By Stephen Kriss
After the Assembly Scattered meeting in California, Pastor Grace Pam of Faith Chapel said, “I appreciate the way we are trying to worship, pray, and do our business work together.”
We are trying.
In our first in-person Mosaic Assembly on November 5 at Souderton (PA) Mennonite Church, we will worship, listen, celebrate, remember, eat, pray, and embrace. And we will likely disagree.
Mosaic is ultimately a set of relationships and commitments to God and each other. Gathering at tables together is not only practical, but it’s symbolic of our community identity.
We will have tamales made by the women of Centro de Alabanza (Philadelphia), Longacre’s (Bally, PA) ice cream, funny cake from West Swamp congregation (Quakertown, PA), and a Sundanese lunch (Indonesian Light Church, Philadelphia). Food will be one way that we do the important work of entering each other’s worlds.
In our worship, we will sing, pray, anoint, and receive communion together. This is the rhythm of our life together as people in the way of Jesus. We receive. We bless. We share. We listen. We proclaim.
And we will do the holy work of the church, including the work that postures Mosaic for the next few years.
We will affirm a new Conference Related Ministry, Amahoro International, and a new congregation, Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Oración Adoración (Philadelphia, PA).
We will affirm our new moderators. Angela Moyer Walter served as Assistant Moderator with Franconia and now Mosaic Conference and will move into the role of Moderator. Angela grew up at the former Rockhill congregation (Telford, PA) and graduated from Dock Mennonite Academy (Lansdale, PA). She is one of the pastors at Ripple Church in Allentown, PA. She is bi-vocational, working also as a pediatric occupational therapist, and bilingual in English and Spanish.
Roy Williams is on the Mosaic Board and serves as the Chair of the Intercultural Committee. The Mosaic Board has selected him as the next Assistant Moderator. Roy brings a depth of board experience and strong commitments to urban ministry. He has been moderator of Mennonite Church USA and is vice chair of the Mennonite Education Agency board. Roy will retire in December from his long-term pastoral role at College Hill Mennonite Church (Tampa, FL).
The leadership duo of Angela and Roy will bring broad experience and strong commitments to our constituent community.
We will discern a pathway forward. The Pathways document emerged from the recommendations of the Listening Task Force. The document calls for strategic work that is a natural next step in our Mosaic communal life. Yet this natural step comes at a difficult time in our relationship with Mennonite Church USA.
The Pathways document has four key actions:
- Continued prayer and fasting.
- Commitments to walking patiently together.
- Launching a strategic planning process to clarify our future.
- Allowing congregations to suspend their membership in Mennonite Church USA if their conscience discerns this is necessary at this time.
The Pathways document will be presented for consideration as a whole document—delegates will not be able to affirm only pieces of it. While the board could call for the process and commitments of steps 1-3, only delegates can approve the by-law change required for step 4. This is critical discernment work. Can we commit to prayerfully walking together so that we can move toward our future in a way that clarifies our relationships with each other and MC USA?
Some of us want to move quickly while others of us don’t want any change. This proposal provides opportunities to extend grace to one another amid our differences. There is a risk that we have polarized so much that this document will not pass, yet the Board believe this pathway offers us the opportunity to move together with clarity and wisdom. The delegates will decide if we affirm and extend that grace of conscience to each other.
In the commotion and confusion of our changing times and new identity, we do this while being rooted in the steadfast love of God, bearing witness to Christ in whom we are centered, and anticipating the Spirit’s presence with us.
Stephen Kriss is the Executive Minister of Mosaic Conference.
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