to remember,

One:   that Christians vote in all parties, pray in many languages, and serve our Lord with a variety of gifts.

ALL:    We chose to remember,

One:   that human beings, even the people we strongly disagree with, were created in the image of God.

ALL:    We come to remember our oneness in Christ.  Let us worship our Lord as brothers and sisters.

 

Prayer                                                         Bill Seymour

God of justice and compassion,

God of Republicans and Democrats and Independents,

God of the poor and the 1% and the middle class,

In the heat of this election year we pray for our nation, our churches, and ourselves.

In the midst of meanness and deception may our words be kind and true, even when we have valid differences of opinion.

In the midst of loud speeches and harsh accusations, may we listen well and try to understand each other.

May those who follow Jesus do the work of Jesus–

breaking down the dividing walls,

speaking the truth in love,

meeting together in the face of disagreements.

Holy, loving God, have mercy on your children. Amen.

 

Praying the Scripture                                    Jacob Dodson

     1 Corinthians 12:12-26

     John 17:20-23

 

Lord’s Supper                                              Shawn Hilliard

Invitation to Communion

Words of Institution

Prayer

Sharing the Bread and the Cup

 

Lord’s Prayer                                                   Doug Zehr

Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name,

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory

are yours now and forever. AMEN

 

Benediction                                                      David Hargrave

 


Re-engaging at Oak Grove MC - Indoors
by Pastor Doug on 2020-10-30

             Guidelines for Indoor (in-person) Worship Services at Oak Grove Mennonite (OG)

 WELCOME!  The following are the guidelines OG plans to implement, as we move indoors (in-person) for our Sunday morning worship services.  We encourage everyone to show love, respect, grace, and space to those with different views as we move forward in this process.  Our guidelines were developed in conjunction with the recommendations by federal, state and county Covid-19 regulations.  Please keep in mind that the following guidelines are subject to change at any time.  If the Covid-19 health threat worsen and/or if the federal, state or county governments revises recommendations about church gatherings, we will adapt our plans accordingly. If Wayne county moves to a Level 3 (Red) Covid-19 virus spread, we will revert to offering only live stream worship service. Beginning Sunday 11/01/20, OG will hold its initial indoor (in-person) worship service.  Due to social distancing guidelines, the OG sanctuary will not have the capacity to offer a single worship service, that will accommodate all OG families.  We plan to hold services every Sunday at 10:30am for alternate groups; families with last names beginning with A-L, plus visitors, will attend the first Sunday and families with last names beginning with M-Z, plus visitors, will attend the following week.  We will continue to offer weekly live stream services.  We plan to make every reasonable effort to accommodate all weekly attendees.  We plan to monitor this process and re-evaluate as needed.

**All are welcome, but if you are older than 55, immunocompromised, or have a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease) you may want to choose the live streamed option.  Persons who feel sick, even with mild symptoms such as fever, cough running nose or if you have had contact with any person who has tested positive, in the last two weeks, for Covid-19, should not attend.

**Face Masks: All person’s ages four and up are always required to wear a face mask.  This is to help protect all who attend.  Adult and child masks will be available if you do not have one.

**Building Entrance: Use the East or West main foyer doors to enter the building.  A greeter will be available to provide hand sanitizer, to give directions and additional information.

**Moving to the Sanctuary: If you have worn an outdoors coat, take it with you to the sanctuary (do not hang coat in the main foyer area), immediately check your church mailbox and then move to the sanctuary to be seated.  Please do not congregate in the main foyer. 

**Seating in the Sanctuary: Ushers will be available to help facilitate social distance seating and answer questions.  Please stay together as a family.  Every other bench will be used for seating. 

**Singing and Music: There will be no corporate singing.  Music will be instrumental (excluding wind instruments) and/or pre-recorded music.

**Bulletins: Will not be available.  All announcements will continue to be sent via OG weekly emails.

**Offering: Marked offering containers will be in the front and back of the sanctuary or you can continue to use the mail or electronic donation systems

**Nursery Service: Will not be provided.  The nursery room will be open if the family needs to use.

**Exiting the Sanctuary: Once the worship service has concluded the ushers will excuse one bench at a time starting at the rear of the sanctuary.  Families can use either the East or West rear foyer doors for exiting the building into the parking lot.  Please follow social distancing guidelines.

**Drinking Fountains: Will not be available.  We encourage families to bring their own water bottles.

**Restrooms: The education building restrooms will be available.  We encourage you not to use the restrooms unless it is an emergency (one person at a time).  Please wear masks while using the facilities and wash your hands after using.  Each person using the restrooms is responsible to clean surfaces touched (faucet, toilet handles, door handles), with provided sanitizing wipes.

**Library: The library will not be available for use, on Sunday morning

**Education Building 2nd Floor: Access will not be available to this area.

**Sanctuary Basement Area: Access will not be available to this area.

**Sunday School (adult and children): Will not be available at this time.

**Cleaning Building: All areas used, during the weekly indoor worship service, will be thoroughly sanitized the following week.

 

May our faith, our mission, our fellowship, our love for one another and our relationship with God continue during these challenging times.

Oak Grove Church Board - Approved

October 15, 2020


Re-engaging at Oak Grove MC
by Pastor Doug on 2020-07-13

Guidelines for Re-engaging at Oak Grove Mennonite Church

 WECOME BACK!  The following are guidelines that Oak Grove MC plans to implement as we reconvene public worship and other activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.  We plan to begin cautiously and adapt our re-engaging plan as needed.  These guidelines were developed per the recommendations by the Wayne County Health Department’s Interim Guidance for Churches and Faith-Based Organizations.

Phase 1: Continue to provide live stream worship services on Sunday morning (10:30am).

Phase 2: During July we will begin meeting outside for in-person worship services (details below *). The outside service will also be live streamed for persons who our unable to attend the in-person service. 

*Attendees: All are welcome, but if you are older than 55, immunocompromised, or have a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease) you may want to choose the live streamed option.  Persons who feel sick, even with mild symptoms such as fever, cough, running nose, or if you have had contact with any person who has tested positive, in the last two weeks, for Covid-19, should not attend.

*Service Start Time/Length: Service will begin at 10:30am, lasting 45-60 minutes.  Inclement weather decision (to cancel) will be made by 8:00am on Sunday morning and word sent out by email.  If the outside service is canceled the currently provided live streaming service will be available.

*Seating: Families need to provide their own chairs or blankets.  Social distancing (6ft) between families required.

*Face Mask: All person’s ages four and up are required to wear a face mask.  This is to help protect all who attend.  Adult and child masks will be provided for all.

*Ushers: Will be available to help facilitate social distance seating and answer questions.

*Singing/Music: There will be no corporate singing.  Music will be instrumental (excluding wind instruments) and/or pre-recorded music.

*Bulletins: Will not be available.  All announcements will continue to be sent via emails.

*Offering: Marked offering containers will be available during the outside worship service or you can continue to use the mail or electronic donations systems.

*Nursery: Will not be provided.

*Coffee: Will not be provided.

*Drinking Fountain: Will not be available.  We encourage families to bring their own water bottles.

