Tag Archives: Mike Derstine

Plains and Curious

by Jim King, Plains congregation (Lansdale, PA)

Four-year-old Jaya Mateti was immediately aware that the music in the May 19th worship service was different.  It had a beat and it was LOUD!  As soon as she saw everyone standing for the music, she asked to be lifted up so she could see.  With her feet firmly planted on the back of the bench in front of her, she looked around at our guests from Evangelical Center for Revival and exclaimed, “There’s a lot of ‘Indians’ here today and they look like me!”

At the beginning of our worship service, our worship leader Rina Rampogu reminded us that our worship time could possibly have less structure and more spontaneity.  About halfway through the service, smells of Congolese food being heated in the kitchen downstairs wafted up.

How did we get to having a combined worship service with a Congolese congregation?  And what is the point of this interaction?

During the summer of 2017, when U.S. politics seemed to focus on borders, boundaries, and walls, a small group of people met during the Sunday School hour to discuss immigration issues.  We had heard from recent immigrants that Lansdale was an immigrant-friendly community, but we wanted to do more in making people feel welcome in our church.  We noticed that our playground had already become a welcoming place for children of various cultures to come and play together.

This immigration task force, led by Rachel and Kiron Mateti (conference board member), helped us focus on ways we could be more welcoming and culturally aware of our neighbors.  We decided that a July 4 celebration in our church park could help us develop friendships with those who have come to the U.S. more recently.  To ensure that this would truly be a cross-cultural event, we asked Evangelical Center for Revival to co-sponsor this event with us.

Penny Naugle shares a story with children from both congregations.

After this experience, some Plains members indicated that they were curious about how the Congolese congregation worships, so about twelve of us attended their worship service in Elkins Park.  As Pastor Maurice Baruti and I sat together at the fellowship meal, we observed how different groups from Plains ate with members from the Center congregation and we talked about the possibility of doing a joint worship service together at Plains.  At first he wasn’t so sure it would work; their worship service starts at 11:30, ours starts at 10:15.  We ended up with a compromise of 11:00.

Pastor Maurice Baruti (L) and his wife Berthe (R) with Jim King.

Prior to the service, Pastor Baruti asked how long he should speak.  When he was told that we expected about 20-25 minutes, he smiled and said he was comfortable with speaking for an hour.  During the worship he spoke in French and was translated to English by his wife Berthe.  Rampogu said that as she looked out over the audience, “there seemed to be an expression of anticipation and curiosity on the faces of the congregation.”  Several guests from the Center congregation shared that they had just come off working a night shift but that this was a service they didn’t want to miss.

As we at Plains look to fill an Associate Pastor position, this worship service reminded us that we could me be more flexible in how we do worship.  With friendship, food, and fellowship, we will work it out.  Our pastor, Mike Derstine says, “Anytime we worship with another congregation we are stretched by new patterns and ways of doing things, new songs and differences in worship style, and fresh testimonies during sharing time from people in different work and life situations.  Then there was the stretching experience of different foods and table fellowship after the worship service, all of which serves to remind us that our concept and understanding of God is always beyond us.”

We realize we need to continue to change to be more culturally welcoming.  The last verse of our 250th Anniversary song, written by Justin Yoder, says it well: “Teach us new songs, while we hold dear the strains of long ago.  When we sing, the Spirit is here: may it be ever so!”

Up For The Task

When current Franconia Conference Board member Jim King invited him over for dinner, the idea of filling a seat on the Board was not on Kiron Mateti’s radar in the least bit.  Being new to the Conference, it wasn’t a proposition he was expecting or a position that he was seeking out. With a life journey that started – figuratively speaking – quite far from Anabaptism, Kiron brings a perspective and insight that will be a welcomed addition to Conference leadership should he be affirmed as a board member. Kiron Mateti is being presented to the delegates at the fall Assembly as a nominee by the Conference Board for affirmation to join them as a first term Conference Board Member-at-Large.

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Kiron’s early faith life was shaped by varying degrees of Hindu belief and practice by his parents, who immigrated from India.  However, through the influence of Christian neighbors and a job in a Presbyterian church nursery, Kiron’s mother learned about the Christian faith, cleared the house of Hindu statues and began to talk to her sons about Jesus.  As a result, Kiron and his brother felt caught in the middle between their parents. 

