Tag Archives: CRM

Welcoming New Conference Related Ministries

by Sharon K. Williams, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life

What does Indonesia, India, Honduras, and Allentown have in common? See if you can figure it out!

At our upcoming Conference Assembly (November 1–2), Franconia Conference will welcome four exciting and unique organizations as Conference Related Ministries (CRMs).

Taproot Gap Year is a ministry with post high school young adults who are seeking a different way of living and exploring the world. Students can take a semester or a full year to live in Indonesia with homestay families, learn a new language, go to class, serve in internships, explore new places, and learn tools that help develop one’s faith and identity.

Taproot focuses on guiding students on their journey to understand who they want to be in this world, so what they do is fully professional, hands-on, and rooted in love and their calling. Taproot is a ministry of Philadelphia Praise Center, led by Pastor Aldo Siahaan, Lindy Backues, and staff of young adults who are passionate about supporting the witness of Christian young people in the world.

Peace Proclamation Ministries International (PPMI) is an evangelistic and church planting ministry with those living in India and in the USA. PPMI’s vision is to minister to and serve the unreached with God’s Word, which can lead into a personal encounter and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. PPMI focuses on training pastors, pastors’ wives, and youth through annual conferences, retreats, and gospel meetings. PPMI also supports the ministry of congregations through eye clinics and borewells, and practical ministry tools such as megaphones, bicycles, and sewing machines.

PPMI is led by Paulus and Sumatha Thalathoti (Plains congregation) and a very enthusiastic board of directors.

Healthy Niños Honduras focuses on helping children and their families beat the ravishes of malnutrition and poverty. The child survival programs include a residential nutrition center, deworming, water filtration systems, medical and construction brigades, and preventive health education. Currently, Healthy Niños works in the San Francisco de Yojoa, Cortes, area of Honduras. 

Healthy Niños is one of the outgrowth ministries of the MAMA Project. Herman Sagastume serves as the executive director, with board members representing several Franconia Conference congregations.

Ripple Community Inc (RCI)  is guided by its vision of Allentown as a community where everyone has a role to play, a diverse network of social support, and a connection to the place they call home. Its programs serve over 150 Allentown residents. RCI’s Community Building Center is the only day center in Allentown that is open to the public. RCI Village is the first permanent, community-supported, affordable housing program in Allentown. RCI uses restorative practices to foster a safe, healthy, and supportive community among its participants.

RCI emerged from the work of Ripple Church, which ministers with people who are on the margins of society in Allentown to restore critical relationships, build community, and address material and relational needs. RCI was founded in 2015 to take the work of Ripple Church into the broader community. Sherri Brokopp Binder serves as executive director, along with staff and board members from Ripple Church and the Allentown community.

These four organizations are manifestations of the growth of God’s kingdom in our midst! Each ministry, in its own way, is sharing the gospel of Christ in an appointed area, as well as building relational bridges with our conference community. Join us at our Conference Assembly (worship on Friday, November 1, 7 p.m., and business sessions on Saturday, November 2, 9 a.m., Souderton Mennonite Church) to celebrate this movement of God among us!

Looking to the Future of Conference Related Ministries

by Margaret Zook, Living Branches, with Emily Ralph Servant

The Conference Related Ministries (CRMs) Task Force has been charged with proposing a plan for new and improved ways of relating to organizations associated with both Eastern District and Franconia Conferences after the two conferences form a new Conference next year.

Both conferences recognize the wealth of services provided by CRMs and the growth and potential of these ministries.    Now, moving toward reconciliation between these two historic Conferences, there is a recognition that now is time to talk about the future.   CRM leadership were invited to participate in three listening sessions, in which they talked with the task force committee and recommended revisions to what had been proposed by the Structure and Identity Task Force.

Anne Kaufman-Weaver leads a conversation on cultural humility at this summer’s Conference Related Ministries resourcing event. Photo by Emily Ralph Servant.

These gatherings provided space to discuss questions like: How has the relationship with the Conferences helped in nurturing established organizations and empowering new ministries in the past?  How can the relationship between Conference Related Ministries and the broader Conference be mutually beneficial?  What are ways to enhance communication, support leaders in the CRMs, and improve relationships between CRMs and the Conference structure?    

What may prove to be most important moving forward is communication.   There are some CRMs who have been ministering for 100 years and others that are just birthing; renewed communication between CRMs, the Conference, congregations, and the community is desired and needed for the future.   Support can better happen if lines of communication are open and encouraged.

The final proposal, which will be shared in Assembly Scattered gatherings in October, will include a new CRM committee with board representation.  This will allow CRM leadership new avenues for building connections within the conference structure and among conference congregations as well as creating a new space for CRMs to speak into our conference’s life together.

Representatives of diverse Conference Related Ministries share stories of where they see the Spirit working in the many cultures of their ministry contexts. Photo by Emily Ralph Servant.

Each CRM has a unique ministry, each has a community, each has responded to a need and has founders or a board of directors who believe in its mission, and each has developed a unique set of skills, professions, and responses.  Many CRMs offer resourcing, workshops, and services to the wider church community on topics such as aging, memory loss, music, mental health issues, welcoming those with disabilities, and parenting.  Others provide opportunities to serve our communities at home and internationally, spreading the Good News through medicine, dental care, humanitarian aid, peace and justice advocacy, evangelism, microloans, and disaster recovery.  Still others offer space for children (and adults) to meet God in classrooms, around campfires, and in stories from the past.

For the new Conference, this is a valued resource.   These organizations and leaders represent a rich variety of missions to share with the broader community, which provide unique opportunities for our Conference to engage in new and creative ways.    We as Anabaptists have been charged to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.”   Our CRMs have brought these words to life.  May it continue to be so.