*Restrooms: Restrooms in the Fellowship Hall will be available.  We encourage you not to use the restrooms unless it is an emergency (one person at a time). Please wear masks while using the facilities, wash your hands after use, and, with the provided sanitizing wipes, clean surfaces touched – faucet, toilet handles, and door handles.

*Social Distancing: All persons should follow social distancing guidelines before, during and after the service.

*Playground Area: The playground area will be roped off and unavailable.

*Hand Sanitizer: Several hand sanitizing stations will be available.

*Fellowship Hall Access: Restrooms only, all other areas are unavailable.

*Main Church Building Access: Church mail can be picked up by one family member. All other areas are unavailable.  Enter only through foyer East door.  The door will be monitored to control access.

Phase 3: Later in the Summer.  If Covid-19 situation does not worsen, we will begin the process of transitioning to worship services being held in our main sanctuary.  Details to follow later.

Phase 4: Later--Transitioning to include Sunday School (adult, youth, children), children’s church, nursery, committee meetings, and other events.  Details to follow later.

 

Please keep in mind that the above listed guidelines are subject to change at any time.  If the Covid-19 health threat worsen and/or if county, state, or federal government revise recommendations about church gatherings, we will adapt our plans to those new events.

May our faith, our mission, our fellowship, our love for one another and our relationship with God continue during this time of re-engaging at Oak Grove.

 

Oak Grove Re-Engaging Sub-Committee

Herb Hershberger. John Lyons, Susan Miller, Steve Murray, Jessica Witmer and Doug Zehr

 

June 30, 2020


Maundy Thursday
by Pastor Doug on 2020-04-09
Special greetings on this Maundy Thursday. In the midst of Holy Week and our continuing exile during this pandemic, we are reminded that Jesus understands any of our feelings, whether of loneliness, anxiety, fear, desertion and/or depression. John's gospel captures the affirming ministry of Jesus with the familiar words:
"Let not your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God, believe also in me!" 
--John 14:1
 
It has been a long season. And we will continue without a community worship gathering in our meeting house this Sunday, April 12. As the governor of Ohio announced last week the 'Stay at Home' order is extended to the end of the month, in line with the federal guideline. So, with an abundance of caution, we will continue to protect each other's health, even as we find ways to encourage and strengthen each other in our faith.
 
But take heart, God is with us.
We will be live-streaming EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 12, at 10:30 a.m.
 
As you continue experience this time of exile, holding pattern, stay at home or however you describe it, take time to embrace the Jesus journey of this week,
I would like to suggest John 14 as your beginning point. As quoted in the introduction, Jesus says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me!" 
 
Jesus goes on to say, 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
 
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
 
It is important in this Holy Week journey to recognize the opportunity and responsibility to make this journey personal. It is not just a sad story with a twist for a happy ending. It is the invitation of the our Creator God. It is a love story of God's costly invitation for each one of us to take Jesus as Lord of lives. It is not enough to know the stories of Jesus, or know somebody who is a follower of Jesus, whether a parent, grandparent, teacher or pastor. It is not enough to study the words of scripture or even memorize the verses. Not even enough to apply them so that we live good moral lives. We need to take Jesus as Savior and Lord. Now might be  an appropriate - even necessary - time to seek your personal assurance of eternal life.
 
In this time of crisis in our world, or maybe particularly in this time of uncertainty, we are open to talk and pray with you about how God's Spirit may be speaking to you and to the deep need of your heart. While the office is closed, feel free to call me at 330.601.6274.
 
Prayerfully,
 
Pastor Doug

7. God Cares for You!
by Pastor Doug on 2020-04-02

7. God Cares for You

Key Verse: “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.” (CEV) —1 Peter 5:7

Read: 1 Peter 5:1-11

Ponder: One of the joys of being part of a faith family is the encouragement that we are able to share with one another. I have been blessed numerous times with words that have encouraged my heart along the journey of life. One brother shared these promises of God on my departure for a trip overseas in the midst of a lot of uncertainty.

 “Doug, as a servant of God, as you depart for Kenya, may you remember these truths from God’s Holy Word:

  • For times when you will need courage, “When I called you answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” 138:3
  • For times when you will seek guidance: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him; and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  • For times when your patience will be tried: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28
  • For times when you seek peace in areas of stress: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • And finally, as you consider God’s calling on your life to take His word around the world and share truths with our brothers and sisters in Kenya, be reminded of God’s promise: “My word that goes out from my mouth. . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
  • May God bless you and keep you as you faithfully answer the call to “go into all the world and preach the good news.”

God’s Word, is the perfect stress reliever. It calmed my fears and anxieties. The burden was lifted as the shared scripture was applied to my anxiety. I treasured these focus words and meditated on them during the days of my travel and ministry.

 Respond: Thank you, God, for caring for me.

I turn today’s burdens, cares and stress over to You!


#6 I Give You Peace
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-31

#6 I Give You Peace

Key Verse: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (CEV) — John 14:27

Read: John 14: 25-31

Ponder: You can rest in the promises of scripture. I needed to reassure myself of that. In the midst of the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya, a notorious street gang, the Mongiki, were taking advantage of the uncertainties and were creating havoc in numerous places.

Unless shopkeepers and matatu (taxi) drivers paid “security fees,” they were advised to close their business or pay with their lives. Whole communities might come to a standstill either by choice or by the resultant burned out vehicles and dead bodies of the defiant strewn by gang members on the roadway. One of my colleagues missed most of the day of classes, arriving late in the afternoon because he needed to travel a very circuitous route to be safe.

The insecurity unnerved many. I was prayerfully trying to live responsibly with limited travel and exposure on the streets as I had promised my dear wife. She had committed her support: “Holding you close to my heart . . . even though we are thousands of miles apart.” “. . . I have you in my heart. . .” (Philippians 1:7).

I was trusting in the support and encouragement of my faith community on whose behalf one sister wrote, “Pastor Doug, we are instructed to pray without ceasing. We will be doing that for you, especially while you are traveling and teaching in Kenya. You are a gifted teacher. It is no wonder they keep asking you to come back again and again. We will miss you here. Our prayer is that you sense God’s peace and His guidance in every circumstance you encounter. Many scriptures come to mind: “Peace I leave with you” (v.27); “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5); “You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Ps. 16:11); So go with joy and confidence.” —In Christian love, Sue, for Dare-to-Care.

Respond:

Gracious God, Your word calms our fears and anxieties.

May it be the first place we turn today to face any of the stresses of our lives.


5. Don't Worry
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-29

5. "Don’t Worry"

Key Verse: “I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink or wear. Isn’t life more important than food or clothing? Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Are you not worth more than birds? Can worry make you live longer?”  (CEV) —Matthew 6:25-27

Read: Matthew 6:25-34

Ponder: It was a stressful time. Last minute preparations for travel to Kenya were taxing. These days had been preceded by an agonizing discernment process about the safety of this mission following the 2008 post-election violence which had left 1000 people dead and more than 100,000 internal refugees.

Many words of scripture had come to mind during the days of prayer to discern with God’s people the course to follow. But none were more challenging than the words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, “I tell you not to worry about your life” (v.25), and “Are you not worth more than birds. Can worry make you live longer?” (v.27).

