Tag Archives: Kris Wint

Retreat Before Moving Forward

by Paula Marolewski, Franconia Conference Board Member and Elder at Perkiomenville Mennonite Church

What characterizes the culture of Franconia Mennonite Conference (FMC) today? How do we respond to the crowded, complex, fast-paced culture of society around us? How do Conference member churches experience being valued and valuing the whole of the larger conference?

The grounds of Fatima House Retreat Center provided a peaceful backdrop for the Board Retreat.

These were some of the many questions the Conference Board discussed on July 28th and 29th as they met together for a retreat at Fatima House in Ottsville, Pennsylvania. All eleven of the board members were present*, representing eleven different congregations – a quarter of all the churches that comprise the conference. Facilitating the meeting was Jeff Wright of Riverside, CA, Executive Consultant for Urban Expression North America.  Jeff had served as a guide for the Conference’s Vision and Financial Plan a decade ago.

During the time together, the Board spent time in spiritual reflection, as three of the board members (Beny Krisbianto, Angela Moyer, and Ken Burkholder) shared devotions on Jesus’ parables and how the parables spoke to various situations and needs within the Conference. The devotional times flowed into discussions about colliding cultures, conflict and hope, and the future of Franconia Conference and Mennonite Church USA.

One of the key conversations centered on three central questions that everyone – individuals, churches, the conference, and the denomination – should answer:

  1. Who is Jesus to us? [Christology]
  2. What does Jesus want us to do? [missiology]
  3. How does Jesus want us to do it? [ecclesiology]

Jeff emphasized that it is critical to approach these questions in this order. For example, we as Franconia Conference need to first determine who Jesus is to us. The answer to that will become the foundation for our shared culture. Only then can we ask what Jesus wants us to do and how to go about it – these are questions of strategy that build on the foundation of culture.

The Board grappled with all these questions and more – and will continue to do so with the goal of advancing the Kingdom of God in our fallen world. That, after all, is the purpose of a retreat: to prepare to move forward.

*The Board is composed of John Goshow, moderator (Blooming Glen), Angela Moyer (Co-Pastor at Ripple), Beny Krisbianto (Pastor at Nations Worship Center), Gwen Groff (Pastor at Bethany), Jim King (Plains), Paula Marolewski (Perkiomenville), Ken Burkholder, interim chair of the Ministerial Committee (Pastor at Deep Run East), Kris Wint (Pastor at Finland), Smita Singh (Whitehall), Merlin Harman (Franconia), and Steve Kriss, Conference Executive Minister (Philadelphia Praise Center).

Board Welcomes Kris Wint

By Colin Ingram, communication intern

KrisWint1The Franconia Conference board affirmed Kris Wint as a new member at their January meeting following his nomination by several conference delegates. He is currently lead pastor at Finland Mennonite Church in Pennsburg, PA where he has been attending since 2001 and a member since 2003.

Kris was licensed toward ordination with Franconia Conference in 2012 while still a student at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA. He became connected to the conference through one of his professors, Steve Kriss, conference director of leadership cultivation and congregational resourcing.  After processing theologies from across the globe through course work and travel to Asia and Israel, he graduated with a Master of Divinity in 2014.

Last year Kris’s ordination was affirmed by the conference ministerial committee.  Kris also served this past year on the board appointed church together statements committee that worked to discern with pastors, and conference board and staff which of the Church Together Statements would be brought before the delegate assembly last fall.

KrisWint3Kris was raised with a blend of Methodist and Baptist perspectives, yet found himself drawn to Anabaptism when introduced to it by his then girlfriend, now wife, Ginger as a senior in high school. After living a lifestyle of what Kris calls “practical atheism,” believing in God but acting as if God didn’t exist, Kris reports being transformed by God’s love in an Anabaptist context.

“God was leading me through a life of religion to a place of really following Jesus,” Kris says.

KrisWint2After high school, He went on to obtain a degree in Business Management with a focus in Human Resources from Pennsylvania State University and began working as a training manager for Haines & Kibblehouse. Kris stated during this time God led him to Seminary and so he began course work at Biblical Theological Seminary.

Working in Human Resources groomed Kris for communicating and “making things practical and relatable in the business world.”

As he begins his first term with the conference board, Kris says this is “another piece of the journey following where Jesus led.”

His strengths include turning vision into practical expressions and equipping others. He looks forward to assisting the board in equipping conference congregations to attain the vision the delegates have set for the conference.

KrisWint4Kris is a husband, father and pastor seeking to lead people to Jesus. His wife Ginger has strong family ties to Franconia Conference and they enjoy being near family as they are raising their four children: Chloe, age 7, Logan, age 6, Paige, age 3, and Jace, age 1.