“My brother and my dad had a pretty terrible relationship, and [my brother] got into drugs and alcohol really early on in life, and then I followed in his footsteps.” The brothers were able to sustain that lifestyle and still do well in high school and college, but eventually, tragically, the substance abuse caught up with them.  “In my 2nd semester (of grad school at Penn State), my brother died drinking and driving. That was a turning point in my life,” Kiron says. He took a semester off, returned home to Ohio … and for some reason, picked up a nice, leather-bound Bible from his mom’s shelf.  “I started reading the New Testament, and read it rather quickly.  I had so many questions.” 

When the day came to empty out his brother’s apartment, Kiron was expecting a group of his mom’s church friends to come help out. “I show up and it was just me and another guy!”, Kiron laughs. “I think he planned it, because he and I talked the whole day!  He was really strong in his faith, and we went through Genesis to Revelation.  I asked him all kinds of questions.” 

With the planted seeds of faith taking root, Kiron returned to Penn State, sought out a friend who was a Christian, and began tagging along to the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF) gatherings, various campus ministry functions and to Sunday church services.  On his first day visiting Christ Community Church in State College, he caught the eye of a fellow Indian man.  “He was really easy to talk to, and wanted to know more about me,” Kiron recalls.  “We met up, and then we started meeting up weekly and doing one-on-one Bible studies.” Kiron remembers this as an intense time of formation and growth in his faith. “It was just me and him, and we were going through some of the same tough questions, and we’d dig in.  We’d have four- or five-hour Bible studies!” Eventually friends started coming along, and by the time Kiron left Penn State, there were around 40 people attending!

Kiron’s involvement with CSF introduced him to more than just Jesus; one of the first people he met at a CSF gathering was his future wife, Rachel, originally from the Reading, PA. area.  After getting married, they began attending University Mennonite Church, where various Anabaptist values resonated with Kiron.  “I saw a contrast … it’s not ‘American Christianity’; it’s just following Jesus, it’s outside of nationalities or allegiance to a country.  That is something that I respected.”

In 2016, Kiron and Rachel committed to moving their family closer to Rachel’s extended family, and Kiron took a position at JBT Automated Guided Vehicles in Chalfont, PA., as a Research and Development Engineer.  Settling in Telford, they visited most of the area Mennonite churches, but were invited to Plains Mennonite Church by Anya Williamson, a friend from Penn State. Kiron’s mom, who now lived with them, immediately connected with the Thalathodi and Rampogu families, who also spoke her native Telugu language.  Kiron and Rachel also made connections, particularly with other families with small children, and got involved with the worship team, teaching Sunday School and leading adult classes.

As an unofficial mentor to Kiron and Rachel, Jim King connected with them through Sunday School, men’s breakfasts, and together spearheading an intercultural, multi-church picnic this past Fourth of July, and saw something in Kiron that he felt would be an asset to the Board, and approached him with the idea. “Kiron’s presence radiates joy, curiosity and openness wherever I have been with him,” Jim says. “I just have to smile when I think of how the rest of the board will receive him.”  

Those who know him tend to agree. “Kiron is a thoughtful, independent thinker with a deep commitment to the church, his family, and the way of Jesus,” says Plains’ Pastor Mike Derstine.  “While new to our congregation and conference, he is eager to learn, meet new people, and further the mission of God in our community and world.”  Executive Minister Steve Kriss also anticipates the contributions Kiron will bring. “He’s bright, engaged, will ask good questions and help us find our way into new spaces, places, possibilities,” says Steve.

Kiron feels up for the task.  He anticipates hard work, a lot of listening and learning, and hopefully the ability to contribute as one who didn’t grow up in the church. “I feel empathetic towards people who are ‘different’,” he says. “Maybe that can provide a perspective that’s needed on the board.” 

Kiron and his wife Rachel (Zimmerman) are the parents of 5-year-old Asha and almost-3-year-old Jaya, and as a family, they enjoy music, the beach, camping and are a self-proclaimed “nerdy family” who like to visit libraries when they travel. 

