All posts by Conference Office

Profil Jemaat/Congregational Profile: Jemaat Kristen Indonesia Anugerah

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Affiliasi: Franconia Mennonite Conference and Indonesian Mennonite Association
Alamat: 191 West Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Pendeta: Virgo Handojo, Ph.D., CFLE

Pada tahun 1989 Pdt. Virgo dan Jeanne Handojo melalui Ibu Ruth Heck bertemu dengan Ibu Dina Boon. Mereka diminta untuk membersihkan rumah Ibu Dina Boon dari kuasa2 gelap (haunted house). Lahirlah International House Fellowship di rumah ibu Dina Boon.

Pada Akhir 1990 persekutuan keluarga ini berkembang menjadi 30-50 orang dari 10-13 macam bangsa. Lewat persekutuan ini, lahirlah Jemaat Kristen Indonesia Anugerah pada 19 September 1992 di gereja Free Methodist Church, Pasadena. Kebaktian Perdana di mulai hari Minggu 20 September 1992. Dan beberapa bulan kemudiaan berpindah tempat ibadah ke  Sierra Madre Congregational Church, 187-197 Sierra Madre, CA 91024

Visi, Misi, Prioritas dan Strategi Gereja JKIA
 Setiap jemaat adalah pelayan (Every member is a minister). JKIA ada sebagai sarana dan alat untuk membawa pemerintahan Tuhan (Kerajaan Allah) dan kemuliaan Allah dengan cara mengerjakan  Perintah Agung (Great Commandment, Matius 22:36-40, Ul. 6:5) dan Amanat Agung (the Great Commission, Matius 28:18-20).

Prioritas JKIA adalah Penginjilan, Persekutuan, Pemuridan, Penyembahan dan Penyembuhan (Kis. 2:41-47)

Strategi Gereja
 Organisasi: sederhana, adaptable, dan fleksibel. Gereja adalah persekutuan orang percaya, bukan organisasi business. Fokus kepada saling melayani. (Kisah 2:42) Gereja adalah Tubuh Kristus; organisme bukan organisasi (1 Kor 12:27 Matius 26, Lukas 12, Yohanes 10; 1Petrus 5:1-2; Kis 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7

JKIA menekankan kasih dan persatuan bukan keuntungan. Fokus kepada relasi dan misi ganti daripada organisasi (Efesus 4:3) Berfungsi lewat karunia-karunia rohani, bakat, dan ketrampilan, bukan lewat pemilihan umum.

Formula hubungan jemaat: Makin baik hubungannya, makin baik tingkat kepercayaannya dan makin sedikit peraturan2 untuk mengaturnya (the greater the relationship, the greater the trust level, and the fewer the rules) Galatia 6:10; 1 Petrus 4:17; 1 Timotius 5:1-2

Struktur Gereja JKIA
Pelayanan dikerjakan oleh orang awam, gembala melengkapi agar orang awam mampu melayani dengan baik. “The people are the minister, the pastors and elders are the administers. (Efesus 4:11-12) Orang awam harus diberi kebebasan dan kuasa untuk menentukan dan menciptakan pelayanan. Pastor or elders harus diberi kesempatan untuk mendidik dan memimpin (Ibrani 13:17). Setiap anggota dianjurkan untuk meciptakan pelayanan baru. Orang yang  menciptakan pelayanan adalah orang yang memiliki otoritas dan kontrol atas pelayanan tersebut bukan pendeta atau anggota lain.

Nilai-Nilai JKIA:  Kami Menghargai Hubungan Dengan Allah dengan sesama  dan Menghargai Tiap Pribadi.  Kami Menghargai Pelayanan Holistik dan Nilai-Nilai Kerajaan Allah


Affiliations: Franconia Mennonite Conference and Indonesian Mennonite Association
Address: 191 West Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Pastor: Virgo Handojo, Ph.D., CFLE

In 1989, Rev. Virgo and Jeanne Handojo, through Ms. Ruth Heck, met with Ms. Dina Boon. They were asked to clean the house of Ibu Dina Boon from dark powers. The International House Fellowship was born in the home of Dina Boon’s mother.

