Tag Archives: Future

Conference Assembly to build unity

Emily Ralph, Swamp, eralph@franconiaconference.org

Franconia and Eastern District Conferences will hold a joint conference assembly this November.

“We felt that this is an exciting opportunity resulting from a long standing conversation about what it means to work together for God’s purpose and ministry in our region from Georgia to Vermont,” said Ertell Whigham, Franconia Conference’s executive minister.

The planning for this annual gathering, which will be held November 11-12 at Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa., has already begun. Members from both conferences are working together on details of the joint worship service on Friday evening, including guest speaker Dennis Edwards (pastor of Peace Fellowship Church in Washington DC), an intercultural worship team, and exploration of this year’s theme, Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ (from Ephesians 4:16). Although each conference will hold its own delegate sessions, Eastern District and Franconia Conferences will reunite for part of the day on Saturday to recognize new leaders and discuss future collaboration.

Franconia Conference is also planning a series of Conference Assembly Scattered gatherings, which will meet on the evenings of October 4, 9, 11, & 19 at locations throughout eastern Pennsylvania (TBA) or online streaming. The purpose of these gatherings is to prepare delegates, according to Gay Brunt Miller, director of administration. “It is an important assignment that helps to influence and shape the work of Franconia Conference and should be accepted with a real sense of God’s call,” she said.

This is not the first partnership between Franconia and Eastern District Conferences: they already share office space and staff and are in the process of hiring a shared conference youth minister. The conferences also share resources and training events, so the joint conference assembly is a logical next step. “It feels natural and timely,” said Whigham. “We are excited about the possibilities of what it will mean for our future together.”

Opening new doors in the Poconos

Grace Nolt, Public Communications Coordinator, Spruce Lake Retreat,  grace@sprucelake.org

For 48 years, Spruce Lodge has been the changeless hub of Spruce Lake Retreat, but a new door to the future has opened!

Spruce Lake has embarked on a visionary yet demanding $8 million “New Horizons” capital campaign to build a new hospitality center. Ribbon-cutting is anticipated for May 19, 2013, in time to celebrateSpruceLake’s 50th anniversary.  Confident of God’s hand in the decision to move forward in spite of the current economy, board and staff see this step as an opportunity God has put into place.

Possibly the oldest building on the grounds, Spruce Lodge is well-loved, like a favorite pair of worn shoes in which we feel comfortable. It’s also a kind of holy place; many who have entered through its doors have been changed forever.

Yet the familiarity—and the patience—is wearing thin. Staff frequently serve meals for 250 people or more in space intended for 140 at best. Guests worm their way through the often crowded lobby to tiny public restrooms. Those who lodge upstairs can hear what their neighbors do or say in the next room. And there are more old boards, leaks and fire hazards than staff would want anyone to know! Spruce Lodge has even been referred to as the Achilles’ heel of Spruce Lake.

Spruce Lake has been inching toward the new dining room for 20 years. Since 1991, five different plans have been proposed. The board believes that now is the time to act on building a new Hospitality Center that will meet Spruce Lake’s program needs while maintaining a responsible budget and meshing fluently with the natural environment.

Chad Davidheiser of Bethlehem, Pa., has attended Joni and Friends Family Camp for nearly 20 years. (Left to right: Chad Davidheiser, Mark Swartley, and Jackie Swartley.) Photo by Grace Nolt

Some guests can hardly wait! Joni and Friends International Disability Center (JAF) is one such group.

“For more than 20 years,” said JAF founder Joni Eareckson Tada, “Joni and Friends has been a partner with Spruce Lake in serving families with disability. The new Hospitality Center means that Joni and Friends will be able to serve 45 more special needs families every summer. That is huge!”

JAF holds three weeklong Family Camps at Spruce Lake each year. All are full, with approximately 40 families each week. As many as 38 families are on waiting lists.

Increased accessibility will enhance Spruce Lake’s long-held commitment to provide facilities suitable for persons with disabilities.  Other features will also allow Spruce Lake to continue honoring guests with an enjoyable, inspiring and quality experience through which God can ease his way into their hearts.

