By Eileen Kinch
On December 31, 2022, Ken Burkholder concluded his three-year term as Mosaic Conference moderator. In this role, Burkholder gave leadership to the Executive Board, the Executive Committee, and the Conference Assembly.
Prior to being moderator, Burkholder served on the former Franconia Conference Board. “Ken has steadily and graciously led us through our reconciliation process and through a global pandemic, in the midst of complicated denominational relationships,” said Steve Kriss, Executive Minister of Mosaic Conference.
COVID-19 has defined Burkholder’s time as moderator. His term began in January of 2020, and the lockdown came in March. The Mosaic Executive Board quickly switched from in-person meetings to meetings over Zoom. Two of the three Conference Assemblies that Burkholder led also took place virtually. “Leadership is about planning and setting a clear vision,” Burkholder pointed out, “but it also requires flexibility to adjust to unexpected situations, such as a pandemic.”
Mosaic continues to experience the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19. Burkholder observed that current tensions in Mosaic Conference are not new; the same tensions were already present in the former Franconia Conference. Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) actions and COVID-19, however, accelerated these tensions. The polarized, divided atmosphere “raised the temperature and level of anxiety,” and the lack of face-to-face communication made the tensions harder for people to handle. “We need to be talking together, taking communion, and praying together,” Burkholder said. Mosaic needs to heal from the disruption of fellowship.
Yet there were joys and accomplishments for Burkholder amid the challenges. The Shalom Fund, a mutual aid effort during the pandemic that raised $217,945, was a “terrific testimony to the community … [and to] God’s faithfulness.” The Board was also able to meet in person, but outside, at Spruce Lake Retreat in July 2020 to form Mosaic’s mission and vision statement, as well as to affirm that Mosaic was to be missional, formational, and intercultural. Burkholder was glad that the Board affirmed these biblical and Anabaptist values.
“Ken leads with a tangible love for God and the Church,” said Angela Moyer Walter, Mosaic’s incoming moderator. “He listens well, laughs readily, and understands the complexities of church leadership. During difficult times, he is humble, honest, and open to the leading of the Spirit.”
Although Mosaic faces challenges, Burkholder remains hopeful in what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do. He hopes that Mosaic Conference will focus on where it is united, which is in its vision to embody the reconciling love of Jesus in a beautiful and broken world. He looks forward to focusing primarily on his pastoral team role at Souderton (PA) Mennonite Church.
Mosaic Conference extends it sincerest thanks to Ken Burkholder for his work and trusts that God will be working through him in his future endeavors.
Eileen Kinch is part of the Mosaic communication team and works with editing and writing. She holds a Master of Divinity degree, with an emphasis in the Ministry of Writing, from Earlham School of Religion.