Tag Archives: discernment

Mennonite Church USA Executive Board announces action steps: Franconia Conference stays focused on building healthy relationships

 All members of the Executive Board, with their prayer lamp centerpiece for the weekend, as well as Stella, the official Mennonite Church USA convention dove.
All members of the Executive Board, with their prayer lamp centerpiece for the weekend, as well as Stella, the official Mennonite Church USA convention dove.

by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

The Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA met last week to review the recommendations of a task force appointed to respond to Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s decision to license Theda Good, a woman in a same-sex covenanted relationship.  The Executive Board approved eight action steps that will be taken to the Constituency Leaders Council in October.  At the same time, the board emphasized ongoing support for the foundational documents that formed Mennonite Church USA including the Confession of Faith, the Vision:  Healing and Hope statement, A Mennonite Polity for Ministerial Leadership, the denomination’s membership guidelines and bylaws, the Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love document and the more recently crafted Purposeful Plan.

The Executive Board highlighted that Mountain States did not honor its covenanted relationship with the other conferences that comprise Mennonite Church USA in the decision to license Good.  Since ordination is transferable to other conferences, the board requested that Mountain States Conference refrain from ordaining Good at this time.  The board requested that other conferences resist licensing individuals in same-sex relationships as further licensings compromise the denomination’s polity and conference membership agreements.

“I was pleased to read that the denominational leaders have come to a place that holds us accountable to our stated understanding of membership and ministry,” observed Ertell Whigham, Franconia Conference executive minister.  “I think that this does give us some sense of direction, though it still leaves some ambiguity.  They left room for conversation and some interpretation, but they definitely call for accountability.”

The Executive Board also committed to developing new processes and/or structures for the denomination “that will strive to find healthy ways to promote unity in Christ in the midst of diverse expressions of faith.”  One of the first steps toward this exploratory process will be a “survey of all credentialed ministers in preparation for a time of discernment at [Kansas City] convention in July 2015.”

The decision of the Executive Board does not change much for Franconia Conference, said Whigham.  He further elaborated a desire to stay focused on Conference priorities while the denomination tends to the conversation on sexuality.  “We will continue to prepare ourselves for open, honest, and realistic conversation in line with our objectives for strengthening relationships and building trust.”  Whigham believes that by building healthy relationships and trust, Franconia Conference leaders and communities will be better prepared to navigate difficult conversations regarding human sexuality.

Read the full press release from Mennonite Church USA or the final report from the Executive Board.  Also see these related documents:

Settling into our legacy

by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

Loren Swartzendruber, president of Eastern Mennonite University.  Photo courtesy of EMU.
Loren Swartzendruber, president of Eastern Mennonite University. Photo courtesy of EMU.

All meaningful conversations should happen around a table filled with good food.    This particular Sunday afternoon, as we laughed together and swapped stories, the conversation inevitably drifted to human sexuality.

“Is this what your legacy is going to be?” I asked Loren Swartzendruber, president of Eastern Mennonite University.  The university has been in the midst of a listening process to discern the future of their hiring practices related to faculty and staff in same-sex relationships.  Just that morning, Loren had visited my congregation to share an update.

“I think it will be,” Loren responded, a little resigned.  As a former pastor of Franconia’s Salford congregation (Harleysville, Pa.) and a former president of Hesston College, Loren’s life has led him through many other challenges of leadership as well as his share of victories.  It’s not that he didn’t feel the issue of human sexuality was important, but, as he went on to explain, he had hoped that he would be remembered for more than just this one issue: as someone who was deeply committed to the Christian education and formation of his students, the development of his institution, and the future of his church.

He’s not alone in his feelings; I have heard many leaders sigh about how this topic is dominating conversation or jokingly wish that they had reached retirement before it had come to a head.  Some are concerned that the conversation is distracting us from the mission of the church while others feel that this decision is essential to our missional understanding.

It’s easy to try to outrun this conversation or to avoid it altogether.  As we look to the future, however, many of us are aware that we will be remembered not only by the decision we make but by how we behaved during this time of discernment: Did we lead toward division or unity?  Did we foster rhetoric or dialogue?  Did we model non-anxious compassion, confident humility?  Were others able to look at us and see a glimpse of Jesus?

