Tag Archives: Franconia

Delegates commit to waiting, hoping, discerning at Assembly

Bob & Bonnie Stevenson
Charlie Ness (Perkiomenville) and Bonnie Stevenson pray for Bob Stevenson before he brings the message during Friday night worship. Photo by Emily Ralph

by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

“Waiting on God is expectant and hopeful,” declared Marta Castillo, Franconia Conference’s outgoing assistant moderator, at the opening of the United Franconia and Eastern District Conferences’ 2014 Assembly.  The theme of this year’s gathering, held November 14-15 at Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa., was “Esperando: Waiting & Hoping.”

“We’re not waiting for something, we’re waiting for somebody,” added Bob Stevenson during Friday evening worship.  “Waiting is not just a passive sitting back.  And so the word I have is that we wait ‘until’ [we receive the power of the Spirit] and then we get up and go!”

Stevenson and his wife Bonnie were called and commissioned as missionaries to Mexico at a Franconia Conference Assembly 26 years before.  They were celebrated Friday night as they reached a milestone in their ministry: the transition from raising missionary support from the States to full funding through their congregation.  “I thank the Lord for allowing us to be a part of this conference,” Bonnie responded after she and Bob were presented with a Spanish fraktur created by Salford congregation member Roma Ruth.  “There are many times on Friday morning when we have our prayer together … that we pray for each one of your congregations by name.”

praying for Danilo Sanchez
Conference leaders pray for Danilo Sanchez, Whitehall, one of this year’s newly credentialed leaders. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

The theme of leaders raised up and called from within the Conference continued on Saturday during the joint delegate session, when the gathering recognized a number of newly credentialed leaders who were licensed out of Franconia congregations.  “Where do our pastors come from?” asked Steve Kriss, Franconia Conference director of leadership cultivation.  “They come because you invite them.”

This year also saw the credentialing of leaders from other conferences and denominational backgrounds, adding to Franconia’s increasing diversity.  “Diversity is a catalyst for growth,” reflected Jessica Hedrick, Souderton congregation, during table feedback.  Her table encouraged conference delegates to prioritize prayer and, as corporate discernment continued, to recognize “the opportunity to learn from each other instead of necessarily trying to get everyone to agree.”

KrisAnne Swartley praying
KrisAnne Swartley, Doylestown, joins in prayer for the other congregations at her table. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

The theme of listening well and together wove through many of the stories and hopes shared throughout the weekend.  Danilo Sanchez, Whitehall congregation, named three areas that it seemed the majority of delegates were wrestling with: “Listening to the Spirit, how to sit with our differences, and how to love like Christ.”

The Franconia Conference Board asked delegates to consider what kind of conversations needed to be planned leading up to the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City next summer, knowing the likelihood that Convention will include decisions about denominational structure and human sexuality.  Many delegates agreed that the questions of structure and sexuality only skimmed the surface; perhaps there were other questions that should be asked instead.

delegates conferring
Delegates discussed difficult issues around tables with grace and laughter. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

Josh Meyer, Franconia congregation, wondered how the upcoming dialogue could form those participating into the image of Christ.  “How we have this conversation is just as important as any decisions that we make,” he said.  “It doesn’t matter what we decide in Kansas City; if we don’t treat each other as sisters and brothers in Christ, then we’ve missed the point.”

Throughout the weekend, conference leadership encouraged delegates to actively wait on the Spirit, to take time for stillness and listening, and to collaborate in acts of justice and mercy.  “We must not become paralyzed by the issues of the day,” encouraged Eastern District moderator Brenda Oelschlager, “but move forward in love … as God leads us along new paths.”

Several new paths highlighted included a new Lehigh Valley collaboration in hiring Sanchez as youth minister, welcoming two new Philadelphia congregations (Centro de Alabanza and Indonesian Light Church) into an exploration of membership in Franconia Conference, and the move of the Mennonite Conference Center to the campus of Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale (Pa.).

