Perkiomenville Mennonite Church has shared a partnership with Pastor Bob Stevenson and the Monte Maria Church in Mexico City for years. The congregation has enjoyed yearly trips where they are able to experience cross cultural missions that are personally enriching and expands the vision of ministry in the Perkiomenville community. In the summer or 2015 for the first time someone from Monte Maria was coming to Perkiomenville. Tony Reyes is a young man from Monte Maria Church is a gifted pianist, songwriter, music producer, and ministry leader. Franconia Conference’s Missional Operations Grant provided for Tony’s expenses as he lived and worked with Perkiomenville Mennonite Church, Project Haven, and Urban Expressions. During his time here, Tony was able to learn leadership skills, improve his English speaking abilities, and equip him for ministry.
Read more about how Tony’s ministry with Perkiomenville here.
What is now Nueva Vida Norristown New Life (NVNNL) formed from one of the first mission outreaches of Franconia Conference in 1919. The conference would see two initiatives in Bridgeport and in Conshohocken come and go. Then there was the development of First Mennonite, predominately of Anglo ethnicity; Bethel Mennonite under African-American leadership; and Iglesia Menonita Hispana Fuentes de Salvación. These three congregations with a vision to be intercultural would join together in 1990 to become Nueva Vida Norristown New Life.
The Missional Operations Grant that was received by NVNNL was to show the continued support of the conference to the work of God in Norristown. The grant added in providing for the 25th Anniversary Community Fiesta and Concert in July 2015.
With a tent perched in their parking lot, NVNNL hosted a couple hundred of present and former members, greatly enriched by their Norristown neighbors for gospel worship, led by acclaimed pianist James Crumbly, a concert with Crumbly and Friends and a pig roast and fiesta. The celebration was essentially an elaboration of what NVNNL does each month during the summer season, as Jim Williams, a long-time lay leader, “We canvass the neighborhood, hand out flyers inviting everyone to outdoor worship and a congregational meal.” As Marta Castillo, one of three pastors, remarked, “From the beginning it was in our DNA, first reaching out to Jewish, then African-American, then Spanish. And that day Pastor Beny from the Indonesian church in Philadelphia brought about two dozen folks, so it was more of a cultural mix than usual.”
As more and more young men and women return home from war, the Mennonite church is faced with more of those people entering their congregations. As a peace church should we not be working toward helping all people find peace, including our veterans returning home from war?
Read a reflection on the training by Pastor Chris Nickels at Spring Mount Mennonite Church here.
As a peace church that speaks out against, acts against, and prays against violence, But as the men and women who experience that violence return home, our mandate grows to include helping them find peace and healing.
Salem Mennonite Church says they were being challenged by God “to watch, look, and listen…” then join in! As they did this, Pastor Bruce at Salem was invited to organize the volunteers for the Union Cemetery project, a Quakertown private non-profit cemetery, that ended up in disarray. The project would be a cemetery clean-up, beautification, and weed whacking project. Salem Mennonite Church envisioned an opportunity to engage local youth to assist in the project. The Missional Operations Grant (MOG) that Salem received assisted in the purchase of necessary materials for the clean-up project and aided in providing space for youth to build relationships with church members.
Through this project, Pastor Bruce and Salem Mennonite Church have been able to build relationships with youth, local businesses, the community, and government leaders. It has lead to opportunities for the church to engage more deeply with their community.
For more information about the project and the other doors God is opening in Quakertown for Salem view the video below of Pastor Bruce sharing the cemetery upkeep testimony at the 2015 conference assembly:
A member at Methacton Mennonite Church, Tiana Martinez, was stirred to action by a sermon delivered by a guest speaker, Pastor Juan Marrero from Crossroads Community Center in Philadelphia, a ministry to those in recovery or recently released from prison who need a place to stay. Pastor Juan noted a need for blankets, and Tiana felt the Spirit’s nudge. She set a goal to donate 100 afghans to Crossroads by December 2015 thus launching, “One Stitch at a Time Ministry.” Tiana wondered is others across Franconia Conference would be interested in joining her in this endeavor. She contact her LEADership Minister, Jenifer Eriksen Morales, who helped Tiana connect with other congregations. So far, members of Methacton, Alpha, and Garden Chapel are working together to meet this goal. Participants were able to gather together to crochet and fellowship with each other, building relationships based in ministry between congregations.
The Missional Operations Grant helped to cover the cost of yarn and other necessary supplies to support One Stitch at a Time.
The Lehigh Valley is home to some of Franconia Conference’s thriving congregations that operate on very limited funds. In order to aid those congregations work in music ministry and with children and youth, Franconia Conference provided a Missional Operations Grant (MOG) to both Whitehall Mennonite Church and Ripple-Allentown to aid them in maintaining an MCC East Coast service worker to provide music and youth ministry.
This service worker, Danilo Sanchez, has been an asset to the Lehigh Valley and the broader conference. Here is what Pastor Rose Bender of Whitehall had to say about the work this MOG is supporting:
“Whitehall Mennonite Church (WMC) is a small but vibrant congregation with an increasing Karen refugee population. Some Sundays, it feels like the children and youth outnumber the adults! It is a great ‘problem’ to have, but it has continued to be a challenge for me as a pastor that is only to work 20 hours a week to navigate this and support our youth. When we dreamed about working with other small Anabaptist congregations several years ago, we still weren’t sure how we would financially be able to support anyone who could be a youth minister to our young people. We are so grateful for Danilo Sanchez’ work with the Lehigh Valley Youth. With the support of RIPPLE, WMC, Franconia’s Matching Grant, and MCC East Coast, we have been able to support Danilo for this missional experiment with the Lehigh Valley Youth. He is able to work with youth from RIPPLE, Vietnamese Gospel, WMC, and the broader Karen Community. He has also done volunteer work in the community to connect with kids outside the church. Urban youth ministry is very different from other youth ministry and we are learning together how to start a relational, intergenerational youth ministry from the ground up. It’s challenging and messy. It requires flexibility and contextualization. This is work and these are kids who would not be getting the attention, support, and pastoring without the support of MCC and Franconia Conference. We are grateful for this on-going commitment to support folks on the margins! And look forward to what God will do in year 3 of this experiment!”
Garden Chapel has a thriving children’s ministry that has grown out of their flourishing summer camp, community garden club, and a music ministry with community children. As more and more children form the community have become involved in the church there is a growing need to connect with their parents who are largely Spanish speakers.
The Missional Operations Grant provided by Franconia Conference to Garden Chapel is to support he congregations partnership with local pastor, Hector Quinones, who has a heart for the immigrant community. In addition, the grant will provide leadership and intercultural training, written materials in Spanish, aid for bi-lingual service and to support a monthly Spanish service.
Perkiomenville Mennonite Church has been partnering with Project Haven and their new project Bike and Sol, “providing an environment for students and individuals to learn and experience cycling, skating, biking and other wheeled activities in a student managed business setting, modeled through Christian principles.”
It is a Teens Teaching Teens program utilizing volunteer students who are mentored and:
learn the bicycle shop trade,
develop skills in management and
work ethics through Christian principles.
Bike and Sol recycles bicycles and then sells them as well as services bicycles in the community through its service center. You can visit the bike shop which is located behind the Upper Perk Community Life Center.
The Missional Operations Grant provided by Franconia Conference assisted with start up costs, funding a bike shop manager and the start up costs of parts and marketing. Perkiomenville Mennonite members donate to the bike shop and to have their own bikes repaired.
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:
$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.
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.