In July, 2011, RIPPLE Allentown, a Franconia Mennonite Conference Partner-in-Mission, held its first church leadership retreat at Spruce Lake. That experience was just what the group needed for listening to the voice of God more clearly.  “Leaving the city to meet elsewhere was new for us,” Pastor Tom Albright said. “Some of our group had never been away from an urban setting.”

“God was present (and) we grew closer to Jesus,” Albright continued, “as we realized that we all are broken, healing, hurting, loved and forgiven people. That breakthrough has brought us to a place where we are listening to God and to each other, while being disciples of Jesus.  Our return to the city has included thanks and praise to God, and the desire to return to Spruce Lake to hear, see, taste, touch and smell that God is so good!”

As Spruce Lake moves through the door that God has opened, the $8 million needed for the New Horizons campaign is indeed a big goal. And it will require the cooperation of many hands and hearts so that future generations can also “hear, see, taste, touch and smell” that God is good!

Refreshing our vision for youth ministry

by Marlene Frankenfield, Salford, mfrankenfield@franconiaconference.org

As youth leaders, pastors, and youth gathered with Eastern District and Franconia Conference leaders in the fellowship hall at Towamencin Mennonite Church on June 6, there was a buzz of energy in the air. Conference leadership invited these groups to be a part of creating a vision for youth ministry and to help bring that vision closer to the core of the vision and mission of both conferences.Youth Visioning

I was impressed at the passion and engagement of the mix of people at each table. It was great to hear the table groups invite the youth give the verbal report back to the whole gathering. There was a sense of hope as the young voices spoke.

Zion Mennonite’s Youth Pastor, Scott Benner, and I were asked to give the history of youth ministry in Franconia and Eastern District conferences to reveal some past cycles in conference leadership and programming. In the past there was more focus on intentional planned gatherings that helped to build relationships between youth groups. History shows that conference youth ministry moved away from programming to more resourcing gatherings for youth leaders and youth. Over the years there were many effective initiatives that worked toward calling and developing young leaders through intentional relationships and mentoring. Another cycle was both conferences’ connection to Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in development, teaching, and vision while inviting a close connection to congregations. This relationship benefited the church, home, and school as Anabaptist faith was woven through education.

As I listened to each table report, I heard a strong call for more gatherings where discussion and discernment can happen. There was a desire for a deeper spirituality and to create settings where young people can share about what God is doing in their lives and discuss theological issues. I have noticed over my years in conference leadership that we have moved from a “theology of answers” to more of a teaching style and discipleship that welcomes questions and discovery. This changed how we worked at faith formation in congregations and conferences.

Youth VisioningI heard the world “belonging” used many times during the evening. Young people seem to want to belong to the church. I sense church leaders are searching for ways to create a safe place for young people to feel like they belong as they surround them with adults that walk with and mentor them, while pointing the way to a relationship with Christ. This approach uses spiritual practices and story to weave faith through culture instead of teaching young people that they need to be separate from the world—a philosophy that sometimes created fear of the culture and the world. This is a change from the programming, teaching, and preaching from the past that was more of an evangelistic focus, that is, more about “saving” young people and then teaching and discipling them into belonging to the church.

As one of the youth closed the meeting with a final blessing, I was overwhelmed by the gift of this meeting as I transition out of my position as conference youth minister in July. I am leaving with deep hope as conference leaders work toward a shared vision for youth ministry. I have been truly blessed working with many youth pastors and volunteer leaders that have a passion for walking with young people, loving them unconditionally, and extending God’s grace within a faith community.

 

Youth and leaders dream for the future

Youth Event
Photo by Tim Moyer

by Angela Moyer
Youth Pastor, Rockhill Mennonite Church

Dreaming about direction for Youth Ministry in the Franconia Mennonite and Eastern District Conferences was the topic of conversation for the gathering of pastors, youth leaders, Conference Related Ministry directors, and youth on Monday June 6th, 2011. Visioning and conversations were held around round tables with multiple opportunities to share table conversations with the entire group.