At the end of 1990, this family alliance developed into 30-50 people from 10-13 different nationalities. Through this alliance, the Indonesian Christian Congregation of Grace was born on September 19, 1992 at the Free Methodist Church, Pasadena. The first service was held Sunday, September 20, 1992. A few months later the church moved to the Sierra Madre Congregational Church. 

Vision, Mission, Priority and Strategy of JKIA Church
Every member is a minister. JKIA exists as a means and tool to bring God’s government (God’s Kingdom) and God’s glory by carrying out the Great Commandment (Matthew 22: 36-40, Deut 6: 5) and the Great Commission (the Great Commission, Matthew 28: 18-20).

JKIA Priority are Evangelism, Fellowship, Discipleship, Worship and Healing (Acts 2: 41-47)

Church Strategy
Organization: simple, adaptable, and flexible. The church is a community of believers, not a business organization. Focus on serving one another. (Acts 2:42)

The Church is the Body of Christ – not an organization (Matthew 26, Luke 12, John 10; 1 Peter 5: 1-2; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1: 5-7,1 Cor 12:27)

Emphasizes love and unity not profit. Focus on relationships and mission rather than organization (Ephesians 4: 3)

Function through spiritual gifts, talents, and skills, not through elections.

The formula for congregational relations: the better the relationship, the better the level of trust and the fewer rules to govern (the greater the relationship, the greater the trust level). Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Timothy 5: 1-2

JKIA Church Structure
Service is done by lay people, and shepherds complete it so that lay people are able to serve well. The people are the ministers; the pastors and elders are the administers. (Ephesians 4: 11-12) Lay people must be given the freedom and power to determine and create services.

Pastors or elders must be given the opportunity to educate and lead (Hebrews 13:17). Each member is encouraged to create a new service. The person who creates the service is the person who has authority and control over the service, not a priest or other member.

JKIA Values:  We appreciate relationship with God and with others, we respect each person and we value holistic services. We respect the values ​​of God’s Kingdom.

 

Together Once More

by Sue Conrad Howes, Eastern District Conference (West Swamp congregation), with Emily Ralph Servant, Franconia Conference (Director of Communication)

It was a potentially historic day for two Mennonite conferences that split over 170 years ago. 

Photo by Cindy Angela

On November 2, 2019, delegates from Franconia Mennonite Conference and Eastern District Conference met together at Souderton (PA) Mennonite Church to determine if reconciliation, which seemed unattainable in 1847, would now be possible.

It was hard to imagine that these two groups had been divided at all, as animated conversations and joyful reunions happened throughout the crowded fellowship hall as the delegates arrived. There was even an audible groan when it was announced that the Eastern District Conference delegates needed to move to another gathering room for their morning delegate session.  And so, for the morning, the two groups met separately, with the possibility of reconciliation on the afternoon horizon.

During Eastern District’s morning delegate session, leaders facilitated a discussion over the future and publicly recognized that the vote toward reconciliation was just the beginning of a new journey.  They thanked everyone who had helped to bring them to this point and then led in a time of sharing stories about where delegates were seeing God working in their congregations and ministries. 

Photo by Cindy Angela

Franconia’s morning delegate session included affirming Rose Bender Cook (Whitehall congregation) for a third term and KrisAnne Swartley (Doylestown congregation) for a second term on the Credentials Committee. Chris Nickels (Spring Mount congregation) was affirmed for a third term and Janet Panning (Plains congregation) for a first term on the Ministerial Committee.  Swartley and Panning will serve as committee chairs.  John Goshow (Blooming Glen congregation) and Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center) were thanked for their nine years of service on the Conference Board.

Franconia also welcomed four new Conference Related Ministries: Peace Proclamation Ministries International (out of Plains congregation), Healthy Niños Honduras (birthed out of MAMA Project), Ripple Community Inc (out of Ripple congregation), and Taproot Gap Year (out of Philadelphia Praise Center).  The delegates welcomed a new congregation, Iglesia Menonita Ebenezer (Souderton, PA) and released West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship to transfer to Allegheny Conference.

