Tag Archives: Conference Related Ministries

Letting Go Ethically

The Care and Share Shoppes in the Souderton Shopping Center are a part of the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop Network.

If Marie Kondo has inspired you to tidy up this spring, consider these tips from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which runs a network of thrift shops across the United States and Canada, including the Care and Share Thrift Shoppes, a Franconia Conference Related Ministry.

  1. Do your research. Ask your local thrift shop what items they accept before donating them. Some thrift shops don’t have the resources to accept furniture or electronics. Others may have an “upcycling corner” where they’ll accept items that are broken or missing pieces (like a puzzle or board game).
  2. Clean your items before donating. Many thrift shops, especially those who depend on volunteers, don’t have the resources to clean or repair items. When your items are clean, they have a greater chance of being sold and avoiding the dumpster.
  3. Don’t donate broken items or old TVs. Unless a thrift shop tells you differently, assume they don’t have the resources to repair broken appliances or electronics—and it could cost them more money to responsibly dispose of them. Instead, look for recycling programs through your city, energy provider or local box stores.
  4. Be thoughtful. Would you give the item you want to donate to a friend or family member? If not, perhaps you need to think about a different way to reuse or recycle it.
  5. Buy second-hand items as much as possible. While thrift shops are grateful for your donations, repeatedly buying and donating new clothes (“fast fashion”) does more harm than good. Thrift shops are often overwhelmed by donations of women’s clothing but are more likely to need men’s and children’s clothing.
  6. Consider volunteering. MCC’s thrift shops are more likely to have the time and skills needed to ethically dispose of and recycle unsellable items if they have a strong volunteer base.
Volunteers receive donations at the Care and Shoppes.

MCC’s network of thrift stops are all working to handle donations responsibly, with concerted efforts to reduce waste and care for the environment. Most of the proceeds from the shops go to MCC’s “Most-Needed Fund,” which supports humanitarian efforts in local communities and around the globe, including relief and development, peacemaking, education, prison ministry and immigration advocacy. To see what’s happening at your local thrift shop, visit https://thrift.mcc.org/.

The Care and Share Shoppes are open for business, as well as for donating, Monday through Saturday — learn more at careandshareshoppes.org.  They also have a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Contact Suzanne Kratz (skratz@careandshareshoppes.org), Volunteer Manager, to learn more about becoming a part of the team!

Hot, Humid and Hope Building

Despite temperatures in the high 90’s and extreme humidity volunteers from the Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey MDS Unit began a Partnership Housing Project (PHP) on June 30 and continued working on the home through one of the hottest weeks of the year.  Read the full article printed on the MDS website HERE

“Expect the Unexpected” was a Summer to Remember

Franconia Conference is blessed to have several amazing Conference Related Ministries (CRMs) that share the same mission and values in working for God’s Kingdom here on earth. One of those is Bethany Birches Camp in Plymouth, Vermont and in 2017 they had quite the memorable summer.  According to Program Director Dan “Chick” Laubach, this past summer was the most attended season in the history of Bethany Birches Camp.” Not only that, but one of their camp counselors, Liesl “Kiki” Graber,  who expected to find God in a Damascus Road type experience, actually found God while camp counseling — an experience, as she said, that went with the summer’s theme of “Expect the Unexpected.”  Read more from Liesl “Kiki” Graber, and Dan “Chick” Laubach on Bethany Birches’ Blog HERE.

A Synergy of Missional Engagement

by Mike Clemmer, LEADership Minister & Pastor at Towamencin Mennonite Church

Today’s Souderton Mennonite Homes (Living Branches) began as Eastern Mennonite Home of the Franconia District in 1917.

This past week, I had the wonderful opportunity of leading a litany of blessing and rededication for the Souderton Mennonite Homes’ Living Branches 100th Anniversary. This service was the final event of a year-long series of activities that gratefully acknowledged the past 100 years, while also casting a vision for serving the community in the years to come. Living Branches is the first and oldest established partnership in ministry with the Franconia Conference. Currently, there are 18 Conference Related Ministries (CRMs) that represent an array of extensions of the reign of God into local communities through nurture, witness, care and discipling. After my experience at this service, I wondered, how are we doing in supporting our CRMs?

At their core, Conference Related Ministries have a unique collaborative relationship with Franconia Conference and represent a fruit of faithfulness in the church’s history and future. CRMs have usually been born out of a deep desire to care for people in need, both in church communities as well as the physical community in which they reside. All the CRMs also have their own stories to tell. This is true of Souderton Mennonite Homes.

In the early 1900s there were no local retirement communities. Leaders in the Mennonite community wanted to find a way to care for the aging population in their congregations. They saw a need and collectively asked, how can we care for our community? Prior to this point, care for the aging happened within families. Although there was a heartfelt sense of love and responsibility for their older members, and care was provided for grandparents and parents by the younger generation –  this often meant that the sick or elderly lived out their days confined to a bed, without easy access to proper care.  At this time in our country, making ends meet was hard enough for many families and some simply could not provide adequate care. Much like in Acts 6, Franconia Conference leaders conferred about this great need and the seeds of the possibility of forming this “ministry” together were planted. On October 7, 1915, the Conference approved the project and appointed 12 trustees – all who understood that they would not be creating an institution, but rather, a “home,” embraced by the church. The Conference then looked to its congregations to help support the project financially, and the goal of $6,000 was surpassed as the trustees collected over $19,000. Shortly thereafter, the “Eastern Mennonite Home of the Franconia District” opened its doors in 1917 and the partnership with Franconia Conference has continued.

Stories like this one could be told by many other Conference Related Ministries. Indeed, the Conference has partnered with a variety of ministries in many areas of need including bringing help to disabled or special needs persons, collaborating in areas of aging and mental health, engaging together in camps and retreat centers, as well as working together in creating educational facilities and church plantings.  By ministering together, our churches are achieving a synergy of missional engagement in our communities. We are truly the church when many members are working together to form one body in Christ – a body that shares resources and invites collaboration with many gifted volunteers – as we together exercise mutual care and love in showing hospitality to all those in need. After all, the church exists to benefit others. How are we doing at supporting our Conference related ministries?