From the moderator: In search of grace that transforms toward hope

At Franconia Conference Assembly 2011 delegates were invited to complete the sentence, my hope and dream for Franconia Conference is . . . 55 people responded to the invitation with the following hopes and dreams, “to better communicate with each congregation” . . . “to welcome and include all people regardless’ . . . ‘Unity, joy and effectively spreading the love and joy of God to the outside world” . . . “that it would be a community of those who find their home in God and live in hope with one another” . . . “to build a strong unified foundation from which to

“We are committed to move forward in a way that invites all the members of our congregations to join together.” build God’s Kingdom” . . . “not afraid to embrace new things” . . . “reconnect the people of Franconia Conference” . . . “to become a model community of grace and love, providing a safe place to explore God’s purpose” . . .”that in trusting relationships with each other and with God we can move with God’s guidance into our future, welcoming all, honoring differences, but unified in our core beliefs” . . . “For grace looking back, and hope looking forward with and among the delegates/congregations and the Conference board” . . . “that trust and confidence will continue to grow better conference leadership and congregation direction”.

This sampling of quotes from the delegates is cause for celebration and hope for our community of congregations and ministries. We share a desire for unity, a wish to be open to all persons, a commitment to be welcoming, a determination to find joy in our differences and in our similarities and a strong urge to engage in meaningful, direct and transparent communication.

Ervin Stutzman, MCUSA Executive Director, speaking at last year’s Assembly said, “Trouble plus grace equals hope”. This quote has particular relevance for our conference as together we have sought grace to transform our struggle into hope for today and the future. The Conference board is finding hope as it connects in a new way with all of our member congregations. The board has committed to meeting with the leaders of all Conference congregations within the next three to six months. These meetings are beginning to occur and the dialogue between congregational leadership and conference leadership has been valuable. We’re asking:

  • How can conference support the missional efforts of the congregation?
  • What conference activities has your congregation found helpful?
  • What additional services would be appreciated?

We are finding energy in the eagerness with which congregational leaders engage in the discussion.
We are finding hope in the recent restructuring of Conference staff and the appointment of Ertell Whigham to the role of Executive Minister. Ertell brings energy, passion, leadership skills and commitment to achieving the following priorities articulated by the Conference board and is appreciated and supported by other Conference staff.

  • Engage with the Franconia Conference Board in the work of the strategic transformation of Franconia Conference toward a missional, formational and intercultural Conference.
  • Build an energetic and unified staff team to support the work of Conference.
  • Build confidence within the constituency.
  • I am optimistic that Franconia Conference will move steadily toward achieving these priorities. We are committed to move forward in a way that invites all the members in our congregations to join together in the effort. This will require careful planning, clear communication and prioritizing a path of working respectfully with a shared commitment to become a community and Conference that reflects God’s dream for us together. We appreciate the ongoing prayer of the community as we move, trusting the transformative power of the Spirit on the Way.