But God’s Word is also the perfect stress reliever, calming our fears and anxieties. What a blessing to receive a word of encouragement from a member of my church family:

“Just a quick note to wish blessings on your trip. As you are busy preparing this week and as you encounter the many blessings and challenges while in Kenya, I want to share one of my favorite verses:

‘Cast all your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you – He will never let the righteous fall’ - Psalm 55:22 (Paraphrased).

What strikes me is not only the beautiful comfort of casting my cares and the assurances that God sustains me – but the gentle reminder of my responsibilities to strive to be one of His righteous ones. I need this reminder each day that I head to work . . . perhaps if you experience a time or two of having a ‘care,’ you might remember to cast it on the Lord.”

More encouragement came from this note: “I appreciate you and your fine example of being one of God’s righteous ones. Blessings as you share the gifts that God has given you with our brothers and sisters in Kenya. Peace.”

Respond:

Lord, today help me to be willing and inspired to share scripture

to help someone deal with the stress of life.


4. Don't Be Afraid
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-26

4. Don’t Be Afraid

Key Verse: “I have commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.”  (CEV) —Joshua 1:9

Read: Joshua 1:1-9

Ponder: There is nothing quite like experiencing it for yourself. Despite starting the day with a delay on my flight out of Fort Wayne, and missing my connection in Chicago for Washington, D.C., I made my connection in Zurich. The boarding lounge was nearly vacant and the plane bound for Nairobi was seemingly empty, confirming my worst fears. The security situation in Kenya was considered uncertain and people were taking the travel warnings seriously.

But I had felt God clearly challenge me to confirm my travel plans and keep my commitment to participate in the April sessions of the Christian Bible Institute(CBI). “I have commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go(v.9).  The uncertainties around the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008 which had challenged my original decision to postpone my teaching mission with the CBI of the Christian Church International, were subsiding. I was traveling with the confidence of my family and a supportive church community. I would keep their prayers close to my heart.

From my journal entry on the first day of my trip: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25) – from Dad’s Kenya Calendar, Day One (Maria). I receive this word today as a wonderful confirmation from God’s word that I am safely in the palm of God’s hand. My proclamation today is, “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!”

 Another note from a couple in the congregation added further encouragement: “As you travel (both going and returning) and your entire time of your trip, please know that we are committed to praying for your spiritual, emotional and physical safety. You are doing a great thing, and we trust our Lord to return you safely to us.”

Respond:

 “Sweet are the promises, kind is the word,

sweeter far than any word man has ever heard.”


3. Trust the Lord
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-24

Trust the Lord

Key Verse: “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.”  (CEV)  —Proverbs 3:5-6

Read: Proverbs: 3:1-8

Ponder: I had suggested that the plan to accept the principal’s invitation to join the staff for the April sessions of the Christian Bible Institute (CBI) should be postponed until the violence calms down and the political circumstances in Kenya got sorted out. And I had received an immediate response. “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.”

  • “You’d be foolish to go,” said one church leader.
  • My wife, Miriam, said, “I don’t want you to go.”
  • Each of my three daughters voiced their deep concerns that I not travel to Kenya in such a time of uncertainty.

I needed their help. “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment (v.5). I asked each one of them to join me in a time of discernment over the next three weeks since I would have to make travel arrangements by the end of the month.

Daily I prayed, asking God for clarity. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” I had the overwhelming sense that this was a test of my faith. If I didn’t follow through on my plans to travel, my ministry would be over among my Kenyan brothers and sisters and I would have to evaluate my preaching about trusting God.

As January 31 approached, I received individual responses.

  • One church leader said, “I know what you are going to do.”
  • My wife released me saying that if I felt led to go, she would stand behind me.
  • While each of my children made it clear they didn’t want me to go, they released me to do as I felt God was calling me to do.

I confirmed my original travel arrangements.

Respond:

Guide my feet while I run this race, yes, my Lord.

Guide my feet while I run this race, yes, my Lord.

Guide my feet while I run this race,

for I don’t want to run this race in vain! (race in vain!)

Hymnal: A Worship Book, # 546.


2. Confidence in the Lord
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-22

2. Confidence in the Lord

Key Verse: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”  (NIV) —Jeremiah 17:7

Read: Jeremiah 17:5-10

Ponder: It was January 1, 2008, and news from Kenya was disheartening. Tribal conflict had erupted after contested national elections. It had already led to more than 1,000 deaths and 100,000 internally displaced people. Kenyans were shocked that political rivalries could lead to such violence in these times. 

I sent a note to the principal of the Christian Bible Institute of the Christian Church International—a personal friend—expressing my horror at the news. I assured him of my concern and prayers for the safety of his family and the local body of believers he pastored. I suggested postponing my annual trip to join the staff for their April Bible institute sessions until the political situation sorted itself out. 

I received an immediate response from the principal. Yes, they were safe. Then 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.”

I felt truly challenged. Would it be foolish to travel? More than one person said I would be crazy to go to Kenya at this time. I knew the Scripture, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7 NIV), words consistent with today’s text. 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, or would I pass on the challenge? What would you do?

Respond:  Lord, may your Spirit reveal the way I should go!

 


Pray About Everything!
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-19

Pray About Everything

Key Verse: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. … Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.”  (CEV) — Philippians 4:6-7

Read: Philippians 4:2-7

Ponder: There are a multitude of stressors in life. It could be that your company isn’t doing well financially and is laying off employees and you worry that you may be next. Your spouse had a difficult day at work and comes home angry, impatient and irritable. Maybe you’ve just had a biopsy for a suspicious lump, and you’re awaiting test results or one of your teens has just had a run-in with the school authorities.

Many of these scenarios may induce stress which can produce any number of physical and emotional symptoms. You may feel anxious, off-kilter and worried. Sleep might elude you as thoughts race through your mind. You might feel sick to your stomach when you think about the situation.

But, God’s Word, the perfect stress reliever, can calm your fears and anxieties. Here are some scripture verses to help you deal with the stress in your life. Meditate on the verses. Pray these scriptures from your heart, own them and see how God might use them to inspire trust and confidence as you walk with Him.

 “Be still and know that I am God.” —Romans 46:10

“Hear my cry, O God. Listen to my prayer.” —Psalm 61:1

“Summon your power, O God; show us your strength,O God, as you have done before.” —Psalm 68:28.

“Praise be to the LORD, to God, our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” —Psalm 68:19

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; God is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.” —Ps. 118:6-7.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes before you; He will never leave you, nor forsake you.” —Deuteronomy 31:6

“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. —Isaiah 66:2.

 

Respond:  Father, since I belong to Jesus your Son, I will pray about everything and not worry about anything. Thank you for your peace, Lord God.


A Special Time
by Pastor Doug on 2020-03-15

Greetings Sisters and Brothers of Oak Grove.

What a different weekend. My routines have been turned upside down. I am sure that many of yours have been too. As we live into the current reality, we are discovering a new normal. There are certain to be new patterns of greeting as we go forward.

The Psalmist declares: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
-Ps. 55:22

As we live in the confidence of our God amidst the anxiety of these days let me share this prayer that was passed along to me.

May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between
preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care
for our children when their schools close
remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money
in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot
physically wrap our arms around each other,
let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace
of God to our neighbors.

