Tag Archives: Intersections

Editorial: Working together to forward the Reign of God

by John Goshow & Ron White, Moderators, Franconia & Eastern District Conferences

The Mennonite Church is a church of peace and reconciliation, yet we hold the record for splits, said historian John Ruth in the video produced for our last Conference Assembly. The 1847 split between Franconia and Eastern District Conferences was a defining moment in the history of Mennonites living in eastern Pennsylvania. The question for our conferences now is whether we should continue to walk different roads.

On Saturday morning of our joint assembly, Warren Tyson, Eastern District Conference Minister, and Ertell Whigham, Franconia Conference Executive Minister explored this question with the delegates of both conferences. They pointed out the numerous ways that we share a similar vision. Both place value on maintaining an Anabaptist/Mennonite peace witness. Both share Christ’s message of peace with God and fellow humans through nurturing vital congregations, which in turn plant new churches. Both embrace an intercultural identity that clearly identifies cultural bias and racism as sin and works to populate healthy, dynamic, intercultural congregations. Both provide accountability, connection, and resources for our pastors and church leaders. Both are working to develop intercultural systems that welcome new language groups and embrace development of culturally diverse congregations of one body; we continue to grow what it means for dominant people groups to let go of
established patterns of how churches function and what are acceptable expressions of music and faith.

The table group conferring and reporting that followed this presentation clearly indicated a desire for Franconia and Eastern District Conferences to continue to work together cooperatively. Conference leadership will now take this strong affirmation to engage in dialogue on developing further ways of working together to forward the Reign of God.

Conference Assembly 2011 found many ways of modeling the values of both conferences. Our conferences worshiped together on Friday evening and heard an inspiring message on Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ by Dennis Edwards, pastor of Peace Fellowship Church in Washington D.C. The assembly planning team consisted of members of both conferences. The worship teams included individuals from both conferences and represented the diverse languages of our conferences including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Creole. The Peace and Justice Committee presented Walking in the Way of Peace 2012, a year-long emphasis on the Gospel of Peace that includes Bible study, bridging intercultural boundaries and teaching on becoming salt and light through peace witness. The Ministerial Committees of our two conferences introduced individuals who were credentialed for ministry in the past year. The Saturday afternoon service integrated worship and business in a seamless and inspiring way.

Luke and Dorothy Beidler received the Everence National Journey award, which was presented by Randy Nyce, an Everence Church Relations Representative and a member of the Franconia Conference Board. This issue of Intersections includes an article that celebrates Luke and Dot’s life-long commitment to serve Jesus in whatever way he leads.

Assembly 2011 provided the first opportunity since 1999 for Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference to come together for business and worship. The blending together of two conferences, different cultures and five languages was both inspiring and energizing. Someone suggested that this experience may be a small glimpse of what Heaven will be like:
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. (Rev. 7:9)

Delegates from both conferences overwhelmingly support continued conversation on partnership between Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference. Photo by Emily Ralph

Enter into life with all your heart

by Emily Ralph, Swamp Mennonite

Luke and Dot Beidler were recognized for their lives of ministry, service, and stewardship at the joint Franconia and Eastern District Conference Assembly on November 11. Everence representative, Randy Nyce, presented Luke and Dot with the organization’s National Journey Award for excellent stewardship of time, money, and service.

“We’d like to return that honor and praise to God,” Luke responded. Dot agreed.  “My heart is really warmed by a God that provides paths for us to go on,” she shared. “And as we say yes to the opportunities we have in life, we find God is all-sufficient. . . . Even if what we have doesn’t seem like enough, God makes it enough.”

From a young age, Luke and Dot experienced the sufficiency of God. As children, they moved with their families to Haycock Township (Pa.) to join a mission effort that led to the planting of Franconia Conference congregations like Rocky Ridge, Salem, and Steel City.

High school sweethearts, Luke and Dot married after graduating from Eastern Mennonite College in 1965. They wanted to participate in mission and enthusiastically accepted an inivitation to serve as missionaries in Vietnam with Eastern Mennonite Missions.

In Vietnam, they saw the reality of war up close. Some friends and fellow missionaries didn’t make it home. Luke and Dot struggled with their need to depend on a government to airlift them out when the fighting intensified and their children’s lives became endangered. How should a pacifist respond?

