Local Mennonite Church Service Disturbed by Strong Wind

Written by Jon Kane : June 19, 2008

Editor’s Note: Below is the 2nd Prize winner in the satire category for the Stepping into a Violent Wind Writing Competition:

The members of a local Mennonite church reported that their service this past Sunday was disturbed by strong winds.  Although no one in the surrounding suburban area could confirm the report, the storm appears to have begun soon after the start of the service at Decently and In Order Mennonite Church and continued until the service ended - some forty-five minutes later than usual.  No injuries were reported, but many of the service’s attendees remain shaken by the ordeal.

Church members found it difficult to describe the experience.  ”It sounded like a great wind, that’s all I can say,” said food committee member Elias Stoltzfus, “But come to think of it - I don’t remember feeling any wind.  There was just a great roar, and then everything went crazy.”  When asked to described what he meant by crazy, Elias just shook his head.  ”Some of the details are too embarrassing to mention,” he said, “But I’ve never heard Brother Kauffman preach like that.  And going overtime - he usually knows how to watch the clock!”

Other members were less reticent about the details.  ”People were on their feet during the sermon, on their knees, calling out,” commented Anna Lapp, who heads up the sewing circle.  ”If Brother Kauffman hadn’t been preaching so enthusiastically, I might not have been able to hear him over the commotion.”  ”I heard people calling out during prayer,” said Anna’s sister Barb.  ”And some of them I couldn’t even understand, like they were speaking in another language.”  ”What I don’t understand,” confessed Michael Byler, “Is how Brother Kauffman thought we could hold a proper communion service.  Its true, we found some old bread and juice on hand down in the kitchen, but we couldn’t do the foot-washing and we hadn’t even had a preparatory service!”

“We don’t normally have an altar call on Sunday mornings,” continued Michael Byler, who also serves on the building committee.  ”We save that for the yearly revival meetings, and it’s meant for people who don’t already know the Lord.  But we had one yesterday, and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen.”  According to various witnesses many people, including some stalwart members of the church, responded to the invitation.  ”If there would be anymore verses to Just As I Am,” pointed out Anna Lapp, “The entire audience would have been at the front of the church.”

All the church members willing to give comment denied participating in any of these unusual demonstrations.  Brother Kauffman, who preached on the Sunday of the disturbance, was unavailable for comment.

Some members claim they had no warning that fierce winds were about to strike.  ”During Sunday School all was quiet and normal,” said Peter Miller, one of the five ministers for the church.  ”I don’t even remember seeing a dark cloud on the sky.  The wind just came out of nowhere.”  But not everyone agreed with Miller’s assessment.   “I knew something was wrong when the song leader led that third song,” said his mother Charity Miller, a longtime member of the church.  ”That’s just never happened before; at least not in my memory.”

The church is taking all the steps that it can to prevent such a disturbance from happening again.  ”Obviously we can’t control the weather,” laughed Peter Miller, “That is in God’s hands.  But we will do what we can to prevent this from happening again.”  At least one change will be effective immediately.  ”The song leader will be given a leave of absence,” said a member of the Elder Board, who wished to remain anonymous.  ”We all really feel that the whole disturbance could have been avoided if he would have simply followed the program and stopped after the traditional second song.  We have the program to help us avoid unexpected disturbances, including those caused by such natural occurrences as the wind.  Hopefully this time away from responsibilities will allow the song leader to regain the balance necessary to faithfully service in this important position within the life of the church.”

Not everyone seemed as upset about the experience as those represented by the anonymous member of the Elder Board. “That was the best church service I have ever been at,” exclaimed youth group leader Ken Beachy, “It was, like, God was really there or something.  I’ve never felt that way before.”  Although unsure exactly how, Ken and other members of the church youth group are already talking about ways to repeat the experience.  ”Even if such a wind doesn’t disturb the church services again, we wouldn’t mind some of that feeling at our youth meetings,” Ken continued.  ”We don’t think the church leadership will oppose that.”  The Elder Board member declined to comment.

According to the church bulletin, next Sunday will mark the beginning of a new Sunday morning series at Decently and In Order Mennonite Church entitled The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church.  When asked for comment, the Elder Board member replied that the entire church was excited about the upcoming series.  ”I just hope yesterday’s disturbance doesn’t carry over and ruin this carefully planned program.”

Author Bio: Jon Kane is a former Amish Mennonite, a current Mennonite, and a soon to be graduate student living in Lancaster, PA.  He plans on taking the Mennonite label along with him to grad school.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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Viewing 3 Comments

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    Is Decently & In Order accepting new members?
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    LOL !! ...aren't you a bit mistaken, it was Anna's sister Mattie that gave that account. It's difficult to tell them apart they look so similar. I know you wouldn't want to give a false witness there.
    ...decently and in order my friend all must go through a time of proving along with that wild song leader...
    Me thinks this is especially funny only to a few...kinda like Weird Al's song when I first heard it...Huh!??
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    espiritu_paz, I guess I'm one of the few. This puts weird al to shame. Wonder which way the wind will blow next time.


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