Jenifer Erickson Morales began the evening by facilitating conversation about the roles of children and youth in Scripture. It was evident that children and youth held significant roles in the story of God’s people. Marlene Frankenfield and Scott Benner shared historical perspectives of youth ministry in Franconia and Eastern District Conferences which revealed certain trends and patterns reflecting the values of fellowship, faith, and service. Intentional mentorship and discipleship of youth has been a significant piece in the stories of both Conferences.

Common themes of the evening were desires for relationship building and resource sharing among Conference churches, youth calling for deeper spiritual conversations, and desire to include the contributions of youth into the regular ministries of the church. Geography, culture, finances, time, and priorities were all acknowledged as significant barriers to achieving these goals. Finding the balance between fellowship/programming, discipleship/faith formation, and levels of support to congregations will be a task for the Conferences as direction for youth ministry is defined.

 

Download the podcast

View the photo album

Is your teen almost Christian? — Part 2

Nate Stucky & Marlene Frankenfield

mfrankenfield@franconiaconference.org

natestucky@hotmail.com

Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean has grabbed the attention of not just persons that minister with youth but church leaders across all denominations. Nate Stucky, Ph.D. Almost Christianstudent at Princeton Seminary, returned for more conversations with church leaders, youth leaders and parents at Zion Mennonite Church (Souderton, Pa.) on April 14. Nate challenged the group with three practical ways to intentionally communicate a passionate faith with young people:

1. Tell Your Own Story: Find a way to tell your own story of faith to a young person, and then let the young person share their story. As you tell these stories, try to give God “agency.” In other words, make sure God is an actor in the story. What does God do in these stories? If we don’t answer that question, I think we fail to follow the example of scripture. Three different stories you might tell:

  1. Fill in the blank: If it weren’t for ________, there’s no way I’d be following Jesus today. Name one person for whom this would be true and tell the story of how that person impacted your life and shared Jesus with you.
  2. Dark Night of the Soul: Share the story of a time when God seemed most distant. How did you navigate that time? What did God teach you in the midst of it? How did that time shape your faith?
  3. Thin Spaces: Where and when do you consistently feel closest to God? Through music, art, nature, acts of service? Pick one place and tell a young person how you discovered that space, why you think God consistently finds you there and what that thin space might reveal about who God is.

2. Building the Constellation: While there are many benefits to the professionalization of youth ministry over the past few decades, one unanticipated and unfortunate byproduct is parents treating youth workers like “the hired help” to do youth ministry. In reality, youth ministry is the calling and work of the entire congregation. Each young person needs as many people as possible surrounding him or her to encourage and nurture the seeds of faith. Mark DeVries talks about having a constellation of support around each young person. Parents might benefit from making a list of the people who make up the constellation of support around their teen (teachers, youth sponsors, pastors, family friends, peers, coaches, etc.) and then intentionally building relationships within the constellation to provide as much support and encouragement as possible for the teen. Let the teen know that all these people care about their faith!

3. Participation in the life of the church: What might we learn from interrogating the bulletin each week? Do adults know why we sing? Why we pray, read scripture, receive an offering, take communion, baptize, and preach? Each element is presumably there for a reason, and adults and teens each stand to learn something from asking hard questions about why they exist in the first place. By having these conversations, we can’t help but increase the whole community’s vocabulary of faith. Additionally, Kenda reminds us that in order for any of these practices to be “Christian,” we have to explicitly connect the practices to Jesus. We practice “X” because we follow Christ.

When Nate asked Kenda Creasy Dean what one thing she would want to tell parents, she gave a simple and profound challenge: “Do one radical thing for your faith; do it in full view of your youth; and tell them you do it because you follow Jesus, not just because you are a wholesome or nice person.”

In an age when we feel like we are losing ground in passing on faith, perhaps we need to avoid being fearful and recognize that that the Holy Spirit is already acting in the lives of our young people and that we can come alongside and more actively share our stories of faith.

