All posts by Conference Office

We Gather Together

by Steve Kriss, Executive Minister

The process of gathering started last night with persons coming from California, Indiana and Mexico.  Partners and leaders began to stream toward Souderton Mennonite Church for our historic Assembly that begins tomorrow.  We have gathered together for generations each autumn as the community now known as Franconia Mennonite Conference.  It’s a massive incarnational effort involving lots of details and logistics—name tags, seating assignments, worship practice, PowerPoint slides in multiple languages and thankfully, Longacre’s Ice Cream and lunch from Landis Supermarket. 

These events have certainly changed over the years from intensive discernment among credentialed leaders on the difficult topics of the day, to equipping and celebration inter-culturally and inter-generationally with a sense of family gathering, face to face listening and conversation.  We’ve switched from Pennsylvania Dutch to English to quad-lingual with videos.  It’s a representation of who the 7,000 of us are in less than a 24-hour timeline. 

It’s hard work and it takes resources.  Yet, by gathering together we underscore the importance of the Incarnation, the love of God made manifest in real time and places.  We listen across our differences in culture, practice and even varied Anabaptist theological perspectives.  It’s ultimately a celebration of the holy tie that binds, of commitment centered in Christ that now span the globe and yet have been rooted deeply in the soil of what has become Southeastern Pennsylvania. 

We gather because we say it matters that we hear each other, that we hear the Spirit together:

That we celebrate and pray. 
That we mark the passing of another year of witness, mission, and ministry. 
That God continues to call and we continue to follow.
That God’s dream for us though yet unfulfilled is still unfolding.
Hasta pronto.  Sampai ketemu lagi.  Hẹn sớm gặp lại.  很快见到你

See you soon! 

Seeking Shalom

On Sunday, October 28 the following was sent to Franconia Conference pastors as they prepared to gather with our communities. May we continue to live into these statements as a community of Christ’s people:

As people of Christ’s peace, we extend our prayers and sympathies to those whose lives have been touched by the horrific violence at the Tree of Life Synagogue yesterday in Pittsburgh.

As people of the Book, we mourn alongside the Jewish community with the comfort of God who walks with us even through the valley of the shadow of death.

As people of prophetic witness, we stand against the spirit of anti-Semitism that seeks to deny the image of God reflected in the Jewish people.

As people of faith, we commit to the ongoing struggle of realizing God’s dream for all people to live in peace and without fear.

Prayer for Assembly

by Noel Santiago, Leadership Minister for Missional Transformation

As we come upon our time for Conference Assembly, we are focused on being one in the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I believe Jesus would be looking forward to this weekend with anticipation of his prayer being answered in John 17. 

In this passage, he has prayed for himself, his disciples and then for all those who will believe – this includes you and me. After praying for his disciples Jesus goes on to pray these words, they may be His word for us this weekend:

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.

– John 17:20- 23 MSG

May we find that Jesus’ prayer continues to be answered as we gather together in the Spirit and in peace.

Coming Together in New Ways

Last year Methacton Mennonite Church experienced their community knocking on their door, as they collectively grieved the loss of “The Methacton Oak” thought to be over 380 years old. Pastor Sandy Drescher-Lehman recounts this experience in New Energy Brings the Community to Celebrate and Remember, as the community came together, “remembering and celebrating the tree that belonged to all of us and to our ancestors.”

The congregation enjoyed their time with their neighbors so much and the connections the tree helped them make, that this year on September 30, the congregation once again gathered with their neighbors to celebrate their shared stories and their diversity.

Bluegrass group with Methacton Mennonite’s worship team

On that beautiful fall afternoon, more joy and peace was added to the world; from morning worship with hymns, a cappella and praise music, to an afternoon of Aztec drumming and dancing and a Bluegrass Band, God was praised in as many ways as they could invite the Spirit to be present! 

Nicolas and Jonathan with the drum they made, and the sapling from the fallen Methacton Oak

Nicolas and Jonathan Morales from Souderton Mennonite Church created a drum from The Methacton Oak utilizing Aztec tools for part of the process. That drum and the boys were part of the indigenous dance group La Danza Azteca, who, with drum beats and dancing, blessed the land where a seedling from the old oak is growing .

Dave Benner from Methacton resurrected the Bluegrass group he’s sung with, including Merle and Floss Hunsberger and Sharon Hunsberger, and invited the Methacton worship team to join them for a grand finale. 

Garrett (4th from right) and Wilson (far right)

Also honored in the day was Garrett Campbell from a local Eagle Scout troop, who re-set 130 of the toppled gravestones, and Wilson Roth, who has also done significant cemetery restoration of the old graveyard.

Music also accompanied lots of food, crafts and lawn games, and John and Charlotte Herschal’s animal wood carving demonstration.

John Herschel demonstrating his animal wood carvings

It is truly a gift to be able to celebrate the many talents and gifts of our neighbors in and outside the walls of our meetinghouse. God continues to use The Methacton Oak even in its death.