Back in the states, Luke returned to school, this time at the University of Pittsburgh to study anthropology and international education. In that university environment, he and Dot discovered that their Vietnam experience made them particularly sensitive to the anti-war crowd. “We were as hippy as you could be,” Luke recently told a class of seminary students. Then he laughed. “On the inside.”

Luke and Dot Beidler with their son Ken and daughter Marta when they were serving in Indonesia.

But their heart was still for mission and in 1976 the Beidlers joined Mennonite Central Committee in a partnership with local missionaries in Indonesia. Their years on the island of Borneo shaped their identities as they learned about true simplicity: living without electricity, washing clothes and bathing in the river, and eating whatever food was available.

When their children reached high school age, Luke and Dot returned the family to Pennsylvania where the teens enrolled in Christopher Dock Mennonite High School. Luke served as the Missions Secretary for Franconia Conference while Dot taught at Penn View Christian School.

After ten years of serving in the conference, Luke and Dot were ready to move back to the fringe. Luke was invited to serve as an associate pastor of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life in 1995 and, one year later, he and Dot purchased a home next door to the church building. It had been converted into apartments by a former missionary to provide low-income housing. The Beidlers felt called to continue this mission.

For the last 15 years, they have lived alongside their residents and they have come to love their home as well as their neighbors. Luke tends the gardens around their building and the church property. “We feel safe in community with a household,” Dot believes. “Urban issues have taken on faces as we live in this place. We hope to grow old here. “

Dot has worked for 15 years in a before- and after-school program in Norristown.  Luke continued in his pastoral role at Nueva Vida until 2007 while also serving at Methacton beginning in 2003. Although he formally retired in March, he and Dot continue to worship at Methacton. Ministry, for them, is a life-long calling.

“Get involved in a local congregation, serve in every way you can, take opportunities to cross cultures and learn from others at home and abroad,” they encourage young leaders. “Enter into life and faith with all your hearts.”

God’s “acolyte” in youth ministry

by Scott Franciscus, Covenant Community

From an early age, church has played an important part in my life. Growing up in the Episcopal Church, which followed a consistent liturgy, and very rarely missing the early morning worship each Sunday, I sought to become as involved with the church service as possible. As soon as I was able after being confirmed, I became an acolyte (which means “helper” or “attendant” in Greek), also known as “altar-boy”. The role of the acolyte is to assist in the worship service by carrying a processional cross, lighting candles, helping to set up and clean up the altar for communion, holding the Gospel Book that the priest read from, swinging incense, and holding the collection plates after the offering was taken.

Throughout my years in middle school and high school, I continued to take on more responsibilities as an acolyte including reading the Old or New Testament liturgy or administering the shared communion cup during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Even though my family was proud of my involvement in the church and occasionally someone from the church would comment on my “future” in the church, I did not ever see myself “called” to formal ministry. While I stayed connected to the church during my high school and college years, it was done more out of obligation than desire.

When I started attending Messiah College—in part because it was close to home— ministry was not in my plans. I entered Messiah College as a declared accounting major. Since I enjoyed accounting and did well in my accounting classes in high school, it seemed like the perfect fit for me, especially since it seemed like the perfect profession so I could get the most out of life and accomplish my dreams. Little did I know at the time that it wasn’t about my dreams and what I wanted out of life.

While at Messiah, I became involved with a group called “I’m Worth Waiting For” which offered abstinence-presentations to health classes and church youth groups. During this time, God began instilling a passion in my heart to work with young people. At the time, the church I grew up in didn’t have a ministry to youth outside of Sunday School where I could go to talk with someone about faith or struggles, or even just to hang out.

The more opportunities I had connecting with youth, the more God called me to change who I was living my life for. Although I enjoyed working with youth and taking the Bible classes at Messiah, the last place I saw myself was in ministry. I made the decision that, regardless of how I felt God leading me, regardless of his gentle persistence, going into ministry was not an option.

It took almost failing out of college for me to realize that it wasn’t about what I wanted out of life. I can still see myself walking around the bases of a baseball field as the snow was gently falling, wrestling with God on why I was not the right person. I tried to convince him there were better people to be in ministry and explain why he didn’t need to call me.