Aldo Siahaan introduces new congregations
LEADership Minister Aldo Siahaan introduces two new congregations exploring membership in Franconia Conference: Centro de Alabanza and Indonesian Light Church. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

Although 2014 saw the beginnings of new ministries and the licensing of many new pastors, it also brought the deaths of three influential church leaders: Paul Lederach, John Drescher, and Israel Bolaños.  In reflecting on their legacies, Kriss encouraged delegates to remember them by carrying on their work of teaching, writing, and mission.

“The gospel isn’t good news until someone takes it and goes with it,” Bob Stevenson agreed.  The power which sends the church is not political or force, but “a power that is a ‘preach the gospel to the poor’ power, it’s a ‘healing the broken heart’ power….  What will change this world is us, God’s people.”

Franconia congregations partner to fight human trafficking

Franconia pastor Josh Meyer sparked conversation at the February 8 delegate gathering when he asked delegates to partner in issues of justice.  Photo by Emily Ralph.
Franconia pastor Josh Meyer sparked conversation at the February 8 delegate gathering when he asked delegates to partner in issues of justice. Photo by Emily Ralph.

by Sheldon C. Good, for Franconia Conference

As debate around human sexuality continues to leave many church leaders wondering what binds together people with diverse beliefs, at least four Franconia Conference congregations are partnering to advocate for basic human rights, declaring that human beings shouldn’t be abused, raped, and sold.

The four Pennsylvania congregations – Doylestown, Finland, Franconia, and Philadelphia Praise Center – independently of each other became aware of the issue of human trafficking, commonly defined as the illegal movement of people, often for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

These congregations are each comprised of members with diverse theological perspectives, racial makeup, and socio-economic status, making their shared interest in addressing human trafficking unique and important at a time when conversations around homosexuality have polarized many churches.

Each congregation has taken its own steps toward becoming informed about the impact of human trafficking internationally, nationally, and locally, and toward advocating for victims of human trafficking everywhere.  It wasn’t until recently, however, that leaders from the four churches realized their shared conviction at a seemingly surprising location: a delegate meeting.

In February, as Franconia Conference leaders conducted business and wrestled with questions related to homosexuality, Josh Meyer, associate pastor of Franconia congregation, stood up and appealed to church leaders, “What are the more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness that we can gather around?”  For example, Meyer suggested, despite differing opinions about homosexuality, doesn’t everyone agree that human beings shouldn’t be abused, raped, and sold into slavery?

IMG_3560“That was the appeal that sparked a quick, on-the-spot poll of pastors and leaders present to ask, ‘which congregations want to be in conversation on this, want to get together to work on this?’” said Samantha Lioi, Franconia Conference minister of peace and justice.

After the delegate meeting, leaders from the four congregations, plus Lioi, formed an informal task force “to explore what it would look like to work together and make responding to human trafficking a priority in our Conference,” Meyer said. The task force organized a resourcing breakfast focused on human trafficking, held in September, and organized an anti-trafficking workshop to be held during Conference Assembly on November 15. The task force is planning a day of public witness, where people will be invited to gather and pray outside popular trafficking spots in southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Moving forward, we’re excited about making more congregations aware of the issue, and providing practical, tangible ways for churches to respond together,” Meyer said.

The Finland congregation has been addressing human trafficking for several years, hosting local speakers including Debbie Wright, an activist who is producing a documentary about sex trafficking in southeastern Pennsylvania. Pastor Kris Wint first encountered trafficking while in Cambodia. “To do nothing is to keep people enslaved and live contrary to the One we claim to follow,” Wint said.

Franconia congregation has focused a Sunday morning service on trafficking, hosted an awareness night, heard from guest speakers, and provided resources on how to get involved in combatting trafficking.  “My sense is many congregations don’t even realize the extent to which human trafficking is a reality in our world,” Meyer said. “There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history.  Churches need to know about this … My other sense is that many churches are aware of the situation but don’t know what to do in response. It seems like such a big issue; it’s hard to know how to engage. If we can find ways to help churches act in practical, tangible ways, that would be a great thing.”

