Franconia Conference Moderator Blaine Detwiler of Susquehanna, Pa, suggested that the annual Conference Assembly might be a “holy extravaganza.” And indeed it was, held at Souderton (Pa) Mennonite Church on November 13 and 14 around the theme of “Cultivating Healthy and Growing Leaders.” The extravaganza kicked off with a multiethnic worship team from across Conference congregations and singing that moved seamlessly amongst the Conference’s four worshiping languages—English, Indonesian, Spanish and Vietnamese, the assembly pulled together persons from global partners, denominational ministries, congregations and conference-related ministries for stories, worship, business, fellowship and workshops.
While business was limited at this year’s gathering, those gathered heard stories on how the Conference’s Vision and Financial Plan is incarnated. Those stories were designed to give insight into how the outcomes of healthy and growing disciples, leaders, congregations and connections are moving toward fulfillment of congregational vision. Conference Executive Minister Noel Santiago suggested that this year’s assembly offered insight into how God was moving “the tent stakes” of the Conference. Specifically, this was noted with the acceptance of the largely Indonesian speaking Atlanta Revival Center as a member congregation. This is the Conference’s first member congregation south of the Mason-Dixon line and likely the largest Mennonite Church USA congregation in Georgia.
Sara Lapp Kolb of Telford, Pa., a delegate from Plains Mennonite Church, suggested that there was something significant happening in how the gathering marked a new “being together.” Special guests at this year’s assembly featured gifted worship leader and musician James W. Crumbly, Jr. an instructor at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, FL and Heidi Rolland Unruh of Hutchinson, KS, policy analyst and staff associate at Evangelicals for Social Action. Unruh spoke on the issues of cultivating healthy and growing leaders and congregations, focusing on a conversation in Ephesians 3. Rolland Unruh challenged the conference toward “multiplying, including, reconciling, participation in seeing God’s will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
Newly credentialed pastors were recognized—including Connie Detwiler, associate pastor at Lakeview Mennonite Church (Susquehanna, Pa); Donna Merow, pastor at Ambler (Pa) Mennonite Church, Joe Hackman, youth pastor at Salford Mennonite Church (Harleysville, Pa) and Scott Franciscus, associate pastor at Covenant Community Fellowship in Lansdale, Pa. Special prayer was offered for Conrad Swartzentruber of Sellersville, Pa, who has been named principal at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. Jim King from Telford, Pa, a member of Plains Mennonite Church was unanimously affirmed to serve a three-year term on the Conference Board. The Conference also marked several ordinations and a transfer of pastoral credentials, along with the deaths of four retired pastors—J. Lester Eshleman, Henry Kulp, Harold Miller, and Paul Yoder.
International guests from Haiti, Mexico and the United Kingdom were present, along with representatives from Mennonite Church USA agencies and institutions. Over 100 delegates participated in the weekend events, including representatives from most conference congregations and the majority of the Conference’s 23 related ministries. Ongoing worship and prayer were offered and prayer stations set up by the host congregation at Souderton provided points of reflection for the two-day event.
Conference Assembly 2009 Video Summary
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