God showed me that the call wasn’t about my goodness but his, that my decisions weren’t the best but his were, that it wasn’t about my goals but his call.  He showed me that no matter how far I tried to run, he would be there waiting for me.

It was then that I decided to follow his path and listen to Christ’s voice. It was then that I realized the abundant life Jesus Christ offers. What a joy it has been being God’s “acolyte” in youth ministry ever since!

New fruit, rooted in history at the Mennonite Heritage Center

by Sarah Heffner, Hereford

The Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, and Eastern Mennonite Seminary cosponsored a class on Anabaptist History and Theology: An Introduction to Basic Themes and Perspectives on four Tuesday evenings in October.  Instructors John Ruth and Steve Kriss and 23 participants considered critical themes running throughout Anabaptist history.

Steve Kriss instructs the Anabaptist history class at the Mennonite Heritage Center. Photo by John Ruth.

The class syllabus described this introduction as “acquainting students with the almost 500-year sweep of Anabaptist/Mennonite history, experience and theological reflection since 1525. This story of a movement and faith communities will be viewed against the background of the spiritual, social, geographical and cultural dimensions both historically and from today’s perspective.”

An ambitious agenda for the four evenings, but an excellent opportunity for participants to ponder what Ruth described as “a small chapter in a specific story with universal meaning”. During the first class, the instructors gave a quick overview of early European Christian history leading up to the Reformation period. From the early beginnings as a persecuted church until Christianity became legitimized as a religion after the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, the church grew and spread throughout Western Europe. Kriss noted that although the church became rich and institutionalized, it was still the voice of Jesus Christ through the centuries.

Ruth, who has led many trips to the Anabaptist European roots in the Netherlands and the Palatinate, discussed the early European reformers’ objections to the corruption of the official state church during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The religious fervor, persecution and social upheaval of this period led to the development and growth of the Anabaptist churches. Ruth noted that the development of the printing press played an important role in the ability of the common person to learn and study Scripture and theology for themselves. The insularity of the local Mennonite culture began to change with the modern era. “Mennonites of this region were in a thermos bottle for three centuries and their warmth was retained,” Ruth said.

Kriss spoke about the mission effort of the mid to late 20th century as one of Christianity’s major efforts, noting that the mission efforts sometimes lacked in cultural understanding. “We are now in another reforming time,” Kriss said. “The good news goes out even though the church goes through upheaval. How do we play in the global church reality?”

The last evening was spent looking at the global Mennonite story and the rising presence of the global church in local Mennonite conferences. Franconia Conference is growing because of the new immigrant congregations. Kriss noted that we will need to graft the stories of the historic congregations and the new congregations together—the fruit might look different but the harvest is there. The desire is to have our roots planted seriously but with a strong sense of the global community.

Both Kriss and Ruth enjoyed the challenge of teaching this topic. “Teaching with John Ruth is a privilege and challenge,” Kriss noted. “I appreciate his wisdom, wit and experience. In our teaching together, I hope that John and I are able to model the struggle and possibility that exists within our time with respect to history and hope for the future, knowing that we’re living a story still being written by God and that we are characters in this ongoing drama across the generations—of creation, learning and redemption in the way of Christ.”

A Place to Belong

Katherine (lower left) with her roommate (lower right) and two other nurses while in the Ukraine.

by Mary Lou Cummings, Perkasie

“Ever since I left home at age 17 to go to nursing school, I have always lived among strangers,” Katherina Efimenko says. Born in a German Mennonite colony in the Ukraine, Katherina now lives at Rockhill Mennonite Community in Telford, Pa.

Katherine graduated from nursing school in 1938 just as World War II erupted.  The Ukrainian community was caught between the Russians and the Germans.  Trying to survive, Katherine volunteered to join a medical unit of doctors and nurses that moved with the German army. She owned only a blanket, basin and pillow.

In the meantime, in three different deportations, Katherine’s loving stepmother and two brothers were sent to Siberia by the Russians. The villages were emptied, and all the relatives lost contact with each other, not reconnecting until many years later. Many had thought that Katherine was dead.

Katherine met Iwan Efimenko in a displaced persons camp in Salzberg, Austria.  She lived there with two other women in a cubicle partitioned off by blankets hung for privacy. She and Iwan decided to marry and try to build a life together.  Their daughter Alla was born a year later.