About three years ago, Doylestown staff members KrisAnne Swartley and Sandy Landes began prayer walking around Hilltown. As they walked, they became aware of area businesses that profit from the sex trade: adult bookstores, strip bars, massage parlors.

“It deeply troubled us, but we weren’t sure what we could do about it, other than continue to pray,” said Swartley, Doylestown’s minister for the missional journey.

Eventually, the Doylestown congregation connected with local advocates: Worthwhile Wear and The Well. With this kind of partnering, Swartley sees advocating for an end to human trafficking as missional.

“Individually, we can do very little to end modern day slavery,” she said. “As we partner together, we can accomplish so much more – each person and congregation offering different gifts as we have them, for this ministry.”

Adrian Suryajaya agrees. Some members of his congregation, Philadelphia Praise Center, have been victims of forced labor and wage theft.

“It is important that we work together on this issue because it is such a big, overwhelming issue to tackle alone,” he said. “We need a lot of resources and teamwork.”

The diversity of the Franconia Conference congregations partnering to end modern day slavery shows this teamwork is already happening. Lioi hopes more join in, and hopes the upcoming conference assembly will provide ample opportunity to do so.

“I don’t know why, but it seems this injustice, this oppression in particular, has drawn a more diverse group of leaders together than any other I have seen,” she said. “I believe we can be publicly present in standing against traffickers and standing with survivors, especially since we have information about places close to our congregations that have been centers for trafficking.”

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.

Delegates discuss collaboration in time of anxiety

Candlesby Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

Franconia Conference delegates gathered February 8 at Franconia Mennonite Church, Telford, Pa., to brainstorm ways of building relationships and collaboration in ministry and mission as part of a two-year direction toward growth and discernment as a community.

After a time of worship and reflection, delegates prayed for their congregations, the conference and denomination, and institutions of the church that are in difficult processes of discernment recognizing the tensions across the denomination related to human sexuality.  Conversation then turned to identifying areas for mutual support and engagement; sharing ways that the conference community can strengthen relationships to open possibilities for healthy conversation and collaboration.

“We again recognize that God has gifted our conference with great diversity,” said Marta Castillo, assistant moderator.  “Our Anabaptist commitments to reconciliation and community invite us to stay united in the midst of diversity….  So we again today commit ourselves to live openly and with integrity as brothers and sisters.”

Conference executive Ertell Whigham shared the intention of LEADership Ministers to reintroduce the principle of leadership clusters, where pastors from diverse congregations regularly meet together for support and networking.  To make this more feasible for pastors, the School for Leadership Formation will scale back the number of other events pastors are encouraged to attend.

Table groupsSome delegates enthusiastically supported the reimplementation of clusters and encouraged conference staff to explore ways to also engage between all congregation members rather than only credentialed leaders.  Some dreamed of ways for members of diverse congregations to partner beyond ministry—to have fun together, worship, and play.  Others questioned how we discern which issues to prioritize in mission together.

“Are we taking seriously the issues that we ought to be taking seriously?” asked Josh Meyer, associate pastor of Franconia congregation.  “We were reminded of Matthew 23 where Jesus says, ‘… you neglect the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, faithfulness.’  How can we as churches, as a conference, be more committed to justice, mercy, faithfulness?”

Meyer’s table group wondered if the conference could focus together on matters of justice instead of division, working, for instance, on an issue that many are passionate about: combatting human trafficking.  Since one goal of the morning’s gathering was to build relationships around a common area of mission and call, Whigham asked delegates whose congregations are interested in working together against human trafficking to raise their hands so that they could network on the spot.  Delegates from a dozen congregations responded.

