- Full three-part series on Summer Peace Camps (page 1)
- Meet new leaders by reading their call stories. (page 2)
- Nueva Vida Norristown New Life holds voter ID clinics. (page 3)
- Peaceful Living builds Friendship Connection. (page 3)
- Members of Franconia Mennonite Church volunteered with Kingdom Builders Construction in Philadelphia. (page 4)
- Maria Byler reflects on footwashing as part of the summer blog series, “What does it mean to Mennonite?” (page 4)
- Eastern Mennonite Seminary (Pa.) students investigate a peace garden in the center of Birmingham, England. (page 4)
Stories mentioned in this issue:
- Meet Kirby King and other call stories (page 2)
- Pastor Aldo Siahaan, Philadelphia Praise Center, took to the streets to find out what Philadelphians think of Easter. (page 4)
- Pastor Dawn Ranck presents Ava Fletcher with a check as the Grand Prize winner of Plains’ mural contest. (page 4)
- Sharon Shaw, the leader of Doylestown’s Community Garden, and KrisAnne Swartley, minister on the church’s missional team, pose at the photo booth at the Garden celebration on April 29. (page 4)
Read the articles:
- What does Franconia Conference do together?
- May our stories abound
- Unexpected mutual aid helps save church building
- The deep affirmation of God
- Family, nature, and service
- Conference finance update (February 2012)
Franconia Conference Snapshots:
- Pastoring after the Storm
- God’s new thing in 2012
- Board members visit congregations
- Two are better than one
- Ministry in “thin places” marks Frankenfield’s journey
- We are Messengers of Joy
- Conference Finance Update (December 2011)
Franconia Conference Snapshots:
Read the articles:
- Gathering on Holy Ground
- Editorial: Working together to forward the Reign of God
- Enter into life with all your heart
- God’s “acolyte” in youth ministry
- New fruit, rooted in history at the Mennonite Heritage Center
- A Place to Belong
- Seeds and strings and welcome spaces
- Christopher Dock, Conferences Name Youth Minister
- Conference Finance Update: October 2011
Franconia Conference Snapshots
- Franconia Conference empowers young adult leaders
through summer ministry initiatives
- Editorial: Toward transformation with the Wild Goose
- Climbing walls and coffee shoppes:
Transforming meetinghouses and cities in the UK
- Transforming Mennonites by the Gospel of Peace in 2012
- Philly churches plan festival to benefit MCC
- Conference Assembly to build unity
- Hound of heaven in hot pursuit
- God’s call from the Andes mountains
- To each according to their need:
Ongoing partnership in the Vermont Mountains
- Opening new doors in the Poconos
- Wednesday morning prayer
- Conference Finance Update – August 2011
- Sounding the Gospel of our common Christ: Lutherans and Mennonites move toward right relationships
- Editorial: Effective strategy requires passionate engagement
- Refreshing our vision for youth ministry
- Community Home Services: Caring in the name of Jesus
- Celebrating Souderton: A missional direction
- The Worm Project: The power of “one”
- A month of ordinations marks God’s calling pastoral leaders
- Prayer network “adopts” street in Perkiomen Valley
- Formation class crosses into Allentown in considering the church and mission
- Conference Finance Update — June 2011
Introducing: Franconia Conference Snapshots, a summary of Intersections!
- A place to belong, a place to lead: Whigham named Executive Minister
- Encountering fierce Love, taking the risk to lead
- Learning to listen . . .
- Is your teen almost Christian? — Part 2
- Maná de Vida Eterna springs alive along the Hudson River
- Same mission, same values, new urgency
- Called into blessing: Liberty Ministries executive remembers his own journey
- Marked by a celebration of peace, a pole, and a neighborhood park: Urban Anabaptists make a
commitment to work and hope in Allentown
- Keeping my heart wide open
- Conference Finance Update — April 2011
Klaudia Smucker, Bally
“I am not planning on preaching,” I told one of my seminary professors. “I’m more interested in pastoral care and counseling.”
“Ask your minister anyway, and see if he can fit you into the preaching schedule,” he said.
James Waltner, my minister at College Mennonite at the time, said “Of course we can fit you into the preaching schedule.” I remember sitting up front before giving my first sermon, and having the feeling of wanting to run off the platform.
I began my student internship, not planning on being a pastor. But as the year went on, my seminary practicum, “Minister in the Church,” held many surprises. I preached, I led worship, I did pastoral care and counseling, and I loved every minute of it. I remember thinking, “This is the job I always wanted to do. I just didn’t know it.” My spiritual director noticed how enthusiastic and focused I was when I talked about my church work. She encouraged me to continue to seek God, and wait for answers. I prayed that if ministry was the right direction, it would be affirmed by others.