Photo by Cindy Angela

After a meaningful joint worship in the morning, when credentialed leaders of both conferences who had passed away during the past year were remembered and newly credentialed leaders were introduced, anointed, and then commissioned to anoint others, the two conferences joined together for the afternoon session. Joy Sutter, moderator of Mennonite Church USA (Salford congregation), expressed gratitude to the delegates for demonstrating the path of reconciliation. “You are modeling a new and inspiring path for the future. As you move forward…, may you be blessed,” said Sutter.

The three-year process toward reconciliation, led almost exclusively by conference volunteers, was introduced by the Structure and Identity Task Force.  Sherri Brokopp Binder (Ripple congregation) & Rina Rampogu (Plains congregation) explained the process, the changes proposed, and the next steps, if the delegates voted affirmatively for reconciliation.

The task force had done its work, as few delegates posed questions or expressed any sense of hesitation with the proposal. The two conferences divided, for the last time, to discern and vote.

Photo by Cindy Angela

With the delegates reunited after the vote, John Goshow, Franconia Conference moderator, and Jim Musselman, Eastern District moderator (Zion congregation), shared the results of the historic vote: together, the conferences had voted unanimously for reconciliation.

Spontaneous applause and cheers of affirmation from the delegates erupted while leaders from both conferences shared hugs and broad smiles.  Together, the enthusiastic group sang, “Hosanna, Let Jesus be Lifted Up” and “Praise God from Whom” with gusto and gratitude.

Scott Roth (L) and Steve Kriss (R) lead the Conferences into a time of communion. Photo by Cindy Angela

Following the singing, Steve Kriss, Franconia Conference executive minister, and Scott Roth, Eastern District conference minister, spoke.  “I am rarely speechless,” Kriss admitted. “But we are about to do something that could not happen 150 years ago. We are about to sit together and take communion. For some of you, this split divided families, for some of you this split divided congregations. Today we celebrate the ministry of reconciliation that has been and will continue to be our life’s work.”

Roth reminisced about being charged with the ministry of reconciliation as a youth by adult leaders who knew that the reality of such a merger would be through the work of future generations. Roth shared his joy that the dream he had heard about as a youth was now being realized. “Remember,” Roth said; “although the paperwork is not completed, we are one in the Spirit and we are one in Jesus’ blood.”

Jessica Miller (Perkasie congregation). Photo by Cindy Angela

In the front of the fellowship hall, a pile of rocks had sat all morning, without mention. This column was reminiscent of the Old Testament practice of raising an Ebenezer, commemorating God’s help or celebrating memorable events. This rock structure was not to remain, however.  Instead, each church was instructed to take a rock home, paint it, and return with it to next year’s first assembly as a new conference. The rocks will then be formed into a fountain, representing the new conference, flowing with life.

Conference moderators, John Goshow (Franconia) and Jim Musselman (Eastern District) prepare to celebrate the reconciliation! Photo by Cindy Angela

The day’s events closed with a traditional action, which has been spoken by Franconia delegates to conclude their assemblies for more than a hundred years. On this day, however, delegates of both Franconia and Eastern District made the commitment together, as one gathered body:

“We affirm our desire to continue in and witness to the nonresistant and simple faith in Christ, looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

“Kami menegaskani keinginan untuk terus ikut dan menjadi saksi kesederhanaan iman dalam Kristus dan menjadi pembawa damai, terus mencari kepada berkat pengharapan serta memperlihatkan kemuliaan dari kebesaran Tuhan dan juru selamat kami, Yesus Kristus.”

“Afirmamos nuestro deseo de seguir testificando con la fe de no resistencia y sencilla en Cristo, mirando a la esperanza bendita y la venida gloriosa de nuestro gran Dios y nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.”