“Sitting down and talking to one another is a good thing,” reflected conference moderator John Goshow.  “I think we’re enjoying one another’s company this morning [which] demonstrates why we need to do more of that than we’ve done in the past.”  He encouraged delegates to continue to pray for the denomination in days ahead.  “This call for prayer does not need to end today.  Our church needs the continued prayers of all of us.”

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Reflections from Impact: Holy Land conference

Impact: Holy Land
Archbishop Elias Chacour speaks at the Impact: Holy Land conference. Photo by Ben Wideman.

by Josh Meyer, Franconia congregation

I tend to be fairly cautious about most Christian conferences.  At the risk of sounding overly-skeptical, I’m not thoroughly convinced of the long-term benefit of such events, and wonder if they don’t play into a kind of consumerism within the Christian sub-culture of the West: lots of marketing, lots of money, lots of “celebrity Christians,” lots of glossy pamphlets and slick websites.  They’re not all bad, of course, but I generally feel uncomfortable with many aspects of “the big conference machine.”

However, I must admit when I received an invitation to attend the Impact: Holy Land conference, I was intrigued.  If you’re going to have a conference, I thought, there aren’t many issues other than the situation in the Middle East that are worthy of special time and attention.  And so, with a bit of hesitation, I registered for and attended the event.  I’m so glad I did.

It was a richly challenging and deeply hopeful three days of relationship-building and peace-building, of learning and growing.  The speakers and participants were comprised of a diverse group of individuals, with varied theological and political backgrounds and beliefs, but who were united by a love for Jesus.  We listened to stories, wrestled with difficult topics, asked pointed questions, studied the Bible, tried to disagree agreeably, and worshiped together throughout the entire event.

There’s not room in one short blog post to capture all of the wisdom and grace and hope that was shared during our time together, but here’s a brief sampling of some of the thoughts that struck me and continue to shape my thinking about the Way of Jesus in general and the Holy Land in particular:

  • “The greatest tool to fight injustice is actively seeking peace and reconciliation with those who are persecuting us.”
  • “The most deadly weapon in conflict is dehumanization.  When we dehumanize the other and buy into an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, it’s a breakdown of the image of God in other people.”
  • “If your theology is not a blessing to and good news for your enemy, then it’s not a Christian theology.”
  • “Part of loving your enemy means listening to their story, learning their history, and getting to know their narrative.”
  • “You cannot have justice without reconciliation.”
  • “Whenever people ask if I’m for a one-state solution or a two-state solution, I always reply that I’m for an 11 million-individual solution.  Every single person living in the Holy Land needs to be transformed and needs to be part of the solution.”
  • “As Mother Theresa teaches us, if we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
  • “We Christians do not have exclusive control over the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes God works through those who believe differently than we do.”
  • “Dr. West reminds us that justice is what love looks like in public.”
  • “Love cannot be legislated, but as our hearts are transformed by the love of God we will necessarily change our policies.”
  • “Politics is about policies that impact people.  If there are policies in place that are hurting people, then challenging those policies is the right and loving thing to do.  So yes, there are times when love is political.”
  • “We must expose injustice to the point that it becomes so uncomfortable that people have no choice but to do something about it.”
  • “We need to exchange weapons for worship, conquest for community, and the pursuit of power for the pursuit of peace.”

I attended this conference with a desire to learn about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  And while I did learn more about the situation, I also learned about much more than simply the religious and socio-political struggle in the Holy Land.

I learned about God’s deep love for all people.  I learned about conflict and reconciliation and justice.  I learned about the power of story, the power of forgiveness, and the power of God using ordinary people to do small things with great love.  I learned about my own distorted ways of dealing with conflict and relating to those who disagree with me.  I learned about social justice and the fierce urgency of now.  I learned about the imperative call to express our faith not merely in belief but through concrete, tangible, loving action.  And most importantly, I learned once again that the good news of Jesus is for all people: saints and sinners, skeptics and dreamers, Arabs and Americans, Israelis and Palestinians.

