Perceiving Our Present and Our Future

Noel Santiago


This picture was taken during Franconia Conference Assembly at Salford Mennonite Church. These three persons, who formed part of the intercultural praise band that led singing at the Assembly, represent in part, who Franconia Conference is becoming.

What I want to observe however is the wall behind the them. The stones of this wall came from a mill and a local mason put it together where it now beautifully adorns the front of the sanctuary at Salford Mennonite Church. This wall speaks to the history as well as the quality of workmanship and commitment of the people who both built and preserved these stones. We thank God for them.

What strikes me about this image is that both past and present are captured in a single photo. History continues to sing today in what that wall represents. History continues the melody in the faces of those joining the peoplehood of God and singing a new song.

Is it possible that God is continuing to ‘build his church’ in Franconia Mennonite Conference by communicating to us through such a picture? Are we living in the present with our past as a reference and the future as our preference?

As I reflect on who was present this night, it seems to me that God brought together this faithful people, old and new, who have journeyed and continue to journey, into the same room – a sanctuary.

However, does being in the same room at the same time with different connections, understanding and history, make us one in heart and mind? Our Assistant Moderator Blaine Detwiler noted, we are seeking to learn to speak a new language. This is not a one way process, but a mutual one.

God is indeed doing a new thing in our midst. The biblical question the prophet raised was “do you not perceive it?” The question I want to raise is “how do you perceive it?”