Tag Archives: Penn View

Christopher Dock, Penn View Boards Approve Integration – Name New Superintendent and Board

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Unified school system on target for 2015-16 school year

The prospect of one school system providing our community with Christ-centered education for early childhood through grade 12 is now one step closer to reality. The Board of Directors of Penn View Christian School and the Board of Trustees of Christopher Dock Mennonite High School voted this week to merge the two schools, and will continue working toward the goal of implementing the new organizational structure for the 2015-16 school year.

The boards also completed another piece of that organizational structure by naming 12 board members for the new unified school system. All 12 serve as current board members of either Christopher Dock or Penn View. Warren L. Tyson, current chair of the Christopher Dock Board of Trustees, and Mark Bergey, current chair of the Penn View Board of Directors, will co-chair the board of directors for the new school system. In addition, Dr. Conrad Swartzentruber, currently the Principal at Christopher Dock, has been named Superintendent of the unified school system.

“We look forward to building on the historical strengths of each school while encouraging the development of a new school identity deeply rooted in the Anabaptist Mennonite Christian faith stream,” said Tyson. “It’s been exciting to see how the theme of God ‘doing a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19) has unfolded since the start of the merger conversation. While each board did its own due diligence, the prevailing theme of being attentive to where God was leading us together has been important.”

“The decision to unify these schools is the result of more than six months of due diligence, but decades of collaboration and cooperation between the two schools,” added Bergey. “We are energized to be part of God’s continuing work in the education and spiritual formation of children in our community.”

Christopher Dock and Penn View Board members who will join the board of directors for the new unified school system include:

Mark Bergey, co-chair                                           Beny Krisbianto
Warren Tyson, co-chair                                        Chad Lacher
Ken Clemmer                                                            Scott Landis
John Duerksen                                                         Jim Lapp
Sharon Fransen                                                        Katie Longacre
Scott Heckler                                                             Rina Rampogu

The boards have been mindful of the school’s vital relationships with both Franconia Mennonite Conference and Eastern District Conference. Since the merging of the schools will result in a new set of bylaws that will govern both Christopher Dock and Penn View, conference leaders are working with delegates to approve those changes. That work is already underway in Franconia Conference. Future changes in the new integrated school system’s bylaws will require the approval of leaders of both Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference.

While both boards expressed gratitude for the significance of the two votes to approve the merger, there is understanding that work remains prior to the implementation of a unified school structure this fall. The new board will work together with Dr. Swartzentruber and the staffs of both schools to give clarity to the questions that remain.

“Both Penn View and Christopher Dock bring great strengths to this new venture,” said Dr. Swartzentruber. “Beginning in early childhood and continuing through high school, this unified school system will provide a Christ-centered education, preparing students to be lifelong learners.  They will receive the academic preparation needed to succeed in a global context, and will continue to learn, grow, serve, and contribute throughout their lives.”

“The path to a merger of these excellent Christian schools has been a deliberate one,” said Franconia Conference Moderator John Goshow. “Our conference looks forward to supporting the ongoing work of the boards and staffs of both schools.”

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For more information, contact:
Dr. Conrad Swartzentruber

Listening for a new move of God

by Lora Steiner, managing editor

Penny NaugleWhen Penny Naugle announced she was retiring after ten years as an elementary principal at Penn View Christian School in Souderton (Pa.) to become a chaplain, the teachers weren’t surprised.

“Well, duh,” one responded, “That’s what you do to us.”

If there is a usual path to chaplaincy work, Naugle didn’t follow it. She has taught in Christian schools for over 30 years, including Johnstown Christian in Hollsopple, Pennsylvania; Lake Center Christian School in Hartville, Ohio; and Bluffton College—now a university—in Bluffton, Ohio. Hoping to work at the college level, she earned a master’s degree from Kent State and completed a dissertation while teaching at Bluffton. After Bluffton, hoping to be closer to grandchildren, she accepted the job at Penn View.

About three years ago, over a lunch with a pastor friend, chaplaincy training came into the conversation. Naugle doesn’t remember what prompted it, just the thought that popped into her head: “I’d love to take that!”

The training in clinical pastoral education, which required her to work in a hospital, she says, was “a pure delight.”

