Tag Archives: Perkiomenville

Junior High Youth Have Late Night Blast

by John Stoltzfus, Franconia Conference Youth Minister

Whose job description includes this clause: Must be willing to have face covered in shaving cream and decorated with cheese curls? If you answered, “Junior high youth sponsor,” you are correct! Junior high youth sponsors are some of the bravest people in ministry.

At junior high youth events, helmets are sometimes necessary...
At junior high youth events, helmets are sometimes necessary…

If you were at the Late Night Blast on March 13, you would have witnessed such a scene and a lot more crazy fun. Close to 150 junior high youth and adult sponsors representing 18 churches gathered for this annual event sponsored by Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference. It was hosted by Christopher Dock Mennonite High School.

Last year, the event was an all-night lock-in; this year it morphed into a “Late Night Blast,” ending at 11:15 p.m. While some youth lamented the loss of staying up all night, most responses to the evening were still very enthusiastic.

Part of the purpose of this annual event is to give our youth a positive and memorable experience of worshipping together, playing hard, and catching a glimpse of the larger body of Christ that makes up our conference churches. This event also gives a wonderful opportunity for our youth workers to partner together in ministry.

... As are Cheetos.
… As are Cheetos.

The evening started off with some mixer gamers led by staff from Spruce Lake and by Brent Camilleri from Deep Run East Mennonite Church. Justin Hange and a band from Calvary Church in Souderton then turned up the noise for the evening and led in a spirited time of singing and worship.

“That was awesome!” remarked one youth following the singing.

Scott Roth, pastor at Perkiomenville Mennonite Church, kept the energy flowing as he shared stories of how he sees God at work in his life and his community bringing hope and healing. He challenged the youth to bring together a knowledge of God’s Word with an active obedience to God’s Word in everyday life.

The rest of the night was full of fun activities to choose from: soccer, basketball, dodge ball, human Dutch Blitz, Wally ball, Gaga Pit ball, Nerf blasters, and more. One of the popular new games introduced this year was Human Hungry Hippos. It’s the classic board game with a much needed upgrade. One of the perks of being a junior high youth sponsor is the freedom to experiment with wild and crazy games. Of course, the policy is always safety first, and helmets were required.

The evening ended with a shower of giveaways from Mennonite colleges and camps. Thank you to everyone that helped to plan and carry out all the activities and a special thank you to all the youth leaders that commit themselves to serving with their youth. Their commitment was exemplified by one sponsor giving up her shoes to a youth who needed more appropriate athletic shoes to participate in the games.

Christian educators gather for resourcing event

by Lora Steiner, managing editor

One participant makes a creation scene out of homemade scented play dough.
One participant makes a creation scene out of homemade scented play dough.

About 50 Sunday school teachers from Franconia and Eastern District conference churches gathered on August 12 in preparation for the new school year.

Teachers met with other teachers of the same age levels and were led through a sample lesson in the new Shine curriculum, which is co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

Among the group was one person teaching for the first time, and two people who had taught for over 50 years.

The resourcing event was organized by the Franconia and Eastern District Conferences School for Leadership Formation. Perkiomenville (Pa.) congregation hosted the event and arranged logistics. Feedback from the day was very positive, and Christian educators in both conferences are looking forward to meeting again.

Jessica Hedrick, director of children’s ministry at Souderton (Pa.) congregation, offered a prayer at the event. It is printed here with permission, for all children as they begin a new year.

God, you took the children on your knee and blessed them when everyone else pushed them aside; help us to be fully present with the children in our homes, our churches, and our communities.

As we walk with the children on this journey of faith we know that you will give us everything we need.

Help us to see them with your eyes, so that we are not blind to their strengths or oblivious to their gifts.

Help us to love them with your heart, so that they may trust you more deeply and know you more fully.

Help us to listen to them with your ears, so that we may understand the significance of their thoughts and the value of their voices.

We are weak and imperfect, and we realize sometimes we may feel like we have failed.

Help us remember that you are a God who brings glory from the mess.

Help us to embrace the mess of our ministry.

When we do not have the answers, may the children be inspired by our faith.

When we make mistakes, may they see God’s grace at work in our lives.

When we feel too lost to lead, may they see our trust in your leading.

As we go into the rest or our evening, and then return home to our ministries, fill us with your Holy Spirit and renew our passion for your kingdom.

Surround us with your peace, love, and light so that we may shine brightly igniting the fire of your love in the hearts of the children.

May they see you in us and may we see you in them. 

Christian educators invited for encouragement and networking

by Gay Brunt Miller, director of administration

Jesus’ parting words to his disciples were to “Go… and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Over the centuries, the church has worked at making disciples in a variety of ways, with Sunday school being a significant model since the late 1700s. How best can we communicate the Good News of God’s love to our children and youth in this day and age?

Flyer

On Tuesday, August 12, from 7-9 p.m., there will be an opportunity for Sunday school teachers and others involved in Christian education and formation, in its various formats, to come together, to connect and encourage each other, and to share ideas and teaching tips as they work at sharing the Christian faith with upcoming generations. It will also be an excellent opportunity for those with less experience to learn from others.

Co-planner and Eastern District Conference Resource Advocate Marjorie Geissinger says, “It has been many years since we have sponsored a teacher training event for congregations from both Eastern District and Franconia Conferences. Smaller congregations often lack the personnel and resources for doing in-house training; this will be an opportunity for those attending from large and small congregations alike to benefit from the presenters as well as each other.”