Amen

Please know that during the days of the coming week the office staff will be available to assist you. If you should self-quarantine and are in need of any assistance, please let us know. We will work to facilitate what it is you might need.

And of course, please note and pass along any prayer concerns you might be aware of needing our attention.

Peace to you!


The Christmas Season!
by Pastor Doug on 2019-12-10

Dear Oak Grove Family & Friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus! I would like to wish you a joyous celebration of the Incarnation. Here at Oak Grove, we are in the midst of our journey through Advent and into the Christmas season,

As a community, we will explore the Advent through Epiphany worship theme, “What are You Waiting For?”  We will focus our attention as through the chorus of the hymn “Beyond a Dying Sun:” I see a new world coming when everyone is free! And all shall be God’s people in justice, love, and peace.”

I invite you to share with me the anticipation of our wonderful traditions of the season. This past Sunday evening we host 450 seekers who enjoyed the pageantry of The Search for the Christ Child. This coming week we will host the worship presentation of The Messiah, on Sunday, December 15, at 2:30 p.m. Later this month we will enjoy the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service when we will focus our attention through scriptures, carols, and prayers. On Sunday, December 22, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will host our annual opportunity for generous White Gift giving. These traditions will help us celebrate the joy of the Incarnation.

            Regarding the "White Gift" giving opportunity: Since 1965, the Oak Grove Mennonite Church family has participated in a White Gift Offering, generating tens of thousands of dollars of precious resources for ministries near and far.

At this time of year, many church and charitable organizations campaign for contributions, recognizing that for many, the majority of donations are received at the yearend. Motivations for participating vary.  For some, it may be for tax purposes, a farm community’s realization of the harvest, a worker’s Christmas bonus, or an assessment of business profits at year’s end.

Our simple tradition above and beyond our regular giving, which supports the annual spending plan of this community, invites a response to recognize God’s generosity.

The Oak Grove Church Board invites you to give in 2019 in one or more of the following ways:

  • HABITAT FOR HUMANITY (Wayne County, OH) –– Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. At its heart, Habitat builds homes at reduced cost to families with limited incomes who are willing to contribute their own “sweat equity” in the building of homes for themselves and for others.
  • MANNA FOR MANY “An Anabaptist Mission” –– is an organization providing nourishment to the hungry throughout the world, in times of famine or natural disaster. Manna for Many bags dehydrated vegetables for soup mix. Recipients simply add water or broth and it is ready to serve.
  • MENNONITE DISASTER SERVICE (MDS) – NATIONAL RELIEF: MDS has numerous opportunities to assist those who have suffered loss through the havoc of recent hurricanes, the long-term commitments to the restoration of communities impacted by past hurricane activity and recent wildfires. The MDS aim is to assist the most vulnerable community members, individuals, and families who would not otherwise have the means to recover.
  • UNDESIGNATED GIFTS will go the 2019 Oak Grove Spending Plan.

We invite all our members and worship participants to remember the ministries of the Oak Grove congregation during this season of many giving opportunities.

Whether you are able, or not able, to participate with us in one of our special traditions, or our weekly worship services, I trust that you will join us in the spirit of this season. My prayer is that these opportunities will be life-giving moments of worship for all participants.

Peace and joy to you and yours during this season of celebration!

Doug

Douglas J. Zehr, Pastor


The 2019 Festive Season at the Grove
by Pastor Doug on 2019-11-06

Search for the Christ Child 

Sunday, December 8, 2019, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The 31st Annual Presentation

On the first Sunday of December, the church and fellowship hall are transformed into scenes reminiscent of the first century. Guided tours take small groups of people through the Christmas story beginning with the Annunciation, and ending with the Holy family in the sanctuary. Along the way children can see shepherds around the fire, animals, hear the angels sing, meet beggars, shopkeepers, peek in on the Wise Men, hear Herod’s edict and have time to sit quietly to reflect on the true meaning of the season. Admission is a donation to the local food pantry.

The Messiah - Sunday, December 15, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

The 86th Annual Presentation

For more than eighty years on a December Sunday afternoon before Christmas, Oak Grove Mennonite and community present Handel’s Messiah. Rehearsals are held Friday and Saturday evenings of performance weekend. Local and Oak Grove-related talent is recruited for orchestra and soloists. Anyone is invited to participate. Admission is free. A freewill offering is received. 

Candlelight Christmas Eve Service 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

A one-hour service of carols, reading and reflection prepare us to celebrate the Incarnation.  


Harvest Home 2019
by Pastor Doug on 2019-09-04

Harvest Home / Homecoming Sunday

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Join us for our annual Harvest Home worship

8:30 am Breakfast – Fellowship Center

9:15 am Seed $ Celebration & Testimonies

10:30 am Worship - Guest Speaker: Jeff Hochstetler*

“Harvest Home Sunday,” an autumn tradition at Oak Grove, had its beginnings when many members were engaged in farming. The season of harvest was a time of celebration and acknowledgment of our abundance and God’s blessing in our lives. Sharing this bounty with those in need was also the purpose of this special Sunday. Members brought fresh produce from their fields and gardens and home-canned fruits and vegetables from their kitchens. These were collected at the church and then distributed to street ministries and food pantries. 

Family and friends living out of the area have been invited back “home” to worship and enjoy the day together. A carry-in dinner has been held after the worship service. Fall decorations are a part of the tradition and add beauty to the church and fellowship hall. 

As lifestyles, professions and food restrictions at distribution places have changed, grocery items and offerings of money have replaced the fresh and canned produce.

 

*Jeff is a pastor at Berlin Mennonite Church. The son of Harold, and the late Lois Hochstetler, brother to Matt (Megan), Eric (Logan), and his twin Justin (Abri), Jeff grew up at Oak Grove. He is married to Kelsey and they have three daughters.

 

 2019 Harvest Home Giving Opportunities

We thank God for our broader church connections, particularly in times of disaster and need. Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) responds to national disasters. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) generally responds to international crises through their local connections around the world, however this year MCC has made a special appeal for Immigration Detainee Care Kits which has a combined national and international connection.

The Outreach “Kits” request overlaps so that 2019 Seed $’s may be designated as part of our Harvest Home Giving. As announced earlier our target collection for “Kits” (whether complete, partial, or a financial donation) is Oct 2 to participate in the area Mennonite information and packing sponsored by Open Arms Ministries at Orrville Mennonite Church.   

So for Harvest Home giving (including Seed $’s) you are invited to designate your support for:

  • Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS);
  • Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) – Immigration Detainee Care Kits;
  • Outreach Portion of the Oak Grove Spending Plan

All gift designations will be honored.

Any undesignated gifts will be given to the 2019 Oak Grove Spending Plan.

Food pantry donations will be shared locally with:

People to People,  the Crown Hill Food Bank, and the Salvation Army.

Specific needs include regular sized jars of peanut butter, canned vegetables other than green beans, boxed potatoes, soup, juice, and cereal.

*******

Please note that Sunday October 6 is World Communion Sunday.

Area Mennonite churches will be gathering at 2:00 p.m. at Central Christian School for a Spanish, Swahili, and English worship celebration. Following the service there will be a time of fellowship.


Spring Activities
by DJ Zehr on 2019-03-20

Today, March 20th marks the beginning of Spring - YES!