Franconia Conference has designated a year in which we are building relationships across congregations, finding ways to share in mission and ministry, and learning to understand one another more clearly.  By investing in the difficult work of relationships, we hope that we will be able to engage in this conversation in 2015 with a deeper respect of and love for one another.

Will the controversy around same-sex orientation define our legacy as leaders?  Perhaps.  But maybe it will also be only one piece of a legacy that includes a new model of relating, a new passion for joining God in God’s mission in the world, a new commitment to unity and discernment.

May we be committed as much to the process as the outcome and may we seek our own formation as followers of Jesus gathered together in a community of faith, a sign to the watching world that we are Christ’s disciples (John 17).

Have a question for Loren Swartzendruber?  Then come out for a conversation sponsored by Eastern Mennonite University on May 15 at 7pm at Towamencin Mennonite Church (Kulpsville, Pa.).  This gathering is for all credentialed leaders in Franconia and Eastern District Conferences.

Town hall meetings offer clarification and questions

Stutzman town hallby Stephen Kriss, director of communication

Earlier this month, nearly 250 persons from Franconia and Eastern District conference congregations came to ask questions and to listen to Dr. Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA.  Franconia Conference leadership invited Stutzman to two town hall meetings held at Swamp Mennonite Church (Quakertown, Pa.) on April 10 and Salford Mennonite Church (Harleysville, Pa.) on April 11.   With dozens of questions submitted beforehand to conference staff, Stutzman took time to explain the current landscape of Mennonite Church USA, addressing the consistent themes of those questions but also taking questions from those gathered.

The majority of questions related to the recent turmoil and controversy following the licensing of Theda Good, a woman in a committed same sex relationship, for ministry at First Mennonite Church of Denver by Mountain States Mennonite Conference and Eastern Mennonite University’s listening process to review policies for employment of persons in same sex relationships.

According to Franconia Conference executive minister Ertell Whigham, the meetings provided a unique opportunity for persons from “the pew to the pulpit” to engage the MC USA executive.   Stutzman calmly and transparently responded to an array of questions and explained the current circumstances in detail to offer a glimpse of history, complexity, theology, and possibility.

At the Salford meeting, Stutzman noted the tensions in the church but promised, “I don’t think there’s a single question that you can ask that I will try to avoid.”  He observed that this time of turmoil in the church has resulted in an amazing outpouring of communication, concern, and prayer.  “Our church cares deeply about this,” Stutzman reflected at the Swamp town hall.  “God has our attention in a new way.  We stand at the door of opportunities to be faithful.”

Franco Salvatori, pastor of Rocky Ridge congregation, particularly appreciated that Stutzman clearly explained the executive board’s process in response to Mountain States Conference.  “I desired to attend the town hall meetings because I believe that the issue of same sex relationships is critical for the church in our time,” Salvatori said.  “Unlike any other issue I have seen in recent history, this one seems to have the most potential for division, which always obscures the gospel.”

Stutzman articulated his own commitments to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspectivebut admitted that the challenge from Mountain States Conference on the denomination’s membership guidelines will not likely result in that conference’s expulsion from Mennonite Church USA, a response which would require a 2/3 vote at the Kansas City 2015 convention.   He also highlighted the work of a task force designated by the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board to chart a way forward.  The task force’s recommendations will be discussed at the October meeting of the Constituency Leaders Council, a twice a year gathering with representatives of all Mennonite Church USA conferences and constituent groups intended to provide counsel to the denomination’s executive board and leadership.

Alice Eldredge of Ambler congregation appreciated the respectful way town hall participants interacted with Stutzman and one another.  “Even though it was evident persons felt deeply, they asked questions mostly in a respectful tone and with care,” she said. “I felt hope in the abilities of the leadership of Mennonite Church USA, with Ervin as a representative. My hope is that grace may abound among us and love and respect for one another may prevail in the midst of disagreement.”

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Thursday, April 10, 7pm at Swamp Mennonite Church (Quakertown, Pa.)

 

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Friday, April 11, 9:30am at Salford Mennonite Church (Harleysville, Pa.)

 

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MC USA director booked for Conference town hall meetings

Ervin StutzmanErvin Stutzman, Mennonite Church USA Executive Director, will be the featured guest for two town-hall meetings in April.  These meetings will be a time for members of Franconia Conference congregations to engage with Stutzman around recent developments in Mennonite Church USA and to ask questions about the denomination’s future.

