Susan Gascho Cooke
Susan Gascho-Cooke is honored to be a fellow seeker with the good folks of Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. She once heard it said of CMCL, “Yeah, they’ll take anyone at that church.” Although it wasn’t meant as a compliment, it’s exactly the reputation she is proud to carry on, following in the tradition of a Christ who lived and taught scandalously for his time, cared tangibly, spoke of faith in mystery and parable, and who so often stood between people and the stones the world would throw. She also loves being a part of a community that explores faith and spirituality equally enthusiastically through hymns, sermons, communion, visual art, music, questions, answers and silence. Susan finds sermon-writing, worship planning, prayer-writing and pastoral care the most life-giving aspects of her work. She still marvels that getting together for coffee with folks to talk about the meaning of life actually counts as work! Susan came to CMCL in June 2010, after studying theology in one form or another as a student at Eastern Mennonite University and then Emory University (Candler School of Theology), and in the hospitals of downtown Atlanta as a chaplain. She also pastored for several years at Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship and served as a host for refugees and asylum seekers at AMF’s Hospitality House. She is also a once and future songwriter and bluegrass fiddler, quilter and reader of literature and poetry. The present, however, is full to overflowing with work and co-parenting the two sweetest little girls with her excellent husband, Teman.
Associate Pastor of Children and Youth
(Written in first person by Amanda) Ever since my teenage years I have been drawn to youth ministry work. I love building relationships, teaching, leading events and making connections. It is both a privilege and an honor to be invited into the lives of young people and I love watching as they make discoveries about themselves and the world around them. A favorite song of mine says that children’s “laughter and loveliness could clear a cloudy day,” and I have absolutely found that to be true.
I have always been someone who has let my heart lead me, and it has led me to some incredible places and unique experiences. I have worked with struggling elementary school children in Appalachia, helped run an after school program in a Chicago public high school and immersed myself in the hipster metropolis of Portland, Oregon while running the Community Life Program at George Fox Seminary. Amidst all these travels, I was able to return to my alma matter, Lancaster Mennonite, where I spent two years living and working in the International Residence Hall and volunteering in the Drama department (my first love!). Though my heart has taken me far and wide, I always knew that one day I wanted to return to my roots and settle for good here in the County. The art, the food, the people and culture of Lancaster – it’s deep in my bones.
Community Mennonite has always been a place that I admired for their community connectedness, their warm and accepting nature and the fluidity with which they embrace life and all its challenges. I’m not sure there’s a word quite strong enough to express just how thrilled I am to be able to contribute to this congregation and its youth.
Associate Pastor of Children and Youth
Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck is a member of this community who has spent her adult years as an educator, pastor, community organizer, and counselor. She lives in her childhood home in southern Lancaster County with her husband, Mark, and two teenagers, Ashton and Hannah. After finishing her Master’s degree in Psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy, she married, moved to Montana and worked on an Indian Reservation. In the following years she worked in Higher Education in Washington DC, served as youth director and counselor at multiple churches, was a high school guidance counselor, taught college, high school, and pre- school. Her commitment to justice and compassion has shaped her work in each of these settings.
For the past two years she has served on the board of the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network, and is a founding board member of Lancaster Against Pipelines, which together deeply involve her in environmental and community rights activism. She also serves on the board of the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness, where the values of justice, care of creation, peace and nonviolent solutions to conflict are promoted in the Lancaster faith community. Malinda graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion in the summer of 2015, as well as from Shalem Institute for Spiritual Direction.
Malinda’s passions lie in faith development and spiritual formation, and her greatest desire is to be in a position where she is able to walk alongside others as they seek to discover who they are and who God is in them. Her compassion for families and work in family systems has given her a heightened appreciation for how children are affected by the adults around them (and how adults, in turn, are affected by the children). The community at CMCL is one in which these intergenerational relationships are intentionally fostered and Malinda is eager to participate in the enrichment and deepening of that process.
Rod has held his office position at CMCL since retirement in 1999 from 33 years as a science teacher and technology coordinator at Lampeter-Strasburg High School. Rod brings a lot of history of association with the congregation, as he was a charter member in 1986. When not resolving schedule conflicts, generating financial reports or scheduling routine maintenance, Rod may be found nurturing vegetables in his three raised beds located behind the church building or shopping at downtown Central Market. Rod and his wife Mary Lou Weaver Houser moved to downtown Lancaster in September, 2011 after having lived at Herrbrook, a family farm, five miles south of the city. His new love for urban living finds expression in his role as president of Lancaster Downtowners, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for persons who choose downtown Lancaster as their location for retirement.
Rachel Kraybill Stahl
What defines Rachel? An introverted missionaries’ child who was forced by her ueber-mobile childhood (5 kindergartens in 4 languages in 3 countries on 2 continents gives you a flavor) to become a quasi-extrovert. Her goal, as soon as she became independent, was to buy a house, settle down, and never move again.
She had also given up on any kind of organized religion by the time a friend, who was sharing the house with her, kept bringing home people from this new congregation in Lancaster that called itself “Community Mennonite.” They seemed like good people, and (rather cautiously!) she went along to church one Sunday morning (when CMCL still met at the Opera Workshop). Three lunch invitations, and going on 30 years later—and here she is! Wonders never cease.
She has truly found family here at CMCL–long-term friendships, support, a spouse, and now even employment. She knows she is known and loved, and that has made all the difference.