Counterintuitive Solidarity

By Jenifer Eriksen-Morales

“Mom, check this out!”  My son called me to share his interest in a TV show. The host, Jeremy Wade, was underwater, speaking through scuba gear, right next to a giant crocodile!  He explained approaching a crocodile from above, below or directly in front, can be quite deadly as one may be mistaken as a threat or prey.  However, when one approaches a crocodile in cool water from the side or back, imitating them by crawling slowly along the sandy riverbed, “I can get quite close to it,” Wade stated as he reached out and touched the crocodile who didn’t even flinch. (Don’t try this!) He went on to say as a result of this encounter he felt safer in the water.  He went on to comment that to learn about Tiger Fish, it is better to use a crocodilian rather than human perspective.   He then floated next to the croc, narrating as the camera panned.  He drew attention to the plants, critters, light and shadows allowing the world to be observed from the vantage point of a crocodile.  I was flabbergasted; Wade wasn’t studying crocs, he was learning about Tiger Fish from crocodiles!  What he was doing was counterintuitive, courageous, and exciting!

I was reminded of a conversation I had with Mike Derstine, Pastor at Plains, that morning.  Over coffee, Mike shared his learnings about counterintuitive solidarity from a recent Webinar entitled “Neo-Anabaptism and Anablacktivism” offered by AMBS and facilitated by Drew Hart and Greg Boyd.

Mike shared his learnings so enthusiastically I was compelled to do a little research.  Hart writes in his blog, “White intuition and experience (limited by homogeneous networks) is signifying one thing while black experience is claiming an alternative reality. What are people who participate in dominant society to do when their intuition and experience contradict the experiences of oppressed people?”  Hart goes on to call for counterintuitive solidarity, by “trusting the historically marginalized and oppressed perception above one’s own… Jesus’ own solidarity performance is a call to discipleship and imitation as a way of being in the world. It is the cure for privileged blinders that leaves people’s own vision impaired and unreliable. The Spirit is pulling all of us to see things “from below” because that is where God has chosen to move, work, and transform the world (1 Cor. 1:18-31).”

Drew Hart

While Drew’s blog focuses on racism in the United States, clearly his point is relevant in other contexts where people are marginalized and oppressed.  In the statement, “Going to the Margins, Kingdom Mission Strategy,” adopted by Franconia Conference’s delegate body this fall, “We advocate that Franconia Conference be intentional about identifying those on the margins of our churches and society, and provide resources for the work of mutual transformation according to the good news of Jesus Christ. “  I imagine, if we as a conference, as organizations, as congregations, and as individuals are to take this statement seriously, the dominant culture will need to learn the art of counterintuitive solidarity.  We must find ways to create space to get up close and personal, listen well and trust the perception of “the other” enough to begin to see from their vantage point.

drewhartgraphicThe Perkasie congregation is doing this through a 6 week Sunday school study, “Returning Veterans, Returning Hope,” a curriculum provided by Mennonite Central Committee. As part of this, a veteran will come and share his story with the congregation.  Pastor, Wayne Nitzsche comments, “The Perkasie congregation solidly identifies as a Peace church.”  They wonder what it may mean to be welcoming and inclusive of veterans, to journey with them, and by modeling Jesus share his love, healing and hope.  Pastor Wayne also wonders, “What are we willing to learn from Veterans? How do we listen to their story deep enough to see what we can learn from them about courage, and loyalty and discipline? Veterans have something to offer us, if we are willing to listen.”

andrew_huth_fmc_ed_youth_event_082As we go through the steps of identifying and listening to those who have been marginalized, partnering locally and globally, sharing the gospel and planting churches, how might the Holy Spirit be inviting us to explore beyond our patterns, stereotypes and intuition in order to develop alternate ways of seeing and experiencing reality.  What might we learn from another’s point of view?

To read all of Drew Harts Article quoted above visit: http://drewgihart.com/2013/08/07/400-years-of-white-blinders-counterintuitive-solidarity-and-the-epistemological-advantage-of-the-oppressed/.

For more information and to obtain a copy of Mennonite Central Committee’s “Returning Veteran, Returning Hope,” Sunday School Curriculum visit: https://mcc.org/media/resources/1719.

Jenifer Eriksen-Morales is Minister of Transitional Ministries and a LEADership Minister for eleven congregations in Franconia Conference.

