Recognizing ministries as more than organizations

Gay Brunt Miller

One word can make a difference! In a former role, I vividly remember the day I misread my boss’s handwriting and typed “now” instead of “not” in a letter to the FDA. It almost cost me my job and my company significant credibility.

For the past six years we have referred to Franconia Mennonite Conference’s relationship with
23 entities beyond congregations as “Conference Related Organizations” (CROs). This term has become well-accepted and understood in Franconia Conference circles. These “entities” with whom we have a formal relationship include four schools, three camps, four groups that serve senior citizens, two historical organizations, three organizations that provide services to clients and families with mental or developmental challenges, a radio ministry, a prison ministry, and five groups that are local branches of broader church initiatives (MCC, MEDA, or MDS).

As I relate to these organizations and their leaders, one common theme consistently emerges. For these organizations and their leaders, what they do and how they do what they do is important. Their work and calling is more than to be a business or a social service agency. These organizations truly see their work as ministry.

And over the past five years we’ve been sharing their stories. Intersections has featured many stories of how these organizations have touched lives in the name of Christ. Over the years articles with tiles such as “A Moment of Grace,” “Help for the Least of These,” “Counting Blessings,” “Faith Walk Leads to Holy Moment in CD Pond,” “Entertaining Angels,” “Repentance and Renewal in Zurich and Beyond,” “Anatomy of a Calling,” “Walking the Talk,” “Neighbor Helping Neighbor,” “Vigil for Peacemakers,” and “The Gospel is Our Daily Mission,” belie the stuff of ministry, not just business.

This is something to celebrate! This is ministry with credibility. These ministries may be imperfect and made up of fallible people, yet God is using them and those of you who are part of them to do ministry in this region and beyond. Christ’s admonition in Matthew 25:35-36 calls for many groups, both literally and figuratively: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” This is the very essence of what God has called us, as followers, to do!

The transition of language, from “Conference Related Organizations” to “Conference Related Ministries,” is one small way that Franconia Conference can recognize and continue to build the integrity of these relationships into relationships that transcend administrative paperwork and into living and vital partnerships of joining hands and hearts to do the work which Christ is calling us all to in this region and in this world.

God is doing good things through these wonderful ministries, and I believe that God wants to do even greater things, as all of us who make up Franconia Conference — congregations, Conference Related Ministries, and Partners in Mission — continue to seek how God wants to use us… together… to God’s glory, in this region, and in the broader reign of God.

Photos from Bethany Birches Camp, Plymouth, VT. Kristina Landis of the Franconia congregation is visible in the photo on the bottom right. All photos by Tim Moyer of the Blooming Glen congregation.