Tag Archives: communication

Franconia Conference announces upcoming staff change

by Stephen Kriss, director of communication

Gay Brunt Miller
Gay Brunt Miller

With a stable team of LEADership Ministers in place, Franconia Conference will be adjusting administrative and communication staffing into the first half of 2015.   After 15 years of ministry leadership and administration, Gay Brunt Miller (Spring Mount congregation) announced her intent to leave the conference sometime in early 2015.  Brunt Miller has served alongside three different executive leaders and submitted her intent to resign early to allow the Conference to transition smoothly while she explores new vocational possibilities.

Emily Ralph, associate director of communication, relocated to Lancaster in 2013 where she began a pastoral position at Sunnyside Mennonite Church.  After serving Franconia for four years, she intends to resign her Conference role by March 1, 2015.   Emily will continue communication work with Mennonite World Conference through the global assembly in Harrisburg this summer.

Emily Ralph
Emily Ralph

“Gay and Emily have poured their hearts and souls into the ministry of Franconia Conference and we’ve been blessed by them and through them; I have been especially blessed in my role as executive minister.  Communication and administration have undergirded the strength of conference ministry over these last few years,” said Ertell M. Whigham, Franconia Conference Executive Minister.

The hiring process for administration and communication roles will begin immediately with an intention to have some overlap within both roles.   Staff changes in communication and administration open the possibility for the role to be shaped to serve the conference’s current needs.

The news is biased

Steve Krissby Steve Kriss, director of communication
(originally posted on Mennonite World Review, reposted by permission)

I’ll start with a confession: There is no such thing as objective reporting. I know this after working around journalism for 20 years. If you and I were to see the same thing occur, we would likely see it differently. Experiences etched into our brains cause us to interpret the same scene through different lenses.

Often the more information we have, the more complicated the scenes become. Then there are the limitations: deadlines, language barriers, short attention spans of readers (and editors!), lack of space on a page. We are trapped by the inadequacy of communicating human experience through words. Yet, we try.

And then there are the biases, even in the newspaper you are reading. MWR is rooted in the General Conference Mennonite tradition, valuing autonomy and unity. We are biased toward the positive possibilities of Mennonite Church USA and other Anabaptist denominations. We are biased toward relationships within Mennonite World Conference’s big tent. We believe there is something good in us being together.

If you watch Fox News or MSNBC, there are obvious partisan preferences. The funding sources of RT (Russian) news or Al-Jazeera (Qatari) shape reporting and information gathering in quite different ways from U.S.- or U.K.-based sources. This summer’s unrest in Ferguson, Mo., played differently in China (where they are also afraid of insurrection within the nation’s diverse ethnic groups) and Russia (where the incident was viewed as an example of internal American imperialism).

In Ferguson, Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine, we’ve seen how conflict is interpreted in different ways. I’ve written very little on any of these topics, fearing I might be wrong. It’s my privilege to be silent when I don’t have a deadline or the conflict isn’t at my doorstep. I’ve found myself silent, knowing all too well that my biases can get in the way of good judgment.

In the Midwest, the Middle East or Ukraine, it’s easy for me to identify oppressed and oppressor. My biases form quickly. I don’t trust Israeli offenses in Palestine. I am leery of police who shoot the unarmed. As a great-grandson of Eastern European immigrants, I am suspicious of Russian assertions of power and cheer on Ukraine’s move to align with the European Union and NATO. But the more I learn, the more I wonder about my easy-to-come-to conclusions. It’s like the more I know, the less I know.

More and more these days I trust these complex stories to on-the-ground interpreters. I hear the words of friends in Israel/Palestine. I hear their fears from inside Israel’s “Iron Dome” and the West Bank. I listen to the stories of those who witnessed the scenes that unfolded in Ferguson. I struggle to interpret what is happening in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq because of limited access to firsthand sources in English. Online I found an interpreted account of a Yazidi woman who is pleading for intervention to save her people in Iraq. It brought me to tears.

I am glad I am not entrusted to make foreign policy, particularly when I recognize how hard it is even to interpret what is happening in Missouri. Yet it is important to me, as a Christian leader/ writer/follower, to keep listening to those who bear witness to the justice, injustice, violence and hope of their own communities. And to believe that the Spirit is upon us as Jesus-followers to bear good news of freedom and possibility. And to know that I cannot persist in silence.

Stephen Kriss is a teacher, writer, pastor, student and follower of Jesus living in Philadelphia.

Welcome our summer ministry intern!

from Steve Kriss, Director of CommunicationBen Sutter

The communication team at Franconia Conference is excited to welcome our summer ministry intern–Ben Sutter.  Ben is a student at Goshen College in communication and history.  He’s finishing up his first week of work with us and is living with Aldo Siahaan in South Philadelphia.  He’ll be in the office on Mondays and doing the rest of his work from the field–which will include time in Harleysville, Mexico City, Baltmore, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  He’ll be writing some articles, spending some time in meetings, engaging with congregations and helping to update our website.   I’m glad to have Ben working here–and hoping that we can continue to cultivate his gifts in communication and his interest in serving in the way of Christ.

He’s grown up as part of the Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, Indiana, but has been attending Waterford Mennonite Church while studying at Goshen.  He recently received a scholarship with the Fund for Theological Education and participated in a conference in New Orleans with them earlier this summer.   Please welcome Ben in his work, in his questions, in his exploring God’s call with and among us.

Ben can be reached by phone on Mondays at the Conference Center (267-932-6050, ext. 123) or by e-mail, benjamins5@goshen.edu.