by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication
Harleysville, PA — Franconia Conference delegates are invited to gather on Saturday, February 8, 2014 for a time of continued conversation and discernment around the vision and future direction of the conference and to recommit to healthy relational engagement with one another in the midst of difference. The gathering, which is open to all delegates, will include a time of corporate worship, review of table feedback from November’s Conference Assembly, and discerning next steps as a conference that has and will continue to grow increasingly diverse.
“There were so many thoughtful comments and insights mentioned at Conference Assembly that deserve our attention, discernment, and renewed commitment,” said assistant moderator Marta Castillo (Nueva Vida Norristown New Life). “The purpose of the February 8 meeting is to continue the animated, enthusiastic, and participatory conversation about our shared convictions and vision for moving forward together in 2014 and beyond.”
At Conference Assembly, held on November 2, 2013 at Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa., delegates were invited to give feedback on a statement written by the board, which addressed the growing diversity of the conference and encouraged discernment on the congregational level, while maintaining conference unity, saying, “We believe our witness is strengthened when energy is put into celebrating our shared convictions.”
In addition to table discussions around the statement, the delegate body also shared stories of where God is at work in congregations, communities, and the conference. In a bonus workshop session, over a hundred delegates gathered to further discern God’s calling for 2014 and beyond.
“It is our hope that the February 8th gathering will result in bringing additional clarity to how we value one another and, given our diversity, how we work together towards a community and ministry that honors God as His John 17 people,” said Ertell Whigham, executive minister. “We look forward to gathering with a spirit of cooperation as we commit to working together while honoring God in our diversity.”
The February 8 gathering will take the place of Spring Training, an annual continuing education event usually required for all credentialed leaders. “We believe that participation in this and possibly additional meetings this year is crucial to finding a healthy shared future together,” said Gay Brunt Miller, School for Leadership Formation director. “So attendance at these meetings will fulfill the 2014 continuing education guidelines for credentialed leaders.” There will also be fewer resourcing events for pastors and Conference Related Ministry leaders planned in 2014, Brunt Miller added, “to give space in leaders’ schedules to participate in what seems most important this year.”
The gathering will be held on February 8 from 9 to noon at Franconia Mennonite Church; delegates are requested to RSVP by January 31st on the conference website or by calling the conference office at 267-932-6050. For more information, delegates can talk to their congregation’s LEADership minister. Snow date is February 15.