Welcome to Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church!
The Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church was “born” on October 9, 1932, when a small group of Wichita-area Mennonites (comprised of seventeen charter members and eight associate members) gathered together in one of their homes to officially form a congregation. Our first building was a combination church/parsonage which was built just west of the present site (but no longer standing). By 1946 the membership had topped two hundred, and on October 6 of that year the cornerstone was laid for the present church building at 655 S. Lorraine, on the northwest corner of Lorraine and Gilbert. Continued growth in attendance and membership during the following years eventually led to several expansions of the building, including an education wing to the west and an additional lobby, classroom, and elevator to the north.
Today we are a congregation of approximately 390 members, with an average weekly attendance of around 150. As a Mennonite church, we value and celebrate the faith traditions of our spiritual forebears, who placed allegiance to Jesus Christ above all else. As an urban church, we are actively involved in the world around us. We represent a wide variety of professions and pursuits–some of us are teachers, others are students; some work in healthcare or law, others in retail or the aircraft industry. As city-dwellers, we are influenced by city diversity and difficulties, including the challenge of balancing busyness of work and school with the priority of nurturing our faith in committed community. Ultimately, we believe our God-given task is to bloom where we have been planted, to embrace diversity while we hold fast to our identity, to be a unique sign of God’s coming, already-here kingdom.
Who Are The Mennonites
Mennonites are the spiritual descendents of a group of 16th-century Swiss, South-German, and Dutch church reformers known as the “Anabaptists,” a derisive title meaning “re-baptizers.” The Anabaptists in the Netherlands were called “Menists” and eventually “Mennonites,” after one of their leaders, Menno Simons.
Eventually, the Mennonites began finding their way to North America. Some came directly from Switzerland, others via Poland or Russia. Some came as early as the seventeenth century, others as late as the nineteenth century. Some settled in parts of the eastern United States (notably Pennsylvania), others in Canada, still others in South America. And a sizable number settled in the central plains of the U.S., particularly in rural communities of South-Central Kansas. By the latter part of the 19th century, Mennonites had begun moving to Wichita from these communities, prompting the denominational leaders to begin efforts to plant a church here. During the ensuing decades, the ground was tilled, seeds were planted, and in time a new congregation began to bloom.
Mennonites today continue to identify with our Anabaptist forefathers and foremothers. Like them, we think of the Church as a community of accountability, both to each other and to the cross of Christ. We identify with our tradition as a “peace church,” choosing non-violence over violence, reconciliation over military might, allegiance to the way of Christ over allegiance to worldly powers. We emphasize the central importance of loving God, and our neighbor as ourselves, often expressed through compassionate service to others, whether overseas or at home. Above all, we are committed to bringing the good news of God’s reign to every corner of the world. As a result, we are becoming increasingly diverse; there are presently more Mennonites in Africa and South America than in North America or Europe. Like all denominations and churches, the Mennonite Church is far from perfect. We continually struggle in our efforts to be faithful to God’s will, and sometimes get mired in disagreements, some of which have led to unfortunate division and disharmony. Thankfully, our God is a God of patience, love and grace, a God who continually calls diverse peoples to diverse tasks, all for the fulfillment of God’s universal reign in the world.
For more information about Mennonites, visit the Third Way Cafe.
Whether you are new to Wichita or a long-time resident, whether you are young or old or in-between – wherever you are on your journey – you are welcome, and we invite you to come join us.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35)
In the midst of a world hungry for wholeness and thirsty for truth, God is calling us to come together as his people. The Church is to be the body of Christ, a sign of God’s reign of peace and salvation. This is the call we strive to fulfill here at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church.