“Chúng tôi xin xác nhận nguyện-vọng của chúng tôi là tiếp tục và làm chứng cho giải pháp ôn-hòa và đức-tin chân thật trong Ðấng Christ, tiềm kiếm sự hy-vọng hạnh phước, và sự vinh quang của Ðức Chúa Trời đại quyền hiện ra và Ðấng Cứu Chuộc của chúng tôi là Ðức Chúa Giê-xu Christ.”

”我們重申我們的意願是繼續以和平及純正信仰去見證基督的生命,懷著美好的盼望,等候我們偉大的神及救主耶穌基督的榮耀顯現。”

Perfil Congregacional/Congregational Profile: Centro de Alabanza

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por Pastora Lety Cortés y Pastor Fernando Loyola, Centro de Alabanza

Centro de Alabanza es una comunidad de fe en el sur de Philadelphia conformada por familias migrantes de diferentes países de Centro América, sur América, México y U.S.A. 

Su inicio se dio hace 12 años en la sala de nuestra casa con un grupo de crecimiento, más adelante empezamos a hacer servicios en público con la comunidad de la iglesia de PPC.

Centro de Alabanza se ha ido desarrollando en un ambiente de comunidad y hermandad. Desde los inicios de este ministerio, cada domingo compartimos los alimentos que las familias preparan y proveen cada semana después del servicio.

 Dios ha sido tan generoso que nos sentimos muy agradecidos porque cada domingo llegan personas nuevas para escuchar la palabra de Dios; estamos ubicados en un lugar estratégico que nos permite desarrollar varios ministerios con la comunidad como el de recolectar ropa y dárselo a las personas más necesitadas.

Así  también nos ocupamos en  discipular a los miembros, animamos en todo momento a que sean autodidácticos en escudriñar la palabra de Dios, también contamos con círculos de estudios más avanzados para ir capacitando líderes para continuar con la visión que tiene Dios para Centro de Alabanza, con El respaldo de Dios y su apoyo queremos seguir siendo personas de paz y puentes para alcanzar a más personas para el Reino de Dios.


by Pastor Lety Cortés and Pastor Fernando Loyola, Centro de Alabanza

Centro de Alabanza is a community of faith in South Philadelphia, made up of migrant families from different countries in Central America, South America, Mexico and the USA.

It began 12 years ago in the living room of our house as a growth group; later we started doing services in public with the Philadelphia Praise Center community.

Centro has been developing an environment of community and brotherhood. From the beginning of the ministry, every Sunday after service we have shared food that families prepare and provide.

God has been so generous and we feel very grateful, because every Sunday new people arrive to hear the word of God. We are located in a strategic place that allows us to develop several ministries with the community, such as collecting clothes and giving it to the most needy people.

We also focus on discipling our members.  We encourage them at all times to be self-taught in scrutinizing the word of God; we also have more advanced study circles to train leaders to continue with God’s vision for Centro de Alabanza. With God’s blessing and support we want to continue being people of peace, as well as bridges to reach more people for the Kingdom of God.

100 Inches of Rain

by Brent Camilleri, Associate Pastor – Deep Run East Mennonite Church

Youth workers take part in a special resourcing seminar at Conference Assembly, Saturday, November 1. (Photo by Cindy Angela)

I am filled with hope any time I find myself in a room full of those who care deeply about the lives of young people and their voice in the church today. And so, I was feeling especially hopeful on Saturday November 2 as I attended Michele Hershberger’s seminar on youth ministry in a post-Christian era entitled “100 Inches of Rain.” Michele began by telling the story of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. Rebuilt in 1996, the bridge was an engineering feat. However, in 1998 Hurricane Mitch brought 100 inches of rain to Honduras in a period of just a few days. When the storm passed the Choluteca Bridge was still standing strong but the river had shifted course and no longer ran beneath the bridge, rendering it useless. In many ways this is how church ministry and, in particular, youth ministry feels today. Something has shifted, and the programs and approaches that felt successful two decades ago are no longer effective.   

