Tag Archives: MOG

Beyond Our Comfort Zones

by Andrés Castillo, communication intern

Finland congregation’s CrossGen conference at Spruce Lake Retreat, with speaker Sean McDowell. The conference focused on intergenerational unity, with panels representing different generations asking questions of each other.

Every year, Franconia Conference gives Missional Operational Grants to congregations to help them think and dream about mission.  Noel Santiago, Franconia’s leadership minister for missional transformation, described his initial vision for the 2018 MOGs as providing “resources to help congregations reach out and get out of their comfort zone.”

Both executive minister Steve Kriss and Santiago have emphasized that the grants are for starting new initiatives, not sustaining them forever. By overcoming the obstacle of money, churches can begin to experiment; leaders and congregations are encouraged to be more creative. The ultimate hope is that, after the grant period ends, the new conversations and ideas started by it will continue to live on and evolve.

Last year’s MOG recipients have done a good job at what Kriss calls “honoring the legacy of Franconia’s mission to spread Christ’s peace throughout the world.” Here’s a look into what some of them did in 2018:

Indonesian Light Church (ILC) in South Philadelphia has hosted a monthly “food bazaar” to reach out to their community. “We learned that every seed planted needs nurturing and time to grow until it can grow strong roots and bear fruit,” ILC’s report reads. “Without time, love, and commitment to sowing and nurturing, there will be no significant result.” ILC plans to continue experimenting with ways to connect with the Indonesian community in south Philadelphia.

Nations Worship Center (Philadelphia) conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) with students from Dock Mennonite Academy (9-12) that received positive feedback and results, including new families faithfully attending church after the VBS was over. They also received help from the city of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Praise Center, and ACME. Nations Worship acknowledges that many of the children who attended their VBS come from struggling families and, “If we lose them, we lose our future.”

A Karen member of Whitehall congregation leads in prayer.

Philadelphia Praise Center (PPC) further developed the Taproot Gap Year program, an initiative for college students that involves sending them to live in Philadelphia and Indonesia. PPC maintains an office and staff in Indonesia for this purpose, which PPC pastor Aldo Siahaan says is not easy. “Thank God we have support from the conference,” he says. “Creating a program like this is not new to the conference, but it is for us.”

Whitehall (PA) congregation used their MOG for increasing leadership development among its Karen (Burmese) members. Pastors Rose Bender and Danilo Sanchez have been creatively finding new ways to integrate the various ethnicities within the church. “It isn’t as much about ‘let’s help these poor people’ as it used to be,” Bender says.  As this long process unfolds, the congregation “understands more and more how much everyone needs each other.”

Vietnamese Gospel (Allentown, PA) invited people in its surrounding community to have a large fellowship gathering, with speakers giving testimonies. The event was meant to empower their members and share the word of God with people outside of their church. Vietnamese Gospel hopes to make this an annual event to build relationships with its community.

Pastor Bruce Eglinton-Woods of Salem congregation has been working closely with the Quakertown (PA) Community Center (The Drop), an after-school and weekend program for at-risk children and teens created in response to the opioid crisis. The ministry helps attendees figure out the next steps of their lives in a judgment-free zone. Eglinton-Woods has learned how hard it is hard to gain the trust of teenagers and children and hopes to eventually grow the program to five days a week.

Ripple congregation (Allentown, PA) was able to provide training for two of their pastors, Charlene Smalls and Marilyn Bender, at the International Institute for Restorative Practices. The Ripple pastors have been using restorative practices to better meet their congregation and community’s needs.

Salem congregation has been partnering with Quakertown’s “The Drop” community center for at-risk children and youth.

Other congregations who received MOGs were Plains congregation (Hatfield, PA) for an unconventional July 4th picnic, Souderton (PA) and Doylestown (PA) congregations for the Vocation as Mission Summer Internship Program, International Worship Center (San Gabriel, CA) for technological equipment, Finland congregation (Pennsburg, PA) for their CrossGen conference, and Perkiomenville congregation for its GraceNow conference.

Every congregation has a unique, beautiful story that honors God’s mission to unite the world as one under Him. What is God doing in your congregation and community?  Share your stories by emailing communication@franconiaconference.org or check in with your congregation’s leadership minister about ways that your congregation might use an MOG to develop your missional imagination and neighborhood connections.

