Conference Related Ministries (CRMs): For the past six years, Franconia Conference has had memos of understanding with (most recently) 23 CRMs, including schools, camps, retirement communities, etc. (For a full listing of CRMs, click here.) The Vision & Financial Plan, affirmed by Conference Delegates at the 2007 Conference Assembly, calls for developing covenants with these ministries. The process of fleshing out what that entails is underway including several “facilitated conversations” planned for this fall to bring together leaders of CRMs and congregations to talk about how collectively we can increase our unified witness to our regional ministries.
Anabaptist Chaplains Group: I coordinate/facilitate bimonthly meetings of the Anabaptist chaplains. The group includes chaplains who work in Anabaptist settings and/or are credentialed by Franconia or Eastern District Conferences. The total group includes twenty-two people, though approximately a dozen gather for any one meeting. The group functions as a form of learning community, offering support, encouragement, and sharing their learnings with one another.
Gift Discernment: In February representatives from New Beginnings, West Philadelphia, Deep Run East, Norristown New Life, and Boyertown met with Ertell Whigham and me at New Beginnings Community Church (Bristol). We met to brainstorm and name gifted people who might serve in various conference leadership roles (per By-Laws). (Another ten congregations were invited but did not send representatives for a variety of reasons.) Several vacancies will not be filled until clarity is reached about some other aspects of restructuring.
Anabaptist Network, United Kingdom – Partner in Mission: The partnership with the Anabaptist Network in the United Kingdom continues to grow. A February 2008 trip allowed Blaine Detwiler, Steve Kriss, and me to significantly deepen relationships with U.K. leaders and provided a solid foundation on which to build. In May we hosted two Anabaptist Network leaders, who spent four days among us, meeting people in a number of settings. In September Franconia Conference sends our first intern to serve with the Urban Expression church planting network in East London and with the Anabaptist Network, under the direction of Stuart Murray Williams. We look forward to the visit of Stuart and his wife, Sian, next March and plan to offer a number of venues for interaction with them.
Grace Assembly Network, Haiti – Partner in Mission: In March Larry Moyer, pastor of Rockhill Mennonite Church, was invited by Pastor Lesly Bertrand, leader of Grace Assembly Network, to teach his leaders. Larry had a very good connection with Grace Assembly and returned with a vision of some specific ways to help Pastor Lesly make his ministry more financially viable so that he could increase his capacity and not always live on the edge of existence. Subsequent brainstorming with Larry and Pastor Curt Malizzi of Hopewell Christian Fellowship, Telford, and Franconia Conference leaders led to a second trip in June. Plans continue to unfold for how this growing vision may enable Pastor Lesly and his Grace Assembly leaders to have even greater ministry.
Regional Area Conference Leaders (RACL): I serve as part of the planning committee for these meetings, involving leaders from up to eight conferences in the east who meet twice a year. In May six racial/ethnic church planters (including Pastor Beny Krisbianto, Nations Worship) were invited to this meeting to share their stories of call and the benefits and challenges they face as they relate to conferences and the Mennonite Church USA denomination. Franconia Conference will host the next meeting later in November, continuing to focus on the groups’ vision of increasing our Anabaptist witness for Christ along the eastern seaboard. (Ertell Whigham and Steve Kriss have also represented Franconia at recent meetings.)
Mennonite Church USA: I serve as a Franconia Conference representative in two primary capacities in relation to the denomination. One is as a representative (and currently Vice Chair) of the Constituency Leaders Council. This group of conference and constituency group leaders meets twice a year and serves as the “elders” of the denomination. I am also a member of the Missional Church Strategic Planning Group, which seeks to keep the denomination attentive to our stated goal of becoming a missional church—in alignment with God’s activities in the world.