These meetings are open to anyone from Franconia Conference communities and are scheduled for Thursday, April 10, 7-9 pm at Swamp Mennonite Church (2125 Rosedale Road, Quakertown, PA) and Friday, April 11, 9:30-11:30 am at Salford Mennonite Church (480 Groff’s Mill Road, Harleysville, PA).

This will also be an opportunity to hear and converse directly with Stutzman regarding the Executive Board’s response to Eastern Mennonite University’s listening process around the review of hiring policies toward individuals in same-sex relationships, and to Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s licensing of a pastor who is in a covenanted same-sex relationship.

Franconia Conference members who live over 60 miles from either of these locations can join the conversation live by streaming either meeting online and submitting questions and comments through email and social media.  Those who plan to participate from a distance must RSVP by April 9 by emailing eralph@franconiaconference.org.

Comments and questions for clarity should be submitted to congregational pastors and forwarded to Franconia Conferences offices by Friday, April 4.

Delegates discuss collaboration in time of anxiety

Candlesby Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

Franconia Conference delegates gathered February 8 at Franconia Mennonite Church, Telford, Pa., to brainstorm ways of building relationships and collaboration in ministry and mission as part of a two-year direction toward growth and discernment as a community.

After a time of worship and reflection, delegates prayed for their congregations, the conference and denomination, and institutions of the church that are in difficult processes of discernment recognizing the tensions across the denomination related to human sexuality.  Conversation then turned to identifying areas for mutual support and engagement; sharing ways that the conference community can strengthen relationships to open possibilities for healthy conversation and collaboration.

“We again recognize that God has gifted our conference with great diversity,” said Marta Castillo, assistant moderator.  “Our Anabaptist commitments to reconciliation and community invite us to stay united in the midst of diversity….  So we again today commit ourselves to live openly and with integrity as brothers and sisters.”

Conference executive Ertell Whigham shared the intention of LEADership Ministers to reintroduce the principle of leadership clusters, where pastors from diverse congregations regularly meet together for support and networking.  To make this more feasible for pastors, the School for Leadership Formation will scale back the number of other events pastors are encouraged to attend.

Table groupsSome delegates enthusiastically supported the reimplementation of clusters and encouraged conference staff to explore ways to also engage between all congregation members rather than only credentialed leaders.  Some dreamed of ways for members of diverse congregations to partner beyond ministry—to have fun together, worship, and play.  Others questioned how we discern which issues to prioritize in mission together.

“Are we taking seriously the issues that we ought to be taking seriously?” asked Josh Meyer, associate pastor of Franconia congregation.  “We were reminded of Matthew 23 where Jesus says, ‘… you neglect the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, faithfulness.’  How can we as churches, as a conference, be more committed to justice, mercy, faithfulness?”

Meyer’s table group wondered if the conference could focus together on matters of justice instead of division, working, for instance, on an issue that many are passionate about: combatting human trafficking.  Since one goal of the morning’s gathering was to build relationships around a common area of mission and call, Whigham asked delegates whose congregations are interested in working together against human trafficking to raise their hands so that they could network on the spot.  Delegates from a dozen congregations responded.

“Sitting down and talking to one another is a good thing,” reflected conference moderator John Goshow.  “I think we’re enjoying one another’s company this morning [which] demonstrates why we need to do more of that than we’ve done in the past.”  He encouraged delegates to continue to pray for the denomination in days ahead.  “This call for prayer does not need to end today.  Our church needs the continued prayers of all of us.”

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May Your Kingdom Come: A Benediction

Noah Kolbby Noah Kolb, retired pastor of ministerial leadership, Plains congregation

It was the summer of 1968. I preached one of my first sermons at Doylestown congregation. In it I called publicans “Republicans,” not once, but twice. Vernon Bishop nearly rolled off his bench.

It wasn’t my last blunder or mistake over the next 45 years of ministry. I am thankful for the grace and trust extended to me in spite of my imperfections. I learned quickly I was not a perfect leader and those I was called to lead were not perfect either. The tension between being right, standing for truth, and being gracious and merciful shaped much of my journey as a pastor and leader. I was raised by a somewhat conservative and legalistic community. Many years and experiences were required for me to understand grace and mercy, God’s incredible love.

