In 2019, Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen, IN completed a building expansion project to meet the needs of their growing congregation. Early in the project, the congregation decided to tithe a portion of the funds being spent on the project to JoinHands, a program of Mennonite Men that assists congregations build or buy their first place of worship.
"We feel it's the right thing to do, for more established congregations to help the newer ones," said Steve Thomas, U.S. Coordinator for Mennonite Men. As a result, the tithe benefited Mara Christian Church, a growing congregation composed mostly of people who moved to the U.S. from Myanmar (formerly Burma), now owns the church building it had rented. The JoinHands grant the church received made that transformation possible.
Members of the North Carolina congregation are "thinking about their lives as people of God. The spiritual vitality there is good for others to see," Thomas said. He added that Mara Christian Church members invested a good deal of "sweat equity" in renovating the church building it purchased. Those who receive JoinHands grants "often are people without a history of power and privilege," Thomas said. "Often, they're people coming from a situation of real need."
Assembly Mennonite made the decision to think beyond themselves during the building project out of their understanding of financial stewardship. The congregation had earlier received a church loan from Everence that was aimed at aiding younger churches, so members of the congregation felt it important to pass on that benefit now that their congregation had reached a level of maturity.
Mennonite Men invites other established congregations to consider sharing a portion of building project expenses with newer congregations through the JoinHands program. More details can be found at https://www.mennonitemen.org/joinhands.