By Barbie Fischer
As Conference Assembly is approaching, it’s time that we discern who within our midst is called to be a delegate for our congregations. All ordained and licensed leaders who hold active credentials in Franconia Mennonite Conference are called to be delegates. All conference board members are called to be delegates. In addition, congregations are given the opportunity to discern who from their elders and deacons may be called to be a delegate and also who amongst their congregation members may be called to be a lay delegate.
A delegate is defined as one who is chosen or elected to vote or act on behalf of, or for, others. In the context of the conference, a delegate is not just a role — it is a call. A call to represent a piece of the body of Christ. A call to represent a congregation or conference related ministry. Delegates are a vital piece to the functioning of the conference.
1 Corinthians 12: 13-14 says “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
The fact that the body of Christ is made up of different parts is evident in Franconia Mennonite Conference as we have differences in perspectives, mindsets and convictions. Yet, as we are all part of one body, it is important that we are able to move forward together. In order to do this we must confer with one another, listen and hear from the different parts of the body.
Every year, Conference Assembly is set aside for delegates from each congregation and conference related ministries to listen, hear, and “discern the direction of the conference vision and objectives by conferring together.” (Franconia Mennonite Conference bylaws Article IV, Section 1).
To aid delegates in their call, Franconia Mennonite Conference has created a Delegate Ministry Description, outlining that delegates are expected to:
- pray for God’s Spirit to lead us all in being a faithful and worshipping community.
- keep aware of what is happening within Franconia Mennonite Conference between assembly sessions and facilitate two-way communication between their congregation and the conference.
- attend and participate in all regular and special conference assembly sessions.
- provide a post-assembly report to their congregation.
Deacon/Elder and lay delegates are chosen by their congregations. In order for the conference to assist in equipping these delegates for Assembly, it is important that they are identified by their congregations on an annual basis and that the congregations affirm that their appointed delegate(s) are able to attend the Conference Assembly, scheduled this year for November 14th.
As Conference Assembly is quickly approaching, the conference will be supplying congregational leaders with information to assist in discerning their deacon or elder, and lay delegates. A delegate selection worksheet and guidelines can be found HERE and a copy of the delegate ministry description can be seen HERE.
May the Holy Spirit guide us as we discern who is called to represent our piece of the body of Christ. May the Spirit grant us wisdom as we discern together as the body of Christ the next steps for our conference.