For Naugle, ministry has always been an important aspect of her work. She knew early on she was being called to work in Christian education, and it became clear in recent years that she was being called towards chaplaincy.

And at a time when many of her peers are looking towards retirement, Naugle knew she wasn’t ready to slow down, but that she needed a new focus to re-energize her, and a balance in her life that the long hours spent at her work had not permitted.

She resigned her job without a clear path, knowing God was inviting her to step out.

“It really felt that God was pulling me in that new direction,” Naugle says.  “I have said this to my teachers over the years, I always think we should never feel trapped where we are; we should feel called where we are, and we need to keep our eyes and noses and ears up above the fray to see what else is there.”

Now, she’s a chaplain at Rockhill Mennonite Community in Sellersville (Pa.).

Naugle’s primary area of visitation is in nursing, which means that she visits all residents in the hospital, and follows up with them when they arrive home. Part of her work also involves what’s known as “cold calling,” or dropping in on residents without scheduling a visit in advance. Some chaplains have found this intimidating or un-energizing, but Naugle says it can open up incredible exchanges with people who have long and eloquent things to say about their lives.

For Naugle, she’s increasingly interested in spiritual direction, too, and the importance not only of prayer but also of listening for God.

Not to always be looking for something new, she says, “but to be aware of new possibilities so that we can say, ‘We’re here because it is where God has called us to be.’ Or, ‘Is there new space where I could be excited about it?’ If we are too narrow in our sights we might miss those opportunities.”

Franconia Conference gathers to celebrate, pray, confer, listen

Garden Chapel Children's Choir
Garden Chapel’s children’s choir led a rousing rendition of “Our God” at Conference Assembly 2013. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

Franconia Conference delegates and leaders gathered November 2 at Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa. to celebrate God still at work.   With a packed auditorium for a third united assembly with Eastern District Conference, representatives gathered to listen and pray, to celebrate newly credentialed and ordained pastoral leaders, and to work alongside one another after an over 150-year rift created two separate Mennonite entities.  The theme “God still @ work” was an extension of the 2012 theme, “God @ work.”

With singing in Indonesian, Spanish, and English led by Samantha Lioi (Peace and Justice Minister for both conferences) and Bobby Wibowo (Philadelphia Praise Center) and translation into Franconia Conference’s worshipping languages, delegates and representatives from nearly all of the Conference’s congregations from Georgia to Vermont gathered to confer around a board-crafted statement on the Conference’s increasing diversity in ethnicity, experiences, faith practice, and expression.   The gathering was punctuated with points of celebration including testimony from Peaceful Living led by Joe Landis and Louis Cowell from Salford congregation, a youth choir from the revitalizing Garden Chapel in Victory Gardens, NJ, and a moment to mark the upcoming November retirement of Franconia Conference Pastor of Ministerial Leadership Noah Kolb after 45 years of ministry, which was met with rousing applause and a standing ovation.

Noah blessing 2013
Noah Kolb was recognized and blessed for 45 years of ministry. He will retire in November. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

In a shortened one-day event, delegates spent the morning together around tables with Eastern District Conference to continue to deepen relationships across conference lines.  Business sessions were separate, and Franconia’s included a significant amount of time in conversations among table groups, conferring over the board statement and then reporting on those conversations to the whole body.  Delegates and representatives were encouraged to mix across congregational lines to better hear and experience the diversity of conference relationships.

For many, including Tami Good, Souderton (Pa.) congregation’s Pastor of Music & Worship, who was attending Conference Assembly for the first time, the table conversations were holy spaces.  Each person at her table was from a different congregation.   “I saw God at work in the gracious listening, especially in the time when we talked about the conferring statement,” Good reflected. “There were disagreements, but everyone was graciously listening and hearing.  Everyone actually wanted to hear each other.  It was a beautiful time.”

The conferring time, along with an afternoon workshop led by the Franconia Conference board, focused on prayer and visioning for the Conference into the future.   Conference board members Jim Longacre (Bally congregation), Rina Rampogu (Plains congregation), Jim Laverty (Souderton congregation), and Klaudia Smucker (Bally congregation) served as a listening committee for the daylong event.  They reported seven themes of consistent and continued conversation: engagement, diversity, shared convictions, authority, polity, the role of conference, and the reality of changing relationships and engagement.  Board members noted that there is much response work to do to continue the conversation and discernment process.