Conference pastors pursue higher education

by Lora Steiner, managing editor

The Lord works in mysterious ways,  and the Spirit leads in mysterious ways: sometimes to faraway lands, sometimes to stretching local ministries—or sometimes, back to the classroom.

Beth Yoder with her family at her graduation from Drew.
Beth Yoder with her family at her graduation from Drew.

This year, two Franconia Conference pastors finished Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degrees, while several others are pursuing pastoral studies alongside other fulltime jobs. The advantages to them and their congregations are many: For pastors who’ve been in ministry for many years, it can be a time to refocus and re-tool. For congregations, it’s a chance to develop new practices and to see the Gospel in fresh ways, and a gentle nudge to those in maintenance mode.

Throughout Beth Yoder’s congregational ministry, she has interspersed her work with study: a year at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, coursework at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield and Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and classes at Eastern Mennonite Seminary as well. It was at EMS that Beth re-embraced her passion for worship and preaching—and also at EMS where she remembered her interest in doing a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degree at Drew University,  a program that would allow her to focus heavily on those areas.

Yoder, associate pastor of Salford congregation, says her studies were invigorating, and brought a sort of freshness for her and her congregation. D.Min. programs are structured around a project that the student commits to doing in her worship setting; Yoder’s focused on embodied worship—using principles of theater and movement to enrich worship. Many—not all—she reports, were appreciated, but it let her examine a hunch about the significance of embodied worship on spiritual formation. A lot of it, she says, wasn’t brand new—but her studies and assignments carved out that space to try something different.

Mike Derstine, pastor of Plains congregation, recently finished a D.Min. at Palmer Theological Seminary in King of Prussia, Pa. He’d always thought about pursuing the degree but with commitments to family and church, the timing never seemed right. When his congregation gave him a three-month sabbatical, it was the encouragement he needed to enter the program.

Mike Derstine with his family at graduation from Palmer.
Mike Derstine with his family at graduation from Palmer.

Palmer’s program focuses on transformational leadership, the missional church, and congregational renewal. Derstine says it’s just what he was looking for, a “key area for congregational pastors who need to think about what the changing context means for ministry.”

Derstine says he’d become so preoccupied with the needs and demands of the day-to-day life of a congregation that he found he wasn’t taking enough time for personal or professional renewal. Programs like this, he says, allow pastors  space to cultivate a “deeper spirituality, as well as more disciplined  and intentional approach to what we do.”

Beny Krisbianto, pastor of Nations Worship Center in south Philadelphia, is finishing a degree at the Eastern Mennonite Seminary campus in Lancaster. Like many other pastors in Franconia Conference, he takes one or two courses a semester—that’s all he has time for—and appreciates how he is able to daily use what he is studying: “I can balance between learning the principles and theology and applying it to my context.”

Krisbianto says one thing he learned from seminary is how to care for himself.

“Before I went to seminary I didn’t know about teaching and discipline. After beginning seminary, I grew a lot,” he says. “I know my strength, I know my weakness, I know when to say no, I know when to say stop.”

Krisbianto has two classes left and will graduate in 2015. This week also saw the graduations of Tami Good, Souderton congregation, and Kris Wint, Finland congregation, with M.Divs. from Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa.

Although it may seem impossible while in the midst of classroom demands, life continues after graduation: Derstine took time after he finished his studies to replace the mufflers and exhaust system on his old car, and started seeds for his garden, continuing the balance of daily life and renewal. Both Derstine and Yoder continue in their same congregations.

“I think both formal and informal pastor education are important for pastors and congregational leaders,” says Yoder, “because it gives people an opportunity to engage new material, to learn with new people, and also gives leaders a space to say ‘I don’t have all of the answers,’ when sometimes leadership roles can get us into the practice of feeling like we have to have all the answers.”

“Going back into the classroom invites you to become a learner, to engage humbly, to rethink your own leadership from a different perspective.”

“God is profoundly at work” in Hatfield

by Emily Ralph, eralph@franconiaconference.org

Joint service Plains and Grace
Musicians from both Plains Mennonite and Grace Lutheran lead singing at the joint service. Pictured, from Grace: Lori Pluda, baritone, William Shaffer, trumpet, and Betty Murray, vocalist; from Plains: Dawn Derstine, songleader, and Janet Panning, piano. Photo by Emily Ralph

The story of Jesus calming the storm had special significance for Stacie Dougherty, interim pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, as she shared her message on Sunday during a joint service with Plains Mennonite, Hatfield.  “In our lives, too, storms will come along—forces out of our control,” she said.  “Things like … a devastating fire.”

