Posted by: janpierce | October 24, 2011

How It All Began

  Roger and I were a young married couple with two small children. It was 1975 and we were living life without faith and without God. We thought we were doing fine. Then a series of events came along and caused us to take a good hard look at our life. Roger wanted to get reacquainted with God. Me? Not so much. I wanted to be free. In an effort to keep things friendly in our marriage I agreed to attend church with the family and the rest is history. Roger got right with God and I dragged my feet for six or eight months before the man in the picture gave a sermon that seemed directed just at me, (probably was) and I too returned to faith in God.

John Willems was our pastor and when I asked him what I should call him he replied, “Just John”. Mennonites aren’t big on hierarchy but they are big on love and family life. We were taken into their little fold and loved like crazy. My kids had lots of “grandparents” there at Salem Mennonite and we found lots of “parents.” We were only there five years before leaving for seminary training in Virginia, but those years were foundational in our lives. We learned about peace and justice, both on the global level and in everyday life. We saw personal devotion modeled and were accepted just as we were which was quite a leap from where most of the Mennonites were. We saw real love in action.

Yesterday Salem Mennonite celebrated fifty years of being church and family. We were so glad we made the trip down and enjoyed the celebration. We saw lots of faces from the past and enjoyed some wonderful memories. They were trying to see us as we looked thirty years ago and we were doing the same. Lots of gray hair, but the same twinkle in eyes. It was fun and brought back so many great memories.

A special thank you to John Willems who was “Just John,” but played such an important role in our lives with God.



  1. So glad you were able to go down to the reunion. Hope you were feeling OK

  2. Wonderful story and great memories. Thanks for sharing.

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