Shrinking an ocean: Learning from post-Christendom ministry

Gay Brunt Miller, Spring Mountstuart-copy.jpgThe Atlantic Ocean is getting smaller. No, I’m not referring to the impact of global warming but to Franconia Conference’s partnership with the Anabaptist Network in the United Kingdom. As this partnership grows deeper and wider, the Atlantic Ocean feels like it is shrinking.Ten Franconia Conference congregations are participating in the partnership which includes connecting with and supporting Franconia Conference’s intern, Krista Ehst (Perkasie), who is serving in East London until April of this year. But the goal of this partnership is more than supporting one intern—it is intended to develop relationships with Anabaptists in the U.K. that are meaningful, life giving and provide opportunities for mutual learning.Krista’s internship embeds her in a place that may represent the cultural future of the United States. Moving from a time when the church and state were inseparable (known as Christendom), it is increasingly common in the U.K. to find people who think that “Jesus Christ” is merely a curse word or who are surprised to find that churches are open on Sunday because churches are more commonly locations for other weekday activities. How do you “do ministry” in a context where you cannot take any biblical knowledge for granted? In many ways the Anabaptist Network in the U.K. is like a test laboratory, doing “missional experiments” from which we can benefit.Congregations included in this partnership cover a wide geographic swath of Franconia Conference, including Bally, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life, Perkasie, Plains, Ripple Effects, Spring Mount and Swamp in the conference “heartland” along with Bethany and Taftsville in Vermont and Lakeview in northern Pennsylvania.In addition to following Krista’s blog, folks from several of these congregations have experienced the opportunity to “hop across the Atlantic” through recent computer technology and converse in real time with Krista and other leaders of the Anabaptist Network to hear directly about their ministry in the Post-Christendom environment of the U.K.In March Dr. Stuart Murray Williams, chair of the Anabaptist Network and one of the foremost thinkers, practitioners and authors on the subjects of Post-Christendom and church planting, will visit Franconia Conference. He will be sharing his expertise at several forums for congregations who are directly involved in the partnership and in two public meetings open to all interested.Opportunities to Connect

  • March 19All are invited to attend the March Pastors’ and Leaders’ Breakfast which will be led by Dr. Stuart Murray Wiliams.The breakfast, held at the Conference Center, begins at 8 am and ends at 10. If you’d like to register for this event please call Jessica Walter at 215-723-5513, xt. 114. Watch your bulletin announcements for more details.
  • March 29Dr. Murray Williams will preach at Spring Mount Mennonite Church. All are welcome to attend the 9:45 am service and to stay for an interactive adult Sunday School class.