As Franconia Mennonite Conference embarks on how to live together as the Church — one body in Christ — the conference board and staff will be working with congregations who are interested in drafting and submitting Church Together Statements for consideration by the delegate body at Fall Assembly. These statements are an opportunity for pastors and congregation members to shape the focus and work of the conference.
A Church Together Statement is more than just a document. It is a process where the conference engages issues with respect and Christian love. The process for the statements has been developed to aid, as the conference seeks to live out the words of scripture, that “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way,” (I Corinthians 14:40), and to be a discerning community so that together, the conference can reach an understanding that “seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28).
The board has specifically requested statements that:
- Support the conference’s mission of equipping leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission
- Propose ways in which we apply the MC USA Kansas City resolutions to our Franconia Mennonite Conference context
- Propose ways for Franconia Mennonite Conference pastors and congregations to continue to deepen relationships in 2016
Once an individual has an idea for a statement, they should engage in a time of scriptural study and discernment, preferably with their congregation or Conference Related Ministry (CRM). This study should include a time for hearing differing viewpoints and it is expected that they will be heard with a spirit of seeking to understand the basis of viewpoints that may be different.
Upon drafting the statement, the individual author or group must receive affirmation for their statement from their congregational leadership body (board, elders, deacons, etc.), CRM board, or a conference-related committee. The affirmation of the statement by one of those bodies must be included at the end of the statement, along with the name and contact information of a point person. Any Church Together Statement submitted will also need to be accompanied by a written statement containing:
- the purpose and/or reason for the proposed Church Together Statement
- the intended consequences of the adoption of the Church Together Statement
- the name and contact information of the congregation, CRM, or conference committee with a designated contact person proposing the Church Together Statement
After having drafted the Church Together Statement, receiving affirmation, and composing the written statement with the above information, the Church Together Statement should then be submitted to the conference administrative staff. The administrative staff will then pass the statements on to the Church Together Statements Committee.
The committee will review the statements; they may ask for more information and will work with the author(s) to provide guidance and suggestions in the wording of the statement in an effort to decrease possible confusion or unintended consequences. The committee will also discern with pastors, as well as conference board and staff, which Church Together Statements should be part of our fall Conference Assembly. In order to allow ample time for delegates to discern the statements, the committee will only be putting forward a limited number at Conference Assembly.
Once the committee has identified statements for fall Assembly, those statements will be sent to the conference board, who will engage in corporate discernment regarding their suitability for consideration by the delegate body. Among questions considered by the board (but not limited to) are:
- Does the proposed statement enable us to join God’s activities in the world?
- Does the proposed statement enable us to live and act in ways that allow God’s healing and hope to flow through us to the world?
- Does the proposed statement advance FMC’s mission, and guide us toward God’s preferred future for us?
As a result of its discernment process, the conference board may take any of the following actions:
- Bless the forwarding of the Church Together Statement to the delegate body for action at the annual conference assembly
- Return the Church Together Statement to the committee with recommendations for further review and editing
- Not forward the Church Together Statement, if it is determined that it does not further the purposes for which statements are adopted, or that it does not have sufficient church-wide support, impact or interest to merit delegate assembly time devoted to such proposed statements. If a statement is not forwarded, the conference board may provide to the author(s) other suggested avenues for consideration
The Church Together Statements Committee, conference board and staff will be working diligently over the next few months to support all of the conference churches in this process. For more information on the Church Together Statements and the committee, see the Intersectings article Being Church Together – FMC invites Resolution/Statements at Fall Assembly. The full Church Together Statement Policy can be viewed here. Questions related to specifics about the Church Together Statements should be directed to Ertell Whigham, executive minister, or Joe Hackman, Church Together Statements Committee Chair. For assistance with drafting a Church Together Statement, contact your local LEADership Minister.