Meet the Moderators

In preparation for Spring Assembly, Eastern District Conference moderator Jim Musselman and Franconia Conference moderator John Goshow share a bit about their lives and roles.

Moderators John Goshow (Franconia Conference) and Jim Musselman (Eastern District Conference)

Tell us a little about yourselves!

Jim:  I was raised in Souderton, attending Zion Mennonite Church and graduating from Souderton Area High School. I graduated Penn State Harrisburg with a concentration in Literature and Philosophy. I worked for my brother Bob at Musselman Builders, Inc. since 1979 and have recently retired. My wife of 42 years, Barbara, is a Registered Nurse and a certified holistic nurse and works at Abington Hospital Lansdale.  We also have a son, Matt, a daughter Kate, and two grandsons, Liam and Gray.  Now that I’m retired, I enjoy volunteering for Zion’s Table of Plenty and Bean Bag Project, as well as the Mennonite Historians of Eastern PA.  I enjoy genealogy and history and Barbara and I do a lot of travelling and camping with our little tear-drop camper.

John:  During my childhood years, I lived with my family in Franconia and attended Franconia Mennonite Church. In 1964, I married Janet, and our first major decision was to enter Mennonite Voluntary Service, which led to a two-year assignment at Rehoboth Mennonite Church in St. Anne, IL.  I then attended Eastern Mennonite College; after I graduated, we spent a summer at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, where I led a camp for emotionally disturbed boys.  Next, we moved to Richmond, VA, where I earned a Master’s degree in Social Work.  Eventually, we moved back to Pennsylvania, where I joined the staff of Penn Foundation in 1977 as a clinical social worker, not knowing that in 2010, I would retire as the President/CEO!  Along with our three children, we joined Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, and, along the way, 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren joined our family.

What exactly do you DO as moderator?

John: The Bylaws of Franconia Mennonite Conference clarify that the Moderator’s primary role is to preside over meetings of the delegate assembly, serve as Conference Board Chair and as Conference Board Executive Committee Chair. Also, the Executive Minister is accountable to the board through the moderator.

Jim: I chair the Conference Administrative Board (CAB), which meets every month or two. I stay in communication with Scott Roth (Executive Conference Pastor) and board officers.  I also set the agenda for the business portions of the Spring and Fall Assemblies.  As Moderator, I am a member of the Ministerial Leadership Committee, which oversees the credentialing and licensing of our pastors. In addition, twice a year, I attend the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) meetings (which are like the denominational “elders”), held in various settings throughout the US.  There are also several breakfast meetings each year with Franconia Conference leadership to discuss common agenda and ventures.

What has gotten you excited about working in the role of Moderator?

At Fall Assembly 2019, John and Jim symbolically offered words of apology and forgiveness, that the two Conferences might “look well upon each other.”

Jim: This one’s easy!  What I get most excited about is meeting people from different backgrounds and places and hearing their stories. This happens at Assemblies when we share the joys and frustrations of living out our callings, whether personally or congregationally. It happens at CLC meetings and biennial Conventions. It happens at CAB meetings and one-on-one breakfast meetings. It’s really just about the joy of being an active participant in a community of hope.

John: Now in my ninth year as moderator, I feel blessed to have had the privilege of serving Franconia Conference and God in this way. It has been a pleasure to work closely with Ertell Whigham and Steve Kriss, both of whom have served our conference well as Executive Ministers. It has been inspiring to welcome several congregations from California who have joined our conference. Franconia Conference appears to be in a good place at this time, thanks to the prayers and support of all of our delegates.

At our Spring Assembly, Franconia Conference delegates will vote to affirm Ken Burkholder as Moderator (to begin in January, 2020).  Hear from Ken and Conference board member Merlin Hartman, in preparation for this affirmation.