by Ertell Whigham, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life
The Encarta dictionary defines passion as “intense or overpowering emotion.”
In this edition of Intersections we have several stories and testimonies of what happens when the passion of God’s purpose gets hold of people. Passion seems to me to be at the core of any fruitful (God given) vision, mission, purpose or strategic plan. That is the element of passion.
This is not passion just within leadership but the passion of everyone who feels called to be a part of a particular organization or organism. In this time and place as Franconia Mennonite Conference, we are called to be passionately strategic about the immediate priorities of being missional, intercultural and formational.
One of the ways to facilitate engagement at a level of passion—that connects us to God’s direction and vision for our work together from Georgia to Vermont an beyond, increases clarity of understanding, purpose and commitment and gives us the energy to keep moving and growing towards transformation—is to simply deepen our community relationships through prayer, openness, clarity, collaborative leadership and sincerity.
While there are many ways to work at passionate relationships and strategic planning for living into the vision and mission of our conference, conference leaders continue to hear a call from the constituent community to: spend time in the same space; sit together and engage in relevant conversations; ask questions and share information within the context of our mutual priorities.
We hear a need to celebrate Gods message of alignment and a call to be open to the Spirit’s power to help us hear one another in spite of the distractions that entangle us. During the coming months, we must all find at least one part of the vision, mission and priorities where we can passionately connect and communicate who we are and what God has called us to be and do together as Franconia Conference. We must be willing to carry the message and have clarity of purpose that both honors God and extends the Gospel. This is a responsibility that goes beyond our organizational structure but must be owned and proclaimed by each of us.
Among many of the passions expressed by our constituency, there is a need to be heard, included and considered as we continue to plan our direction and work at decision making processes. There is a passion and need to feel appreciated and to trust that we are all called to this journey together as well as to understand our place and possibilities.
As conference leaders continue to meet with congregational and credentialed leaders, congregations, Conference Related Ministries and Partners in Mission, we are listening and moving toward clarity of commitment, direction and most importantly considering the cost of being a people called to live into the realities, priorities and understanding of being intercultural, missional and formational— transformed for the purpose of God’s reign.
We’ve heard congregations ask for continued commitment to missional movement, contextual support and ongoing development of equipping leaders to empower others to embrace Gods mission from the LEAD (Leading Equipping and Disciplining) platform.
We’ve heard Conference Related Ministries ask for clarity of how we can work together in mutually beneficial ways to support one another and establish deeper relationships with congregations.
In addition, Franconia Conference continues to appreciate our Mennonite schools and the Anabaptist distinctive that directly impacts spiritual formation that cultivates values and vision for equipping future leaders. While we indeed realize that Christian formation is happening effectively beyond our Mennonite schools, we affirm the community witness our schools offer in nurturing our young people to be radical followers of Jesus Christ and instruments of God’s peace and justice.
We heard PIM (Partners In Ministry) express appreciation for ongoing support and encouragement in walking beside them as they minister in new and exciting ways.
We must continue to listen together and hear God’s Spirit calling us to find the passion that will give life to God’s strategic plan and priorities as a conference community living witnessing what it means to be missional, intercultural and formational.