What most energizes Kris is “hearing how lives are impacted by Jesus, stories of change, seeing God at work.” He also enjoys enjoy spending time with his wife Ginger, playing with their “kiddos,” tending to their chickens and goat, being outside, playing sports, and listening to music.

Read about Kris’s Ordination here: http://franconiaconference.org/finland-congregation-celebrates-ordination-of-kris-wint/

Every Ordination is Miraculous

By Steve Kriss, Director of Leadership Cultivation & Congregational Resourcing

oil lamp 9-24-15
To order a Dancing Flame Oil Lamp handcrafted by June Keener Wink please call 413-258-4243 or e-mail junewink@gmail.com.

The year 2015 has been a year of ordinations in Franconia Conference.   We’ve been celebrating and marking commitments and calling nearly every six weeks . . . Mike Ford at Blooming Glen, Joe Hackman at Salford, Donna Merow at Ambler, Angela Moyer at Ripple, Kris Wint at Finland, Josh Meyer at Franconia, Samantha Lioi at Whitehall and Ubaldo Rodriguez at New Hope Fellowship in Baltimore for mission work in the Philippines.

Ordination is an ancient process of setting apart leaders for public ministry in the way of Jesus.  Within Franconia Conference, we follow a set of procedures that seek to honor both the individual and the community while respecting the work of the Spirit within both settings.  There is coursework for completion, interviews, paperwork that intends to keep our communities both safe and accountable, mental wellness assessments, varieties of continuing education and varying levels of mentoring.   Some of our pastors breeze through the process at a steady and assured pace in the two year minimum waiting and working period of licensing.   Others take much longer to plumb the depths of call both personally and communally and to wrestle it out.   Personal disclosure, it took me six years of working, waiting and wondering in Allegheny Conference before I could wrap my head around the commitments and calling that ordination entails.

We take this process seriously yet the days of ordination have a more celebratory tone. There are few times in our lives when we make commitments that will shape our life like ordination.  In front of a gathered congregation at the request and affirmation of a particular Christian community, we make commitments to serve, lead, pray, study, turn from evil and live into the role of Christian leadership as long as God sustains.

Many of us wrestle with the meaning of ordination.   I’ve found this human and historic process of calling, recognizing, working and wrestling and receiving becomes quite holy.   Somewhere in the wrestling and symbols, the questions and the mundane of the paperwork, the Spirit unfailingly shows up.

In this flurry of ordinations in the midst of a turbulent time, I am confident that the Spirit is still at work with us, trying to bring life.   Each person who says yes to the invitation of God and the community strengthens the possibilities of future “yes” responses into the next generation.   This round of ordinations represents our first millennial generation ordained ministers, our first Italian American woman, our first ordination for mission work in the Philippines.  We’ve called at some of our most historic congregations and our newest.  The churches are rural, suburban and urban.  We’re recognizing the sons and daughters of historic Franconia Conference families, as well as persons who were drawn to Mennonite congregations by conviction, relationships and call.  We’ve held events in Episcopal and Lutheran facilities and even at a Lancaster Conference church in Baltimore.  (Interesting side note, a Lancaster Conference African congregation recently used the Towamencin meetinghouse for an ordination worship).

It’s definitely a different time.   The ordination process isn’t what it used to be.  There’s no somber ceremony with Bibles or hymnals and a slip of paper as in Mennonite history.   But the holy moments remain, those wonderful spaces where community and Spirit commingle to cultivate surprising invitations toward ordination and wonderfully amazing continued responses of “yes I am willing.”   Every time we ordain, it’s a sign that the church will go on.   And in these days of turbulence and questions both in the church and in the culture around us, every yes somehow feels miraculous.   And I’m grateful to get to witness it as the Good News still breaks upon us. . . this year about every six weeks.

Finland Congregation Celebrates Ordination of Kris Wint

by Colin Ingram

Kris Wint ordination webAccording to Marvin Reinford, it was only the second ordination worship in recent history at the Finland congregation and the first in its new meetinghouse facilities on Ziegler Road.  After three years of licensed ministry, Finland’s lead pastor Kris Wint was ordained on June 28.    Wint has moved into the lead pastor role following John Ehst, who is now serving as the congregation’s associate pastor until a new pastor might be called.

“We just give thanks to God for His grace and His leading in the way we here at Finland sense God building his church,” Ehst said.