At the Grove we have numerous activities that have appeal to many ages and interests in this season. Watch our calendar for changes and updates.

For the month of March, Outreach Commission members are inviting you and your family to create a Relief Kit - or two, for Mennonite Central Ccommittee (MCC) our international relief and development agency.

  • The list of items in the kits is posted on the blue barrels (or call the church office for more information).
  • Offering designations during March will be collected and sent to MCC to purchase more kits or to purchase buckets. Thank you for your help. 

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Sunday, March 31, 6pm: Join Ryan Conrad and Pastor Doug for an evening of “Praise and Prayer.”

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Lenten Journey . . . Prayer & Reflection: Join us Wednesday evenings, continuing through April 10, 6-7pm in the conference room for time of guided prayer.

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Manna for Many at Oak Grove: 

Thursday, April 11 from 6pm-8pm & Friday, April 12 from 3pm-8pm 

  • Mark your calendars and come when you can to join in the fun of bagging soup. There are ways for all ages to get involved.
  • Our goal is to raise $1,000 which allows us to put together 1,000 bags of soup.
  • The coin vortex will be in the lobby and designated donations can be put in the offering or sent tot he church office.
  • Thanks for your support! 

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Community Seed and Plant Exchange
Saturday, May 4
  • 10 a.m. to 12 Noon.
  • Bring your extra seeds and plants!
  • No Money exchanged.
  • Depending on weather either in the parking lot or the Fellowship Center

 

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Celebrating World Fellowship Sunday
by Pastor Doug on 2019-01-15

Sunday, January 20, 2019 we, at Oak Grove, are Celebrating World Fellowship Sunday with our global Anabaptist family. Every year on the Sunday closest to 21 January, Mennonite World Conference (MWC) invites its 107 member churches to join in a celebration of World Fellowship Sunday.

By MWC's count, the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith family includes 2,131,000 baptized members in 86 countries. Of that total, 69 percent, or 1,470,390 are members of the MWC.

World Fellowship Sunday is an opportunity to remind our communities of faith that we are all part of one body made up of many tribes, languages and nations (Revelation 7:9). It is an invitation to visibly proclaim that now there is no discrimination among us on the basis of race, social status or gender (Galatians 3:28). It is a special day on which to show that we are living a new life in a new society where we mutually support one another, carry those who suffer, serve the world and interdependently learn from one another what it means to follow Jesus.

On this day, we celebrate that, in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the cultural and national boundaries that separate us have been overcome by the cross.

Each year, different churches that are part of our global community prepare guiding material that can be used for WFS. The theme for WFS 2019 is “Justice on the Journey: Migration and the Anabaptist Story”, prepared out of the experience of our Latin American churches. The Anabaptist story is frequently one of migration and mission, experiencing the grace of God in leaving one place for another, and in welcoming the foreigner.

The worship themes vary from year to year, but the rationale for the timing of the event has remained constant – on 21 January 1525, a small group of Christians in Zurich, Switzerland, participated in a baptismal service that launched the renewal movement that we know today as Anabaptism. 

As with the beginnings of every reform movement, the identity of the movement was not fully formed on that wintry day in 1525. Today, the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites and a dozen other groups all claim the early Anabaptists in Switzerland among their founders.

Each of these groups can also identify other beginning points for their church.

  • The Amish, for example, trace their origins to a renewal movement around Jacob Amman in 1693.
  • The Hutterites first practiced community of goods in 1528, and did not adopt their name from Jacob Hutter until several years later.
  • One group vigorously opposed all such commemorations, insisting that the only appropriate marker for Anabaptist-Mennonite beginnings was Easter Sunday or, perhaps, Pentecost. 

When we shift our attention to the global church, the question of “beginnings” becomes even more complicated.

Did the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition in Java begin with the arrival of Pieter and Johanna Jansz in 1852; or with the indigenization of the church under the leadership of Tunggol Wulung a decade later?

Did the Meserete Kristos Church of Ethiopia begin in 1945 with the first Mennonite missionaries from eastern Pennsylvania? with a renewal movement called Heavenly Sunshine in 1962? or with the decision in 1965 to identify their church as “Christ the Foundation”?

Over the past century, most Mennonites of European descent have come to regard the 21 January 1525 date as almost sacrosanct; yet this event became the focus of historical veneration only relatively recently when Mennonite leaders from seven countries gathered in Switzerland in 1925 to coordinate relief efforts for Mennonite refugees in South Russia.   

- Pastor Doug Zehr with information provided by Cesar Garcia, General Secretary; Gerald Hildebrand, North American regional representative; and Mennonite Church historian John Roth.


2019 Worship Theme Introduction
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2019-01-10

Join us Sundays in 2019 for Worship!

JESUS: Every Story Whispers His Name.

A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation--and at the center of their own story too!

 The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of all is a baby, the child upon whom every-thing will depend. From Noah, to Moses, to King David --- every story points to Him.  He is the missing piece to the puzzle --- the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the story unfolds, we will join the children of Oak Grove to engage the clues and piece together the puzzle.

Join us on Sunday, January 13, 10:30 a.m.

for the introduction to our 2019 Worship Theme

JESUS: Every Story Whispers His Name!

@ Oak Grove Mennonite Church


Why Do People Migrate?
by Charissa Zehr on 2018-11-10

Today thousands of migrants are moving through Central America and Mexico. The fear mongers are anxiously raising all kinds of issues in an attempt to protect their privilege.

Of course we need to protect our children.

Certainly we have limited resources.

Without question migrants should enter the country legally.

It is hard to comprehend but most migrants are people who don't WANT to flee their homeland . . . they believe they have no choice. And as hard as it may be to believe, they are coming to our southern border to walk through the port of entry and seek asylum. That is NOT ILLEGAL, but is actually a central function to the core values of the United States.

So, why do people migrate? Here is a recent article from the Mennonite Central Committee's Washington Office that offers some explanation.

Why do people migrate?

Reflecting the humanity of migrants

By Charissa Zehr

Sacrifice, bravery, survivor—these words kept running through my mind as I sat in migrant shelters in Mexico City and Tapachula, near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. Hearing the litany of dangers people faced as they crossed highways, forests, deserts and borders to find safety and security, I was struck most by their courage.

I was reminded by our hosts at Voces Mesoamericanas, an MCC partner in southern Mexico, that most people don’t migrate because they want to–they are resigned to it because they see no other option. At each shelter, we listened to the experiences of people who have risked their lives to leave the home they love. They have made sacrifices to seek a different life, facing a risky journey where many people seek to exploit travelers with few resources.

Mexico has become a destination country for migrants from all over the world. While Central Americans are still traveling to and through Mexico in large numbers, this is not the only migrant experience in Mexico. Shelters have seen a dramatic increase in arrivals from northern and western African countries, along with an uptick in people leaving the Middle East and Asia.

In 2016 Mexico’s refugee assistance agency (COMAR) saw nearly seven times more applications than in 2013 and numbers continue to rise. The agency’s  overload of applications for asylum is exacerbated by limited staffing and funding.

People are on the move around the world and the reasons for migration are numerous and varied. Some people leave because of changing weather patterns and food insecurity due to global warming; for others it may be a dangerous neighborhood where gang recruitment is on the rise.

