Farewell to Samantha … Thank you!

We’ll Miss You!   Blessings!

On September 27 we said goodbye to Samantha, our interim pastor for the last six months.  We were blessed by her wise, kind and gentle leadership among us and in turn we bless her as she moves on to the next part of her journey…

Lynda presenting Samantha with a book of blessings and remembrance

Lynda presenting Samantha with a book of blessings and remembrance

Samantha blessing

Prayers of blessing

pentecost 1Taftsville members were surprised by bright decorations on Pentecost morning. Samantha helped Courtney put up decorations on Saturday night, using the fire colors of red, orange, and yellow. On Sunday, they turned on the fans so the streamers would blow in the breeze a bit as a visual reminder of the wind and fire filling the room.

Everyone wore their fire colors as well, and the room glowed! And for the kid’s lesson we made Pentecost balloons.

pentecost 4
* Balloons to celebrate that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
* The balloon is red, because that is the liturgical color for Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.
* We added streamers to remember the rushing wind that filled the room.pentecost 2

* We added flames to remember the fire that settled on every believer in the room.
* And we added a dove, the more common symbol of the Spirit, to remember that this was the day the Spirit came.

Then we ended by singing the Raffi kids tune “You gotta sing when the Spirit says sing” with verses of clap, stomp and wave.

pentecost 3

cord bannerThe worship theme for January 11, 18, and 25 centered on the idea of covenant. On January 18, to symbolize the diversity that each of us represents and the unity in Christ that binds us together, we tied representative “cords” end-to-end. These were knotted into a banner which was hung on the 25th for our annual covenant and communion service. The cords at the bottom were left open-ended as a symbol of welcome.





On Sunday, November 9, we gathered to tell our story.

The Transition Team asked Randy and me to lead us in developing a congregational timeline, which we did over the course of two Sundays.  This activity involved lots of stories, laughter, sticky-notes and jogged memories.  The summation report is available in pdf format :  TCMF Timeline Report.  If you’d like to hear the stories and watch the interactions, Bob created a video which is available in the church library.  Thank you Bob!  What a wonderful congregation we have.  Blessings to you all, Carie

Screen Shot small groups

We met in small groups to share our personal stories

Screen shot getting started

Randy records everything!

Screen Shot early years closeup

Just getting started

Screen Shot group in process

Many good memories are shared

timelie 1

Completed Timeline 1960’s

timeline 2

Completed Timeline 1970s

timeline 3

Completed Timelie 1980s

timeline 4

Completed Timeline 1990s

Completed Timeline 2000-1010

Completed Timeline 2000-1010

Completed Timeline 2010-2015

Completed Timeline 2010-2015

[Early this fall, Bob returned to Red Lake, Ontario, for a visit.  He hadn’t been back since the 1950s, when he spent several growing-up years there.  His father was a bush pilot for the first Mennonite missionary work in the area, Northern Light Gospel Missions. This ongoing ministry to the First Nations People is now called Living Hope Native Ministries- LHNM.]
Ministry Office at Red Lake

Ministry Office at Red Lake


My trip to Red Lake was fantastic !!!!   I renewed friendships and met the workers at the LHNM office. There are lots of changes in town, mainly in the number of houses built.  Most of these are homes for mine workers. The gold mine is still in operation, at depths of over 10,000 feet down.  They use large loaders and dump trucks in the shafts when digging.  Hard to imagine driving trucks in tunnels 2 miles down.I did see some native adults wandering around.  They seemed to hang out near the LHNM office building a lot.  The building backs up to a wooded area and they stay out in the woods in warmer months.  I saw youth a few times, they looked like they were walking to jobs in town, and I did see quite a few working in stores.I attended Grace Community Church on Sunday.  They had all their singing at the beginning of service, led by Ivan and Rachel Ramer – Rachel on piano and Ivan leading the singing. (Ivan and Rachel are former members of Taftsville.) We stood for all the songs and I lost count of the number of songs that were sung, after 12.  I asked if the Mennonite presence was declining or growing and was told that it seems to be staying the same.

