by Scott Roth, Eastern District Conference Minister
Sitting around and swapping stories of God’s work in our lives has always been a highlight for many in their faith. The telling of tales about times when God has used a small group, youth ministry, or the littlest child in a faith community to remind us that He is there boosts our faith. We are constantly strengthened and encouraged by the testimonies of the Lord’s greatness in our journeys on earth.
These stories present us with a current view of how God is working within us through grace. As conferences, many times we find our gatherings together filled with agendas and equipping, yet we miss the stories of God among us. Sure, at lunch or break times you can catch something, but to really focus on our communities with God can be difficult.
Spring Assembly in Eastern District Conference has become this time of storytelling and encouraging others in their faith communities. Many years ago, we started the practice during our worship service of delegates sharing what God has been doing. Snippets of a larger story are uplifted as praises to the Lord in our spaces. This year Eastern District Conference will continue that tradition with Franconia Mennonite Conference included.
On May 4th we will gather for a joint Spring Assembly. The purpose of this assembly will be two-fold. First, Assembly will be a time to celebrate, to gather in song and testimony and to bring forth the stories of what God is doing with your faith community. It’s important to realize that those attending (that’s YOU!) will be bringing brief testimonies to share with all that are present. As we pass the microphone around, we’ll enjoy the beauty of our living God. So come prepared to share something of what God is doing in your faith community.
The second piece of the day will be engagement with the materials that the Structure Team has prepared as a vision for what our reconciled conferences could be together. As the new conference grows, we need to consider how we continue to stay connected even as our family ties increase. These materials will be distributed at Assembly so that we can work through them together. We will listen and give feedback to the Structure Team’s proposal as a re-visioned way of being conference.
During the morning, we will hear presentations on the vision and mission of the conference, expectations for congregations, credentialed leaders, and Conference Related Ministries, and how we conduct our ministry and business together. These proposals explore how we might proceed, not only as a reconciled conference of Eastern District and Franconia Mennonite Conferences, but also as a conference that will be welcoming and planting new congregations into our family. In the afternoon, we will split up into smaller groups and “kick the tires” on the newly proposed structure. This will include a chance to ask questions and clarify what will be voted on at our Conference Assembly this November.
Coming to Spring Assembly will be a chance to renew and explore friendships within the conferences, a chance to interact and to listen to what God is and can be doing with us in the future. As Franconia and Eastern District Conferences come together, a renewed vision for ministry can happen so that we can work towards baptizing the nations and raising up people to follow in the ways of Christ. In the end, the re-visioning and reconciliation of the conferences will benefit the Kingdom of God.