In 1949 the Efimenkos were accepted to immigrate to Brazil; once there they were housed and fed with 200 other immigrants dislocated by war. They tried to learn Portuguese and struggled to build a small house. Iwan worked as a mechanic and Katherine in a factory.

And there, Katherine became very ill and almost died of typhus. During the long month Katherine lay in the hospital, a German-speaking nun came to pray for her. Katherine prayed in desperation, “Please let me live so I can raise my child.”

“That is when I became a believer,” Katherine says simply. Iwan and Katherine began to worship in the Greek Orthodox faith.

A second daughter, Tamara, was born 10 years after her sister. In 1962 the family moved to the U.S. During those early years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Katherine cleaned houses, worked on learning English, and began work as a phlebotomist (“collecting blood”) at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, where she taught many others, including doctors, her techniques. Her style of nursing was to help the patient in any way she could, even when not her assigned job.

Both of her daughters died early deaths, and when Iwan died in 1989, Katherine thought, “Now I want to look for a Mennonite Church.”

She found a listing for Doylestown Mennonite in Together newspaper and sought out a church home. She bonded with the congregation and with pastoral couple Ray and Edna Yoder.

“When I first joined at Doylestown, I said, ‘Now I belong, what can I do to help?’ They asked me if I could quilt. So I’ve been making quilts all these years,” Katherine says.

Katherine Efimenko now.

Katherine, now 93, struggles with Parkinson’s Disease, and is ready to give up sewing comforters every Thursday morning, but her church friends have told her to keep them company while they work. It will be difficult for her to stop “helping,” however, because helping others and working hard is the way she has lived her
life.

Katherine has three adult grandsons and five great-grandchildren, with whom she is very close. She has family members in Canada, Brazil, and in the Ukraine with whom she keeps in touch. But her Doylestown church family continues to be precious to her, and her friends at Rockhill provide special tokens of friendship—such as the daughter of her late neighbor who plants flowers on her patio each spring.

A victim of World War II and conflicting ideologies, Katherine has lived a hard life—a life of terrible losses. But now, between her friends at Rockhill Mennonite Community and her Doylestown church family, she finally has found where she belongs.

Seeds and strings and welcome spaces

by Samantha Lioi, Whitehall

When Dave Benner was 13 years old, handing out bulletins in his home church of Finland Mennonite, Harold Fly stopped and said to him, “David! Oh, to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.” This passing comment stuck with him. Welcoming people is important, he thought.

Dave continued to learn hospitality as a gift the church gives in a culture where too few have experiences of welcome they can count on. As a musician who plays banjo, guitar, bass guitar, and mandolin, Dave was creating welcome with church music and worship teams from a young age.

His musical gifts were recognized early on by Leroy Wismer, who brought him to Bowery Mission in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to play guitar in a Sunday night worship service for two hundred homeless men. Though only about 16, Dave was expected to go up front with the men to be available for counsel at the end of the service. “I was scared stiff,” he says, “but my understanding has always been to [offer care] not for results but to plant a seed.”

In the mid-sixties, Dave’s draft board approved an alternative to military service through a Mennonite Voluntary Service unit in New Haven, Connecticut. During this time he met Priscilla, a singer in a women’s quintet performing at a local prison where he also was singing. Thought she wasn’t Mennonite, Dave’s V.S. leader encouraged him to explore the relationship. They married five years later.

Peace co-pastors Duane Hershberger and Dave Benner (right). Photo by Miriam Kline.

In 1970, when Dave was called to serve as Finland’s first full-time pastor, he asked to be permitted to go to school. They agreed he would, and a member of another congregation was willing to pay for his first year at Northeast Bible Institute. Over the years, he acquired explicit and instinctive ministry skills, including learning to notice “the eye drift of a group:” where people looked during a meeting, who they were trusting to lead them.

David needed such skills when, in 1990, he responded to Franconia Conference’s goal to plant 50 churches in 10 years. With six other couples, he and Priscilla and Rich and Fern Moyer started a new community of faith. Shalom Christian Fellowship grew and flourished. With Rich, Dave served as a co-pastor from the beginning, and continued to offer his many musical gifts in worship.  Later, Duane Hershberger joined Rich as co-pastor. Shalom became a place where people could belong—where people who had experienced rejection elsewhere received the space and love to become part of a community.

