Mennonites raise the roof

Bob Yoder, pastor of the Dayspring Mennonite Church, just outside of Midland, encouraged the congregation to lift their voices as they stood to sing during dedication ceremonies at their new church Sunday afternoon.

“I hope if the rafters aren’t high enough, you’ll raise them an inch or so with your singing,” Yoder said from behind the cherry-wood pulpit, which matched the trim around the windows and 12-inch crown molding of the church’s new sanctuary.

Although the congregation met Yoder’s challenge with strong voices and considerable volume, the rafters were too well-built to budge much.

The Mennonites began building their church last August and have been in a mad dash to put on the finishing touches for the dedication on the sixth anniversary of the church’s charter.

Volunteers built the shell of the church, erected interior framing and put on the roof less than two weeks after they started, but have been working on the details since, said Homer Yoder, Bob Yoder’s cousin.

“I guess about the last six weeks or so we’ve been down here every night after work and Saturdays,” Homer Yoder said as he sat smiling in the sanctuary waiting for the dedication ceremony to begin.

Indeed, everyone who entered the church smiled as they did so.

Yoder admitted the congregation was proud of their new house of worship.

“It was a hard job,” Homer Yoder said.

While Yoder sat and watched people fill the sanctuary, the musicians fiddled with the new sound system they installed Saturday night.

Church member Larry Jacobs watched with Yoder while technicians worked out the kinks.

“They’re still trying to figure out what all of the buttons are for,” Jacobs, 64, said, “Equipment like this is new to this church.”

As the church was being built, Homer Yoder said, countless volunteers from community churches came to help while 34 area business donated equipment, building supplies, labor and expertise.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was just unreal how we were blessed,” Yoder said.

“When we started the project, we had no idea this would happen,” he said.

“It’s been a busy ten months, but it finally came together,” Bob Yoder said, with a huge grin on his face.

During the service, Bob Yoder told the congregation of his vision for the new church.

“My dream is that this little church on a little knoll in the middle of farming land, becomes known as a house of prayer,” Yoder said.

“‘Dayspring … A House of Prayer.’ My hope is that those things become synonymous,” Yoder said.

The congregation said “Amen.”

The sound system worked perfectly.

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.