Michele Hershberger (Photo by Cindy Angela)

And yet, Michele reminded us that this cultural shift isn’t cause for fear, but a challenge that can and should force us to adapt to the new flow of the river. Youth ministry is still vitally important. In fact the church needs its young people to lead today, not ten years down the road. God is in our youth right now, and the church is more resilient and effective when we minister WITH our youth, and not to them. To facilitate this type of ministry that works alongside our youth today, Michele Hershberger pointed out Four Conversions that the church needs to experience.

The first conversion is that we see youth differently. This means viewing them not as “Christians in training” but as fully integrated and vital parts of our communities. A 13-year-old 8th grader might be able to express truths about faith in a more effective way than I ever could. The second conversion that Hershberger highlighted is the need for us to see church differently. This means coming to terms with the fact that the church is not a building, it is US! As such, any time we gather, whether in a coffee shop or on a street corner, the church is there, making disciples who make more disciples…no building necessary. The third conversion that we need to undergo as we minister to youth in our post-Christian context is to see ourselves differently. Each of us is called to a mission field, no matter our age and no matter our profession. Plugged into Jesus, who is our source, we become the “wires” that carry the current of Christ with us everywhere we go. This is to be our primary calling as we follow Jesus and everything else should take a back seat! Perhaps it is a challenging call, but that is more than OK. Our young people are itching for a challenge, something that shows them just how real and important following Jesus is. And truthfully, we could all use a little more challenge in our faith. Michele brought our time to a close by highlighting the final conversion that we need, which is to see our success differently. She reminded us that this is God’s mission, not something that we own. And God invites ALL of us to make disciples, whether we are 12 or 42 or 92. Adults and young people are on this journey of faith together, and we need each other now more than ever as we work out how to faithfully follow Jesus.

Fred Rogers: A Model of Confident Humility

By Steve McCloskey, Pastor of Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship

Steve McCloskey

In a recent sermon, I spoke to my congregation about the relationship between confidence and humility. I expressed that an individual can have a sober view of themselves with confidence in what they are called to do, and act on it faithfully in humility. In other words: you can be simultaneously confident and humble. I was reminded of a great example of this recently when I saw a trailer for a movie that comes out this fall about a former resident of the Upper Valley (the area where our church is located). 

It’s based on the life of Fred Rogers–star of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. He began college at Dartmouth and eventually went on to attend seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian minister. Tom Hanks will be playing the role of Mr. Rogers in this movie based on his life that comes out this November (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) .

As a young child I regularly watched Mr. Rogers. His message was simple: every person is endowed with dignity and worthy of love and respect. He seemed to be immovable on this. From everything I’ve seen and read about him–this was not just a TV act–this was who he was, he believed it! He was motivated to communicate the intrinsic value of every person; presenting this message to children at a young age through public television. He knew what his message was and he stuck to it for decades. 

I read a story of a girl who was blind, she knew Mr Rogers had a pet goldfish but wanted to make sure the fish was being fed, she wrote a letter expressing her concern for the fish. In response, Mr. Rogers would always narrate when he was feeding the fish because of this one girl’s concern. He had a famous song called “It’s You I Like” but there’s a clip– you can look up on YouTube– of him singing a special version of this song to a boy in a wheelchair where he says:

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not your fancy chair–
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.

There’s an interview with Fred Rogers and Charlie Rose:  Rose asked him about his daily routine: Mr Rogers said he begins each morning waking up before 5 AM and spends several hours in quiet time. He said, in the interview, that “in silence comes revelation”. And Charlie Rose asked, “And then you begin the business of your day?” 

“No”, said Mr. Rogers, “Then, after that, I go swimming”. Rogers said that it was in the silence that he could reflect on what was most important. Perhaps it is through this time, in silence, each day, through his own self-care, reflecting on what is most essential, that Mr. Rogers had built-up this deep reservoir to appreciate people for who they were–just the way they are. In doing this, Fred Rogers exuded a confident humility.

Similarly,  Jesus would often withdrawal from the crowds, find solitude and pray.

It is not selfish of you to make time to care for yourself, in fact it can build the reservoir of love for others. How do you make time for yourself? What practices do you have to care for yourself; both body and soul? 