This past New Year’s Eve, Grace experienced just that—a fire that destroyed the church’s educational building and left their Stepping Stones Nursery School without a facility.  When their proposed new facility fell through, they were left frantically looking for an alternative.

Meanwhile, at Plains, members of the congregation approached the pastoral team. “‘They were saying, ‘We have to do something about this’ and ‘What are we going to do?’” said Dawn Ranck, the congregation’s associate pastor.  For her, it was obvious.  “[We have Plains Park] because we want to be good stewards of our land and this is another way—we have the space.  It’s what God calls us to do.”  So the nursery school moved in.

Eight months later, the school is preparing to move out of their temporary space at Plains into a larger facility, the building which used to house the St. Maria Goretti School in Hatfield.  The two congregations gathered at Plains for worship and a picnic to celebrate.

Sometimes God uses people to bring calm in the storm, Dougherty said in her sermon.  “You, our sisters and brothers here at Plains Mennonite, took the concern and burden for the preschool from us when you so graciously offered your space. . . .  And by doing this, you lifted one of the worries caused by the fire and helped us on our way to peace and healing.”

Mike Derstine with Menno and Luther
Mike Derstine, Plains congregation, shares paintings of reformers Martin Luther and Menno Simons with the children during the joint service with Grace Lutheran. Photo by Emily Ralph

The partnership between Lutherans and Mennonites has not always been so easy.  The rift between the two denominations has existed since the 16th century, when followers of reformers Martin Luther and Menno Simons did not always see eye to eye on matters of life and theology.  In recent years, efforts have been made at reconciliation between the two denominations on local, national, and even global levels.

“You know what’s a good thing to do. . . when you’re trying to make peace with somebody?” asked Mike Derstine, pastor at Plains, as he showed paintings of Simons and Luther to children from Grace and Plains.  “To find out something about that person that you like.”

Both reformers brought important ideas to the church, Derstine said.  Simons urged the church to show their faith by helping others and Luther reminded the church that God’s love and salvation are free gifts—these are important ideas to keep in balance, Derstine told the children.

In the same way, even though Plains shared their resources with Grace, the gift was not one-sided, according to Ranck.  “It gave us a chance to be a part of something bigger than Plains, something bigger than ‘Mennonite,’” she said.

And she’s going to miss having the children around.  “I can’t imagine them not being here,” she said with a sigh.  “A couple of the kids, when I talked to them about leaving and I said, ‘I won’t be going,’ they’re like, ‘But there are offices over there!’”

Although Mennonites had been known for centuries as a people-group who kept to themselves, a growing ecumenical emphasis on Christian engagement with their community—which is manifested in programs like Plains Park and Stepping Stones—allows congregations to move past differences, according to Derstine.  “I think it’s easier for us [now] because we have a [new] outlook on the world that shapes our relationships across some of these barriers,” he reflected.  “We’re united in the same mission.”

Plains and Grace picnic
Joyce and Tom Salter from Grace Lutheran visit with Richard Lichty from Plains Mennonite at the post-service picnic at Plains Park. Photo by Emily Ralph

“When the people of Plains invited us to share in the [worship service and picnic], my first reaction was ‘Absolutely, we need to do this,’” said Frank Stone, congregation president at Grace.  “It was such a joy for us to worship with and to meet other believers in our community, especially those who so unselfishly reached out to us in our time of need.”

The joint worship, including a shared Eucharist, was significant for both congregations, added Derstine.  “I think our Communion today was a reminder that God is profoundly at work in bringing us together across our differences.”

Conference gathers to listen, pray, question and call

Stephen Kriss, skriss@franconiaconference.org

Over 100 Franconia Mennonite Conference leaders and representatives gathered at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School near Lansdale, Pa, on August 12, 2010, to hear a report from the Conference’s Review Steering Committee; to pray with and for newly elected moderators and board members; to hear a financial update and to ask questions. The meeting began with an acknowledgment from the Review Steering Committee Co-chair, Mike Derstine (Plains congregation), “this is an unusual and difficult time for our conference—and our coming together this evening might be viewed as the first step of a long process of further understanding and conversation—a process that we hope and pray ultimately leads to broad ownership and support of our conference vision and mission.”