Same mission, same values, new urgency

Marta Castillo, Conference Board, Marta Castillo
Nueva Vida Norristown New Life
castillonnl@gmail.com

Intercultural, missional, and formational are words that beg to be defined more clearly and deeply in our hearts and minds. When many of us read, “For at least the next two years, the conference board has prioritized for Ertell Whigham and conference staff to work at being intercultural, missional and formational”, we can affirm those priorities as God-honoring and life-giving. Yet some of us may take a wait and see attitude on how being intercultural, missional, and formational will be “brought to the center in such a way everyone embraces them as the driving force behind why we do ministry and how we do ministry.”

This issue of Intersections is full of examples of how the priorities of being intercultural, missional, and formational are already being put into practice within Franconia Conference. God is actively defining these words for us as reflected in these stories of how God’s people are responding to the movement of the Spirit. As often is the case, we are trying to catch up and get on board with what God is already doing among us.

God’s formational work in the life of Ertell Whigham has brought him to this place of leadership among us and on the journey. God developed in him a deep appreciation for community, peace, honest communication, conflict management skills, and a deeply held vision for how the church can be a witness in the world. The prayer trainings referenced in the story of “Learning to Listen” highlight the central role of listening prayer in the formation of God’s people. “Prayer is finding out what God wants to do and asking God to do it.” We find evidence of God’s molding and directing in the story of the calling of Klaudia Smucker in her stated desire “to walk forward in what God has called her to” and her prayer to keep her heart wide open. God’s love for process and formation is reflected in the testimony of Samantha Lioi that “in God’s maddening slowness there is expansive room for healing. There is so much space to become the people we are.” Bob Thompson was moved by God from “no way” to “I am convinced that serving God wherever He calls us, is one of the greatest blessings a Christ-follower can experience.”

From the solid base of God’s formational work comes our missional response. The Whigham article states, “Whigham plans to encourage everyone from the pew to the pulpit and beyond to become more clearly passionate about the conference’s vision: equipping leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission. Overall, he believes his role is “to continue to bring clarity for what that means and for every person to be able to think and pray about how they can represent that [vision] in their particular context, as it relates to the whole.” God’s mission is to reconcile the world to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Mission is happening in the Lehigh Valley through Ripple, an eclectic Anabaptist urban worshiping community “moving toward Jesus as our center.” As the conference board visits and listens to the testimonies of the churches, we hear story after story of how congregations continue to embrace God’s mission.

Our missional response is naturally taking us down the path to being increasingly intercultural. The Partner in Mission relationship with Mana de Vida Eterna is described “as another example of how the Lord is working through relationships to connect congregations and conferences across what may have formerly been seen as boundaries that were not to be crossed.” In Allentown, a peace pole becomes a symbol of unity and “a common desire for respectful relationships.” Ertell Whigham is quoted as saying of the beginnings of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life, an intercultural, multilingual church, “As I looked at [these] three churches . . . all professing to serve the same Christ, called to be one people, it just felt like we needed to do something different in order to be something different for God,” Whigham said.

The priorities set by the conference board for the next two years, being intercultural, missional, and formational, are not new. Neither is the conference’s vision: equipping leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission. Yet there does seem to be a new urgency and a new commitment, to “do something different in order to be something different for God”. Embrace God’s mission!

A place to belong, a place to lead: Whigham named Executive Minister

by Sheldon C. Good, Salford
shelds3@gmail.com

As a child, Ertell M. Whigham, Jr. loved his tight-knit community in North Philadelphia. But by senior year at Simon Gratz High School, he was bored and began searching for a new Ertell Whighamplace to belong. In March 1968, three months before high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He entered boot camp in that summer and by the end of the year was deployed to Vietnam, assigned to a combat battalion landing team.

“We were stationed aboard Naval air craft carriers and would patrol the coast providing reinforcements and security for various search and destroy operations. We would be air lifted by helicopter to an area for weeks or months at a time where reinforcements were needed,” he said. “It was difficult and stressful because there were frequent combat situations and constant exposure to opposing forces.”