In 2005, after several families had moved away, Shalom took a 6-month hiatus. Dave and Priscilla visited all around and found nothing quite like their eclectic, beloved congregation. They missed it, and Duane did too. They re-opened as Peace Mennonite Church in May of 2006, trying on some new understandings of leadership until they closed on Easter 2011.

Peace built connections in the wider community through the Clothes Line, a clothing giveaway that is still serving folks in town under Fern Moyer’s leadership. Peace also nurtured ecumenical friendships, joining with four other congregations across denominational lines for a community Lenten series, with each congregation hosting a service and every minister participating in leadership.

David continues to play music far and wide—making open space for relationships to grow. Like many before him and many to come, he’s given time and love and labor, planting and watering, and standing back. This pastor’s path of ministry has been winding and joyful, difficult, disappointing, faithful, worth wondering at—the familiar sounds of God’s creative work.

Christopher Dock, Conferences Name Youth Minister

Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, Franconia Conference and Eastern
District Conference celebrate their ministry partnership by naming John Stoltzfus
Conference Youth Minister.

“Youth are a key segment of God’s community. They are ambassadors of Christ
here and now, but also the future leaders of our congregations,” said Dr. Conrad
Swartzentruber, principal of Christopher Dock. “It’s exciting to see two
conferences join our school in this focus on youth ministry. John Stoltzfus has a
passion for helping youth become radical followers of Christ. We are pleased to
welcome him to our team.”

In his new position, Stoltzfus will become campus pastor for Christopher Dock’s
365 students, and will encourage, support and promote youth ministry in the
churches represented by the two conferences, which are part of Mennonite
Church USA. It is the first time that all three entities have collaborated on a youth
ministry position.

“I look forward to youth ministry connections growing between our member
churches, our two conferences and the school community,” said Warren Tyson,
conference minister for Eastern District Conference and a member of the
Christopher Dock Board of Trustees.

Stoltzfus comes to his new position after 10 years as associate pastor at
Lombard Mennonite Church, which is part of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. A
graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary
(Harrisonburg, VA), Stoltzfus has also served with a Christian Peacemaker
Teams in Colombia, and participated in China Educational Exchange, a program
of Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite
Central Committee that is now known as Mennonite Partners in China.

“I found John’s insight, understanding and commitment to engaging in the work
of intercultural transformation and relationships to be both relevant and sincere,”
said Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference. “This was
particularly evident as he shared experiences and learnings from his ministry in
China. I thank God that we are moving ahead and look forward to John’s arrival
and our work together.”

John with his wife Paula and children Justin, Lilianna, and Elaina. (They are expecting their fourth child in December).

The Youth Minister position is full-time, and involves partnering with youth
workers in congregations and at Christopher Dock to “actively invite every youth
to commit to a personal relationship and everlasting adventure with Jesus Christ,
mentoring them towards a supportive church community and empowering them
to bring healing and hope to the world.” In addition, Stoltzfus will be charged with
providing support, training and resources to those who minister to junior and
senior high youth, so that they are better able to carry out the youth ministry
mission and vision of Franconia and Eastern District Conferences. He will begin
his work in January.

“I am excited about this new venture of journeying together with the youth and
community at Christopher Dock and Franconia and Eastern District
Conferences,” Stoltzfus said. “I look forward to discovering how God is at work
among us and calling our young people to be faithful followers of Christ in our
world.”

John Stoltzfus will begin as Conference Youth Minister in January 2012.

Conference Finance Update: October 2011

The 2011-12 fiscal year is two-thirds over. Congregational giving has fallen behind expectations these past two months by $16,500. Expenses have exceeded the budget by $7,500 at this point in the year. This is the time of year when we typically would see the conference fall behind on its net income, but we’re a little more behind than expected.

