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Maple Syrup Festival benefits local ministries

Need to know
What: 25th annual Maple Syrup Festival – Pancake and Sausage Breakfast
When: 7-10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 15 dine-in or drive thru
Where: Sonnenberg Mennonite Church, 14367 Hackett Road, Kidron
Cost: By donation


Michele and Jeremy Patterson mixing pancakes.

Lukas and Todd Zuercher make perfectly shaped pancakes at a previous Maple Syrup Festival.

Chip Coleman and Marlin Troyer

KIDRON  Bring on the pancakes! Sonnenberg Mennonite Church hosts its 25th annual Maple Syrup Festival April 15 at the church, 14367 Hackett Road.
Not only will the syrup be flowing – made from local maple sap, no less – but fellowship and generosity abounds at this festival that benefits the church’s mission and missionaries and supports ministries.

“We have been so blessed by the generosity of Sonnenberg Mennonite Church over many years,” Andrew Michaels, camp director at nearby Camp Luz, said in an email.

The 70-year-old ministry at 152 Kidron Road, Orrville, requires much support from many people to keep a year-round camp running with a variety of events, activities and offerings.

“While summer camp is our biggest program we provide space for churches and families to host retreats year-round,” Michaels wrote. “We have also worked to be an asset to our local community by opening our pool to the community on Friday afternoons during the summer and allowing community members to play our 18-hole disc golf course from September-May (access is limited to camp groups during the busy summer season, June- Aug).”

Michaels noted that the Men’s Retreat occasionally lines up with the Maple Syrup Festival.

“The men insist that we head to the festival that morning for breakfast,” Michael wrote in the email. “Sonnenberg does a tremendous job with the food AND truly puts the funds they raise to work both locally and around the world. They feature many of the ministries they support on display tables in the church during the festival.

“The money donated to Camp Luz from the Maple Syrup Festival typically goes to support the general operations of the camp,” Michaels continued. “We rely on donors, churches, and supporting organizations to help offset the cost of running a camp, allowing us to keep program fees as low as possible so that more people can participate. Camp Luz also has a campership fund that provides assistance to families that cannot otherwise pay the full registration fee.”

Ken Neuenschwander, outreach and service ministry at Sonnenberg Mennonite Church, said the church aims to have a balance between local and global missions and missionaries they support. He provided a sample listing of a few who have received funds from the festival in the past and will receive support from Sonnenberg throughout the year thanks to several fundraiser methods and events.

Organizations that have benefitted in the last couple of years include:
* Lighthouse Ministries SE Canton, after school and youth program;
* Bridge Hope, Liberian girls school;
* Two community schools in Haiti;
* Oyanguren families, missionaries to the Toba people in the Chaco in Argentina under Mennonite Mission Network;
* Love INC of Wayne County;
* Open Arms Latino Ministries in Wayne County;
* Linda Horn, missionary to Thailand;
* Semilla, Latin American Seminary, Guatemala

This year the church will again have the lobby full of displays from almost all the mission organizations Sonnenberg supports in some way throughout this year, Neuenschwander said in an email. There will be approximately 22 displays including a bake sale put on by the church’s Venture Club to raise funds for a mission project they have chosen.

“We try to teach them at a young age,” Neuenschwander wrote. “The whole church, all ages are involved in this event. That’s what makes it fun and we can celebrate mission together.”
The pancake and sausage breakfast is by donation only 7-10:30 a.m. April 15 and people can dine in or drive thru.

People will have an opportunity to purchase syrup and sausage to bring home. Pancakes are made from scratch, sausage is specially seasoned and stuffed and orange juice and coffee will wash down the sticky goodness.

“Twenty-five years is an important milestone,” Neuenschwander said. “We hope our community comes out and learns about these mission organizations and helps us support them.”

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