As an adolescent I remember the conflict and division of the Franconia congregation in the 50’s. Several congregations had just left the Conference when I was ordained in 1970. Ordained leaders in an Assembly voted out the conference discipline, the guide for living faithfully. Pastors and congregational leaders were left to discern their way through issues that were once decided at Conference. I believed with careful study of the Scriptures, listening to the Spirit and congregational discernment most any issue could be resolved. Truth could be known and we would agree on what is the will of God.  Conflict and disagreement could be overcome by truth. But experience in the church and community did not support that conclusion. It was distressing and forced me to further search.

I never lost my trust in the Scriptures as the primary source of God’s will and truth. God did not leave us without light and direction. But we often disagree and disown each other, leaving us wounded and judged. Over time I discovered and experienced God’s grace and mercy freeing me from perfectionism and the need to be always right.  I/we are all broken creatures living in a broken creation. Only by the grace and mercy that has come to us in Jesus can we begin to realize truth, restoration, and shalom. Our passion to know truth often works against the restorative and reconciling grace and mercy of Christ through the work of the Spirit.

I have a high view of marriage as blessed by God and intended for a life time. I know from experience that living together is hard work. We are each broken creatures. Confession, forgiveness, grace, and mercy make it possible to live together. Many marriages don’t make it for a life time. I still believe God intends us to live together in peace for a life time. I have walked with many who have not been able to stay together. That does not change the truth of God for marriage. I have also learned how to extend grace and mercy so broken persons can find hope and reconciliation and continue in God’s grace as broken persons, finding healing and hope.

By the grace and mercy of God we are invited into the fellowship of Christ. Because we share His Spirit we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are God’s Beloved. We are not one because we behave alike or all believe alike or all relate to God in the same way. We are one together only because we share the same spirit. That Spirit is a gift through the grace of God whose mercy is unending. It is out of this awareness and experience that we worship God. It is the new life we enjoy that drives us to share this Good News with others. It is this core understanding that enables us to talk honestly and safely with each other about our journey and life together. It is by the mercy of God and the grace of Christ that we can live in peace and bear witness to the transforming gift of the Spirit in and among us.

Our hope and future lies in our capacity to live in grace and mercy with God and each other. I pray with our Lord, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We live in the time in which the kingdom has not fully come.

May Your Kingdom come, Jesus, in grace and mercy to all.

The chaos isn’t going anywhere

candles in chaosby Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

“Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?”

I couldn’t get my friend’s words out of my mind.  I had been in my new home for four months and still my walls were bare.  It was time.

We spent all day Saturday hanging photos up the stairwell, decorating the top of the piano, getting the right tools and wine-colored candles for the candelabra in the living room.  I still had work to do, but I felt a wave of satisfaction every time I passed one of my newly decorated walls.  I was settling in.

By Monday, the satisfaction had dissolved into gloom.  It was my day off, but all day my mind was running wild with everything I still had to do, questions I still had to answer, people who still needed my help.  Emails and texts were flying with work problems that couldn’t wait and I found myself growing increasingly tense as my Sabbath day ticked by and, instead of feeling rested and prepared for the week, I felt exhausted and grumpy.

How is it possible, I wondered, to go back and forth so quickly from joy and satisfaction to frustration and fatigue?  I remembered my spiritual director reminding me that times of transition can be chaotic—it’s normal to feel emotions run wild in times of drastic change.

It was time to take charge of the chaos in my mind.  I lit the candles around my living room, thankful I had taken the time to decorate.  I sat down with my journal and began to pour out my heart to God, the good and the bad, the joy and sorrow, the times of feeling at home and the times of feeling lost.  I closed my eyes to meditate and heard God’s invitation: Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?

The chaos and uncertainty weren’t going anywhere, I realized.  I could continue to fight it, to struggle to find balance and order, or I could settle into the chaos and accept that sometimes life is like that.  God was present, even in the chaos.

As I felt a peace begin to tip-toe into my heart, I slowly came back to awareness of the room around me.  A steady “drip-drip-drip” was coming from near the fireplace.

