Serving the Community

We believe that part of our mission is to be a visible sign of God’s “Kingdom” or reign in the immediate community in which we have been planted. At Lorraine Avenue, we support a number of local organizations, and promote a variety of concrete ways of serving the community.

Meaning ‘Upper Room,’ Aposento Alto is the name of the Mennonite Hispanic church plant in Wichita, led by Byron and Hilda Pellecer. Together with Hope Mennonite Church in west Wichita, and Mennonite Church of the Servant in the Riverside neighborhood, we support Aposento Alto financially, and three of our members serve on the church plant’s Support Committee. Most importantly, all of our members and attenders are invited to participate as we are able in Aposento Alto’s activities and gatherings. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience and celebrate the diversity of God’s people.

Initiated by the Catholic Diocese, The Lord’s Diner has a large facility downtown, one in south Wichita, and two food trucks that serve many in north Wichita and the Hilltop area. The Lord’s Diner serves free meals in areas with high rates of poverty or homelessness. LAMC has a volunteer group of 50 or so who serve monthly at the south Lord’s Diner.

By registering online with Dillons and using your Dillons Plus Shoppers Card, 5% of qualified expenditures are contributed to the church. The money is used for the Lorraine Avenue Mission Board’s programs.

Inter-Faith Ministries (IFM) mission statement reads: Working to build inter-religious understanding, promote justice, relieve misery, and reconcile the estranged. LAMC is an active member church of IFM, and two representatives from our church liaison with IFM each year, choosing from their many projects to offer volunteer opportunities to our church members. Several areas of involvement recently have been raising money to help the Food Bank’s “No More Hungry Kids” and Operation Holiday. Crop Walk walkers raise money to benefit Church World Services and local food pantries. Coats and other warm clothing and non-perishable food items are collected for Operation Holiday. Our representatives keep our members apprised of the many opportunities to help our community through Inter-Faith Ministries.

In 1975, local Mennonite Churches had a vision for making the world better for senior citizens on fixed incomes by repairing homes of elderly people no longer able to do so themselves. Volunteers from these congregations formed the Mennonite Voluntary Service Unit and began operating from a small garage in the midtown area of Wichita. Volunteers from several Mennonite churches in Wichita and from Mennonite Voluntary Service accomplished the physical work. It was officially incorporated in 1977. Now, many years later, the organization has grown and evolved, and although rehabilitation is now a smaller part of the thrust of the organization, many are served through newly built senior apartment complexes, and through self-help programs, where several families can work together under supervision provided by MHRS to build their own homes. A new project of multi-family residences, with a community building and park, has begun. Taking advantage of federal and state funds available, the nature of the organization has changed, but the philosophy of benefiting those in need remains firmly as the focus of MHRS. LAMC always has two representatives on their board of directors.

The Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Pantry (or LAMP) was envisioned as a means of ministering to our community by meeting needs not met by other agencies. The Lorraine Avenue Mission Board is just beginning an exciting new relationship with the International Rescue Committee. The American branch of the IRC was founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein; the local office in Wichita has been here since September, 2011. The IRC is a federally funded organization whose mission is to “empower refugees to rebuild their lives, restore their sense of dignity, and fully participate in their new communities by providing compassionate support, resources and programs tailored to their unique needs.”

Lorraine Avenue provides household boxes for refugees setting up housekeeping. The boxes include: Dish Detergent, Laundry Detergent, Aluminum Foil, Plastic Wrap, Paper Towels, Facial Tissue, Toilet Paper, Bath Soap Bars, Toothpaste, Shampoo, Bathroom/kitchen cleanser.

Residents of the neighborhood adjacent to Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church some time ago established Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA). An excerpt from their bylaws, reads “…To enhance the livability of the area by establishing an organization devoted to social involvement, safety, environmental soundness, and property upkeep; establish a caring neighborhood open to communication, for networking within government agencies and other neighborhoods, and establish a nonpartisan political voice; to get to know our neighbors through educational and fun activities.”

In practical terms, this has meant keeping neighborhood crime down by knowing and looking out for neighbors, watching properties, and working with the community police officer. Neighbors also keep an eye on the church property and notify police and pastors of any suspicious activity. The association keeps property values up by encouraging people to take care of their homes and yards through clean-up weekends and working with various city departments such as central inspection, health department, hazardous waste disposal, recycling information, etc.

It is part of the Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church mission statement to reach out to the neighborhood. Our pastors, Lois and Tom Harder, have helped pull the neighbors together further by offering the church as a meeting place for SNA potluck suppers and meetings. They have also personally helped neighbors in many ways – friendship, childcare, meals when a family is going through a birth/death/illness or some other crisis.

Several church members have created an intentional neighborhood in the next block north of the church they call Sunnyside Village. It was designed to be multi-generational and within walking distance of our church. Several church families own houses there.