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When tattoos are a bridge

7.1. 2015 Written By: Anna Groff 2,054 Times read

Hal Shrader was the Wednesday adult worship speaker. Photo by Vada Snider.

In his message during Wednesday adult worship, Hal Shrader began by saying he came to Mennonites the “old-fashioned way.”

“I chose to be one as an adult,” he said.

However, when he started attending Trinity, some were skeptical of his outward appearance. When he was ministering in California, the tattoos served as a “bridge to the culture,”Shrader said. “But for some Mennonites, tattoos—not a bridge,” he said.

After his introduction received by laughs, Shrader went on to encourage and challenge the Mennonite audience.

The Scripture was Luke 24—the Resurrection story. Shrader is lead pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Ariz.

“Where do we see ourselves in the story?” he asked. “Will the wonder we experience be awe-inspiring or fill us with fear?”

Shrader started with an example of wonder: John Paul Lederach’s book, Reconcile, which was recently preached on and endorsed by pastor Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church.

When Hybels plugged the book during a global leadership summit, it became number three in the Kindle store.

“The Mennonite Church has a reputation, which goes way beyond the inside,” Shrader said.

The influence of your heritage and theology can create wonder, he added.

He provided another example of reconciliation and wonder at work: his church’s work with a Muslim community center in Phoenix.

Schrader shared this photo from the protest during his sermon. Photo by Anna Groff.

Schrader shared this photo from the protest during his sermon. Photo by Anna Groff.

During a protest against Islam near the mosque, Shrader met a man from Phoenix, Jason Leger, who wore a t-shirt, “F Islam.”

Although protestors were encouraged to bring guns to demonstrate their rights, leaders from the mosque courageously talked with protestors.

Later, Leger with the offensive tshirt agreed to visit inside the center after an invitation by mosque leaders. He took off his shirt and turned it inside out so that the message on the front was hidden.

Shrader recounts what the man told him and the media: “I took a second to actually sit down and listen to them and actually enter their house. To watch some of their prayers, it was a beautiful thing and they answered some of the questions I had.”

He later talked to Leger—and his tattoos were a bridge.

It is so easy to get distracted by the fear and anger, said Shrader.

“If we embrace the opportunities, God can do amazing things with this denomination,” he said.

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