After serving a year in Vietnam he and his wife Pat were married and stationed in North Carolina where he completed the last two years of a four year enlistment. Following discharge in 1972, Whigham returned to Philadelphia where he drove a taxi as a way to reconnect with people and the cultural revolution of the late 60s and early 70s. After about a year of finding it difficult to provide for his family, he took a position as a military recruiter. “Although the Marine Corps was a very racist, culturally biased and controlling system, at least I knew my way around it,” he said.

After re-enlistment, Whigham was relocated to nearby Reading but never completely found what he was looking for in the Marines. Years later after accepting Christ during a fellowship at a mega church in Philadelphia, he rediscovered a different type of “community.” While living in Reading, a neighbor shared the Gospel with Whigham’s wife, Pat, and invited the family to attend Buttonwood Mennonite Church. “I remember getting dressed for church in my culture, we got dressed up,” he said. “We walked in, and everyone was dressed down. There was no piano. There was no music. It was very quiet.” People wore plain clothes. Women wore head coverings.

Mennonite women often went door-to-door in his neighborhood in North Philly. One of the women told Whigham that Jesus loved him. He said, “I never forgot the look in her eyes when she told me that Jesus loved me. Even as a kid, I could see that she was really committed.”

Going to Buttonwood Mennonite, 24-year-old Whigham liked the preacher’s sound doctrine. “What struck me was what I now know as an Anabaptist perspective,” he said. More important, Whigham enjoyed the community aspect of congregational life. “Then they began to talk about the peace position, and that didn’t work,” he said. Whigham shared his perspective about what he saw in Vietnam; the congregation gave their thoughts on peace and justice.

Theological differences became even more pronounced when Whigham decided to go to college with help from the G.I. Bill. A church elder told him that was “blood money.” Even so, Whigham stayed committed to the Mennonite community, a place he finally found belonging, unlike in the military. He later became a pacifist while having a devotion one morning.”I remember walking away from that and the Lord speaking to me and saying, ‘how can you tell someone about Jesus and want to take their life?’” Though Whigham once sold young people on the benefits and pride of being a Marine, he’s now a committed mentor who believes in providing alternative opportunities for young people.

Ertell WhighamIn 1975, Lancaster Conference licensed Whigham for ministry by lot. He was 25. “The Mennonite world was one that constantly intrigued and amazed and impressed me enough that they seemed to continually be in community,” he said. But community proved difficult.

Along with some theological disagreements, cultural differences arose, some more significant than others. For example, some people wanted Whigham to shave his mustache because it was representative of the military. But more important, he said, Lancaster Conference “passively” withdrew their support stipend for Buttonwood Mennonite, a mission church.

“So my family, for a short period of time, we were just out there,” Whigham said. “We were just literally out there, without any support from the church.”

For Whigham, it felt like a “control” move. “I vowed to my wife that I would never, ever trust my life to the church,” he said. “And even now, my income is not even fully church dependent. It’s ministry dependent, but not church dependent.” Whigham eventually got a job with Ehrlich Pest Control, and was later promoted to an executive position in Philadelphia. He spent a year traveling between Reading and Philadelphia before his family relocated to be with him in 1981.

That’s when he rediscovered Diamond Street Mennonite Church in Philadelphia whose members 20 years earlier included Emma Rudy and Alma Ruth, the mission workers who had gone door-to-door in Whigham’s neighborhood and told him Jesus loved him. While Whigham worked as a corporate executive, he enjoyed teaching Sunday school and other church service opportunities. At one point, he was informed through Diamond Street that a church in nearby Norristown needed someone to preach on a particular Sunday. So he volunteered as a guest preacher one Sunday.

“After I preached and was walking out of the church, the church ‘secretary’ walks up to me, hands me the key to the building and says, ‘We want you to be our pastor,’” Whigham said. “Now you talk about a search process that’s expedited, that is indeed.”