 

Backpacks for the Border

by Javier Marquez, intercultural communication associate, with Emily Ralph Servant

On the night of October 18, 2019, a group of adults and children worked for several hours at the Material Resource Center, a part of Mennonite Central Committee’s ministry in Harleysville, PA. The objective of the project was to put together kits of basic supplies that will be delivered to migrants who crossed the border from Mexico. Members of Franconia Conference contributed the helping hands and gave resources to make the project a reality: 370 kits were packed that night, and the rest of the $20,000 donated by the conference (via churches, individuals and a matching grant) will be sent to MCC Central States to purchase additional supplies.

The kits consisted of a set of useful products such as towels, notebooks, pens, water, and other basic necessities for people who have recently been released from migrant detention camps.  Although simple, these kits represent a direct and tangible way to contribute to the needs of immigrants who enter the United States looking for a new home.

The work on the 19th was an example of solidarity and mutual help.  Thanks to 20 volunteers from three southeast Pennsylvania churches (Indonesian Light Church, and Philadelphia Praise Center, Plains Mennonite Church), the kits were efficiently packed in a large collection of green backpacks and were ready in time to be sent from Harleysville to be distributed through MCC Central States.

Each of these churches, in addition to belonging to Franconia Conference, is a community that includes many first- and second-generation immigrants. Although these immigrants come from different places on the map, such as Indonesia and Mexico, they each have left behind what is familiar to embark on a trip, marked by difficulties and uncertainty.  In understanding and solidarity, they gathered to fill backpacks as people who are aware of the pain and joy of migration.

The children were encouraged to share which countries they were from and they diligently helped for the almost-two-hours that the work took. After the backpacks were filled, the workers gathered together to join in a prayer led by Pastor Hendy Stevan Matahelemual of Indonesian Light Center.  They prayed specifically for those who would receive the kit and in general for each person who undertakes the trip and who seeks a place that guarantees their rights and, even, saves their lives.

Refleksi aktif / Reflection on Renewing Nations and Generations

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Cerita hidup kita lebih dari sekedar cerita, ada sesuatu yang lebih dalam dari cerita kita. Cerita hidup kita membentuk identitas kita dan identitas kita menentukan misi kita dalam hidup. Kalau kita tidak memiliki cerita, kita tidak memiliki identitas yang solid. Banyak gereja imigran kehilangan fokus dan misi karena mereka tidak mengetahui cerita dan latar belakang mereka. Hal ini diutarakan oleh Sue Park-Hur dalam sesi equipping Renewing Nations and Generations ke dua di Norristown New Life.

Selama pengalaman saya menjadi pastor gereja imigran di Amerika, budaya imigran terutama dari Asia memiliki kultur rasa malu (shaming culture). Ada banyak luka, kekecewaan, dan kepahitan yang dipendam dan tidak mengalami kesembuhan. Dan hal ini menyebabkan banyak gereja mengalami stagnasi baik dalam segi spiritual maupun pelayanannya. Saya pribadi percaya bahwa di dalam keterbukaan ada sebuah pemulihan, tetapi problem kultur rasa malu inilah yang membuat seseorang sulit untuk menjadi terbuka. Sue juga mengatakan, “Luka yang tidak sembuh akan ditransfer kepada generasi berikutnya.”

Sebagai imigran ada sebuah trauma dan luka tersendiri yang kita alami ketika kita berpindah dari sebuah budaya atau lingkungan di mana kita dibesarkan ke sebuah budaya atau lingkungan yang berbeda. Hal ini terjadi dalam migrasi yang sukarela maupun karena terpaksa. Dimulai dari orang kulit putih, hitam, coklat, Hispanic/Latinos sampai Asia kita semua adalah imigran di tanah Amerika ini. Dan setiap budaya memiliki trauma tersendiri yang sangat unik sejak pertama kali menginjakkan kaki di tanah ini. Dan trauma-trauma ini akan ditransfer kepada generasi berikutnya jika tidak pulih.