The event, sponsored by the School for Leadership Formation of Franconia and Eastern District Conferences, will be held at Perkiomenville Mennonite Church, 1836 Gravel Pike, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for attendees to “browse and buy” MennoMedia resources, many of which will be available at a 20 percent discount. (Cash, check or credit cards will be accepted.)

Following a brief time of gathering and worship, attendees can engage in a sample lesson for the age group of their choice followed by time for conversation, questions, and sharing. Teachers will use MennoMedia’s new “Shine” Sunday school curriculum as the basis for these lessons, but it will also be a time to connect and learn.

“Building relationships across congregations for ministry and mission is a current priority for Franconia Conference,” says Jenifer Eriksen Morales, a LEADership minister and Franconia’s resource advocate. “I hope this gathering will be one opportunity to build bridges between Christian Education teachers and leaders across our congregations so they can share ideas and learn from one another. Questions that emerge may help shape a future resourcing event.”

Co-planners Eriksen Morales (jeriksenmorales@franconiaconference.org) and Marjorie Geissinger (marjgeissinger@gmail.com) are available to congregations for questions about Shine or other resources for Christian education.

To register for this event, go to franconiaconference.org/rsvp.

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.

Walking together on the road to Easter

by Emily Ralph, eralph@franconiaconference.org

It’s a familiar story, especially for those who have grown up in the church.  So how do we retell the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection year after year in ways that open us up, once again, to the pain, the beauty, and the wonder of Jesus’ sacrifice and victory over death?

dove scripture picture
Members at Souderton congregation contributed artwork made of scripture. Photo provided.

The season of Lent, celebrated for the forty days leading up to Easter, marks Christ’s journey to Jerusalem.  It invites those who follow Jesus to walk with him by remembering his life, practicing disciplines of fasting and sacrifice, and engaging in deeper commitment to their brothers and sisters in the church.

Souderton (Pa.) congregation began Lent by diving deeper into Mennonite Church USA’s “Year of the Bible” with an art project.  Members of the congregation were invited to choose a word or phrase from scripture on which they wanted to meditate and to write it over and over on a panel using colors to create images.  These panels became banners that hung in the front of their sanctuary during the Lenten season.

Souderton wasn’t the only congregation to celebrate the imaginative Spirit.  Swamp (Quakertown, Pa.) spent Lent exploring God as creator, “littering” the steps of their platform with items created by members of the congregation, symbols of God’s unique creative work in them.  Their children memorized Psalm 139, which they recited on Palm Sunday after leading the entire congregation in a procession, joyfully waving palm branches.

Plains maps
Plains congregation used maps to illustrate their prayers for their region, country, and world. Photo by Dawn Ranck.

Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week and was the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem to the adoration of the crowds.  The week soon turned more somber, however, as Jesus ate his final meal with his disciples, washing their feet, and predicting his betrayal.  These events are remembered on Maundy Thursday.

Conference congregations reenacted Christ’s humility with their own experiences of footwashing.  Traditionally, Mennonites have practiced footwashing in groups divided by gender.  At Perkiomenville (Pa.) congregation this year, footwashing was one of several stations that members could visit, which, for the first time, allowed married couples or family members to wash each other’s feet.

Good Friday vigil
Franconia Conference members joined Christians from all over the Philadelphia region for a Good Friday vigil outside a gun shop. Photo by Jim McIntire.

In addition to footwashing, Plains (Hatfield, Pa.) congregation acted out Christ’s care and humility by setting up prayer stations with large maps of the world, the country, and their region.  Members could pray for and mark areas on each map with a dot or a heart.

Compassion for the community continued to spread into Good Friday, the day when followers of Jesus remember his death on the cross.  Members of churches all over the Philadelphia region gathered outside a gun shop in the city for a Good Friday vigil.  As these believers stood against violence in the city, others gathered in Good Friday services to remember that Jesus’ death made peace and reconciliation with God, and one another, possible.

Salford power outage
Salford congregation spent part of its Good Friday service in the dark, thanks to an unexpected power outage. Photo by Emily Ralph

Just when Good Friday seemed like it couldn’t get any darker, Salford (Harleysville, Pa.) congregation’s evening service was suddenly interrupted by a power outage.  For just a few, brief moments the congregation was surprised by the darkness and powerless to do anything but sit in the shadow of the cross.

There was a hush in Franconia Conference on the Saturday of Holy Week, as though the Church was holding its breath, waiting for the joy they knew was coming on Easter morning.

And the joy did come—in colors and flowers, in song and story, in food and hope and promise.  Crosses were draped in white and lilies and hyacinths and forsythia decorated sanctuaries.  Congregations met as the sun rose, around breakfast tables, and in their morning services to celebrate an empty tomb.

Philadelphia Praise Center viewed a video in which church members took to the city streets to ask people about the significance of Easter.  Blooming Glen (Pa.) congregation acted out the resurrection story in a chilly sunrise service and a member at Deep Run East (Perkasie, Pa.) built a custom tomb to display on Easter morning. In Vermont, members of Bethany congregation participated in an ecumenical sunrise service on the side of Mt Killington and then, after brunch, were led in worship by a new generation of storytellers–their children.

It’s a familiar story, and yet it’s born fresh each year as we once again walk with Jesus through Lent, Holy Week, and the Easter season.  In this story, we recognize what theologian H.S. Bender once wrote: we live on the resurrection side of the cross.  May we continue to celebrate Christ’s resurrection by living our lives as a resurrected people.

He is risen: He is risen indeed!

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