By Larry Scheffler
As I wake up each morning I am grateful as I realize how truly blessed I am having walked into the Seattle Mennonite Church on a Sunday morning in 2005 during Lent and never departed. Although it has been six years since I walked through the door on 125th Street it feels as if it were just yesterday.
I came to SMC at a time of deep personal need. I came to pray for my daughter who had been struggling with substance abuse for many years. My daughter had gone through rehab but I was fearful that she was still quite vulnerable and I had come to the realization that I was in need of something other than my own self to sustain me.
When I walked through that front door on 125th Street I knew very little about Mennonites, SMC or its congregation, I had never walked into a “house of worship” on my own. However, years before, when I told my daughter-in-law that I was thinking about joining the Peace Corps or working with AmeriCorps she casually mentioned the work Mennonites are doing around the world. While I did not look into this at the time, I suppose the conversation remained in my mind on the Sunday morning in 2005 when I awoke and decided to attend Church. I got on the internet “googled” Mennonite Churches in Seattle…lo and behold I found SMC!
Immediately, upon walking into the Seattle Mennonite Church, I saw so many big smiles on people’s faces…especially on Pastor Weldon’s face, and I asked myself “what is it that brings such joy to these folks” and wondered how can I find it.
The simplicity of the Sanctuary impressed me greatly. I thought to myself, here are a group of people worshiping God without the need for fancy alters, expensive decorations, or stained glass windows. From the very first day, in this simple setting I found the worship service to be powerful and moving. The scripture, the sermons, the singing and the children’s story all reached out to me.
As I continued to attend SMC I soon discovered what this congregation and Mennonites all over the world were engaged in with regard to peace, justice and humanitarian service. It didn’t take me long to see what brought the joy I had first noticed upon entering the sanctuary at SMC. It was the welcoming Love of Jesus Christ in action. I immediately wanted to share in this and became involved with Stop, Drop and Roll. It was through this engagement and sharing with Lake City’s homeless population that I found myself for the first time understanding the meaning of Grace. If I have any small regrets, as I am sure we all do, it is that I did not “find” Jesus Christ sooner, so that I could have shared more of His Love with more people. However, I am forever grateful that Jesus in His infinite patience, waited 64 years for me to find Him.
As I have been writing this testimony “Amazing Grace” has been playing in my head and I have a smile on my face.