Ivan and Rachel Ramer

Ivan and Rachel Ramer

I look forward to a return visit.  There is a job opportunity if I want to move to Red Lake.  I would need to support myself as LHNM does not pay its workers.  Something to think about after retirement if I decide I need a change !!!!

Float Planes at the Dock

Float Planes at the Dock

Early Easter Sunday morning we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection by carrying our heavy wooden cross up the hill, as we have done every year for almost 30 years.

We walked in silence and took turns carrying the  cross.




We stopped 5 times to listen to Scripture and to sing together.


cross5 cross4


We paused at the top to look out over the valley and reflect on the meaning of Christ’s resurrection before singing “Lift your glad voices!”


And then we made our way back down to the church for breakfast and worship.



Choices! Choices! The array of breakfast casseroles, fresh fruit, and baked goodies was enough to satisfy a large group of diners.





The table centerpiece created by Jane and Ken reminded everyone of the meaning of Easter – an empty tomb!


We enjoyed lots of wonderful music, Scripture readings, and reflections from four eye-witnesses:  Peter, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas and Thomas.








-Article by Vrginia Schlabach
Bob introduces Colleen

Bob introduces Colleen

On the evening of March 26 our congregation was blessed to meet and hear first-hand from Colleen Estes about her ministry in Pikangikum, Ontario. A few of us spent some personal discussion time with Colleen before the meal; others found her hopping from table to table for shorter conversations during our soup, bread, and brownies supper; and all of us who attended were able to hear her speak and answer our many questions. For me, Colleen embodies passion and compassion, faith and faithfulness, and humor and hope – all characteristics she needs as she faces what seem to us to be constant tragic and hopeless situations. When she spoke to us about Pikangikum, at first she kept repeating “What do I see? as she listed all the hopeless things, but then she went on again to repeat “What do I see?” and share the hopeful and good side of life on the reserve. I think it may have been hard for us to grasp the hopeful, but those signs are there!

As Abner, Bob Rosenberger, and I had the extra privilege of spending Tuesday evening and Thursday with Colleen at our house and Bob’s house, I was heartened to discover her delightful humor, to hear her laugh, to listen to her stories of fun times and good relationships even as she shared the burdens. Abner commented: “Our interaction with Colleen made it so evident that her whole life was a preparation for the service which she so selflessly does in Pikangikum. And it was very humbling to learn how totally dedicated she is to those with great needs.” It seems to me that Colleen‘s greatest ministry is just “to be,” to walk along side, to offer a safe haven, to embody God’s love.

Here are some responses from a few others:



Jan talks with Colleen

Jan talks with Colleen

Jan Collins: When I first met Colleen with a hand shake, I immediately felt a kinship and that she was a true sister in Christ, and it felt like we had been friends for years. Her enthusiasm for life, her faith in God, and her love of the people in Pikangikum was evident throughout the evening. Through her sharing, she gave a graphic and clear picture of the community where she lives and works. I can better understand the deep depression and hopelessness of the people. It brought to mind the horrible way the Europeans stole the livelihood of the Natives hundreds of years ago, occupying the land they called home, and are still controlling them today, leaving a dependent and handicapped community trying to survive. It made me aware of the dire needs of these people that requires miraculous intervention. That is where I come in, where we come in, as a supporting church, to pray for Colleen and these folks, and help with their financial and other needs as presented to us. 

Melissa Ayres: What touched me most was the tender heart and respect Colleen has for this group of people. She cares about all of them with an obvious emphasis on the children. I had understood that as Native people they had cultural differences from white people. Hearing that English is a second language was surprising. What a huge hurdle when the majority of your teachers not only don’t know your language (or culture) but aren’t there long enough to learn them! Colleen spoke of children going “away” to school. That also highlighted the differences the people of Pikangikum feel between their lives and those of white people. The need for supporting them in their work to support themselves seems to be the key.


