May our stories abound

Emily Ralph, Salford,

"Unexpected hard places will always be with us—may the reaching out stories abound." —Jeff Knightly

Unexpected hard places seem to be more common these days. No matter where we turn, we’re surrounded by hard stories—budget cuts, layoffs, natural disasters, school shootings, illness, and broken dreams. It’s unavoidable.

Yet in the midst of difficulty and trouble, the reaching out stories abound. The overwhelming mutual support of conference congregations who have been blessed by the ministry of Nueva Vida Norristown (Pa) New Life. Missional experiments in gardening and block parties and dance teams and computer labs. Schools and camps that are discipling children to be radical followers of Jesus. New and emerging leaders who have a passion for the way of Jesus, even as they enter ministry in challenging times.

As I read through the stories in this issue of Intersections, I am struck by our need for one another. Would people like John and Sheryl be leaders today if their families and church friends had not identified and encouraged their leadership gifts? From the individuals, congregations, and businesses that stepped up to join Nueva Vida Norristown’s capital campaign, I heard a motivation to join the Kingdom work that is happening in that setting, as described by Rose Bender, pastor of Whitehall (Pa) congregation.

And why would a church near Allentown want to participate in the work of a congregation that’s over an hour away?

Because we don’t find our identity in our geography, our ethnicities, or our place in the world’s economy—we are God’s people, “a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, [we] can show others the goodness of God, for he called [us] out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (2 Peter 2:9-10, NLT)

God has formed us into a community. And we need each other.

Earlier this year, Conference board and staff met together to discuss the purpose of Franconia Conference structures and staffing. A growing consensus was that “Conference” is more of a network than an institution, here to connect and train congregations and leaders for God’s mission in the world.

And as a network, it is so important that we share our stories with one another. We cheer when others celebrate, we mourn when others grieve, we give when others are in need. And in our time, we also receive.

In the coming months, you may notice some changes in the communication coming from the conference office:

  • A weekly email newsletter to pastors (also available on our website: that contains the latest news, blogs, and social media updates from around our conference.
  • A new 4-page format to Intersections that will be published in English, Indonesian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
  • Connections: a new podcast celebrating our connections in Christ through stories and interviews.
  • Continued experimentation with technologies that allow us to connect with one another despite time, distance, and language barriers, using video, podcasting, and social media.

Unexpected hard places will always be with us. But that isn’t the end of the story. There are also unexpected places of joy, understanding, and growth. May our reaching out stories abound!

Does your congregation have a story to share? E-mail stories, photos, videos, or blogs to And don’t forget to share meaningful moments from congregational life using #fmclife on Twitter!