Tag Archives: Brooke Martin

The Details of Building Community

by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation

“It is rewarding to see pastors and leaders come together to enjoy one another’s company, to network and build bridges,” Brooke Martin shares about her work as the Youth and Community Formation Coordinator with Franconia Conference. 

The community formation aspect of her job involves planning the conference’s major formation meetings and events. These events include the annual Credentialed Leaders Appreciation gathering, the Conference Related Ministry equipping meals, and leading the team that plans Fall Assembly. Brooke is also an at-large member of the Intercultural Team to keep an intercultural lens at the center of event planning. 

Brooke sees her job as playing a vital role in building community. “Noticing the details and seeing what needs to be done, then taking care of it, is energizing for me,” Brooke says. 

Brooke is also part of Youth Formation Team. In this role she is responsible for connecting with Youth Pastors in the Lansdale area, and helping to plan events that resource and equip all of Franconia’s youth leaders and youth pastors.

Prior to working for Franconia Conference, Brooke was the Interim Youth Ministry Leader for four years at Franconia Church. Brooke was thankful to have the opportunity to stay at home when her second child was born, but when it came time to start looking for work again, she was also grateful to work part-time while continuing to have time with her two children. 

“The opportunity to support the work of the Conference, utilize my gifts in administrative organization and building community, and share my passion for youth ministry while having a schedule that aligns with the needs of my children, has been a gift,” Brooke reflects.  

Brooke’s passion for youth ministry started as a teenager, when Melanie Nofziger was her high school youth pastor. Working at Camp Luz in Ohio with camp director Deb Horst was also a formative time for her, and these experiences led her to an associate degree at Hesston College in youth ministry, studying under Michele Hershberger. 

“Hearing the journeys of other women in ministry, learning from their strengths and how they face challenges in ministry, has been formational for me,” Brooke shares. 

Brooke encourages congregations to provide opportunities for young people to cultivate and meaningfully use their gifts: “Youth are the church now, not the church of the future. We need to give them the opportunity to serve now.” Part of that work is in helping youth identify their gifts and inviting them into leadership roles in the congregation, such as teaching Sunday School, serving on the sound team, as an usher, or in the nursery. 

“I’m excited to be able to meet more with youth ministers and hear their stories, their questions, and their challenges. It is an honor to be a part of empowering people in ministry and of what God is doing in the churches of our conference,” Brooke says. 

Brooke’s faith journey started young; when she was eight, she lost her brother Shaun in a car accident. “God became my sounding board because God was the one who could understand and connect with my young grief,” she remembers.  

Originally from “the cornfields of Ohio,” Brooke felt intimidated when she moved to the suburbs of Pennsylvania because she was unsure of how to build community in her new homeplace. “It’s been beautiful to learn that there is community here, even though it looks different,” she says. 

Outside of work, Brooke finds joy in dance and in parenting. Dance has been an important part of her life since she was three years old and she sees it as a way to worship God. Being a parent has allowed her to “see the world through children’s eyes and witness their pure reliance on God; it is the holiest ground I have been on,” Brooke says.

Conference Begins Building Youth Formation Team

by Emily Ralph Servant, Interim Director of Communication

Franconia Conference has begun building an intercultural youth formation team to resource youth leaders and to connect youth across congregations, geographies, and cultures.

In February, the conference called Danilo Sanchez and Brooke Martin as the initial members of this team, implementing the recommendations of a two-year youth ministry study.  This study emphasized the need for providing more depth of resources to urban congregations (which make up a third of the conference) as well as to continue the good work of resourcing suburban and rural congregations, expanding these possibilities through the creation of a diverse team.

Danilo Sanchez, of Allentown, PA, will serve as a youth formation pastor for both congregations in the greater Lehigh Valley (PA) region (including New Jersey and New York) and congregations that have significant youth from Spanish-speaking households.

“Danilo is uniquely positioned in his experiences, gifts, and language abilities to serve our conference at this time,” reflects Steve Kriss, Franconia’s executive minister.  “Danilo has ministered in urban settings but also grew up in more suburban, rural parts of the conference, and his experience working with young adults as the director of Mennonite Central Committee’s Summer Service Program helped him to build connections with the Anabaptist community across the country.”

Sanchez also serves on the pastoral teams of Ripple and Whitehall congregations and as the Community Life Director for RCI Village.  He has a degree in youth ministry from Eastern University and a Master of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary.  In addition to resourcing youth pastors, Sanchez will serve as a liaison for youth ministry within Mennonite Church USA.

 “Danilo cares deeply for the church, young leaders, and youth, which is a perfect fit for this new Conference role,” says Pastor Angela Moyer of Ripple congregation, assistant moderator of the conference board.  “On our Ripple pastoral team, he is a thoughtful, passionate, and dedicated presence, which I have appreciated.”

Brooke Martin, of Telford, PA, will serve as Community Formation Coordinator, which includes providing administrative support for youth activities like the Jr High Blast, Mission Impossible, and other upcoming initiatives.  In addition to her work with the youth formation team, Martin will assist with planning and implementing conference events like equipping seminars, delegate trainings, and networking gatherings, with special attention given to Franconia’s annual Conference Assembly.

Martin is a member of Salford congregation and has extensive experience in administration and event planning as well as a degree in youth ministry from Hesston College.  Mary Nitzsche, Franconia’s associate executive minister, anticipates that Martin’s experience and love for planning, organizing, and coordinating events will be a good match for the conference during this time of expansion and community-building.  “Brooke is a person with contagious energy, confidence, and motivation to begin her new role as Community Formation Coordinator,” Nitzsche observes.

Before joining the conference staff, Martin served as the interim youth ministry leader at Franconia congregation, where Pastor Josh Meyer benefited greatly from her servant heart.  “Her commitment to the Church, her passion for Jesus, her effectiveness in ministry, her graciousness in difficult situations, her ability to meaningfully connect with both students and adults, and her humility of spirit coupled with quiet confidence were all incredible blessings to us,” Meyer reflects.  “I’m confident that our conference will benefit from the gifts Brooke brings and look forward to seeing how God continues using her calling for Kingdom good.”

Visioning for Conference-wide Youth Ministry

In a time of significant changes with youth ministry staffing and high school age youth demographics, last month Franconia Conference began a Youth Ministry Review/Visioning taskforce. The Taskforce will be working on a six month process reflecting on our Conference’s youth ministry initiatives. The members were by the Conference Board to review past and present youth ministry staffing and work at setting a vision for Conference youth ministry in the near future.

Taskforce members include Mary Keller (Zion/Eastern District representative), Jim King (Plains/Conference Board representative), Joe Hackman (Salford, facilitator), Brooke Martin (Franconia), Danilo Sanchez (Ripple/Whitehall) and Adrian Suryajaya (Philadelphia Praise Center).  The diverse team seeks to understand current and emerging needs for congregations and youth across our conference community.

“I am glad to do this work because the youth are the future of our Church (as in the whole Christian body, not just denomination),” said Adrian. “We need to cultivate and guide them to fulfill the purpose of the Church in the future.”

In a time of changing demographics and priorities, the review and visioning process gives space to appreciate what past and current work while imagining upcoming possibilities and challenges.