by Laurie Oswald Robinson

The 35-member Ransom (Kan.) Mennonite Church may be considered small in number, but its heart is as big as the western Kansas sky.

After an unusual fiscal surplus in 2013, the congregation decided to gift seven organizations – including Western District Conference (WDC) – with $4,000 each. The other recipients are Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Disaster Service, Mennonite Central Committee, the Heifer Project, True Vine Tabernacle in Elkhart, Ind., and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart.

John Dietterich, longtime church treasurer, said, “It was an unusual year for us, because we had two local people giving above and beyond what they normally give, and then we also had some other unexpected income. And we are now renting out the parsonage, and so we found ourselves with an unusually large bank account. Our church board decided rather than to squirrel that money away somewhere, it would be better to use it for the church’s greater good.”

Some of that greater good has been to help strengthen the low-resource True Vine Tabernacle, an inner-city church plant in Indiana-Michigan Conference. The church, which had dwindled to about 15 members, brought in Carlos and Nancy Lora, formerly of New York City, to strengthen its ministry. As a result, the congregation has grown to 100 members. The $4,000 gift is helping the congregation secure a building of its own.

“I am really proud of our little congregation,” Pastor Eldon Epp said. “The church has always been a generous one – taking part in things like the Heifer Project and the MCC pennies’ project. And over the years, it has helped people with medical bills and has been part of Everence’s Sharing Fund program. But as God brought an unusual year, the congregation stepped forth in an unusual way.”