In the ordination sermon, Derek Cooper of Biblical Theological Seminary affirmed Wint’s gifting as a prophet amongst the spiritual gifts of Ephesians 4:11.  After highlighting the ministry of Kris to his family and congregation, Cooper said, “I specifically believe that one of the primary callings that God has on Kris, is that he is a prophet.” Wint has a love for the truth because of his given spiritual gift of prophecy and must continue to speak God’s Word to people content with the “status quo” even as a “lone voice in the wilderness” according to Cooper.

Finland’s LEADership Minister Noel Santiago led the ordination.  “On behalf of these your brothers and sisters here at Finland, on behalf of Franconia Conference, we ordain you as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and commit this congregation to your spiritual care,” Santiago said.

Stephen Kriss, Director of Leadership Cultivation and Congregational Resourcing, presented gifts of a fraktur and oil lamp from the Conference.

At the end of the ordination service, Pastor Sandy Drescher-Lehman of Souderton Mennonite Church, presented her father John Drescher’s last Bible to Wint in a stirring and teary moment. Drescher was a significant influence on Wint, Ehst, and the people of Finland.   Drescher died last summer.   Wint is married to Drescher’s granddaughter Ginger and they have four children.

Forbearance That Leads to Repentance

by Kris Wint

Kris WintThe blast and boom of the fireworks was not all that made my heart pound that night as I headed home.  Saying goodbye to my then girlfriend (now wife) caused joyful lingering and it was now well past midnight.  As I drove back home I remembered the zeal of local police officers and was mindful to make complete stops and go the speed limit (if not a little under).  I didn’t even turn my music on to keep my subwoofers from bringing any unwanted attention my way. Even in my caution, my rearview mirror exploded with bright dazzling lights. This time, it wasn’t fireworks; it was police lights.

After a brief exchange, the officer informed me that my license plate light was out. Then, contrary to the fervor I had heard about for their enforcement of the law, he gave me a deal. It was a warning.  Fix the light and stop by the police station.  However, if I failed to fix the light in time a ticket and fine would ensue.  I quickly agreed to the deal, thankful for the kindness and leniency.  His response was a demonstration of forbearance at work.

The Bible speaks of forbearance as well. Jesus shares a parable about forbearance illustrating why God would forbear with us. Luke recounts this parable in his gospel. “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9 ESV).

Clearly, God is full of grace and rich in mercy. His forbearance and patience is at work in all of our lives. I turn away daily toward idols, self-reliance and pride but God waits, not cutting down the tree, but digging around instead.  He cultivates growth and calls me back.

Just as in the parable, forbearance has a purpose.  God does not endure our sin so that we remain unchanged. Divine forbearance is not tolerating our sin.   The verses before the parable tell us the purpose and nature of forbearance, especially verse 4. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus links forbearance with repentance, giving insight into why God forbears with us.  His forbearance is so that we would turn from our ways and align ourselves with God.

The police officer extended patience expecting the same: that the broken light would be fixed.  What did I do in response? Did I fix the light and drive to the police department? Nope. Somehow, I never got around to it. This kind officer who showed forbearance also then demonstrated his justice and truthfulness when a couple weeks later I got the ticket in the mail as he said I would.  What should have only cost about a dollar to fix ended up costing a whole lot more.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to write these words, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead to your repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:4-5).

Paul is simply saying the same thing that Jesus did in his parable. God’s forbearance is a suspense of wrath (which will eventually be exercised) unless the sinner repents (accepts God’s conditions). We cannot rely on forbearance alone, taking God’s kindness for granted. But rather God’s forbearance invites us to confession and repentance.

Regardless of the offense–pride, greed, joylessness, lack of compassion, unforgiveness, lust, sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and woman, hate, anger, envy–we are all broken and need to repent before our good and holy Creator. When we do Christ takes us and just like the gardener in the parable transforms us into trees that bear fruit.  This is patiently enduring for the purpose of cultivating repentance.  This is forbearance that I can stand behind and get excited about. This is the forbearance that we should all be thankful for. This is what Christ offers, restoration through repentance for our good and God’s glory.

Kris Wint is lead pastor at Finland Mennonite Church in Pennsburg, PA.  This article is part of a series that the Conference has invited in considering responses to the resolutions for Assembly at Kansas City 2015.

Ministerial Committee Update

by Stephen Kriss

The Ministerial committee of Franconia Mennonite Conference board met on May 6th at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School.   The committee approved and recognized the following changes in credentialed minister status.

Penny Naugle from Plains Mennonite Church was licensed toward ordination for her work as a chaplain at Rockhill Mennonite CommunityNathan Good, associate pastor at Swamp Mennonite Church, was licensed toward ordination.