Bruce Eglinton-Woods, pastor of Salem congregation (Quakertown, Pa.), said, “The challenge is speaking clearly on what we believe and where we are at, which is often a challenge for Mennonite leaders. My hope and prayer is that we can trust God and release the idea of keeping it all together. We need to let God do the holding together.”

Franconia Conference delegates spent time conferring and praying together.  Photo by Bam Tribuwono.
Franconia Conference delegates spent time conferring and praying together. Photo by Bam Tribuwono.

According to Rampogu, one of the longest standing Conference board members, “the hardest part about this kind of meeting is that there isn’t enough time. We want to share and to talk together,” she said.  “That is a positive sign.  People want to connect.  My hope and prayer is that we keep our goal in mind, keeping our mission focused on equipping leaders to empower others to embrace God’s mission, with Christ in the center and churches focused on missional activity.”

In business sessions, delegates selected a number of positions by 97% affirmation including a 2nd term for conference moderator John Goshow (Blooming Glen congregation) along with board member Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center), as well as ministerial and credentialing committee members Rose Bender (Whitehall congregation), Ken Burkholder (Deep Run East congregation), Mike Clemmer (Towamencin congregation) and Chris Nickels (Spring Mount congregation).   Randy Nyce (Salford congregation) who is completing a term as finance committee chair and board member reported on Conference finances, noting an 11% decrease in financial contributions from congregations.

“I was surprised and pleased that the attendance at Assembly 2013 was so strong; seeing the room filled to capacity was an affirmation of how much the delegates and guests in attendance care for our conference,” Goshow noted.  “Franconia Conference is all of us who are members of our 42 churches and our Conference Related Ministries.  It is my hope and prayer that together we chart a course that will advance God’s Kingdom in exciting and wonderful ways.”

Listen to the podcast.

Conference Assembly 2013 Highlight Video from Franconia Conference on Vimeo.

Hurricane Sandy leaves destruction and opportunity

by Emily Ralph, eralph@franconiaconference.org

Three days after Hurricane Sandy swept through south-eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, members of Franconia Conference are still cleaning up from massive flooding, downed trees and power lines, and extensive power outages.

Communication has been challenging and reports are trickling in–entire communities are still without power, dealing with road closures, and running short on supplies as gas stations and grocery stores are also without electricity.

Some of the reports we have heard:

  • Power is still out at Deep Run East (Perkasie, Pa.), Doylestown (Pa.), Swamp (Quakertown, Pa.), Methacton (Norristown, Pa.) and Garden Chapel (Dover, NJ) facilities.
  • Most of the Garden Chapel congregation is without power, although there have been no reports of damage to homes or the church building.
  • Methacton had and continues to have flooding in their basement/fellowship hall.  Without electricity, they are unable to pump the water out.
  • Many members of congregations along the Rte. 113 corridor around Souderton, Pa., are without power, as are the Conference Center offices and the Souderton Center, which is owned by Franconia Conference.  Penn View Christian School—the site of next weekend’s Conference Assembly—is also without electricity.   These power outages extend as far north as Allentown and as far east as the Delaware River.
  • Despite reports of wider damage in Philadelphia, Franconia congregations in the city survived the hurricane mostly unscathed.
Zume after Hurricane Sandy
Ben Walter, Ripple (right), and his housemates at the Zume House intentional community in Allentown, hosted their “power-less” neighbors for dinner the night after the hurricane. Luke Martin, Vietnamese Gospel, was among the guests.

In the midst of such wide-spread destruction, conference congregations are finding opportunities to minister to one another and their communities:

  • A young mother at Doylestown congregation made meals and delivered them to members of her congregation who were without power.
  • Salford (Harleysville, Pa.) congregation, once their own electricity was restored, opened their facilities to anyone in the community who needed heat, bathrooms, clean water, or a place to plug in their electronic devices.  They also expanded their weekly Community Meal to include those who needed a hot dinner.
  • Individuals throughout the region have opened their homes to friends and neighbors without power, delivered supplies to those who are stuck at home because of blocked roads, and brought their chainsaws to aid in the cleanup.
  • Members of Ripple Allentown (Pa.) who were without power met at their pastors’ home for a meal and to “warm up a bit,” reported Carolyn Albright. “It was a holy, blessed time together.”

