As an integral part of Franconia Conference’s School for Leadership Formation, learning communities (LCs) are formed to equip pastors and congregational leaders to empower congregations to embrace God’s mission through mutual support and resourcing.
Franconia Mennonite Conference congregations are taking God’s mission seriously. Many of us are re-examining our vision, values and structures. Many are investing more resources in outreach and community relationships. A learning community is for leaders. It is a vehicle for learning together and a place for congregational leaders to obtain support, develop our ministry skills, expand our vision and apprentice new leaders.
1. Salem, Doylestown and Rockhill pastors are meeting monthly (at the Dublin Diner) to support each other with their congregations in shifting from church inside the walls to their communities. The theme they are addressing is how to work with the brokenness of unchurched people in a church context. They are meeting monthly and are holding occasional Saturday morning events with core leaders with “Becoming Communities of Grace” as the overall theme in 2008.
2. Dawn Ruth Nelson and I have been in dialogue for several months about a learning community fostering a contemplative spirituality among leaders and pastors. The goals include: Learning to “be” instead of just “do,” nourishing intimacy with God as part of discipleship, letting our missional journey lead to a deeper spiritual journey and understanding mission as pilgrimage toward God. They held their first monthly meeting in September with about ten interested pastors.
3. Bob Petersheim, Jenifer Eriksen Morales and I are leading the pilot LEAD learning community which includes selected leaders who wish to bring clarity to their congregational systems in organizational leadership and decision-making. Rockhill, Boyertown, Doylestown, Frederick, Ambler, Norristown and Salem have participated in this initial venture from August to November. A workshop at conference assembly will share our emerging learnings and impressions.
4. Pastors of Perkiomenville, Boyertown and Frederick have been meeting regularly to share and learn from each other. They have embraced the learning community concept. They are addressing ways of becoming more relevant to the community using demographic research… and working with Reggie McNeal’s “Present Future.”
5. Martha Moyer, Franconia congregation, along with Mary Benner, Souderton, is exploring interest of children’s ministers in gathering to discuss LC formation.
6. Jess Walter is meeting with emerging leaders who are women and are forming a learning community around their unique relationships and strengths.
7. The pastoral teams from Souderton, Blooming Glen, Franconia and Salford have explored interest in a large church learning community that might meet regularly in the coming year.
8. A learning community with church administrators has re-convened this year with Dan Sell, Souderton congregation, facilitating the first meetings. It’s not clear at this point whether the large church gathering (mentioned in #7 above) would meet this need or not.
9. Jenifer Eriksen Morales is meeting with the intentional interim pastors as a learning community and exploring interest among several worship leaders for another one.
In addition, Gay Brunt Miller is integrating learning community principles into the bi-monthly chaplains meetings. Marlene Frankenfield’s work with youth pastors is reflecting many LC principles. She is also facilitating a monthly meeting of women pastors that has LC qualities. Donella Clemens’ ongoing leadership of the Vermont group is working like a learning community including some resourcing. And Jenifer is meeting with the Bucks “cluster” which continues to enjoy mutual support and fellowship.