Tag Archives: Mennonite Conference Center

Conference center announces move to Christopher Dock

by Sharon K. Williams, for Franconia Conference

Franconia Mennonite and Eastern District conference offices will move to the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School campus in Lansdale, Pennsylvania in January 2015, in a strategic collaboration involving four conference related ministries. The offices will be on the first floor of the Rosenberger Academic Center.

Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel. In addition to providing space, the move will also allow more regular interaction between students, pastors and conference staff.
Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel. In addition to providing space, the move will also allow more regular interaction between students, pastors and conference staff.

The conference center is currently located in a building owned by the Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania (MHEP) in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

While MHEP and the conference offices have had an amicable partnership, MHEP had offers from other organizations that were interested in renting the whole building, which would generate additional income for MHEP.

Recently, Christopher Dock offered a viable solution.

“The reconfiguration of some classroom and office space makes this very efficient arrangement possible. But a larger significance is found in the collaboration,” said Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber. “Dock strives to build relationships among our students, congregations, and conferences. Our hope is that this will be a lively, ongoing effort. Christopher Dock’s mission is to educate Franconia and Eastern District youth and other youth who share Anabaptist values. Our relationship to both conferences is very healthy and important to us. This new arrangement will allow us to rub shoulders with conference and congregational leaders. We look forward to sharing our campus in this way.”

Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference and Warren Tyson, conference minister with Eastern District Conference, affirm the move to Christopher Dock and the continued sharing of one center for both conferences. John Stoltzfus, youth minister for all three ministries, already works from an office on Christopher Dock’s campus.

“Eastern District wants to continue living into a shared vision and working relationship with Franconia, and we value this opportunity to connect with Christopher Dock, one of our conference-related ministries,” said Tyson, who also chairs the school’s board of trustees.

“The relationship between the two conferences is very beneficial, and I look forward to the possibilities of interaction between the Dock community and conference leadership,” said Whigham. “This will also encourage our pastors to visit the campus.”

Sarah Wolfgang Hefner, director of MHEP, expressed appreciation for the relationship with the conference office, saying, “I have enjoyed getting to know conference center staff over the past few years and will miss the interaction with them.”

“We are grateful for our partnerships with MHEP and all our conference related ministries,” said John Goshow, moderator of Franconia Conference. “We encourage and rejoice in creative collaboration. This particular situation is a four-way win.”

A Place to Call Home: Pastors Breakfast

Pastor’s Breakfast
September 29, 2010


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A Place to Call Home: Our New Immigrant Neighbors was the topic of the Pastors’ and Leaders’ Breakfast held on Wednesday, September 29, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. at the Mennonite Conference Center in Harleysville.

Peter Pedemonti (New Sanctuary Movement, Philadelphia), Maria Byler (pastoral care staff member of Philadelphia Praise Center), and Bob Walden (Peace & Justice Committee and West Swamp Mennonite Church) led the conversation. Who are the new immigrants in our congregations and communities, and why did they come here? Starting from a biblical framework, the discussion addressed the difficult questions about our undocumented immigrants and provided an overview of immigration issues through personal stories of local immigrants. Also, there was be a brief review of resources for sermons and group study.

Review Steering Committee develops process, expresses appreciation, invites prayer

Stephen Kriss, skriss@franconiaconference.org

The Franconia Conference Review Steering Committee met April 28, 2010, at the Mennonite Conference Center in Harleysville, Pa., to continue to develop a path for discernment and communication for the upcoming Conference Review report and recommendations. The review, being performed by LaVern Yutzy, consulting associate Mennonite Health Services Alliance, is scheduled to be released in mid-May to delegates and constituents. Review Steering Committee members include Donella Clemens (Perkasie congregation), Mike Derstine (Plains congregation), Randy Heacock (Doylestown congregation), Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center), Jim Laverty (Souderton congregation), Karen Moyer (Rocky Ridge congregation) and Joy Sutter (Salford congregation).

The steering committee wishes to express appreciation for the response and high-level of engagement around the review over the last weeks. While the review and recommendations are being constructed by Yutzy, the committee considered themes and recommendations from the report at this week’s meeting. Yutzy is set to present a draft to the steering committee this weekend with a scheduled release to Franconia Conference’s board of directors at a joint meeting with the board and committee on May 4, 2010.

On Monday, May 3, the steering committee will meet again at Harleysville to continue to develop a path for considering the recommendations that come from Yutzy’s review and further development of a venue for the conference community to consider and offer input into the review’s recommendations and forward process. The review is not intended to answer all questions around recent decisions regarding staffing, but rather to navigate together toward a hopeful future. The review will be available at www.franconiaconference.org upon public release in mid-May.

The steering committee calls the Conference to continue in prayer—both communally and individually—as we prepare to move together, to receive and process the review recommendations. The review and recommendations are intended to provide a path forward for Franconia Conference that together we will continue to proclaim and incarnate Christ’s way of peace, healing and hope.

Franconia Conference Review Steering Committee invites additional members

Stephen Kriss

The Franconia Conference Review Steering Committee received nearly 80 nominations for the available sixth position on the recently formed committee. In consultation on April 8, 2010, at the Mennonite Conference Center in Harleysville, PA, the committee moved to increase its numbers and to adjust its members based on feedback from conference constituency.

Additional committee members include:
• Mike Derstine, pastor, Plains Mennonite Church at Hatfield, PA
• Beny Krisbianto, pastor, Nations Worship Center, Philadelphia
• Joy Sutter, Salford Mennonite Church at Harleysville, PA
Previously named member Gerry Clemmer, lead pastor, at Souderton (PA) Mennonite Church has removed himself from the committee to allow space for additional members to represent broader conference constituency. The committee of seven now includes three Franconia Conference board members and four representatives from the Franconia Conference constituent community.

The committee is set with the task of establishing patterns of communication, discernment and decision-making for the upcoming report on the conference-wide review, currently in process under the leadership of LaVern Yutzy, consulting associate with Mennonite Health Services Alliance. The report is intended to shed light on recent events in Franconia Conference; to provide better understanding of issues that will need further processing and to find a path toward a hopeful future while not intending to answer all questions. The report will be available to delegates and constituency by mid-May. The committee intends to have a full report posted at www.franconiaconference.org

Yutzy expects to complete his final day of open listening sessions on April 21, 2010, at the Conference Center in Harleysville. To schedule a conversation with LaVern, contact Carla or Melissa, at the Conference Center at 267-932-6050 or email office@franconiaconference.org Postcards with questions for perspectives and comments have been sent to all conference delegates and congregations. Postcards should be returned or responses emailed to feedback@franconiaconference.org by April 24, 2010. All responses are confidential.