Pertama kali saya datang ke Amerika, saya heran ternyata tension antara orang kulit putih dan hitam masih ada, dalam benak saya hal tersebut sudah hilang dan selesai ketika Martin Luther King Jr melakukan civil rights movement, atau bahkan ketika Obama menjadi presiden, ternyata trauma tersebut belum hilang, dan dampaknya masih ada sampai dengan sekarang. Juga bagaimana imigran Asia dan Hispanic pun memiliki permasalahan  tersendiri, racial slur antara imigran Asia dan Hispanic pun masih sering saya dengar. Ketakutan orang Asia dengan orang kulit hitam, semua memiliki cerita konflik tersendiri. Stereotype demi stereotype kian bermunculan. Dan terjadilah ajang saling menyakiti satu sama lain, dan setiap budaya membangun temboknya masing-masing untuk melindungi diri. Hurt people, hurt people.

Tetapi pada minggu lalu dalam acara Renewing Nations and Generations banyak pemimpin mayoritas global/Kulit berwarna Franconia Conference, diingatkan bahwa kita semua adalah produk dari masa lalu, produk dari sistem dunia yang korup dan tidak adil. Pada acara ini kami belajar bahwa kami semua mempunyai pilihan untuk berubah, sembuh, bertransformasi menjadi kita yang baru. Dan berita baiknya adalah darah Yesus sudah tercurah dan kasih karunia sudah cukup bagi kita semua bagi kita yang percaya dan mau berubah menjadi lebih baik. Tetapi kita pun tahu bahwa hal ini hanya bisa terjadi ketika kita mau saling jujur, terbuka dan percaya satu sama lain, membangun hubungan yang meruntuhkan semua tembok stereotype dan membiarkan Yesus memulihkan kedua ujung jembatan.

Ini adalah sebuah awal dari proses pemulihan dan transformasi kita, kita menyadari bahwa jalan masih Panjang, tetapi kita percaya dengan komitmen, tekad dan kerjasama kita semua bisa menghilangkan rasisme, dan menjadikan perbedaan sebagai sebuah kekayaan yang bisa gunakan bersama-sama untuk saling bertransformasi menjadi ciptaan baru dan saya percaya hal inilah yang menjadikan Kerajaan Surga turun diatas muka bumi ini. Saatnya berbagi cerita hidup bersama sama yang meruntuhkan tembok dan membangun jembatan.


The story of our lives is more than just a story – there is something deeper. Our life stories shape our identity and our identity determines our mission in life. If we don’t have a story, we don’t have a solid identity. Many immigrant churches lose their focus and mission because they do not know their story and background. This was stated by Sue Park-Hur in the second equipping Renewing Nations and Generations session at Norristown New Life on Friday, November 1.

During my experience as a pastor of immigrant churches in America, immigrant culture, especially from Asia, has a shaming culture. There are many wounds, disappointments, and bitterness that are buried and are not healing, and this has caused many churches to experience stagnation both in terms of spirituality and ministry. I personally believe that in openness there is recovery, but it is this shame culture problem that makes it difficult for someone to be open. Sue also said, “Wounds that don’t heal will be transferred to the next generation.”

As immigrants there is a trauma and injury that we experience when we move to a different culture or environment from where were raised. This occurs in voluntary and forced migration. From white, black, brown, Hispanic/Latinos to Asian people, most of us are immigrants in this American land. Every culture has its own trauma that is very unique since it first set foot on this land. These traumas will be transferred to the next generation if they do not recover.

The first time I came to America, I was surprised that the tension between white and black people was still there; in my mind, it was gone and finished when Martin Luther King Jr. conducted a civil rights movement, or even when Obama became president.  It turned out the trauma has not yet disappeared, and its effects are still present today. Asian and Hispanic immigrants also have their own problems; racial slurs between Asian and Hispanic immigrants are still often heard. Asian and black people all have their own conflict stories. Stereotypes are increasingly appearing. People from different cultures hurt each other, and each culture built its own wall as a defense mechanism. Hurt people, hurt people.