Ministerial report (September 2013)

The Ministerial Committee met on September 4:

  • We took action to grant a specific license to Tim Hart to serve as pastor of revitalization for Garden Chapel.
  • We approved ordination for Emily Ralph from the Salford congregation who has been called to an associate pastor position at Sunnyside in Lancaster.
  • We granted a license toward ordination to Tami Good who is serving as minister of worship and music at Souderton.
  • Arnold Derstine and Mike Ford have resigned from the pastoral team at Franconia.
  • Blooming Glen has hired Mike Ford as youth pastor.
  • Frederick and Lakeview are seeking interim pastoral leadership.
  • Perkiomenville is seeking an associate pastor and Alpha and Taftsville congregations are looking for pastoral leadership.

Successful Conference, Seminary partnership concludes

IME
Steve Kriss (top right) and Derek Cooper (second row, fourth from the right) have partnered for five years to take seminary students on intercultural learning trips, including this spring’s trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Photo by Dennis Dong.

by John Tyson, Salford congregation

Theological educators believe headfirst immersion into unfamiliar cultural terrain is a requirement for preparing church leaders in the context of the twenty-first century. For students at Biblical Theological Seminary (Hatfield, Pa.), a lifelong commitment to intercultural ministry begins at the second year mark of their LEAD Master of Divinity Program.

To meet the complex and unconventional demands of intercultural education, Biblical Seminary and Franconia Conference have partnered together to create the Intercultural Ministry Experience (IME). For the past five years, Franconia’s director of leadership cultivation, Steve Kriss, and Biblical’s director of the LEAD program, Derek Cooper, have led a total of seventy-five students on journeys far and wide, from Israel/Palestine to Italy to Cambodia and Vietnam.

For Dr. Derek Cooper, the ten-day trips abroad produce formative insights and questions that dwell with students well beyond their time in seminary. “It is my favorite component of the LEAD program, and students receive a very concentrated educational experience,” said Cooper. “Students always come away from the trip changed, challenged, and more culturally aware. It’s completely transformative.”

“We also talk a lot about contextualization, and we learn much about how the local Christian community addresses issues relating to history, culture, politics, and world religions,” Cooper added.

Josh Meyer, associate pastor of Franconia congregation (Telford, Pa.), participated in the 2011 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Meyer identified practices of learning and listening as the educational core of his experience. “This was not a mission trip where rich, white Americans did a service project and ‘brought Jesus’ to the forgotten corners of the globe,” he said.  “Rather, this was a learning experience where we went as students, not saviors; as listeners, not experts; as those interested in exploring ways in which God was already living and moving and active in the culture, not as those bringing Jesus to a place where, prior to our arrival, God was not present…This approach to cross-cultural study resonated deeply with my own wariness of short-term missions and helped to shape my thinking on how we as people of faith engage with the rest of the world.”

The required IME provided Donna Merow her first opportunity to explore spaces beyond U.S. borders. Now pastor of Ambler (Pa.) congregation, Merow recalled how her trip to Israel/Palestine transformed both her understanding of ancient scripture as well as the present Israeli/Palestinian conflict. “The reality of walking where Jesus did, of visiting his birthplace, the village he called home, the Sea of Galilee, and the site of his death has changed the way I read the Bible,” Merow explained. “Seeing and touching the separation wall, staying in the homes of Palestinian Christians, and visiting one of the multigenerational refugee camps has made me ask hard questions about government policy and church practice.”

For many travelers, encountering weathered, historically nuanced places reveals how tender the balance is between the past and the future. This was one of the major lessons absorbed by KrisAnne Swartley, associate pastor of Doylestown (Pa.) congregation, on her trip to Italy. “I was struck by the history there, and how it is preserved and revered, and how that can be both a strength and a weakness,” Swartley reflected. “The strength is in remembering our story, remembering how the faithful who went before us worked through questions of faithfulness in the midst of change/struggle. The weakness can be that we are so trapped by traditions of the past that we become irrelevant in the present and into the future. I continue to think about this balance, to pray that I remember and learn from the church of the past but also [have courage] to walk into the future bravely, not afraid to let go of what was as the Spirit gives new wisdom.”

