Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church (Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA)
In 1990, First Mennonite Church, Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA merged with two other Norristown congregations, Bethel Mennonite Church and Fuente de Salvación, to form Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church (NVNNL), a multicultural and bilingual (Spanish and English) congregation.
First Mennonite Church had existed since 1919 and was primarily an Anglo-American church for most of its history. The Bethel congregation had begun in 1959 as an outreach to the African-American community in Norristown. Fuente de Salvación was a Hispanic group that began meeting on Sunday afternoon at First Mennonite Church in the early 1980s, and became a member of the Franconia Mennonite Conference in 1985.
None of the congregations was very large, so during the 1980s congregational leaders from all three groups, plus Franconia Conference leaders, met to share their visions and to consider the possibility of merging the three congregations. The emerging vision was shared with the three congregations for discussion over a period of months. When the congregations approved, the decision was made to purchase a former Methodist church on East Marshall Street, using funds from the sale of the First Mennonite and Bethel Mennonite buildings, as well as through a bank loan. The official merger and beginning of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church took place in summer 1990.
In 2007 the church bought the plaza located next door with the intent of providing space for new and growing ministries as well as offices that could be leased to generate income for the congregation’s vision of ministry and outreach. Ministries included a child care center, youth center, internet café, photo ID application services, and a discipleship housing ministry. However, the recession of 2008 led to a crisis, however, as tenants moved out of the offices and the mortgage became more than the church could manage. By summer 2013, the bank had decided to foreclose, and a sale date was set. Congregational leaders and business people from Franconia Conference began meeting in the summer of 2013 to discern what the next steps might be. All agreed that the ministry and witness of NVNNL was too important in the life of the conference to lose. By fall nearly $350,000 had been received from congregations and individuals in gifts and loans. In December the mortgage on New Life Plaza was bought out, and the church's finances restructured.
The vision of the Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church for racial reconciliation and justice has resulted in an ongoing witness in its community and within the regional and national Mennonite church.
"Anniversary celebration." Franconia Mennonite Conference. 9 March 2016. Web. 23 September 2016. http://franconiaconference.org/anniversary-celebration/.
Holmes, Kristin. "A diverse church united: a congregation keeps finding a way after an unlikely merger." Philly.com. 28 February 1995. Web. 23 September 2016. http://articles.philly.com/1995-02-28/news/25703052_1_latino-church-mennonite-churches-new-church.
Miller, Beverly Benner. A Mennonite Church in Norristown. Harleysville, Pa.: Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania, 2015.
"Norristown congregation celebrates twenty years."Franconia Mennonite Conference. 15 July 2010. Web. 23 September 2016. http://franconiaconference.org/norristown-congregation-celebrates-twenty-years/.
Ralph, Emily. "Norristown congregation celebrates new life." Franconia Mennonite Conference. 17 January 2014. Web. 23 September 2016. http://franconiaconference.org/norristown-congregation-celebrates-new-life/.
Address: 3 East Marshall Street, Norristown, Pennsylvania 19401
Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Pastoral Leaders
|Paul D. Leichty||1990-1992|
|Ertell M. Whigham||1990-present|
|Marta Beidler Castillo||2009-present|
Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Membership
|Author(s)||Stanley L. Freed|
|Samuel J. Steiner|
|Date Published||September 2016|
Cite This Article
Freed, Stanley L. and Samuel J. Steiner. "Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church (Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2016. Web. 5 Jul 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Nueva_Vida_Norristown_New_Life_Mennonite_Church_(Norristown,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=165822.
Freed, Stanley L. and Samuel J. Steiner. (September 2016). Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church (Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 July 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Nueva_Vida_Norristown_New_Life_Mennonite_Church_(Norristown,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=165822.
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