Tag Archives: James Longacre

Where Hope Meets History

By Kendra Rittenhouse, Salford

A 300 year anniversary meant more than one day of celebration for Salford Mennonite Church. Beginning Sunday, September 10th and culminating with a feast of events the following weekend, it was a look to the past that has shaped the present as the congregation heads with hope to the future.

Brian McLaren

Sunday, September 10, Salford began celebrating 300 years of history and hope with guest speaker and author Brian McLaren who among other things gave a presentation of his most recent book, “The Great Spiritual Migration.” McLaren urges Christians to follow closely the words and teachings of Jesus rather than give priority to doctrine and theology. Links to his sermon and afternoon presentation can be found at http://brianmclaren.net/heres-what-i-shared-in-pennsylvania/. The service also included a song written by Lynelle Bush.

The following weekend of celebration began on Friday, September 15 with a play, “These Are My People,” written by Ted Swartz of Ted & Company in collaboration with Brent Anders and was performed by a cast of Salford members along with Ted. Presented again on Saturday evening, it told the story of Salford including why people come, why they leave, the struggle of change from the past to the present day, and the sacredness of gathering together.

Saturday, September 16, a community day was held in the grove next to the school house which included food, fun, and historical tours. A large tent shielded church members and visitors from the warm sun and provided a place to gather, eat together, and enjoy music provided by groups that included Salford members. Bus tours of local Mennonite history, led by John Ruth, included the Dielman Kolb House, Lower Skippack Mennonite Church, and Upper Skippack Mennonite Church, as well as sights throughout Skippack, Upper Salford, and Lower Salford Townships. Joel Alderfer of the Mennonite Historians gave cemetery tours telling of past members who shaped Salford’s history.

Saturday’s activities also included volleyball in the grove and children’s games from a century ago. Children also painted rocks for Color Harleysville, cheerful rocks to be hidden and found throughout the Harleysville area. A photo booth made for fun reminders of the day.

Sunday morning, September 17, began with worship and ended with a catered meal for members and visitors. The sermon on Matthew 14, given by pastor Joe Hackman, focused on having the courage to ‘get out of the boat’ when Jesus calls.  Examples of courage were former pastor Mim Book in following her call in a time when women’s ministry gifts were not recognized, and of MJ Sharp who lost his life working for peace in the Congo earlier this year.

The service also included art and musical offerings. A vocal ensemble and the choir each sang songs of rootedness and vision. As well, a commissioned fraktur by Roma Ruth was presented by Mary Jane Hershey and Roma Ruth and is hanging in the church lobby.

Attending the morning service were former pastors Jim Lapp, Ben Wideman, Mim Book, Maribeth Longacre Benner, Jim Longacre, Loren Swartzendruber, Michael King, Willis Miller, John Ruth, and John Sharp. A panel discussion by the former pastors was held during the second hour in which they reflected on the eras they served at Salford.

In a blessing to the congregation former pastors, Jim Longacre and John Sharp urged the congregation to turn away from Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, to turn back to the teachings of Jesus. John Ruth, in agreement, also reminded us to return to the early Anabaptist teachings and to focus on relationship, which is core to salvation.

It is said that the growth of a plant is proportional to its roots. Salford’s deep and expansive roots are testimony to a rich and fertile relationship with God. Remembering the past, the changes that have taken place, and that God is always faithful and will be faithful in the changes to come made for spirits ready to grow and a celebration full of hope.

Franconia Conference announces board candidates and sets August public meeting


Stephen Kriss

The Nominating Committee of Franconia Mennonite Conference announces seven candidates for open board positions and an election/affirmation process that will commence immediately by written or email ballot.   The seven candidates are:

Moderator:  John Goshow
John Goshow is retiring this fall after 33 years of service and leadership at Penn Foundation, Sellersville, Pa, where he served as president and CEO for the last decade. John and his wife Janet live near Perkasie, Pa, and are the parents of three adult children. They attend Blooming Glen Mennonite Church where John is a Sunday school teacher. John has served on the Board of Directors of Mennonite Health Services Alliance and in local and regional associations for community building and behavioral healthcare. He brings experience with organizational leadership as well as a social work background, combined with years of service connected with the church.

Assistant Moderator: Miriam BookMiriam Book is lead pastor at Salford Mennonite Church near Harleysville, Pa.   Originally from Lancaster County, Pa, Mim came to serve as part of the pastoral team at Salford after over 20 years of service in Mennonite Church denominational agencies where she worked with area conferences and overseas ministries as well as convention planning.  Mim brings gifts of connectedness across the denomination, a commitment to cultivating the gifts of both male and female leaders and acuity for administration and fair process.  She and her husband, Jim Lapp, live in Harleysville, Pa. and are parents of three adult children.