The Space In-Between: Work, Hope and Missional Operations Grants

by Stephen Kriss

Over the last ten years, Franconia Conference has released over $500,000 through the Missional Operations Grant (MOG) fund.  These grants are tools that help instigate and cultivate missional initiatives connected with our Conference and congregations. They’ve been used broadly over the last decade to cultivate ministries in our local congregations and around the world from India to Indonesia to Mexico and the Caribbean, even assisting in the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina.

As staff work with congregations developing ministries to further the mission and vision of the Kingdom of God and Franconia Conference, they are able to help resource these initiatives with MOGs.  Our last staff meeting involved a spirited discussion how to best continue to implement and inform the use of this significant tool justly, fairly, and openly across our congregations.

11894513_866533416748400_313644984214870327_oCongregations are able to apply for MOGs and with the blessing of the LEADership Minister and congregation leadership these applications are passed on to the Ministry Resource Fund Grant Committee. The MOGs approved by the committee focus on ministries within conference congregation or partnerships between congregations and other organizations/ministries. The projects funded are intent on mutuality, rooted in considerations of justice, building on strengths, and calling forth new and next-generation leaders. To see a list of the projects funded in 2015 visit the MOG tab at: http://franconiaconference.org/mission/stewardship/.

Last year, due to a change in allocation of funds in the account (reduced from 20% to 10% of total available dollars), there are less funds available causing us to be more strategic this year with the reduced dollars.  Already this year 8 MOG grants have been approved mostly to our urban congregations (keep your eye on the MOG webpage at FranconiaConference.org for coming testimonies). With our average grant amount coming in at approximately $4000, we have only enough left in the fund this year to grant possibly two to three additional requests.  We’ve capped the requests this year at $5000 per congregation with only a single disbursement likely. Grants are requested through an application process that should be done in consultation with the congregation’s LEADership Ministers and then approved by the Ministry Resource Fund Grant Committee. More information can be found on the MOG tab at: http://franconiaconference.org/mission/stewardship/.

The grants allow the Conference and LEADership Ministers to assist in funding creative spaces for our churches.  The return on investment of these funds is high though the initiatives themselves don’t always seem successful in a traditional sense of understanding.   The grants invite our congregations to take risks for the sake of the dream of God.  We trust the outcomes into God’s hands.

Most MOG funds are sourced from estate bequests and contributions from the revenue from Conference-owned properties.   This year we are expecting to receive an estate gift that will likely allow an increase in available funds for next year.  If you’d like to help boost our ongoing capacity to instigate missional initiatives now and into the future, I’d be glad to talk with you or your congregation. You or your congregation are welcome to donate specifically to the MOG Fund as well. This is important and generative work.   It’s a glimpse of the good that comes when we can share the labor together in times of opportunity and possibility.

We still work and hope.  And we trust in the power of Christ to take our work and multiply it for the sake of the world.

 

Cross Cultural Minister at Perkiomenville Mennonite

TonyReyesPerkiomenville 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.

Ministry to Veterans

Chris Nickels 5-21-15As 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?

Salford Mennonite Church and Spring Mount Mennonite Church partnered with Peaceful Living and Veterans Community Network to offer a training for those interested in learning more about the trauma veterans and their families face, the stages veterans move through as they prepare for deployment and return, and the spiritual impact of war. A Missional Operations Grant was given to aid in covering the cost of this training as the conference works to be a place of hope and healing.

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.

Community Outreach through Cemetery Upkeep

SalemMOGSalem 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 12122868_1001542019909693_9124865221014430519_nrelationships 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:

One Stitch at a Time

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.

Collaborative Youth Ministry in the Lehigh Valley

11894513_866533416748400_313644984214870327_oThe 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 the12227141_625635004242784_7705795286382547842_n 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 12017552_610564622416489_5016454301448657351_othis 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!”

Spanish Ministry at Garden Chapel

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.

Bike and Sol

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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: 11181710_1490602524567520_2419440798036187107_n

  • 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.

Leadership Development in Cuba

Pastor Angel Cordero, president of CIMPEC.
Pastor Angel Cordero, president of CIMPEC.

In 2015, Franconia Conference provided a Missional Operations Grant to assist Nueva Vida Norristown New Life in a partnership with CIMPEC (Cuba’s national pastors’ and ministers’ association). According to CIMPEC president, Pastor Angel Cordero, 70% of the pastors in Cuba have never attended a Bible school or seminary. This MOG was able to assist in providing 6 days of training for these pastors.