Many governments seek solutions that endeavor only to stop people from arriving. But without adequately addressing the factors that are pushing people to migrate, these solutions will be incomplete and unsatisfactory.

In many places around the world, as in the United States, fear of migrants is stoked when it is politically expedient. Words matter in the narratives we speak, share and tweet. The lives of real people hang in the balance of political spin.

Instead of using rhetoric that ignores the humanity of people who migrate, we can consciously choose to speak new life into the debates and reshape what people say and write around people migrating and seeking refuge.

As people of faith who want to see more just migration and refugee policies, we should speak with our government representatives in a way that reflects the spirit of migrants, including their determination to make a way even when it seems there is no way forward.

--Charissa Zehr is Legislative Associate for International Affairs at the MCC U.S. Washington Office.

This article appeared first at Thirdway where more of Charrisa's work appears regularly, in addition to that of a number of her colleagues from the Washington Office.


Bicentennial Homecoming and Harvest Home
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-09-24

Harvest Home / Homecoming Sunday

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Join us for our annual Harvest Home worship which will conclude our Bicentennial celebration.  

9:30 am Coffee Fellowship

10:30 am Worship - Guest Speaker: Mark Schloneger

Noon: Chicken BBQ with Congregational Carry-in

 The 10:30 Worship Service will include dedication of

Bicentennial Comforters & Throws for MCC, Hospice & Aultman Hospital.

  “Harvest Home Sunday,” an autumn tradition at Oak Grove, had its beginnings when many members were engaged in farming. The season of harvest was a time of celebration and acknowledgment of our abundance and God’s blessing in our lives. Sharing this bounty with those in need was also the purpose of this special Sunday. Members brought fresh produce from their fields and gardens and home-canned fruits and vegetables from their kitchens. These were collected at the church and then distributed to street ministries and food pantries. 

Family and friends living out of the area have been invited back “home” to worship and enjoy the day together. A carry-in dinner has been held after the worship service. Fall decorations are a part of the tradition and add beauty to the church and fellowship hall. 

As lifestyles, professions and food restrictions at distribution places have changed, grocery items and offerings of money have replaced the fresh and canned produce.

2018 Harvest Home Giving Opportunities

We thank God for our broader church connections, particularly in times of disaster and need. While Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) responds to national disasters, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) responds to international crises through their local connections around the world.

It is a year of tremendous needs – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, forest fires & flooding – have created destruction and pain in Puerto Rico, volcanic eruptions, California wildfires, Hurricane Florence in North & South Carolina, Typhoon Mangkhut in addition to continuing relief efforts in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Peru and Columbia.

We invite you to designate your support for MCC, MDS, MCC Meat Canning in Kidron or for the Community Assistance Fund of the Oak Grove Outreach Commission. All designations will be honored and any undesignated gifts will be given to the 2018 Oak Grove Spending Plan.

Food pantry donations will be shared locally with People to People, Crown Hill Food Bank and the Salvation Army.


Peace Sunday 2018
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-09-20

This coming Sunday, September 23, is a “Peace” focus day at the request of the Mennonite World Conference. 

In light of this we are planning this Sunday's 10:30 am Worship as Internatonal Peace Sunday at Oak Grove. The message of the day is entitlted: "A Renewed Peace Church Welcomes the Stranger!"

    In solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the world we will recognize the day and celebrate communion together. As part of our sharing at the Table of our Lord, we will share an opportunity to give to our Compassion Fund

    The Compassion Fund is a mutual aid fund which is available to the Spiritual Life Commission to assist with needs within our church family. Recent activity has depleted this fund. In the spirit of serving one another, as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, there will be offering baskets available. We will receive your above spending plan giving as we partake of the communion emblems.

    Thank you for your prayerful preparation for participation in the bread, cup and service of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Instant Church Directory
by DJZehr on 2018-06-25

We are very excited about the developments of Oak Grove's NEW ONLINE CHURCH DIRECTORY AND APP!

Church members are invited to check out the new online church directory today. Available online through instantchurchdirectory.com or on your smart phones via the Instant Church Directory app found in your App Store.

To view on the computer or on the app, you will be asked to create a login using your email address (as it is entered in the directory – please contact the office if you would like your email address added to the directory so that you can use this feature).

After entering your email and creating a password, you will be sent an email with a confirmation link. You must open this email and follow the link before you can access the directory the first time.

Printed copies of the directory will also be available this fall. Feel free to contact Kelsey Troyer or Mary Ramseyer with questions. 

We appreciate the hard work of the Fellowship & Service Commission and the delightful cooperation of all who had their pictures submitted for the new directory. Picture and contact information updates will now be quick and easy!

Thanks,

Pastor Doug


Legacy Churches Provide Contributions
by Levi Miller on 2018-05-12

Legacy churches provide many social contributions

By LEVI MILLER / Guest Columnist

This year 2018, the Oak Grove Mennonite Church near Smithville is celebrating its bicentennial.

The congregation’s American story begins in 1818 when 11 Amish families of Swiss German origin had become landowners in Wayne County; they held worship services in their homes and barns. Their farms extended to the eastern border of what is now Wooster, and their first cemetery (Amish Plank Cemetery) can still be found just off Portage Road in the north end of Wooster.

During this same decade from 1810 to 1820, the Baptists, Brethren, Methodists and Presbyterians also had established churches in our two-county region. When the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville traveled through the Americas a decade later and wrote of his observations in “Democracy in America” (1835), he was especially fascinated by these free churches.

The French count’s insight was that the churches were an important part of civil society, which helped make a democratic republic possible. He credited these churches as providing important social glue: reigning in the selfish impulses of individualism and teaching habits of cooperation, charity, morality and civility. He wrote: “While the law permits Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.”

Much has changed in 200 years, and in the past half-century these traditional denominations have been overshadowed in numbers and influence by younger evangelical and non-denominational churches. And all Christians and Jews need to share space with other religions and secularism. Still, in Wooster, Millersburg and the surrounding townships, however diminished, the legacy churches continue, and the effort here is to note their social contributions.

These historic churches teach the Christian tradition beginning with the Hebrews, the Christian story and their denominational variety often beginning in the Protestant Reformation now commemorating its 500th anniversary. If you want to sing or have your children sing international hymns from the medieval period to today, visit a legacy church.

If you want to join in an ancient prayer or confess the creeds (even your sins), your best chance is in a legacy church. Even the very architecture of the building (especially the windows) speak of the tradition, however much the remodeling with the possibility of a screen or a powerpoint in front.

Second, the legacy churches have resources for charitable giving; they serve the community and the world. When the Oak Grove members thought of observing their anniversary, they thought of service and are making 200 comforters or blankets for local and international charities.

The Wooster Trinity United Church of Christ serves daily breakfasts, with help from locals and College of Wooster students. Programs such as Habitat for Humanity or People to People are highly dependent on these churches whose members both volunteer and have access to funds, endowments and foundations.

Third, the legacy churches have social capital which traditionally they have shared with the young.