At the same time the Whighams had put money down on a house in the suburbs, however his wife told him “they want you; we need to be here.” The family moved to King of Prussia, and Whigham took the keys to the church. He and his wife Pat were blessed by God with complementary gifts in both children’s and pastoral ministry.

After about five years of ministering with Bethel Mennonite Church, in 1989 during a combined fellowship meal with the other two Mennonite congregations in town, Whigham envisioned how the three—Bethel, First Mennonite and Fuente de Salvación—could come together as one.

“As I looked at [these] three churches . . . all professing to serve the same Christ, called to be one people, it just felt like we needed to do something different in order to be something different for God,” Whigham said. “I shared my vision with the other two pastors and our congregations committed to a time of prayer and discernment.”

In 1990, they formed Norristown New Life Nueva Vida Church, an intercultural, multilingual congregation, with a three member intercultural (associate) pastoral team. In the late 1990s, Whigham also became a part-time Franconia Conference minister.

Today, Whigham remains within that community serving as associate pastor. On Feb. 3 he started an initial two-year term as executive minister of Franconia Mennonite Conference. He is believed to be the first African American to lead an area conference of Mennonite Church USA. Even with the new appointment, Whigham was committed to remaining an associate pastor with the Norristown congregation.

For at least the next two years, the conference board has prioritized for Whigham and conference staff to work at being intercultural, missional and formational, “and to bring those to the center in such a way everyone embraces them as the driving force behind why we do ministry and how we do ministry,” he said.

Whigham plans to encourage everyone from the pew to the pulpit and beyond to become passionate about the conference’s vision: equipping leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission.

Overall, he believes his role is “to continue to bring clarity for what that means and for every person to be able to think and pray about how they can represent that [vision] in their particular context, as it relates to the whole.”

César García to become General Secretary of Mennonite World Conference

(reposted from Mennonite World Conference )
Wednesday, 04 May 2011
First appointee from the global South

Taipei, Taiwan – For the first time, a leader from the global South will become the General Secretary of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC). On May 4, the MWC Executive Committee formally appointed César García of Bogotá , Colombia, as General Secretary-elect, to succeed Larry Miller on January 1, 2012.
“I am excited about the possibility of serving in the leadership of MWC with the purpose of praying, thinking and acting as part of Christ’s global church,” García said, following his acceptance of the call. “God is glorified when the multicultural interdependency of his church is evidenced in our way of doing theology, practicing ecclesiology and bearing Christian witness in the world.”

The appointment was one of the first actions taken at MWC Executive Committee’s annual meeting, held this year in Taipei, Taiwan, May 4 to 11. “The affirmation of Cesar’s candidacy is a historical moment for us,” said MWC President, Danisa Ndlovu. “It is a recognition of our positive integration as a community of faith as we see the global South offering its richness to the global North.”

Also included in the Executive Committee action was the plan to move the location of the MWC head office from Strasbourg, France, to Bogotá . García will join MWC staff in August for a period of transition with Miller.

García, who was chair of the Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia (Mennonite Brethren Churches of Colombia) from 2002 to 2008, is currently completing masters studies at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California.

He also serves as secretary of the MWC Mission Commission and as a member of MWC’s task force on the creation of a new network of service ministries. In addition, he has been active in inter-Anabaptist and ecumenical endeavours in Colombia.

According to García, 39, the Colombian church and his local congregation, Iglesia HM Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower MB Church) in Bogotá , had sent him to California for studies in order to return and serve in Colombia, where he has been a church planter, pastor and professor of Bible and Theology.

When the MWC leadership nominated him as a candidate in January 2010, García submitted the matter to an intense process of discernment with Colombian church leaders and with close church friends in Fresno. The process ended in unanimous and enthusiastic support.

“The fact that many people were involved in different interviews,” said García, “encouraged us to trust God’s leadership and gave us the courage to accept this calling.” He added that his commitment to the Colombian church continues, but in the context of this broader appointment. The location of the office in Colombia will allow him to maintain regular contact with the church there.