I startled and jumped to my feet, dashing across the room to discover that one of the candles on my newly hung candelabra had tipped sideways and had, apparently, been dripping for some time.  Wine-colored wax covered the wall, the floor, the armchair.

As I sank to the floor, gentling trying to scrape wax off the wood, I fought tears.  This was exactly the kind of day I had been having.  I couldn’t even meditate on settling into the chaos without—

Suddenly I began to laugh.  The chaos wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Sometimes life is like that.  Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?

Gathering and knowing God is still at work

Ertell Whigham
Conference Assembly 2012. Photo by Andrew Huth.

by Ertell M. Whigham, Jr., executive minister

It’s the time of year when we gather to share what God is doing in our lives, our ministries and our communities at Franconia Conference Assembly 2013.  It’s a time for us to celebrate what God has done, what God is doing, and what God is going to do.

It’s time to build new relationships and renew longstanding friendships.  We’ll travel from Vermont and Georgia, from across town, across suburbs, and drive down country lanes and city streets to meet in Souderton.  We’re preparing to translate from English to Indonesian, Spanish, and Vietnamese to better understand the Spirit’s work across our communities.

It’s time for us to dream together and to share our hopes in a space that allows us to listen and to move toward transformation.  We’ll bring our stories of hope and challenge.  We’ll gather around practicalities and possibilities.

We will choose to gather collaboratively, leaning into the possibilities of our relationships.   We will need to settle our hearts and center in Christ to find a way to hear each other over the voices in our own ears and heads.    If we come to the delegate tables expecting to waste our time, we make it more difficult for the Spirit to move through strongholds.   When we gather in suspicion rather than hope, we are setting ourselves up to leave our time together disappointed and miss the opportunity for transformation.   This is surely not how God would intend us to invest our gathered time.

I believe God invites us to gather every year not just to do business but to continue the Spirit’s process of renewing our minds. God is still working with us in all of our excellence and all of our shortcomings.   I have seen it, heard it, experienced it, and been renewed by the possibilities and ministry testimonies I’ve heard from across our conference communities and ministries as we’ve prepared for assembly by listening with congregations and leaders.   God’s invitation is not just to gather and walk out the door the same as when we came, but for us to gather together and to be transformed.  We tell and retell the stories of God at work so that we can all be changed into the image of Christ.

It’s an exciting and challenging time for us to be Franconia Conference, both this year and in the years to come.  I’ve been encouraged by the process we’ve worked through as your conference leadership in preparation for this gathering.  Still, I welcome you to challenge and invite those of us who are leading the Conference to hear the Spirit beyond the voices in our own ears and heads.   Encourage us to lead in ways that keep us as a whole community centered in Christ, working together in hope.

I come expecting that it’s not just another meeting, but a time to come together with God to work creatively.   Together, we are at our best.  Separately we are a shadow of what is God’s purpose for us as a people.   God is still at work.  I look forward to hearing more about how God’s Spirit continues to stir in our communities of sisters and brothers, doing immeasurably beyond what we can hope, imagine, or even ask.

Together we are doing God’s work: Conference Assembly 2013

John Goshow
Moderator John Goshow welcomes delegates at the 2011 Conference Assembly. Photo by Emily Ralph.

by John Goshow, Moderator, Blooming Glen congregation

The Constituency Leadership Council (CLC) of Mennonite Church USA met in Michigan this week.  The CLC, which includes all 21 conferences of Mennonite Church USA, serves as a group of elders for the denomination.  In my capacity as moderator of Franconia Conference I joined this meeting, along with Ertell Whigham, Executive Minister, and Jenifer Eriksen Morales, LEADership Minister.

Our conference report to the CLC says, “Franconia Mennonite Conference is a network of 42 congregations, 20 Conference Related Ministries (e.g. schools, retirement facilities, historical organizations, camps, prison ministry, thrift stores, etc.), partnerships, and initiatives continuing to emerge out of the 300+ years of Anabaptist witness and faith in the Western Hemisphere … with its beginning in Philadelphia. Franconia Conference’s mission is to ‘equip leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission.’ With congregations and initiatives that span the East Coast of the US (Vermont to Georgia, north to south, and Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, east to west), our geographic center is in southeastern Pennsylvania. We work together in cultivating and developing leaders, in engaging the world through witness and relationships, and in our commitment to Christ as the center of our shared and individual vision.”