Several years ago, the Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam revisited his home community in Port Clinton to find out why many of his high school classmates succeeded. He discovered that classmates from poor families and minorities, had the church as a socialization resource. Youth mixed with the middle class and the well-connected, gaining access to schools, colleges, jobs and community. He wrote his findings in Our Kids (2015).

Finally, the legacy churches provide a cultural and political refuge, a kind of mediating space from the culture wars waged in our nation. Legacy churches have some experience in this mediating project because many are associated with denominational offices which have tilted to the left. But at a parish level, hardline political and cultural views are mediated, softened and even ignored for the sake of civility and community.

The legacy churches recognize that compassion, justice and love, are not the exclusive possession of one political party or cultural persuasion. In legacy churches, a deacon may believe poverty is best addressed by job creation -- sitting beside an elder who is optimistic about government programs. They worship and serve the same God, read the same Bible, sing the same hymns and join together for a coffee, a lunch or a fish fry.

None of this is to claim that the legacy churches’ main purpose is to provide an institution in civil society, hence contributing to a democratic America. They would have a higher purpose such as: “to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves,” or “to love God and enjoy him forever,” or even “to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.”

In our two-county area, the largest legacy church is the Amish who arrived in Holmes County in 1809, and generally make few social and political claims on the republic. And yet, few of us would deny that this humble church also makes a powerful social and political contribution to American cultural life.

Our family lives near Green Field Farms, a horse-driving cooperative which this year has an exchange representative from the African country of Chad. Along with tribal languages, he speaks French and Arabic and now English and Pennsylvania Dutch; his name is Chindebeya Deuzoumbe Alexis. If the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville would revisit us 200 years later, I think he would be smiling.

*****************

Levi Miller is a Wooster area resident who just finished his church’s history, “Sketches of God’s Faithfulness: Oak Grove Mennonite Church 1818-2018.”

This article appeared in The Daily Record, Wooster, on May 11, 2018 


OG Celebrations Mark 200th Anniversary
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-04-05

Oak Grove celebrations mark 200th anniversary

All are cordially invited to Oak Grove Mennonite Church’s Historical Reflections  Weekend, the first of three events marking the congregation’s 200th anniversary. 

The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Oak Grove Mennonite Church, 7843 Smucker Road, Smithville, Ohio.

  • A two-century timeline, to be installed in the sanctuary, will be unveiled.
  • Sketches of God's Faithfulness, a historical booklet by Levi Miller, will be released.
  • In addition, Jason Kauffman, archivist of Mennonite Church USA, will speak on the importance of story.

A native of Dalton, Ohio, Jason Kauffman attended Orrville Mennonite Church during his youth, and graduated from Central Christian School and Goshen College. he earned a doctorate at the University of North Carolina, and now serves as Director of Archives and Record Management for Mennonite Church USA. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana, with his wife, Lisa Graber, and their three children.

Two other anniversary events are planned this year:

  • Musical Heritage, July 1-15 --> piano recital with George Bixler, and hymn sing sampling hymnals used by the congregation during the 20th century;
  • Harvest Home Festival, Oct.13-14 --> Sunday school reunions, choral music program with Byron Kauffman, and worship with Mark Schloneger, guest minister.

Community Events
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-03-09
To know and to be known is community.
 
What a blessing to live in a community of faith that is connected in so many ways to the Smithville community in which we live, work, study and play. We are blessed to be neighbors of the people and tied to the land of this community.
Oak Grove Mennonite has been rooted here for two hundred years. Established in 1818, the church is celebrating its Bicentennial this year.
 
It has been significant to us and important for us to participate in school, social and religious life. As teachers, staff, coaches, volunteers, business people, farmers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, store owners, and much more we have had opportunity to engage neighbors, family and friends. Community is important to us.
 
Please note that the
Oak Grove Community Seed Exchange is rescheduled
to Saturday March 17 at 3:00 p.m.
Bring seeds to trade or share with others - no money exchanged. Bulbs, house plants, gardening books and magazines, vases, as well as local gardening wisdom and lore are welcome. Exchange will happen in our Fellowship Center.
 
On April 28 at 10:00 a.m. we will hold our annual
Community Plant Exchange
in the Oak Grove Church parking lot
at 7843 Smucker Road just east of Smithville.
 
Neighbors near and far are welcome!

Discovery: A Comic Lament
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-02-27

Discovery: A Comic Lament, is coming to Oak Grove Mennonite Church, 7843 Smucker Rd, Smithville, OH on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 4:00 pm.

Admission is free and is open to the public!

Sponsored by Area Mennonite churches, including First Mennonite Church Wadsworth, Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Summit Mennonite Church, Orrville Mennonite Church, Crown Hill Mennonite Church, and Wooster Mennonite Church (in no particular order.)

The play, starring Ted Swartz and Michelle Milne, and produced by Ted & Co TheaterWorks, is about the Doctrine of Discovery, the legal framework that justifies theft of land and oppression of Indigenous Peoples. It finds unexpected humor at the crossroads of justice and land use, offering both comic and challenging glimpses into the absurdity of white settler oppression of Indigenous Peoples and the land we live on. A show about love, and loss, of land, Discovery nudges us to question our stories with honesty and integrity.

What happens when we find out there is a problem with the ground under our feet? When we acknowledge that the land we want to reconnect with was violently and unjustly emptied of indigenous peoples? When we learn about their continued oppression? And, what is our role, as people of faith, and inheritors of a system of land ownership based on theft?

This is a play about a big, foundational problem: how the land under our feet came to be under our feet. And it is about learning to face that problem with the energy that only shared laughter can create, so that we can move forward.

Produced by Ted & Co, written by Alison Brookins, and directed by Phil Weaver-Stoesz. Created in partnership with the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition. Fiscal support through Mennonite Mission Network.

Admission is free and is open to the public!

 -Pastor Doug (Adapted News Release)


Don't Be Afraid
by DJZehr on 2018-02-08

There is nothing quite like experiencing it for yourself. Despite starting the day with a delay on my flight out of Fort Wayne, and missing my connection in Chicago for Washington, D.C. I made my connection in Zurich.

The boarding lounge was nearly vacant and the plane bound for Nairobi was seemingly empty, confirming my worst fears. The security situation in Kenya was considered uncertain and people were taking the travel warnings seriously.

But I had felt God clearly challenge me to confirm my travel plans and keep my commitment to participate in the April sessions of the Christian Bible Institute(CBI). “I have commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go(v.9).  The uncertainties around the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008 which had challenged my original decision to postpone my teaching mission with the CBI of the Christian Church International, were subsiding. I was traveling with the confidence of my family and a supportive church community. I would keep their prayers close to my heart.

From my journal entry on the first day of my trip: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25) – from Dad’s Kenya Calendar, Day #1 (Maria). I receive this word today as a wonderful confirmation from God’s word that I am safely in the palm of God’s hand. My proclamation today is, “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!”

Another note from a couple in the congregation added further encouragement: “As you travel (both going and returning) and your entire time of your trip, please know that we are committed to praying for your spiritual, emotional and physical safety. You are doing a great thing, and we trust our Lord to return you safely to us.”

Not every day is life quite that intense. But thanks be to God for the power of prayer.  As the hymn writer penned:  “Sweet are the promises, kind is the word, sweeter far than any word man has ever heard.”