Ministerial Committee Update 5-21-15 web
Angela Moyer was ordained on May 17, 2015.

In addition, the Ministerial committee approved Kris Wint, pastor at Finland congregation, for ordination which will take place at Finland Mennonite Church on June 28th.  Josh Meyer, teaching/preaching pastor at Franconia congregation was also approved for ordination and his ordination ceremony will be on June 28th as well.  The Committee is pleased to announce that the ordination of Angela Moyer took place this past Sunday, May 17th at Ripple in Allentown.

Other changes to credentialed minister status include, Doris Diener, Franconia congregation, who was received by transfer from Southeast Mennonite Conference has been moved to retired.  James Longacre, Bally congregation, was shifted to a retired credential as well.

Gerry Clemmer, former lead pastor at Souderton congregation, John Bender, former interim associate pastor at Franconia congregation, and Mark Derstine, who completed his work as Chaplain at Living Branches, were moved to active without charge.

Steve Kriss is Director of Leadership Cultivation & Congregational Resourcing , as well as a LEADership Minister, in Franconia Mennonite Conference. 

 

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.”

Conference pastors pursue higher education

by Lora Steiner, managing editor

The Lord works in mysterious ways,  and the Spirit leads in mysterious ways: sometimes to faraway lands, sometimes to stretching local ministries—or sometimes, back to the classroom.

Beth Yoder with her family at her graduation from Drew.
Beth Yoder with her family at her graduation from Drew.

This year, two Franconia Conference pastors finished Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degrees, while several others are pursuing pastoral studies alongside other fulltime jobs. The advantages to them and their congregations are many: For pastors who’ve been in ministry for many years, it can be a time to refocus and re-tool. For congregations, it’s a chance to develop new practices and to see the Gospel in fresh ways, and a gentle nudge to those in maintenance mode.

Throughout Beth Yoder’s congregational ministry, she has interspersed her work with study: a year at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, coursework at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield and Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and classes at Eastern Mennonite Seminary as well. It was at EMS that Beth re-embraced her passion for worship and preaching—and also at EMS where she remembered her interest in doing a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degree at Drew University,  a program that would allow her to focus heavily on those areas.

Yoder, associate pastor of Salford congregation, says her studies were invigorating, and brought a sort of freshness for her and her congregation. D.Min. programs are structured around a project that the student commits to doing in her worship setting; Yoder’s focused on embodied worship—using principles of theater and movement to enrich worship. Many—not all—she reports, were appreciated, but it let her examine a hunch about the significance of embodied worship on spiritual formation. A lot of it, she says, wasn’t brand new—but her studies and assignments carved out that space to try something different.

Mike Derstine, pastor of Plains congregation, recently finished a D.Min. at Palmer Theological Seminary in King of Prussia, Pa. He’d always thought about pursuing the degree but with commitments to family and church, the timing never seemed right. When his congregation gave him a three-month sabbatical, it was the encouragement he needed to enter the program.

Mike Derstine with his family at graduation from Palmer.
Mike Derstine with his family at graduation from Palmer.

Palmer’s program focuses on transformational leadership, the missional church, and congregational renewal. Derstine says it’s just what he was looking for, a “key area for congregational pastors who need to think about what the changing context means for ministry.”

Derstine says he’d become so preoccupied with the needs and demands of the day-to-day life of a congregation that he found he wasn’t taking enough time for personal or professional renewal. Programs like this, he says, allow pastors  space to cultivate a “deeper spirituality, as well as more disciplined  and intentional approach to what we do.”

Beny Krisbianto, pastor of Nations Worship Center in south Philadelphia, is finishing a degree at the Eastern Mennonite Seminary campus in Lancaster. Like many other pastors in Franconia Conference, he takes one or two courses a semester—that’s all he has time for—and appreciates how he is able to daily use what he is studying: “I can balance between learning the principles and theology and applying it to my context.”

Krisbianto says one thing he learned from seminary is how to care for himself.

“Before I went to seminary I didn’t know about teaching and discipline. After beginning seminary, I grew a lot,” he says. “I know my strength, I know my weakness, I know when to say no, I know when to say stop.”

Krisbianto has two classes left and will graduate in 2015. This week also saw the graduations of Tami Good, Souderton congregation, and Kris Wint, Finland congregation, with M.Divs. from Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa.

Although it may seem impossible while in the midst of classroom demands, life continues after graduation: Derstine took time after he finished his studies to replace the mufflers and exhaust system on his old car, and started seeds for his garden, continuing the balance of daily life and renewal. Both Derstine and Yoder continue in their same congregations.

