Plow Creek Mennonite Church
The first thing a person notices when they come to visit, is that we are blessed to live in a quiet and very pretty rural setting. We own a 190 acre farm that includes numerous homes, ravines and hillsides, a creek a retreat cabin, some aging farm buildings and about 40 acres of good, flat fields for crops. Most folks who live in the area know us by our farming. Using methods of sustainable farming, we grow strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, melons, sweet corn, tomatoes and a few other crops for sale. Our strawberry season dominates the month of June, as we work to sell 5 acres of wonderful berries. We enjoy the benefits as well as the work, as we spend an evening freezing about 20 flats of strawberries for winter use. It is a fun time with young and old working together.
We have about 45 folks who actively participate in our life together. Half of those are children, so we have lively times. The farm is managed by two of the men, with various folks helping during the growing season. Other adults work in the larger community, often in service oriented jobs of teaching, nursing, or counseling, as well as carpentry and other skills. A significant part of the ministry we have is carried out by folks in their jobs. Most of us live in houses we have built on our farm, giving an easy access to the common life. A majority of our children attend public school, though some families do choose to home school their children.
Plow Creek Fellowship began in 1971, with a communal only membership form. In 1995, we developed a form of church membership that does not include financial sharing. This has been working well, with community life flowing and developing among us, irregardless of membership status. We will continue to change and modify structures that need to change as we change.
From 1992 to about 1996, we found ourselves in a time of crisis, dealing with a betrayal of sexual and financial trust from one of our leaders. Many of the earlier families left, and those who remained struggled with the pain together. But the Lord has been very faithful. After leading us through a time of self examination and evaluation, He has given us much healing through the power of forgiveness. We have been blessed with a renewed population of children and young families.
Our lives are busy with work, children, and caring for each other. We share two common meals together, one on Friday evenings, the other Sunday lunch. We worship on Sunday mornings with chairs in a circle, enjoying guitar, violin, recorder and sometimes piano accompaniment. We have drawn from a wide variety of musical traditions. We have a briefer time of worship together when we meet in smaller sharing groups twice a month, or on Wednesday nights during a church or fellowship meeting. We share communion one Wednesday evening a month, open to all Christians. Plow Creek Church is associated with the Mennonite Church USA, but our members come from a variety of denominational backgrounds.
Peacemaking is an important issue for us. We are deeply involved in supporting the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams, an anabaptist based group with small groups serving in tension filled areas of the world, dedicated to violence reduction. We are also blessed with an on going relationship with the people of Valle Nuevo, a small village in El Salvador. This is a face to face relationship, with at least yearly visits to El Salvador, and some summers providing a longer time for one or two of the people to be here in our community. We have been much blessed to have this much contact with the people of the third world and to learn from their faith.
Leaders are chosen by the members and are responsible to them. Our team of usually 3 elders provides pastoral oversight. The council provides leadership for care of our homes and property. There are a variety of other committees as well.
Husbands and wives are partners, and we encourage marriages to function as divine partnerships. Parents are responsible for decisions regarding their children. We work to encourage good parenting and to encourage parents in that task.
When folks are interested in getting to know us, we arrange a short initial visit of 3 or 4 days usually, followed by a longer visit if desired. If they feel this is what the Lord might have for them, they move here as intentional neighbors. Church membership (noncommunal) is available as soon as it is desired. For those interested in Fellowship (communal) membership, we ask for a time of 6 months or longer as "sharing neighbors", while they try out living on our budget and we get to know each other better. During this time, the family or individual remains financially independent, allowing for greater freedom in decision making regarding membership.
For folks who indicate a desire to leave communal membership, we set up a group to work out details. We generally provide a car and enough finances so they can re-establish themselves.
Plow Creek Mennonite Church and Fellowship are a part of Shalom Mission Communities, along with Reba Place Fellowship, Hope Fellowship, and Church of the Sojourners. We are also a member of the Mennonite Church USA.
If you wish to plan a visit, please contact Louise Stahnke, 19183 Plow Creek Road, Tiskilwa, IL 61368.
E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (815) 646-4851