Tag Archives: Covenant Community

Credentialed Leaders Gather to Discuss MCUSA Survey

by Lisa Rand, Bally Mennonite Church

lisa rand 2 cropped 3-26-15Last year, Mennonite Church USA surveyed credentialed leaders on a variety of issues and questions, covering demographics, conferences, the denomination, and the currently difficult issue of attitudes toward homosexuality and the status in the church of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). The research, led by Last year, Mennonite Church USA surveyed credentialed leaders on a variety of issues and questions … Conrad Kanagy of Elizabethtown College, offered a glimpse into the perspectives of leaders from coast to coast.

Franconia Conference contracted with Kanagy to provide additional analysis of his material for our conference community. On Saturday, March 14, Kanagy delved more deeply into the data with about three dozen conference pastors at Covenant Community Fellowship in Lansdale.

lisa rand 1 3-26-15The morning’s work began with prayerful worship, with music led by Marilyn Bender (of Ripple Allentown) and Samantha Lioi (Whitehall congregation). John Bender, interim associate pastor at Franconia Mennonite Church, led a guiding reflection. He referred to Romans 14:3, where followers of Jesus are advised not to pass judgment on the servant of another: “Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.” Bender asked leaders to consider what might result from a daily prayer for oneness, and a concerted effort to see each person as a sister or brother in Christ.

To begin his presentation, Conrad Kanagy invited leaders to consider the wisdom of Paul in Colossians 3:1-15, highlighting Paul’s emphasis on magnanimity, charity, and generosity in relationship with one another. These spiritual values were lifted up throughout the presentation.

“This morning is about understanding what has shaped our differences, the implications of those differences, and where we can go in the future,” said Kanagy. With frankness, he said he was “not even suggesting we can keep living together,” but asserting that we can be kind and gracious.

Leaders recognized this conversation as a beginning, an opening. Even while thanking Kanagy for his time and effort on data analysis, several leaders suggested it might be helpful to invite additional interpretations of the data.

“Surveys are imperfect,” Kanagy acknowledged, “but they bring us around the table together.”

Conference board member Jim Laverty expressed gratitude for Kanagy’s honesty about the cultural differences that separate us.

“He helped me to better appreciate the different worldviews represented in the survey results so that I might better appreciate just how profound these cultural differences are. I felt, overall, that the meeting drew together credentialed leaders from across the spectrum of worldviews and that as we met around round tables that we genuinely desired to listen and understand each other. I was grateful that at my table I could express my concern about how these differences will impact local congregations and how we choose to use or not use our power and influence as leaders to sway the opinion of others,” said Laverty.

Though no specific solutions were proposed, many leaders wondered about Conrad Kanagy’s questions: “What if the Holy Spirit is dismantling the church? What if the structures we have put in place are getting in the way? How can we work with the Holy Spirit?”

Despite the differences among conference leaders, there is critical common ground in the belief that God is active present is in our midst, even in the turmoil caused by feelings of disunity. As we move forward, Laverty suggested “that we equip and train our conference staff especially as they walk with churches who represent a diversity of perspectives. I would also suggest that despite our differences we explore ways to continue to collaborate on our call as a people to participate in God’s mission in the world.”

Everence awards scholarships to three conference students

Three students from Franconia Conference were named recipients of Everence college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Everence, a financial, insurance and banking services organization rooted in faith and values, offers its scholarship program each year as a means of encouraging young people to explore the integration of faith and finances while helping them on their educational journeys.

This year’s $500 scholarship recipients include Abigail Anderson, Jacob Ford, and Sarah Nafziger. The essay topic was, “Describe a person who has modeled the concept of stewardship for you. How did his or her example influence your life choices?

JacobFord
Ford

Jacob Ford, of Franconia congregation in Telford (Pa.), pursuing a degree at New York University, wrote about  William Temple Hornaday, Smithsonian Museum conservationist:

“It is not impossible that the most responsible thing to do with one’s wealth is to give it all away.  It’s not impossible that a comfortable life is a weakness and not a strength, a sign of habits overdue for upheaval.  Stewardship is, and must remain, responsibility, and Hornaday’s example in not an excuse to make deliberately bad decisions.  Yet stewardship must not prohibit the preposterous.”

SarahNafziger
Nafziger

Sarah Nafziger, of Vincent congregation in Spring City (Pa.), pursuing a degree at Penn State, wrote about her father: “Both Dad and I are stewards of the Gospel. I have learned from Dad how to take care of things well. The Gospel is different than resources, my body, or my family–with those there is only so much I can invest and give. The Gospel is a treasure that God has entrusted me with that I can give freely and still keep.”

AbigailAnderson
Anderson

The third local recipient was Abigail Anderson, of Covenant Community Fellowship in Harleysville, (Pa.).  She is pursuing a degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In her essay, Abigail said, “My parents have taught me to be generous with everything with which God has blessed us.”

These students are among 42 recipients of Everence college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. About 200 students from across the country applied for scholarships – a benefit of being an Everence member – for the coming academic year. Recipients were chosen based on academics, leadership, community involvement and responses to an essay question.

“We look for students who succeed in school but go beyond that to get involved in their communities,” said Phyllis Mishler, member benefits manager for Everence.

One student received a $3,000 scholarship, three received $2,000 scholarships and 38 others received $500 scholarships for the upcoming school year. Visit everence.com for a complete list of scholarship recipients and their photos.

Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. Everence is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and other churches. To learn more, visit www.everence.com/souderton or call 215-703-0111.

Introducing Covenant Community Fellowship

Covenant Community FellowshipCovenant Community Fellowship was planted by the Franconia Mennonite Church in 1986.  Covenant is located on Sumneytown Pike just outside of Lansdale with an average attendance of 120.  Our lead pastor is Jay L. Moyer and our associate pastor is Scott Franciscus whose primary focus is on youth & young adult ministry.   We are an elder-led congregation, with our vision statement as follows:  “We envision the transformation of persons, families and neighborhoods by the power of the Holy Spirit through authentic caring community that serves the needs of others around us as we model the life of Jesus Christ.”

As a community of believers, Covenant continues to seek how to live faithfully to the teachings contained in the Bible, believing in the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God. One component of our Sunday morning worship is music, which is team-led, creating an atmosphere of healing, participation and celebration.

In keeping with our mission to reach the community by serving others and modeling the life of Jesus, we have shared with the Lansdale community a number of free spaghetti dinners to provide a non-threatening environment for the establishing of initial relationships that can be built upon in the future.  We are a congregation striving to live the command of Jesus: to love God first with all our being, and to secondly love one another as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).

Introducing Covenant Community (pdf)