Jessica Walter, Ambler
As I prepared to write this, my last editorial for Intersections, I decided I needed to look back at some of the writing I have done for Franconia Conference in my almost four years of work and ministry here.
I began the writing portion of my work with an article in the now retired MennoLife. I wrote about how my faith and calling journey had been like rock climbing. My journey was one of questions and confusion and while I would cry out for help on what my next move, or hold, should be I often wouldn’t listen to God’s answer. Taking the leap of faith to grab ahold of the opportunity to work at Franconia was a move toward listening for me, one I have been greatful for.
Since that first article and those first few months of work I have gained many valuable experiences and knowledge. Franconia Conference not only hired me to work with communication and leadership cultivation it also invested in my leadership. I could not have asked for a better place to explore my leadership gifts, develop useful skills and contribute to the equipping of other leaders both young and old. I have felt truly valued and respected despite my age.
And as I spent time here my journey, my rock climb, became less confusing and some questions were answered. I am leaving my post at Franconia Conference with a better sense of who God is calling me to be, answered questions or not.
It is fitting that this issue largely features stories of ministries that have begun to take root throughout the conference because though I am leaving my role at Franconia my roots in the larger conference community run deep.
So deep that I am about to begin work in two ministries connected to Franconia Conference. In June I will become both the manager of Care and Share Thrift Shoppes’ soon to be opened bookstore and an Outreach Minstry Enthusiast/Pastor of Ambler Mennontie Church.
Like the beginning harvest at Living Hope Farm I have been harvested from the soil here at Franconia Conference to be re-planted in the larger community.
Like Rose Bender, God has used many hands to help mold, shape and guide me over the last four years of my life. Interactions with pastoral leadership throughout the conference, visits to many congregations, representing conference and young adults to the larger Mennonite Church, and aid in exploring seminary education have all shaped the creativity, hospitality, and hope that informs my leadership.
Like Lorie Hershey couldn’t have imagined she would be an ordained minister ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would become both a store manager and pastoral leader. And yet the opportunities I have gained from my term at conference have prepared me for these new roles.
During my time at Franconia Conference two passages in the New Testament have shaped my faith and calling journey. Matthew 22: 37-40 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
And Matthew 13: 31-32 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
I leave Franconia Conference with the hope that we all will continue to invest in the leadership of young adults, to remember that its the small steps toward change and growth in our congregations that stick, to love God with all of ourselves and to let that love radiate out into love of ourselves and others and to plant the Kingdom of Heaven one mustard seed at a time.