García is married to Sandra Bá ez, who is also completing studies in Fresno. They have two teenage daughters, María and Paula.

– Byron Rempel-Burkholder, MWC editor

Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder

Overwhelmed by Generosity; Young adults to build relationships in Mexico City

A group of younger adults will fly to Mexico City this July to build relationships and learn about connecting with local community. The trip, led by Rockhill Mennonite Church and Franconia Mennonite Conference, will partner with the Conferencia de Iglesias Evangélicas Anabautistas Menonitas de México (CIEAMM) in offering children and youth programs and community outreach.

“This is an exciting possibility for young leaders to contribute and learn in one of the world’s biggest cities, to help build on generations of leadership, service, and partnership between
American and Mexican Mennonites,” said Steve Kriss, Director of Leadership Cultivation for Franconia Conference. “I love the energy of Mexico City and the creativity of young leaders
there.”

Rockhill Mennonite’s youth pastor, Angela Moyer, has taken her youth group on service trips to Mexico City twice and felt like the time had come to expand the relationship between Mexican
and American Mennonites. In the past, American churches have always sent money, she said, “but these churches don’t need our money—they appreciate our time and energy.” Time and energy used not to construct buildings, but to share in the task of ministry.

The growth of technology has meant that these new relationships, separated by thousands of miles, can remain connected in everyday life. “I can text them,” Moyer said. “We’re on Facebook.” As she looked ahead to this summer, Moyer began to imagine how to further nurture these relationships. The idea for this trip as a broader Conference opportunity emerged; a trip that will be mutually beneficial for both American and Mexican Mennonites.

American visitors are blessed by their Mexican brothers’ and sisters’ hospitality, passion, and love. “[The team] will be overwhelmed by generosity,” Moyer said. They will experience
what it means to be involved in local community in tangible ways and catch a glimpse of what Anabaptism looks like in a context that doesn’t include shoe fly pie and funny cake.

At the same time, “We bring them the world,” said Moyer. Because of financial and immigration issues, many Mexicans can’t make the trek to the US. When American Mennonites visit, the CIEAMM’s young people get a chance to connect with the global church beyond Mexico, have an opportunity to learn and practice their English, and discover that the US is more
than Hollywood.

The Americans’ presence is also an encouragement. Moyer noted that Mexican pastors have asked her, “Why are you guys here serving the kids in our community when most of our own
church isn’t here?” Something about the presence of visitors, working alongside local believers, increases the energy in their own church for Bible School.

And for the CIEAMM, Bible School is still a big deal. The thirteen congregations that form the CIEAMM are on the fringes of Mexico City, ministering to broken families. The children who
live in their neighborhoods have nowhere to go when school is out; Bible School provides a safe and loving place and welcoming diversion, just down the street.


“We’ll be creating space for the church to love the community, in whatever way the local pastors feel would be helpful,” Moyer said, adding with a laugh, “That could take on a very different
look.” One time, she remembers, her youth group joined Bible School children on a peace march. Another time, a pastor was invited to a child’s 1st birthday party—so he brought the
entire team along.

No matter what happens, this will not be a typical service trip—it’s not about accomplishing a project, but about supporting and encouraging the work of the Mennonite Churches in Mexico
City. For those who have never been on a trip overseas before, this will be a great way to ease in, said Moyer. And for those who are service trip veterans, this will be a breath of fresh air, a chance to experience the meaning of generosity and locality.

The Mexico City trip, July 20-August 3, still has several slots available. For more information or to sign up, contact Angela Moyer (moyer1218@hotmail.com). The cost is $1000 per person.

The Why, What & How of Social Media: Pastors Breakfast

Pastors’ Breakfast March 17, 2010

Discussion: The Why, What & How of Social Media: Engaging Your Community in the Context that is Revolutionizing the Way the World Connects.
 

Download the podcast

Resource persons, Todd Hiestand and Scott Hackman, co-founders of MyOhai, led a presentation and conversation about how social media has impacted the way people engage in relationships and how to use it well in your ministry, which is so relationally based.  »View Article