Pastor Doug

zehr.douglas@gmail.com


Oak Grove Bicentennial 1818-2018
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2018-01-08

In light of our bicentennial celebration our general theme for 2018 is "Great is Thy Faithfulness" We are planning three major weekend events to mark the occasion:

April 14-15, 2018 – Historical Reflections

July 15, 2018 – Hymn Sing & Hymnal Celebration

October 13-14, 2018 - Homecoming & Concert

More detailed information about the events of each weekend can be found under the Bicentennial tab on our home page.

We will kick off our bicentennial celebration with an introduction this Sunday, January 14 at 10:30 a.m. with the theme - "From Generation to Generation." Then between the April Historical Reflections weekend and the October Homecoming weekend we will focus on "The Values that Characterize Oak Grove!"

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Oak Grove Bicentennial 1818-2018 Theme

Introduction to Our Year of Celebration:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

 "From Generation to Generation: Legacy Received”

-Doug Zehr, Pastor 2009 – Present

Psalm 145:4  One generation shall praise Your works to another.

Psalm 79:13 “from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Relentless . . . On and on . . . Time marches on. Sometimes soft as gently falling snow, sometimes overwhelming like a snow “bomb cyclone” bearing down on us.

Life begins as a babe; life ends at old age – we think.The Psalmist gives us some perspective in Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise Your works to another” and in Psalm 79:13 “from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” We are part of God’s activity in the world. No one who came before us was indispensable. His or her time to be born, to live, to love, to teach made an impact, but it has come and gone! Their contribution has made a connection.

Today, my time has come. Today, your time counts. It is our time to live and serve. Today is our opportunity to declare the great faithfulness of God as we have received it from a passing generation and share it with a coming generation. We will do our part. We will share our dreams, aspirations, goals and gifts to keep the praise of God’s works moving from this generation to the next. 

-Doug


Advent 4 Pondering
by Pastor Doug on 2017-12-21

ADVENT PONDERING 4

We are all too aware of how much our world needs shalom. Last Sunday we considered how Mary proclaimed a radical realignment of the social order where all can experience shalom. 

While we often get caught up in our comparisons with those that have more than we have, most of us are among those who have more than many in our world. So after some reflection on Mary's vision of realignment, how have you responded to the call for a more socially just society? To bring shalom?

This week's readings remind us that God is working his purpose out, using the likely and unlikely—kings, but also the humble, seemingly insignificant, the lowly—to fulfill God’s mission.

As Christians, we are part of God’s mission of reconciliation. We want to look around and see where God is at work, and then take the opportunity to entering in. It may call us to let go of our insecurities and insufficiencies and allow God to use us as channels of the good news?

We may be tempted to hold fast to the comfortable - the way it has been for us. We hold on to the familar since we somehow have to pay the bills. But God keeps calling, and perhaps surprisingly to many of us, that call is often answered by the least among us . . . a barren Hannah, a young David or an innocent Mary! Humble and ordinary folks who hear and believe, and further God's reign on earth.

Down through the ages many have joined in with Mary, "Here I am, the servant of the Lord, Let it be with me according to your word!"

Yes! Let it be NOW! 

-Doug

Your Response Welcome

 


Avent 3 Anticipation
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2017-12-11

ADVENT 3 Anticipation

On this past Sunday we acknowledged that all of us experience the need for comfort, whether our difficulties are of our own making or are circumstances which are thrust upon us.

The messianic hope in the writings of Isaiah found its fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth. The New Testament writers understood this clearly, as have artists throughout the history of the church.

This coming Sunday, December 17, here at Oak Grove at 2:30 p.m., the rafters will echo with the music of the Messiah - as a nearly one hundred voice choir will present Handel's artistic interpretation of this great messianic hope.

How have you experienced God’s comfort in the midst of hardship?

How are you drawing on God’s comfort now?

Can you declare,“God has done it before (for me)?” (Isaiah 64:1-9)

 “God will do it again (for me)?” (Mark 13:24-37)

 “Indeed, God has already begun the process (in me)?” (1 Cor. 1:3-9)

Our 10:30 a.m. worship service, "LET IT BE WHOLE," will focus on the vision Mary paints in the Magnificat, as found in the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55, a vision of shalom—peace, wholeness or well-being— for everyone. 

This vision seems to be illusive on a personal and global scale.  We recognize we cannot achieve this on our own.  We are God’s vessels through which “God’s love, joy and peace can flow . . . to the world.”

How are you a channel of God’s love, joy and peace this Advent?

-Pastor Doug


Exhausted . . . But Happy
by Pastor Doug Zehr on 2017-12-05

Exhausted . . . but happy! Extremely Happy.

Sunday evening was the 29th annual presentation of the Search for the Christ Child at Oak Grove. With a very pleasant super moon lit night we hosted more than 500 visitors. With a hundred people involved in the set up and presenting of the old, old story, it is a remarkable community building event. But probably what is most remarkable is that most of the participating presenters stick around to clean up and store all the props and costumes. It truly proves the point that many hands make light work.

So it is a big day at the Grove. I was exhausted. My day started early with two presentations in worship services to mark the being of the Advent season. In Advent 1 we acknowledged the darkness in our world.

What areas of darkness are you facing? Where might you find hope in the darkness?

Can you declare,

“God has done it before” (Isaiah 64:1-9);

“God will do it again” (Mark13:24-37).

“Indeed, God has already begun the process” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)!

As the Advent season continues, may you be encouraged, like Mary, to take the leap of faith and answer with her, “Let it be!” God has your back.  God is present, even in the darkness. It is an old, old story of Good News!

On a side note, I was recently reminded that if at the beginning of December, you're remembering about your 2017 New Year’s resolution to read the Bible this year, just over 38 chapters a day would still bring you over the finish line.

However, since it only takes 72 hours to read through the Bible out loud, you could wait to start on the 29th and finish by the close of the year.

 --Douglas J. Zehr

Comments Welcome - Email Me

 


HARVEY
by DJZehr on 2017-08-30
We pray, "Lord, have mercy on all those affected by Harvey - whether that is Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Harvey, Tornado Harvey, Lightening Harvey, Flood Harvey, Straight Winds Harvey, Rain Harvey, or Lights Out Harvey! Lord, may your people rise up even faster than the flood waters. Lord have mercy!" Amen.
 
We thank God for all the First Responders, Volunteers and the many organizations providing immediate relief. May God keep them all safe.
 
Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is on the ground in Texas evaluating the situation to see where they will focus resources to assist. We expect MDS to be involved long term. Up-to-date information about those efforts can be secured at www.mds.mennonite.net
 
Oak Grove Mennonite Church will support those efforts. We expect that we will have indvidutals and team(s) that will join the efforts to RESPOND! REBUILD! RESOTE! Any donations marked for HARVEY RELIEF will be honored through MDS. Worship participants can contibute to the offering. Anywone can send your check to the Oak Grove Church office at 8743 Smucker Rd., Smithville OH 44677.

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.

 

-- Doug

Douglas J. Zehr, Pastor

Oak Grove Mennonite Church

zehr.douglas@gmail.com

-


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.

Believe it.


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.’
-D.J. Zehr

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!

-D.J. Zehr

Respond: To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!