“I think both formal and informal pastor education are important for pastors and congregational leaders,” says Yoder, “because it gives people an opportunity to engage new material, to learn with new people, and also gives leaders a space to say ‘I don’t have all of the answers,’ when sometimes leadership roles can get us into the practice of feeling like we have to have all the answers.”

“Going back into the classroom invites you to become a learner, to engage humbly, to rethink your own leadership from a different perspective.”

Introducing Finland Mennonite Church

Finland Mennonite Church
Our logo is a representation of our desire to be a people that are looking up, (which is symbolized in the cross shaped leaf stem that is bent upwards), moving forward, and reaching out (which is symbolized in the water ripples being sent out from the cross).

Finland Mennonite Church is the body of 200+ believers that meet for worship together on Ziegler Road in Pennsburg, PA.  The church was established in 1931 as a church plant out of the Franconia Conference Home Missions Program in a building just down the road from our current location.  The church sits at the intersection of several regions and our congregation includes people from many different towns and students from more than four school districts.

The church is led spiritually by lead pastor John Ehst, associate pastor Kris Wint, and the elder team; ministry directors supervise many other aspects of the ministries we provide.  Our mission statement is “Looking Up, Moving Forward, Reaching Out:” looking up, we trust God for salvation, are passionate in our worship, and are confident in prayer; moving forward, we are expecting that our life together in Christ will change us into the character of Jesus and equip us for His service; reaching out, we are compelled by Jesus’ love to reach out to our neighbors and friends with the healing and hope of the Gospel of Christ.

We are dedicated to serving our community through ministries which include a free Coffee Drive-Thru, Laundromat Ministry, Prayer Shawl Ministry, and many others.  Finland is also a part of UPPEN (Upper Perk Prayer Evangelical Network), a group of churches across many denominational backgrounds joining together to reach the community for Christ; we participate in several UPPEN ministries including Adopt-a-Street and Freedom Festival.

Our body is made up of diverse people of all ages, many of whom do not come from a Mennonite background. We’re also dedicated to growing together in community and have active groups that meet for Bible study and fellowship including Moms of Preschoolers Group, Senior Citizens, and many in between.  We have been brought together in this community because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central to our lives.  It’s the effect of the Gospel that draws us together for energetic worship and authentic fellowship!

Thank God for curiosity

Kris Wintby Kris Wint, Finland

I had never fasted before. I had heard about it and even read about it, but, truthfully, I rather enjoy eating and so fasting was not a high priority. My curiosity was triggered, however, when I downloaded a new album from Flame and song eleven, appropriately titled “Daniel 10” opened with a pastor talking about the need for men and women to fast. As I listened to the album more and more, my curiosity grew more and more and my desire to fast grew more and more. But I did nothing.

Several months later our church had a guest speaker and wouldn’t you know it—one of the main messages in his sermon was how fasting had such an amazing impact on his life. This got my attention. Of course, my attention span is not what it should be and so, as the days passed, fasting once again returned to the back burner. About this time, my pastor asked if I would meet him for lunch. We set a date to meet but something came up and we had to cancel.  Back burner again.

Around this time, I was given an iPad for work. So I did what all people do when they first get an iPad: go to the app store and get as many apps as I think I would use. One of these apps was a Bible app. This was great! It had all kinds of Bible translations, reading plans, and other sorts of fancy add-ons. As I was looking through this app, there it was: a 21-day fasting devotion. That was all I needed to see. The next day I started my fast and rescheduled lunch with my pastor.

That night I began the fasting devotion.  It started by having me write down my reason for fasting. My work environment was deteriorating daily and so my main objective in fasting was to know where God wanted me. Each day I worked through the devotion. On the sixth day, I had lunch with my pastor.

He looked right at me and said, “Kris, I feel the Lord has placed it on my heart to encourage you to go to seminary. Have you ever thought about becoming a pastor?”

Wow! Six days into seeking God for direction and he answered!

I called my wife, Ginger, after lunch and told her what happened. We agreed we would look into this and prayerfully consider it. I worked late that night and when I got home, Ginger had a note on my pillow:

Kris, I woke up to pray for you this morning. I was going to ask God to use you where you’re at, but felt he was keeping me from that prayer. Instead, he led me to pray, “God, reveal to Kris today where you want to use him.”

I sat there with tear-filled eyes, overwhelmed. Ok, God. You have my attention. I will follow you down this path. Use me and my family as you will.

And so we did. I entered seminary. In July of 2012 I was called into the pastoral ministry at Finland. What began as curiosity changed the direction of my life—thank God for curiosity. In six days God created the world and in six days he completely recreated mine.