Two unusual ushers accept the offerings

Church and finance |

First, the kids build a robot

Susan Janzen

Before Pastor Susan Janzen became a Conference Minister of Central Plains Mennonite Conference in August, she enjoyed 15½ years of pastoring Cedar Falls Mennonite Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A small congregation of 45 to 50 people, the congregants ranged from preschoolers to grandparents. 

During offering time, her church would say a prayer and informally pass the basket, with no designated ushers.

That changed when the first usher appeared. Susan had read an article on worship that suggested having a woodworker speak during children’s time about the creative process of making art. This would demonstrate how God creates beautiful things from our lives. 

Susan didn’t have a wood craftsman in her congregation, but she did have Kenton Swartley, the robotics team advisor at the local high school. He suggested the kids build a robot.

“We were all surprised and delighted with the kids’ ideas,” Susan explained, when they decided to build a robot that could carry the offering basket down the aisles.

Robot collecting offering

During the four Sundays of Advent in 2017, the kids shared with the congregation the progress of their robot. Epiphany Sunday was the first time the robot collected the offering.  

“When it worked, everyone was just elated,” Susan said. The robot served as usher for some more Sunday offerings and then the church returned to its former offering practices. 

Soon a second new usher volunteered. An 18-month-old toddler became fascinated with the idea of collecting offering herself. Her dad would help by carrying her forward to place the basket on the altar table. Today, at two years old, the child still loves to collect the offering.

After leaving for her new position, Susan learned the church had accommodated the little girl by placing a smaller stand in front, so she could set the basket down herself. 

“To me it’s an example of the congregation living out the promises they made when she was dedicated: to affirm she’s an important part of our family of God, that she has a role to play,” said Susan. 

Right now, hers is bringing the offering forward.”

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