Finance Committee Chairperson:  Randy Nyce
Randy Nyce is church relations manager for MMA/Everence based at the Souderton (Pa) office.  He and his wife Juanita and son Garrett have recently relocated to Hilltown Twp, Pa, where they live in a three-generation household after a decade of living in Philadelphia.   Having grown up in Franconia Conference, Randy worked as a teacher at Philadelphia Mennonite High School and as executive director at Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust.  Randy had worked with stewardship education in his previous congregation (Circle of Hope Brethren in Christ in Philadelphia) and currently helps facilitate young adult Sunday school classes at Salford Mennonite Church.

At-large members:

Marta Beidler Castillo

Marta Beidler Castillo lives in Norristown, Pa, where she is serves as an associate pastor at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation.   Marta grew up in both Vietnam and Indonesia, the daughter of Franconia Conference-rooted mission workers.   She’s committed to the intercultural work of antiracism and racial reconciliation.   Marta lives in a bilingual Spanish/English household with her husband, Julio and children, Andres and Daniel. With broad mission experiences internationally and in a US urban location, Marta is committed to prayer along with active engagement of diverse neighborhoods with the message of Christ’s Good News.

Joe Hackman
Joe Hackman lives in Lansdale, Pa, with his wife Angela and daughter Ila.  He grew up attending Swamp Mennonite Church at Quakertown and currently serves on the pastoral team at Salford Mennonite Church.  Joe is a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Pennsylvania, returning to school after several years of teaching at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School.  He’s passionate about the possibilities for Anabaptism in a postmodern context, loves working with young leaders and has worked hard to build bridges between the established and emerging congregations of Franconia Conference.

Beny Krisbianto
Beny Krisbianto lives in Philadelphia where he serves as lead pastor of Nations Worship Center, a congregation comprised mostly of recent immigrants from Indonesia.  Beny relocated to Philadelphia to begin a new Anabaptist congregation in South Philadelphia after completing studies at Jubilee School of Theology in Iowa.  Since coming to Pennsylvania, Beny has studied at Eastern Mennonite Seminary toward a certificate in Anabaptist leadership.  Beny is fluent in English, Javanese and Indonesian.  He’s gifted at calling forth new leaders and committed to establishing Anabaptist congregations within the Indonesian immigrant community on the East Coast.

James B. Longacre
James B. Longacre attends Bally Mennonite Church where he grew up as son of the pastor.  Jim has been active in the congregation’s leadership and believes that the Anabaptist/Mennonite way of telling and living the Good News is particularly relevant in today’s world.  Jim is an attorney specializing in employee benefits law, working with a regional firm in Reading, Pa.   He and his wife Ann along with their children Ben, Sam, and Zoe moved back to the family farm near Bally, Pa after years of living in Washington DC and now can frequently be found at youth sporting events throughout southeastern PA.

Upon affirmation of conference delegates, the new board members will begin service in September 2010.   The moderator and assistant moderator positions are open due to the impending resignations of current moderators Blaine Detwiler and Randy Heacock. Two at-large board positions are available due to the resignations of Karen Moyer and Yvonne Platts that followed the approval of LaVern Yutzy’s conference review report earlier this spring.  As approved by the board, the nominating committee moved to reconstitute board leadership by receiving nominations from across conference constituency for all open positions.  Current and remaining board members include Jim King (Plains congregation), Jim Laverty (Souderton congregation), Rina Rampogu (Plains congregation) and Nelson Shenk (Boyertown congregation). Conference staff members Noel Santiago and Ertell Whigham will continue to meet with the board but do not have voting privileges as was recommended by the conference review report and approved by the board in May.

After prayerful discernment and consideration, the nominating committee presents this slate of qualified and committed leaders to help guide Franconia Conference toward a hopeful future. The seven candidates were selected from among those nominated based on skills, gifts, commitment and representation from across the Conference community.  The selection process requires a quorum of votes to affirm the new candidates by July 26, 2010.

Nominating committee members Donella Clemens (Perkasie congregation), Mike Derstine (Plains congregation), Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center) and Joy Sutter (Salford congregation) have worked alongside the Review Steering Committee and current Conference Board to assure a transition that opens possibilities for the continued historic witness of Franconia Conference congregations, embodying Christ’s peace while recognizing our diversity of experience.  The nominating committee is grateful for God’s leading and the Spirit’s movement in the midst of the discernment process.  According to Mike Derstine, “We are impressed by the willingness and enthusiasm that all seven persons have for offering their gifts of leadership and wisdom to the present and future ministry of Franconia Mennonite Conference.”

CLICK HERE to download the ballot as a PDF.

A ballot will be sent by email and by the US postal service to all delegates for a signed or emailed response from each delegate. Emailed responses should be sent to ballot@franconiaconference.org.  All ballots will remain confidential. Franconia Conference bylaws require a 50% quorum and a two-thirds vote to affirm the candidates for service on the board.

The Review Steering Committee also announces an all-Conference meeting of prayer, update and introduction of new and current board members for August 12 from 7-8:30pm at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. This meeting will include prayerful reflection, a financial update from the Conference and a timeline for further work rooted in the Yutzy conference review commissioned by the board earlier this year that seeks to guide in the alignment of the Conference’s work, staffing, finances and future.