To read more about the La Danza Azteca performance at Methacton’s Block Party, visit http://www2.philly.com/philly/entertainment/arts/traditional-aztec-dance-honors-the-great-fallen-charter-oak-at-methacton-mennonite-church-20181006.html.

God Makes All Things New

by Stephen Kriss, Executive Minister

Jesus is the center of our faith.  Community is the center of our life.  Reconciliation is the center of our work.—Palmer Becker from Anabaptist Essentials

 “Your people shall become my people.”—Ruth  1:15

Photo credit: MHEP

The Facebook post from retired Lancaster Conference Bishop Freeman Miller showed a photo of the former First Mennonite Church in Philadelphia with missing windows, a high wire fence and a notice of building violations and possible demolition.  While this building hasn’t been inhabited by the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia for generations, I felt the pain of the possible loss.  This building had been the meetinghouse of what had been one of the largest Mennonite congregations on the East Coast, though they had relocated to the suburbs long ago.  It was the home church of Ann Allebach, the first Mennonite woman ordained for ministry in the country.  The Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania worked to add the building to the city’s historic register.  For Eastern District, it represents a key historic spot and story.

When I came to Franconia Conference from the western half of the state over a decade ago, I learned quickly that to lead in our community meant learning our history.  I have also learned that it means learning to listen to those who are sometimes just outside of the narrative, as well as those whose stories we have not told.  For over 150 years, the stories of Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference have been stories told in contrast:  General Conference/Mennonite Church (GC/MC) across the street, down the road, more worldly, more conservative.  The challenge for us in reconciliation will be to learn to tell our stories together in a fragmenting time.

As we move this fall toward the possibilities of reconciliation, I believe we are moving toward what is the essence of the Spirit’s work of healing and hope in our time.  The project of honestly assessing the wounds of the past and recognizing the possibilities that are unleashed through reconciliation and forgiveness gives us a strong posture for the future. 

How do we honor our experiences learned through our years alongside each other but apart?  How we do hear the stories told and untold?  How do we let our brokenness heal so that we are stronger and postured uniquely for the work and witness of God for our time?

For me, this means learning the stories of Eastern District Conference and honoring those places and spaces that are significant in their history, as well as the history of Franconia Conference.   It means emphasizing the role of God as is often de-emphasized in the story of the Prodigal Son, the one who welcomes home, who celebrates a return to family, who welcomes repentance and challenges arrogance even in faithfulness.  In the history of our story together as Conferences, at times we have both squandered our inheritance, distracted by the things of this world rather than the way of Christ’s peace.

I believe that reconciliation will make us stronger as a community.  Not because this bolsters numbers or helps with efficiencies, but because reconciliation further transforms us into the image of God revealed in Christ, who lays down privilege, who embraces incarnation, who recognizes the God who creates all things new — even 300-year-old communities of Mennonites separated for over a century.

Keys for Good Financial Communication to Congregations

by Conrad Martin, Director of Finance

For some, trying to understand a financial report may be difficult or confusing.  Let’s face it, not everyone has that gift.  But congregations need to know the financial position of their church in order to make wise decisions.  So what are some ways church treasurers can improve the communication of financial reports to their congregations?

  1. Make it relevant.

Who will be reading the financial report?  Do they understand financial lingo?  Do you perhaps need to train your readers on what is important on a financial report?  Do they prefer financial reports in spreadsheet form or by a narrative?  It will be helpful to ask the reader what financial information they need to do their job.

Any good accounting program should have the capability to produce a variety of reporting formats.  Giving the church council a 10-page, detailed financial report will probably not be of interest to them, so determine what information you can put into a one-page summary report that will give them what they need.  The finance committee, on the other hand, may want more detail.  If you need to provide a financial report for the general congregation, understand that many of them will not understand a finance report in spreadsheet form, so think about how you can convey the finances of the church in a narrative form.

  1. Make it accurate.

Mistakes do happen, even for a good treasurer; yet if a pattern of needing to correct financial reports develops, you could lose the trust of those needing your financial information for making decisions. Your credibility is on the line every time you present a financial report.

Always double check your work, to ensure that the correct amount has been recorded to the correct account.  Look for expense accounts that are significantly off budget (whether high or low), ensure that they are actually correct and be prepared to explain why they are not on budget.  There may be an easy explanation and having that ready helps build confidence in your reports.  Always remember that your church council may be using your financial report to help determine the direction of the ministry.  That’s why accuracy is so important.

  1. Make it timely.

When financial information is received late, it may be useless to the reader, or even as detrimental as incorrect information.  Determining why a report is not timely will go a long way in correcting that.  What is causing the delay?

Are you waiting for financial statements from banks or investment companies at the end of the month?  A conversation with them about changing the reporting dates may give you statements sooner.  Reconcile these statements with your records as soon as you receive them, so that you have time to make any needed corrections before your reports are due.  Are you waiting for church staff to turn in their expense reimbursement claim forms at the end of the month?  You may need to turn to a higher authority for that one.  Try to be up-to-date as much as possible with your recordings before you go on vacation, so you don’t have so much catch-up to do when you return.  Are you overworked, have a conversation with your church leaders about the expectations for time to be spent on the financial reporting.