Noah Kolb, Pastor of Ministerial Leadership for Franconia Conference, received two emails from conference congregations encouraging members to share their resources with others in their congregation and neighborhoods.  “Often we try to get beyond these things to get to the work of church,” Kolb reflected, “but this IS church.  This is really the stuff of church.”

Because of the challenges of communication, conference staff has not been able to contact all conference congregations to learn of current conditions, needs, and relief efforts.  If you have any information, please report it to your LEADership Minister or any member of conference staff—don’t assume that the staff already know about it.

If your congregation and neighborhood has made it through relatively unscathed, please check in with other congregations in your region to see how you can help; also consider how your congregation’s facility or aid can help the greater community.

If you are aware of relief efforts or needs, please report these to conference staff so that they can connect needs with resources.  The conference email and phones are up and running.

On Monday, as the hurricane was approaching, Michael King, a member of Salford and the dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary (Harrisonburg, Va.), sent out an email to seminary students and staff.  “I don’t know precisely how we theologize at a time like this,” King wrote.  “Jesus teaches that the rain falls on the just and the unjust and that tragedies are not signs that we’re out of God’s favor. The Bible is also rich with images of God’s care, of God as the mother who shelters us under tender wings.  My loved ones, your loved ones, and all of us are in my heart and prayers amid the yearnings for God’s shelter.”

Penn View students take science competition by storm

Students from Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa, participated in the Montgomery County Science Research Competition last week, taking home twenty-five awards and sending fifteen projects on to the regional science fair.

The 55th Montgomery County Science Research Competition (MCSRC) was held March 15-18 on the main campus of Montgomery County Community College. Five-hundred and eighty-two junior and senior high school students from all over Montgomery County participated in this year’s event. Students choose topics of scientific research, design and carry out experiments, and then prepare speeches and poster presentations to share with the 122 judges representing a diverse population of scientists, engineers, medical doctors, and science teachers. They are entered into one of 14 categories ranging from the Behavioral and Social Sciences to Biochemistry, Mathematics, Engineering, Chemistry, Zoology and Botany. First and second place winners in the high school divisions and first, second, and third place winners in the middle school divisions go onto the Delaware Valley Regional Science Fair which includes 8 Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Penn View Christian School did very well in E Division (middle school), taking 6 first place awards in the 12 categories that students were entered. In addition, 6 students won second place awards and 3 came in third. Penn View students also “swept” the Biochemistry category, taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd out of the 23 students entered. Ten students were awarded honorable mentions. When all the points were added Penn View won the Richard A. Close award (named after a teacher and former director of MCSRC). For a full list of winners and categories, visit Penn View’s website.

Penn View Christian School is a Conference Related Ministry of Franconia Conference.

Middle school students from Penn View Christian School participating in the Montgomery County Research Science Competiton.

–UPDATE: Results from the Delaware Valley Science Fair with Penn View Christian Students–

Megan Swintosky                                

  • Ist Place Biochemistry
  • Parenteral Drug Assn. Award  ($1000)
  • Janssen Biotechnology Award ($150)
  • Broadcom MASTERS Award
Jimmy Olsen

  • 3rd Place Biochemistry
  • DuPont Excellence award ($50 and a day at the DuPont Labs in Delaware)
  • Broadcom MASTERS award
Madison Buiting

  • 2nd Place Botany
  • Broadcom MASTERS award
Colin Bernd

  • 3rd Place in Mathematics
  • Broadcom MASTERS award
Jessica Chung

  • DuPont Excellence award ($50 and a day at the DuPont Labs in Delaware)
Sharon Curtis / Maddison Landis

  • HM in Team Category
Laura Olsen

  • HM in Chemistry
Addie Olsen

  • HM in Mathematics
Maxwell Howald

  • HM in Biochemistry

Jimmy Olsen, Megan Swintosky, and Maxwell Howald.
Jimmy Olsen, Megan Swintosky, and Maxwell Howald.