A sampling of the various activities of the conference during the months of August & September:

Bobby Wibowo, Philadelphia Praise Center, and Keith Schoenly, Bally (Pa.) Mennonite, work on a new song at the Eastern District and Franconia Conferences Worship Cohort, which met this autumn in preparation for the joint Conference Assembly.
  • $10,050 in Missional Operations Grants (MOG) was disbursed during this period. Two congregations received grants for leadership development (Georgia Praise Center and Oxford Circle Mennonite). Two other congregations received grants for outreach ministries (Greensburg Worship Center and Nations Worship Center). To apply for a MOG, see your LEADership Minister.
  • $15,393 in Area Conference Leadership Fund scholarships were disbursed during this period for 8 current and future ministry leaders.
  • Franconia Conference hosted the “In The City For Good” church planters conference in Allentown, in cooperation with Mennonite conferences from Virginia to Ontario. About 80 persons from nearly a dozen ethnic and language groups attended.
  • Franconia Conference launched a new website, which we hope will be more user-friendly. We have also started live video-streaming Pastors and Leaders Breakfasts and other conference events. If you have not been able to attend these events, look for them online.
  • Noel Santiago led a seminar “Transforming Our Region: Church and Marketplace Partnerships” for local pastors and business leaders.

Other tidbits:
LEADership Ministers logged over 19,000 miles on the road so far this year, mostly in meetings with their assigned congregations and leaders.

Where do funds for Missional Operations Grants (MOG) come from? Estate gifts are put into the Ministry Resource Fund, held with Mennonite Foundation. Twenty percent of this fund is used annually for MOGs. Please keep MOGs in mind when you are doing your estate planning.

Intersections: September/October 2011

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Franconia Conference Snapshots (summaries of this issue’s articles):

Toward transformation with the Wild Goose

Steve Kriss, Philadelphia Praise Center, skriss@franconiaconference.org

In late August the board and staff of Franconia Conference gathered to share dreams and visions, to work at logistical details for assembly and to take a step toward reconciliation and healing. It was a beautiful day at the pavilion behind the meetinghouse at Blooming Glen, amongst cornfields—the first day when brisk air invites longsleeves and light jackets after a hot summer. We were meeting to do business plan, to eat together, to imagine.

As the sun was setting to the west, we gathered in a circle for prayer, confession, and mutual commissioning. Led by LEADership Minister Ray Yoder, we prayed with the Conference’s core values and vision—centered in Christ—placed on the floor between us. We were there in a shared journey, shared struggle, with sometimes shared hope and sometimes contested dreams. We are different people, representing different histories, perspectives, congregations. It’s hard work and real commitment in a postmodern world to be together, to witness together, to carry each other’s joys and burdens.

Photo by Emily Ralph

But something interesting happened as we ended our prayer, at the moment of our confession of our struggle, our inadequacies, our failures and foibles—a trail of wild geese streamed over us loudly, moved to form a V and flew into the sunset. In Celtic Christianity, a tradition that maintained a healthy and hearty faithful Christianity while the rest ofEuropeand the Mediterranean region muddled through a difficult time, the Wild Goose was a name given the Holy Spirit. In that evening, amidst our questions and questing, I think the Spirit invited us again to move on, to press into a new day, to gather our diversity of experience and perspective, to pay attention to the signs around us in creation, culture, Text and Spirit and to soar into God’s future.

When I am reading this Intersections, I am struck again by how the Spirit continues to stir us. Within these pages, the diverse dreams for the reign of God and the life of discipleship that we incarnate are written in story form. We are people of many commitments and ways of describing God. We’ve been called forth and cultivated from many places . . . and we’re going into diverse places fromVermonttoBaltimoretoEngland. We’re young dreamers, pilgrim seekers and mature leaders building peace in places like Souderton, Quakertown and Allentown. We’re trying out the reconciling process by gathering across historic divisions and cultural boundaries with assembly this year . . . and we’re committing to a yearlong journey focusing on extending Christ’s justice and peace.

It feels like we’re trying to follow the Wild Goose, recognizing a new day, moving in diverse and unexpected places, seeing sometimes what was unimaginable emerge, and grappling to deal with it and make sense of it. The Celtic Christians maintained a real faith in tough and confusing times. They provoked art, developed mission movements and cultivated missional communities. They used resources creatively and carefully. They were mindful of the connection of body, soul, mind, land, resources and the resurrected Christ.

When I read our stories in this issue, I know we’re on the journey. The Spirit is stirring. Something continues to be breaking forth. We’ll need to continue to be prepared for it, to cultivate, to hope and work, to pay attention for both the signs and possibilities around us, near and far. The Spirit invites us as a historic and yet emerging community further into a journey, offering up a mission which we might embrace and find both ourselves and the world transformed through the story of the Good News even in disconcerting times.