But last week on the day of Renewing Nations and Generations, many Franconia global majority/people of color leaders were all reminded that we are all products of the past, products of a corrupt and unjust world system. In this program we learned that we all have the choice to change, recover, and transform into us. The good news is that the blood of Jesus was shed, and grace is enough for all of us who believe and want to change for the better. But we also know that this can only happen when we want to be honest, open and trusting with one another, building relationships that break down all stereotypical walls and allow Jesus to restore both ends of the bridge.

This is the beginning of our recovery and transformation process – we realize that the road is still long, but we believe that our commitment, determination and cooperation can eliminate racism, and make diversity a treasure that can be used to transform each other into new creations. I believe this will allow the Kingdom of Heaven to descend upon this earth. It’s time to share stories of living together with those who tear down walls and build bridges.

Congregational Profile: Franconia Mennonite Church

by Mark Wenger, Franconia congregation

The Brown Family

Timothy and Toni Lynn Brown both grew up in devout and close-knit Roman Catholic families. About three years ago they developed a strong desire to renew their commitment to the Christian faith, for themselves and their teenage children, Rebecca and Tim. 

The children enrolled at Dock Academy; the family began coming to Franconia.  “It was a truly beautiful experience for all of us.  Our children enjoyed church again for the first time in years,” comments Timothy.  “I refer to it as my ‘charismatic renewal.’”

Toni echoes this: “The pastors give their sermons and speak to the congregation like we are equals, not below them.  To be able to take away something from the worship service and incorporate it into my daily life is something I never had before, and I truly enjoy it.”

Timothy and Toni were baptized into the Franconia congregation on November 26, 2017.   They are literally Anabaptists – “rebaptized” – in the original definition of the word.  Newcomers, they are sharing their gifts in a congregation that’s been meeting at the same location for almost 300 years.

Franconia congregation is currently led by a team of four pastors, Larry Diener, Josh Meyer, Kyle Rodgers, and Mark Wenger.  Attendance for Sunday morning worship in 2019 has averaged 350.  The Sunday School program is vibrant with about 265 children, youth and adults participating each week.

Worship Drama – Photo by Doris Diener

Franconia is blessed with strong multi-generational family networks. This feature lends itself to a sense of identity and a culture that is purposely Anabaptist-Mennonite.   About 85% of Franconia adults grew up in Mennonite homes.  Tradition and faithfulness are important.  The roots are deep. 

A vision the pastors believe that God has brought into focus for Franconia, however, speaks of going deep and wide: “A rooted Anabaptist congregation willing to do whatever it takes to connect with our neighbors so they feel at home and grow in Jesus.”  Timothy and Toni Brown and their family are a good example.

Franconia has a strong commitment to mission: Curtis and Eva Kratz visiting inmates; the Women’s Sewing Circle knotting and quilting covers for refugees; partnering with congregations in Liberia for education and development work; supporting mission workers at Christian camps.  

Curt Kratz at HOPE Festival – Photo by Renita Leatherman

But a calling for being sent into our local community and connecting with next-door neighbors is coming into sharper focus.  Like through Celebrate Recovery (a Christ- centered, 12-step recovery program) that meets on Mondays; like serving supper monthly to homeless neighbors in Pottstown; like hosting a live-nativity at Christmas.

The pastors have recently formed a “2020 Vision Team” to join them in giving creative energy for investing in this community-connecting vision for the next year.   Timothy Brown was invited to be a member of the Vision Team and he agreed!

What will it take to hear God’s call and adopt a new mindset that shifts from trying to keep each other happy, toward equipping each other to pray for and connect with our neighbors?

A vision-grounding Scripture text that has emerged prayerfully is 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…” 

FMC stands for Franconia Mennonite Church.  What else could FMC stand for in 2020 and beyond? 

  • Finding Meaning in Christ?
  • Friends Meeting Christ?
  • Families Magnifying Christ?

Yes!

Prayer requests:

  • for wisdom on follow-up connections resulting from the recent Necessary Conversations series.
  • for the Search process to call a Director of Music & Worship, and a Director of Children’s Ministries.
  • for God’s anointing upon the 2020 Vision Team and initiative