Keeping good financial records and communicating them well allows your ministries to run smoothly.

These keys were expanded on and drawn from the article “Three Keys for Communicating Financial Information” by Vonna Laue in ChurchFinanceToday. Volume 26. Number 10. October 2018

Senior Pastor

Senior Pastor – Line Lexington Mennonite Church

Location: Hatfield, PA

Posted: October, 2018

Categories: Senior Pastor

Denomination: Mennonite

Church Size: 150-200

Job Type: Full-Time

Our Mission:

To make disciples of Jesus Christ throughout the Lehigh Valley and among the nations—especially Unreached People Groups.

Our Vision:

Praying. Caring. Serving. Speaking. Training.

About Us. Purpose Statement:

We desire to be taught by Jesus through the Bible. We desire to be a worshiping and praying church that cares for one another and our neighbors as Jesus has cared for us. We desire all people to experience the grace and forgiveness that we have received through Jesus.

Values:

  1. Servanthood.
  2. Worship.
  3. Welcoming.
  4. Word.
  5. Prayer.
  6. Witness.
  7. Flexibility.
  8. Humility.
  9. Personal Relationship with God.
  10. Reconciliation.

 

Job Summary:

Line Lexington Mennonite Church, a multi‐generational congregation, is searching for a full‐ time Senior Pastor with a clear calling from God to lead our church well into the future. We are seeking a dynamic leader and skilled bible communicator with the energy, enthusiasm and passion to preach the word of God in purity, power, and relevance for our every‐day lives.

 

Purpose of Ministry Position:

To provide overall leadership for the ministry leadership team; to be the primary vision shaper and communicator of God’s word in collaboration with the Elder team and volunteer leadership team.

 

Key Attributes:

+ Gifted in preaching and teaching the word of God

+ Passionate faith and possesses a loving heart to shepherd God’s people

+ Able to build and disciple new team leaders to fulfill Christ’s great commission

+ A visionary that will help develop and implement the Church’s strategic plan for growth

+ Equipped to build trusted relationships within the church and in the community

+ Keen understanding of effective worship styles and contemporary media tools

+ Possess a passion for children’s ministry and connecting with young families in the community

+ He is responsible with and takes responsibility for his own personal finances

 

Qualifications and Responsibilities:

+ A calling to be a Pastor

+ Meet the biblical requirements laid out in 1 Timothy 3: 1‐7, Titus 1: 6‐9, and 1 Peter 5: 1‐3

+ Clear testimony of personal salvation and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ

+ In full agreement and supportive of our congregation’s statement of faith, doctrine, and purpose (made available for attachment upon request), and has a comfortable understanding and agreement with Anabaptist theology

+ Demonstrate ability to lead the ministry leadership team in shaping the spiritual direction of the church

+ A friendly personality and aptitude to teach and inspire others to follow Christ faithfully and to grow in their faith continually

+ Committed to the ministry of compassionate, personal care for his flock – providing biblical counseling, comfort and restoration in times of specific spiritual need

+ Believes and practices the power of prayer and is passionate about creating a congregational culture of prayer

+ A passion for evangelism and with gifts and skills necessary for evangelizing and equipping others to follow Jesus

+ Has successfully completed an undergraduate degree with subsequent accredited biblical training and a proven record of pastoral experience of at least 3 years.

 

Specific Job Responsibilities:

+ Prepare and preach weekly sermons

+ Provide oversight to worship services

+ Responsible for the preaching schedule, this includes vetting and securing guest preachers

+ Interpret biblical scripture for the congregation

+ Identify and develop potential leaders in the church

+ Officiate at special services, such as dedications, baptisms, weddings, and funerals

+ Provide spiritual leadership to church members through prayer, advisement, counseling, and visitation

+ Provide administrative leadership, including the supervision of paid and volunteer staff members

+ Provide care and counseling to church members and assist them in life decisions and crisis situations

+ Must be flexible – job hours are a bit irregular to effectively conduct worship services, attend special events at the church facilities, and complete administrative duties

+ Regularly report to the Board of Elders and leadership council

+ Oversee management of all areas of the congregation’s ministry

+ Training, supporting, and evaluating all staff members in collaboration with the Elder team

+ Holding regular staff meetings to coordinate ministries

+ He respects and manages church funds responsibly and appropriately

+ He will have an effective working relationship with existing church staff

 Resume Requirements:
1. Has successfully completed an undergraduate degree with subsequent accredited biblical training
2. A proven record of pastoral experience of at least 3 yrs.
3. Teaching samples (audio or video)
4. Four (4) references
Send resume and attachments to Betsy at searchteam@centerconsulting.org

DO NOT contact the Line Lexington Mennonite Church office directly.