Lynda Knisley: Though the details of her situation are daunting, we sensed that Colleen knows that her contact with individuals is key. If we pictured family structures like our own, children exploring their gifts and passions with parental guidance, Colleen described instead a community in which people of every age seem adrift. The vigorous learning culture we strive for in our classrooms, for example, is constantly disrupted by moose hunts, fishing season, and frequent family disasters. How can it be that education is optional? Colleen said children are free to stay home, play video games and watch TV long into the night. Of course, the escapism and violence these provide is “education” to the max! Colleen often describes the alcoholism and suicide that plague teens in this community. Are these inevitable?  What must those turbulent years be like without the security and protection of older adults nearby? These are some of the images we carried away from our Q and A with Colleen before supper. She has “learned how to be content” in her surroundings, like Paul. Every so often, affirmation comes along; proof that her presence in the midst of what she calls “constant grief” renews hope and helps people to thrive.


Colleen left a hand-written letter for us:
Dear Brothers and Sisters at Taftsville Mennonite Chapel,
What a joy it was to meet the people with such big hearts for the people of Pikangikum! 
And, how you refreshed my own soul with your warmth, laughter, & love!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to meet you, share my heart, and fellowship
together. And I am thankful for your giving which enables me to feed the families in need.
May God richly bless your ministry in your community & beyond!
Love in Christ, Colleen Estes


Hear the words of Jesus:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” [Matt.4:4]

“Give us this day, our daily bread.” [Matt. 6:11]

The bread of God comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” [John 6:32]

“I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” [John 6:41]

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [John 6:51]

“I am the bread of life; the one who comes to Me will not hunger.” [John6:35]

The simple, everyday act of eating bread is something most of us do without thinking. But in our Christian context, bread means much more than a prop for peanut butter. It invites us to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and mercy in the sacrificial gift of His Son.

During the Lenten season this year we will be looking at several stories of “Bread” from both the Old and New Testaments. We will ponder our own hunger, and reflect on Jesus’ profound, nourishing and sufficient grace. And, perhaps, realize anew that His grace is ours to freely receive, as we confess our need and turn to Him to be filled.

The theme is embodied by the folk hymn “Take Our Bread” by Joe Wise, which we will sing each Sunday.  If you would like to read some of the Bible stories for yourself ahead of time, you can read John 6:1-13; Exodus 16:1-36; I Kings 19:1-8; Lev. 24:5-9; John 6:25-58. 

Christmas Eve, 2013

We enjoyed a beautiful service of Scripture, carols and candlelight.  Thank you Allison, Robin and Tim!



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Laura and Carie

On Sunday morning, August 11, we all were transported to Gajuri, Nepal, for worship, celebration and feasting. Laura shared with us her life and experiences over the past year of living and working in a small Nepali village in the foothills of the Himalayas. As we came together for our worship service in Taftsville, we were greeted in Nepali by Laura, wearing her beautiful sari, and instructed (with interpretation) to remove our shoes before entering the chapel.

Laura gave Taftsville a little taste of what church in rural Nepal is like—including seating men and women on separate sides and making us take off our shoes at the door!

Laura gave Taftsville a little taste of what church in rural Nepal is like—including seating men and women on separate sides and making us take off our shoes at the door!

Once inside, we were invited to sit on the floor, and separated, male and female, on either side of the aisle. Laura then treated us to a typical Sunday morning service at her church in Gajuri, filled with singing, dancing, clapping and loud amens.

Laura spent her year in Nepal living with her ‘Didi’ (sister) and extended family in a small house and learning the language as well as local customs and traditions. She worked with SALT (Serving and Learning Together), a year-long service program for young adults with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Her assignment was working with Shanti Nepal, a Nepali Christian organization concerned with transformation of poor and marginalized communities, primarily in public health. (Visit www.shantinepal.org.np for more information.)

Laura shared with us her personal struggles, and her victories, in the difficult process of adjusting to an entirely different culture and way of life. She had the opportunity to confront fears, and the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives. She had the opportunity to learn the Nepali language, and the chance to teach a course of English to friends and neighbors. Her faith deepened and she has much to give and to share as she enters her new year as a graduate student in public health at Dartmouth College.

Following the worship service, Laura served a tasty Nepali meal of rice, lentils, curried meat and vegetables. Thank you, Laura, for sharing a glimpse of your year with us! We are glad to have you among us once again, and praise God for all he is doing through students like you around the world.