Congregations often go through transitions and shifts in leadership and churches reimagine their visions. Franconia Mennonite Conference has recognized this ebb-and-flow, inviting Jenifer Eriksen Morales has to join the conference ministry as the Minister of Transitional Ministries, a forward-leaning position for a conference that has recently revised its mission.
Eriksen Morales will help church leaders develop practices that enable congregations to cope in the midst of shifts and contextual changes. As the Minister of Transitional Ministries, Eriksen Morales will be responsible for serving on the conference ministry team as a resource and support person for congregations in transition. She will also develop practices that enable congregations to cope in the midst of change and serve as a interim minister as needed with these congregations.
Noel Santiago, Executive Conference Minister, is encouraged by her passion and thankful that she has answered the call to ministry. â€œJenifer is both a fulfillment and a beginning; she is a fulfillment in the sense of the vision Conference Minister Donella Clemens moved us toward by calling us to bring on staff another female Conference Minister,â€ Santiago said. â€œShe is a beginning in the sense of her now being available, along with all the other staff, as a tremendous gift.â€
Eriksen Morales is already inspired by the stories she has heard of Jesusâ€™ presence in area congregations. â€œI look forward to ministering with and in the congregations of Franconia Conference because I sense a dedication to both following Godâ€™s call and the continual process of learning and growth along with the vision, passion, grace, and courage required to do so,â€ said the conferenceâ€™s newest staff member. â€œI am attracted to Franconiaâ€™s rich history, ever-increasing diversity, commitment to cultivating young leaders and the mission to â€˜equip leaders to empower others to embrace Godâ€™s mission.â€™â€
A Phillipsburg, NJ, native who grew up worshiping at the Alpha (NJ) Mennonite congregation, Eriksen Morales is at home in Franconia Conference. In an upcoming article to be published the conferenceÂ´s Intersections, she wrote: â€œBecause I was blessed to be raised in a home dedicated to the Christian faith and a Mennonite church, my journey in life and faith are interrelated.â€
Through years of serving a Lehigh Valley interfaith organization through a process of transition, which culminated in program growth, Eriksen Morales is equipped with experience and an understanding of ministerial leadership.
Eriksen Morales developed her leadership skills while working as the Coordinator of Language and Literacy Programs at ProJeCt for People, Easton, PA. â€œI found the process of visioning, developing, and implementing mission-driven practices, and continual evaluation, which led to targeted professional and program development, to be challenging and exciting work,â€ she said. ProJeCt for People is a grassroots, interfaith organization whose mission is a holistic approach to helping adults and families along the path to self-sufficiency by providing emergency services as well as educational opportunities through adult basic education, ESL, GED, family literacy, parenting, and pre-school learning opportunities.
Eriksen Morales graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a major in History and Social Science and minors in Mission and Teaching English as a Second Language. She most recently completed her Masters of Divinity at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in May 2007. Erisken Morales was able to balance her roles of wife and mother while being a full-time student, as she received AMBSâ€™s Church Leadership Award, an annual scholarship given to two students who enroll in a Masterâ€™s program. Eriksen Morales is married to Victor Morales and mother of two young boys, Nicolas and Jonathan, who are being raised bilingually.
Photos provided by Jenifer Eriksen Morales