The Review Committee was appointed earlier this year to provide a space for feedback and follow-up for the consulting work and recommendations of LaVern Yutzy from Mennonite Health Services Alliance, who was commissioned by the Franconia Conference Board to conduct a review and set recommendations after a conflict over decision-making related to staffing, finances and future Conference earlier this year. The committee includes Donella Clemens, Perkasie congregation; Mike Derstine, Plains congregation; Beny Krisbianto, Nations Worship Center; Jim Laverty, Souderton congregation and Joy Sutter, committee co-chair from Salford congregation. Sutter outlined the Review Steering Committee’s goals and work over the last months.

Following up on the recommendations from Yutzy’s report, the board approved near-term steps to reconfigure itself which then included this summer’s nominating and affirming process of the following Conference board members: John Goshow (moderator, Blooming Glen congregation); Miriam Book (assistant moderator, Salford congregation); Randy Nyce (finance committee chairperson, Salford congregation); and at-large members—Marta Beidler Castillo (Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation), Joe Hackman (Salford congregation), Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center), and James B. Longacre (Bally congregation). The seven new board members join remaining board members Jim King (Plains congregation), Jim Laverty (Souderton congregation), Rina Rampogu (Plains congregation) and Nelson Shenk (Boyertown congregation). Donella Clemens introduced the board and led in a commissioning prayer while the committee also sought to recognize the pain that led to the resignations of four board members including moderators, Blaine Detwiler, Lakeview congregation and Randy Heacock, Doylestown congregation along with at-large members Karen Moyer, Rocky Ridge congregation and Yvonne Platts, Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation.

Randy Nyce, newly affirmed finance committee chairperson, led in a brief overview and conversation that highlighted several ongoing issues with the Conference budget—including a long-term decline in congregational giving; the delayed sale of the development rights of Indian Creek Farm located near Harleysville, Pa, as was outlined in the Conference’s Vision and Financial Plan; and clarification on the integration of the Conference’s mission agency (formerly Franconia Mennonite Conference Board of Missions and Charities) to create “a missional conference” rather than a conference with a mission agency.

At the meeting’s outset, review committee co-chair Mike Derstine recognized that there were many tensions within the Conference at this time. Noting this he said, “Within our conference system, at a basic level, there has been a breakdown of trust. We have yet to hear and understand the deeper themes that tug at our Conference. We do know that there is suspicion and fear under the surface, and there are powerful voices on various sides, there is a naming of money and Mennonitism, in some cases tradition is pitted against mission. For some this new Conference Board represents a new day and fresh hopes for renewed mission and vision—and for others it feels like a step backwards into a maintenance mode that seeks to preserve the status quo.”

He continued, “As a conference, we are not all of one mind regarding these recent events and in the steps we’ve taken to move forward. And no one of us has always expressed our positions and oppositions in positive, Christ-like ways. We confess tonight that it isn’t easy for we who emphasize peacemaking and discipleship, to practice what we preach—especially when it comes to agreeing and disagreeing in love. Along the way we will all need more opportunities to listen and to speak—and we will certainly need ample time for confession and repentance—as well as large doses of God’s grace, forgiveness and healing. But tonight we begin the process forward with a small step. We know we need healing, we know we need more time to listen closely to each other, and we know all this is going to require more time and space than one meeting here in August—and yet here is where we need to start.”

The evening featured open times of question regarding the Review Steering Committee’s work along the future process of the new board. Responses included further calls to repentance and expressions of grief over the actions of the last months, more specifically letters were read and submitted to the Conference Board by Charlie Ness (Perkiomenville congregation) and Sharon Williams (Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation). In the questions and comments, there was a general acknowledgment that there is much work ahead that is both personal and communal; spiritual and incarnational.

The gathered community ended with a prayer of hope and commitment, led by Beny Krisbianto and Jim Laverty, “We commit to move forward in hope, loving you and growing in love for each other. Give us direction so we may know which way to choose and which to reject, which course to claim and which to refuse. Lead us to that which you will bless and that which brings honor to your name, God our Vision and our Guide.”