As moderator of Franconia Mennonite Conference, I have wondered what it means for us to be together now and how leadership roles have changed in the last 300+ years. The dictionary definition of moderator helps: “1) one who arbitrates; 2) one who presides over an assembly, meeting or discussion.”   I have learned to appreciate the role of moderator in that it provides the opportunity to connect with and listen to the many persons in our conference who care deeply about God’s work in our congregations and Conference Related Ministries.

In a  recent conversation with a friend we agreed that Franconia Conference is not the board or the staff. Rather, it is the 42 congregations of Franconia Conference and their members, and the Conference Related Ministries that provide important services to the people of their communities. These services—education, elder care, prison ministry, camping, mental health, housing, thrift stores, development disability, and others—serve a huge number of people and represent a wonderful example of how God is at work in our communities.

On November 2 at Penn View Christian School, Franconia Conference will gather for Assembly 2013. This year’s Assembly will be held jointly with Eastern District Conference and will provide the opportunity to worship together and to celebrate the many ways our two conferences are working together to advance God’s Kingdom.  During the business sessions the two conferences will meet separately to do work specific to each conference.  I am looking forward to our time of conferring and discerning God’s will together.

This year the delegates of Franconia Conference will spend significant time conferring about a statement that has been developed by the conference board. The statement acknowledges the cultural shifts impacting the practices and beliefs among Franconia Conference congregations. How can we continue to work together out of our commonality rather than our differences? How can we be accountable to one another as we, together, shape the future of our conference? Many conferences in Mennonite Church USA are having similar kinds of discussions. My hope and prayer is that the conferring and discernment at our assembly and the discussions across the Mennonite Church USA will lead to greater understanding of how together we are doing God’s work.

The story of an overactive imagination

Delegates confer around tables at Assembly 2012.  Photo by Andrew Huth.
Delegates confer around tables at Assembly 2012. Photo by Andrew Huth.

by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

“It used to be that we all showed up at Conference Assembly to see what we were going to argue about that year,” my friend told me.  We laughed together, but I knew there was truth in her statement: our conference gatherings have not always been places for burying the hatchet or beating swords into plowshares.

And now, this year, our Conference Board has offered the delegate body a statement about diversity to discuss and discern together.

What were they thinking?

That’s when my overactive imagination jumps into full gear.  I can imagine some people preparing for battle while others run to hide in the back corner of their basement.  I can picture some people researching their arguments and creating bullet-pointed lists, using 10-point font on both sides of the page, while others research how to heat a thermometer to the perfect “fever” temperature so that they can call in sick that day.  And while my imagination goes wild, my anxiety level steadily rises.

But does it have to be that way?  Can we let our imaginations, which often fear the worst, have a Sabbath as we prepare for this year’s Assembly?  Can we join God in dreaming about the here but not-yet-here world in which the lion lays with the lamb and the child plays with the cobra, not because the lion has stopped being a lion or the cobra is no longer a cobra but because the spirit and presence of Jesus in their midst has allowed them to lay side by side without devouring one another?

Is it possible to imagine that we could talk about difficult and possibly divisive issues without, well, devouring one another?  Our Conference Board—members of Conference congregations who have been elected to leadership—suggest that we can.  “As board representatives from diverse Franconia Conference congregations, our hope and prayer is that God’s love for us and our love for each other will call us to grow together in our differences,” they say in their statement, “so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.”

Is it possible for us to imagine that our conferring this November will lead to healing and hope?  It almost seems too good to be true.  But our God has already shown that he is in the business of “too good to be true:” bringing healing and hope in our relationship with Eastern District after 150 years of tension and division; bringing healing and hope to our conference after the decision-making crisis of 2010 left us shaken and distrustful; bringing healing and hope to Nueva Vida Norristown New Life last year when they were about to lose their building—and bringing healing and hope to our Conference through their witness to racial reconciliation; bringing healing and hope to Philadelphia neighborhoods where we have camped out in front of gun shops, marched on behalf of undocumented immigrants, and advocated for the homeless, veterans, our children.  These are just some of our corporate stories of times that God has worked through us to bring healing and hope to broken relationships, systems, and the world.

If God could do all that, then I imagine that God could do this, too.

“And now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is [still] @ work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!   Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)