As I finished my practicum, I was sad to be ending something I enjoyed so much, and happy that I discovered something I loved. I decided to continue to work part time at my nursing job, and work my way through seminary, hoping that answers would eventually come. In my last week at the church, Nancy Kauffmann, on the CMC team, took me out to lunch and asked me if I had ever considered pastoral ministry. I said, “Yes. This practicum has opened whole new possibilities for me. I’m just not sure about the timing of it all.” She said, “I can’t promise you anything until we talk to the church board, but James and I believe you have gifts for ministry. We’d like to recommend hiring you to help us fill in some gaps.”
That was the beginning of my ministry journey, although as I look back, I can see that God’s hand was on me, leading, guiding, and bringing others my way to encourage me in that direction. When I preached a sermon as a 16-year-old on youth Sunday in the early 70’s, a woman came up to me afterwards with tears in her eyes, and said, “If you were a man, you could be a preacher some day.” I remember hearing a woman speak with passion and inspiration and thought, “I want to do that for others.” After I gave a presentation in a committee meeting once, a woman said, “God has something in mind for you.”
Not all of the 12 years that I have been in ministry have been easy. Sometimes it has been hard, sad and all-consuming. I have laughed, cried, and lamented along with people as I’ve walked with them through marriage, births of children, difficult issues, personal illness and loss. All of those things inform my preaching, and remind me that life is uncertain. My faith has been strengthened as I’ve watched people trust and follow faithfully in the midst of extreme difficulty. I have felt God’s hand on me along the way, sometimes through wise and trusted mentors, sometimes after time in prayer, and sometimes in the voice of a stranger at the right place, at the right time. As I continue to walk forward in what God has called me to, my prayer is to keep my heart wide open as I continue to listen for whatever is next on the journey.
Samantha Lioi, Whitehall
In one corner of Franklin Park’s blacktop, Heidi Wert and her young friends sat drumming for peace, drawing in others to grab a pair of sticks and beat out a rhythm on white plastic tubs—thumping out their commitment to be agents of well-being in their neighborhoods. Among them was Peter Pettit, director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College. Mayor Ed Palowski stood talking with folks setting up for the dedication of the Lehigh Valley’s third Peace Pole, the only one in the City of Allentown. The four-sided pillar, bearing “May peace prevail on earth” in Spanish, English, Arabic and German, was a gift to Pastor Tom Albright for his ordination. With his wife Carolyn, Tom gives leadership to Ripple, an eclectic Anabaptist urban worshiping community “moving toward Jesus as our center.” As they learn more what it means to follow Jesus, Tom says, they also learn, “We need each other.” Tom is credentialed by Franconia Mennonite Conference and the group grew out of ministry with Whitehall Mennonite Church, just outside of the city.
This mutual need, mutual honesty and encouragement were clear in the words and acts surrounding this pole on Saturday, as various people of faith gathered in a common desire for respectful relationships which build trust and shed fear in our city. Josh Chisholm of Congregations United for Neighborhood Action (CUNA) stood at the mic with his daughter on one hip, describing where he sees peace emerging. John, one of Ripple’s faithful deacons who lives across the street from the park, assisted with logistics and the pole’s unveiling. Rev. Maritza Torres Dolich of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church across the alley from the park said she sees peace in the children playing here day after day, and in her conversations with them. Torres Dolich, originally from Puerto Rico, read the peace pole’s message in Spanish on behalf of Allentown’s large and growing Latino communities. Muc Nguyen of Vietnamese Gospel Church spoke the pole’s blessing in Vietnamese, and his friend Luke Martin, long-time Mennonite missionary in Vietnam, spoke the words in German, representing the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in the region. Lucy, a first-year student at William Allen High School just a few blocks from the park, read an original poem of peace and sang a song of worship that made children and parents move from playing on the swings and jungle gym behind her to stand listening.
Planting this pole of many tongues calling silently for peace in our city will not stop people from shooting at each other or children from calling out hurtful names across this playground. It will simply remind us who commit ourselves to making peace that we too are planted here among the swing set and the spring onions of the community garden. And unlike this pole, we have breath and voice and power to be in healing relationships. It’s true: we need each other, and we need to remind each other that we are held and empowered by the Source of peace.
Samantha Lioi is an associate pastor at Whitehall Mennonite Church and is part of Zume House in Center City Allentown, an emerging intentional community of faith, witness and hope.