HARLEYSVILLE, PA: Eastern District and Franconia Conferences have contracted a new Peace and Justice Minister to resource congregations in a deeper witness of “shalom,” a holistic understanding of peace rooted in Christ. Samantha Lioi, Whitehall congregation, began work for the conferences in May.
Lioi, a graduate of AMBS with a concentration in peace studies, is passionate about God’s concern for both mercy and justice as expressed in the prophets and the life and teachings of Jesus. “My experiences in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the Penn Foundation over the past year with people facing and working to heal from their addictions has highlighted the need for these complementary movements of mercy and justice,” said Lioi, “finding oneself loved by a Creator and welcomed in the midst of sin and brokenness, and being invited to claim responsibility for one’s actions and make amends.”
But the roots of her fascination with the ways different people perceive and interpret the world and their place in it go back even further. They can be traced through her curiosity and attentiveness as a child during missionary visits to her congregation, her introduction to Mennonite faith and practice while attending Houghton College, intercultural experiences in college and seminary, and a trip to Colombia last year with Christian Peacemaker Teams. “[That trip] confirmed my desire to continue connecting—through friendship and partnership—with people working for justice and dignity in international relations,” Lioi said.
Lioi moved to Allentown in November 2010 to give additional leadership to the Whitehall congregation and help birth the Zume House, an intentional community that includes pastors from the Whitehall and Ripple congregations. Lioi finished her short-term service at Whitehall in January, but continues to be involved in the life of both of these congregations.
“I envision Samantha’s ministry developing relationships between rural, suburban and urban congregations,” said Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District Conference. “I look forward to seeing how Samantha’s vision and passion for peace and justice ministries will affect Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference congregations living out God’s missional call in local settings.”
Lioi is contracted through the joint Peace and Justice Committee of both conferences, a committee she joined in March 2011. She will serve as a liaison to strengthen relationships among faith communities, facilitate mutual resourcing, and encourage congregations to be bold in following the Spirit’s prompting. (Read the full job description here.)
“I’m excited about the collaboration with Samantha and Eastern District Conference,” said Ertell Whigham, executive minister of Franconia Conference. “I believe it’s the next step of our conferences working together toward understanding peace and justice as the core of what it means to be the intercultural people of God.”
Samantha is in the process of meeting with pastors and other leaders to learn how congregations are already modeling God’s peace and what kind of resourcing would be helpful. To schedule a meeting with Samantha, contact her at 484.632.2651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eastern District Conference will be handling Samantha’s financial support package. All gifts to support this ministry should be made payable to Eastern District Conference, Roger Perry, treas., 734 Martingale Rd, Schwenksville, PA 19473, memo: Peace and Justice Minister support.