Emerging Franconia Conference leaders engage through Mennonite seminary initiatives

Sheldon Good

Six Franconia Conference young adults plan to participate in leadership development programs this summer. Four high school students will take part in Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s (AMBS) !Explore program, while two young adults will engage through Eastern Mennonite University’s (EMU) LEAP initiative traveling to Guatemala for two weeks.

Christopher Dock Mennonite High School students Brenden Derstine (Franconia congregation in Telford, PA), Lauren Derstine (Blooming Glen (PA) congregtion), Emily Graber (Methacton congregation in Norristown, PA), and Larissa Landis (Souderton (PA) congregation) have all been accepted into !Explore, a theological program for high school youth that provides juniors and seniors with “an experience designed to encourage the development of their gifts in leadership, expose them to the world of theological ideas, and foster in them a call to vocation in the church.” The students will participate in an 18-day immersion, with six days being spent exploring urban ministry and six days learning about theology and Anabaptist history on the AMBS campus. Brenden Derstine’s group lasted June 11-28, while the second group will begin July 9.

Lauren Derstine is especially interested in translating what she learns in !Explore to experiences at her home congregation. “My hope is to come out with a broader understanding of the Mennonite church as I explore different aspects of Blooming Glenn,” Derstine said.

Franconia Conference Associate for Communication and Leadership Cultivation Jessica Walter and Philadelphia Praise Center’s Bobby Wibowo will spend part of July in Guatemela through the LEAP program, in order to gain a better understanding of the global church and God’s overall work around the world. LEAP, which stands for “Learning, Exploring, and Participating,” provides young adults with an opportunity to “explore how they can use their gifts to serve the church.” Walter and Wibowo will begin their orientation on July 18 at EMU before flying to Guatemala on July 28.

Franconia Conference Youth Minister Marlene Frankenfield supports these young adults in their decision to engage in these faith-based exploration programs. “I am excited to see that they have an opportunity to be with other young adults from all over the U.S. and Canada, and to build lifelong relationships as they discern their passions and gifts for future leadership in the church,” Frankenfield said. “They will be gifts to their congregations as they share from this experience of personal spiritual growth and bring back new insights for the church.”

Both programs are oriented for youth to gain a better understanding of Anabaptist/Mennonite history and theology as they each personally reflect on their personal call from God to be young leaders in the church.

Visit the following websites for more information:
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary — www.ambs.edu
Eastern Mennonite University — www.emu.edu
Christopher Dock Mennonite High School — www.dockhs.org