Tag Archives: Indian Creek Foundation

Franconia Conference and Its Properties

by Conrad Martin, Director of Finance

Did you know that Franconia Mennonite Conference (FMC) owns a shopping center in Souderton and a farm in Harleysville?  Okay technically, FMC doesn’t own any property.  Property ownership belongs to Franconia Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (FMBMC).  Yes, that organization founded in 1918 to buy church properties for planting churches and to send missionaries to foreign countries still exists.  Its mission has evolved over the years, and while it no longer sends missionaries, it still owns properties.  The missionary-sending component of FMBMC was incorporated into the mission of the conference and its member congregations in the 1990s and the FMBMC board was brought under the authority of the conference board, to function as a captive corporation of FMC.  The purpose of FMBMC these days is to manage real estate on behalf of the conference and support the conference financially, and therefore its “doing business as” name is “FMC Properties”.

FMBMC continues to hold the ownership of a couple of church properties, Whitehall Mennonite Church being one of those churches.  The other church property — the former Peace Mennonite Church in East Greenville, PA — is being used by Project Haven, a ministry from the partnership of a few FMC and Eastern District Conference churches.

FMBMC purchased the Indian Creek Road farm in 1954 and established the Mission of Mercy, a ministry of rehabilitation for alcoholic men.  This continued until 1967 when a mission to those with  intellectual and developmental disabilities was begun on the farm.  This ministry evolved into Indian Creek Haven, which then became Indian Creek Foundation (ICF).  ICF eventually outgrew the farm, and in 2003 it became the birthing grounds for MCC Material Resource Center of Harleysville (MRC).  When MRC outgrew the farm in 2010, the conference decided to make the property a permanent farm.  The development rights for the farm were sold in 2012 and a local Community-Supported Agriculture organization, called Living Hope Farm, was established and began to rent the farm and has continued to grow since then.  As a connection with the past, an ICF group home continues to operate on the farm.  In keeping with its farming heritage, the Indian Creek Road farm has provided a seed bed for the startup of several organizations over the many years of FMBMC ownership.

FMBMC purchased the Souderton Center from a partnership of four Mennonite businessmen.  This group had initially purchased the shopping center property in 1986 to both provide a home for the conference offices, and to support the conference financially.  They renovated the entire center and in 2001 sold the property to FMBMC.  While the conference offices have relocated elsewhere since 2001, the Souderton Center continues to provide financial support to the conference.  When you shop at any one of the businesses of the shopping center — Care & Share Shoppes, Weaver Reckner & Reinhart Dentistry, TriValley Primary Care, ParmaJohn’s, or Ten Thousand Villages — you support the ministries of the Franconia Mennonite Conference.

In 1996, the conference board developed a statement providing rationale for continuing to own property, concluding that “some property is necessary and even advantageous for carrying out the work of the church”.  The statement also ensures that “all decisions about property ownership and the management thereof should reflect the priorities of the church” and that property ownership and use of funds should “reflect the best interests of the congregations of the conference and their mission“.  Keeping property ownership with FMBMC frees the conference board and staff to focus their energies on the mission of the church, leaving property management decisions to the properties board, consisting of persons with experience in property management.

We are Messengers of Joy

by Jennifer Malloy, Indian Creek Foundation, jmalloy@indcreek.org

Faith and Light Pilgrimage
Indian Creek Foundation’s chaplain Pamela Landis with Sharon Weisser and Carol Menser, Spring Mount.

This past summer Indian Creek Foundation’s interfaith chaplain Pamela Landis, as well as Sharon Weisser and Carol Menser, both of the Spring Mount congregation, took part in a Faith and Hope Pilgrimage. Faith and Light Communities encompasses individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability and their family and friends who meet together on a regular basis in a Christian spirit to share friendship, pray together, and celebrate life.

During this four-day event, which was held in St. Louis, Missouri at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, the group took part in trolley tours of the Shrine and the St. Louis area, participated in ecumenical worship, sang uplifting hymns, and experienced the faith, fellowship, and spirituality of other Faith and Light members from all over the United States.

The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was “We are Messengers of Joy.” As messengers of joy, attendees were asked to be exuberant about their spirituality.

Faith and Light pilgrimages take place every ten years to commemorate the first pilgrimage the organization undertook in 1971. At that time some held a belief that those with disabilities had no place on a religious pilgrimage because they were thought to be incapable of experiencing this kind of activity and there was fear that their presence would disturb others.

Founded in Lourdes, France by two parents who began a journey to find a congregation where they would be accepted with their two sons with disabilities, the Faith and Light organization has grown to include more than 1,500 communities in 80 countries over six continents. The core value of Faith and Light remains the belief that every person, no matter what their ability, is called to be a source of grace and peace for their community.

Indian Creek Foundation’s Faith and Light program has been in existence since 1989. This program seeks to enrich the lives and the often underserved aspect of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities—their spirituality. Ecumenical services are presented monthly for individuals interested in exploring this avenue. These inter-faith gatherings provide a chance for clients to gather together, sing hymns, listen to stories, participate in activities, and share in each other’s fellowship. The monthly service is held on the first Friday of every month at the Indian Valley Mennonite Church from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Founded in 1975, Indian Creek Foundation’s mission is to provide opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to live in and enrich the community throughout their lives. Through four divisions offering residential, vocational, family services, and social work programs, the Foundation continues to grow and meet the changing needs of the surrounding community.

For more information: indcreek.org or (267)203-1500.