While this spring marks the end of the Biblical/Franconia IME partnership, its conclusion is cause for celebration, according to Kriss. “The model proved to be an effective partnership because both the seminary and the Conference benefitted,” he said. The Conference offered resources of intercultural education and global networking, he observed, while the seminary provided students who were positioned to deeply engage.  “The surprising outcome,” Kriss said, “was to build relationships with Anabaptist students on campus which helped Conference congregations to have new connections with potential pastors.   And these new potential pastors had already been shaped somewhat by Anabaptist ways of engaging the world.  It was a fruitful endeavor, not without struggles at times, but one that represents effective and strategic partnering in healthy ways.”

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)

Introducing Garden Chapel

Garden Chapel
Photo by Sean Anderson.

We are “The Garden Chapel” from Victory Gardens, New Jersey. We are a small, diverse, loving, and growing congregation located in Morris County, New Jersey. The borough of Victory Gardens was founded in 1941 by the federal government to house workers from a nearby munitions factory. It was named after the vegetable gardens people planted during World War II in response to food shortages. It is the smallest municipality in size (91 acres) and population (1,520) in Morris County, but the most densely populated.

During the Vietnam War young men were being drafted into the military services. Since serving in the military is completely contradictory to our beliefs, the Mennonite Church negotiated an “Alternative Service” arrangement with the government. This allowed conscientious objectors to serve our country in a manner consistent with our understanding of the Lord’s commands. Instead of going to war, these men served at Greystone State Psychiatric Hospital assisting patients in various capacities. Initially, the men formed a house church, but they saw that the community of Victory Gardens was not served by a single church. With the assistance of the Franconia Conference, they planted our church in 1971. To this day it remains the only church in the community. How truly wonderful it is that God would plant a peace church in a community founded for war!

We have been blessed with our new Pastor Tim Hart since last March. Tim grew up in the community and has attended our church since childhood. He is keenly aware of our strengths and our needs and has a dynamic vision for the future.

Our mission statement is “Loving God, Loving Our Neighbors, & Loving Each Other.” We try to live this out by our outreach to the community. We have an annual “Community Day” picnic were we reach out with food, fun, and fellowship with our neighbors. This year we distributed 105 book bags filled with school supplies to needy children. During the holidays we prepare and deliver meals to shut-ins and seniors. When we visit and fellowship with them we are reminded to “… remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

We are praying that God will enable us to develop a Hispanic Ministry and also help us to restore our summer youth program which in the past has shown God’s love to many young people. Please pray for us as we are praying for all of you.

Find Garden Chapel on the web: http://www.gardenchapelchurch.org/. Download the pdf:  Introducing Garden Chapel.

Conferences lunch with CRM leaders

CRM lunch
Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District, visits with John Hendrickson, CEO of Frederick Living.

Franconia and Eastern District Conferences’ leadership met with Conference Related Ministry (CRM) leaders on Wednesday, April 24, to fellowship, build relationships, and further clarify the partnership that these ministries have with both conferences.

During the lunch, Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference, and Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District Conference, updated CRM leaders on the status of the Eastern District/Franconia relationship.  They also suggested common values that Conference Related Ministries share with Franconia Conference and honored the ministries for their excellent support of conference constituents, regardless of their conference affiliation.

CRM lunch
Joe Landis, executive director of Peaceful Living, swaps stories with Ertell Whigham, executive minister of Franconia Conference.

CRM leaders were also encouraged to provide the conference with areas of expertise in which their staff could provide resourcing for congregations.  These resources will be gathered and included in a new directory on the Franconia Conference website.

Conference Related Ministries are organizations that collaborate with Franconia Conference and serve congregations and neighborhoods in the name of Jesus.  To see a full list of CRMs, check out our directory.