New name, new hope for survival at Colo. church
Deciding not to close, merged Brethren, Mennonite group makes a fresh startBy Kelli Yoder Mennonite World Review
ARVADA, Colo. — Arvada Mennonite Church reached what longtime member Menno Gaeddert sees now as the height of its activity in the mid-1970s.
At the time, members were instrumental in the closing of a local nuclear weapons production plant.
“It wasn’t the silent witness,” said Gaeddert, now in his 80s. “The whole Denver community knew about it. It was once a month of being arrested and appearing in trial.”
At its peak, Gaeddert remembers the church with more than 100 members.
Today, things look a lot different. The most recent pastor left over a year ago. Only 13 members remain. And last May, the congregation faced the question of whether to shut its doors.
But they refused to disband and instead chose a path of radical change. They’ve merged with a Church of the Brethren congregation, adopted a new name — Living Light of Peace — and resolved to take action on a shared vision for growth.
In its heyday, Arvada Mennonite was known for social justice and outreach, through an extensive community garden and by helping plant — and sharing their building with — a Hmong Mennonite congregation.
Soon they were sharing space with a Church of the Brethren group as well.
Les Shenefelt helped start the Brethren group. He said when seeking a church to worship with, they looked to Arvada Mennonite because of shared values.
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