by Sheldon C. Good
Experienced Mennonite pastors John Bender and Aldo Siahaan have joined the Franconia Conference team of LEADership Ministers, bringing experience in church planting, intercultural leadership, and congregational pastoral work. Each will serve alongside several congregations yet to be decided and will work from home bases in southeastern Pennsylvania’s largest cities while continuing pastoral ministry assignments.
Aldo Siahaan, based in Philadelphia, helped start Philadelphia Praise Center in 2005. The congregation joined Franconia Conference in 2006, and Siahaan became credentialed as lead pastor in 2007.
Siahaan’s other ministry experience includes being a board member of Mennonite Central Committee East Coast, teaching a summer cross-cultural course at Messiah College, and being a member of the Indonesian Pastoral Network.
Siahaan hopes that in his role as a LEADership minister he can both “be a blessing” to others and “learn more about leadership in a broader way.”
John Bender, based in Allentown, Pa., is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary. He and his wife, Marilyn Handrich Bender, started Raleigh (N.C.) Mennonite Church, where they co-pastored for 18 years. For the past nine years, John pastored Pittsburgh Mennonite Church.
In July 2013 the Benders moved to Allentown, Pa., where John is the part-time director of Ripple Community, Inc., a ministry of the RIPPLE congregation. He is also interim associate pastor of the Franconia congregation.
Bender served in a number of leadership capacities with Virginia Mennonite Conference and Allegheny Mennonite Conference and has close to 30 years of pastoral ministry experience.
“I care deeply about pastors and churches and helping them to pursue healthy relationships together, and I hope I can be a resource to pastors and a guide along the way,” Bender said.
Both Bender and Siahaan bring fresh perspectives and proven track records as they join the team of LEADership ministers resourcing congregations in mission and ministry, said Ertell Whigham, Franconia’s executive minister. “We feel that both John and Aldo bring a variety of gifts and experience that will help us to provide the support congregations need while enabling us to continue the intercultural work that we have stated as one of our conference’s values.”
LEAD is the conference’s platform for oversight, designed to Lead, Equip, And Disciple both lay and credentialed leadership as they guide congregations. A congregation’s LEAD team is comprised of a LEADership minister, the pastor, the chair of the congregation’s governing body (when relevant), and a LEAD advisor from beyond the congregation. LEADership ministers serve as the primary point of contact between congregations and Franconia Conference.