Tag Archives: Phil Bergey

Surprised by the call

by Phil Bergey, interim lead pastor at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church

My work as an executive coach and process consultant requires me to travel around the country as I work with church-related organizations from various denominations. I enjoy my work and was looking forward to doing more of it after having recently finished a Ph.D in human and organizational systems.

phil bergeyThen came a call I did not anticipate. My wife Evon and I have been members at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church for 20 years. This congregation helped raise our three children and has been a place of support for all of us. Firman Gingerich, our lead pastor, announced his resignation and he and his wife Susan’s plans to re-locate to Iowa to be closer to family. Blooming Glen’s congregational leadership board (CLB) wanted me to explore if there was any way I could serve as part-time interim lead pastor in the midst of my other work.

I was surprised: surprised by the call, surprised by my initial openness, surprised by my family’s encouragement, and surprised that after several conversations with my spiritual director I found myself seriously exploring the possibility.

Despite this surprise, being called to serve in ministry roles is not new for me. In 1978, I felt called to voluntary service with Mennonite Board of Missions to Stratford, Ontario. In 1984, I was called to congregational leadership at Franconia Mennonite Church, the congregation into which I was born. In 1988, I felt called to pursue training for Christian service and moved my family several times in order for me to study at Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS). In 1991, I was called to serve as a teaching elder at Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind. In 1993, I was called to serve as conference coordinator and executive of Franconia Mennonite Conference, a role I served in for 14 years with the identity of a seminary-trained businessperson rather than as a pastor.

So why was I surprised by this call to serve as part-time interim lead pastor at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church? I am still puzzling over this, but I suspect it has something to do with growing up in the midst of our family business, Bergey’s Electric. I watched as my parents and siblings integrated ministry into their everyday work. I did not grow up with a dichotomy between church and work although the intersection of the two remains a lifetime fascination. (At AMBS, my master’s thesis was titled “What has Wall Street to do with Jerusalem.”) Work settings are just another way to interact—and minister—with people around us. Ministry happens when we are open to being used by God wherever we are called.

Over the past few months I have realized one more surprise. My dissertation focused on the question: How do Mennonite pastors describe their role in leading planned organizational change? At the time it seemed expedient to focus on a group I knew well and could easily work with to conduct my research. I figured the learnings would be useful in my work coaching pastors and other religious leaders. In retrospect, God was planning yet another surprise.

So I look forward to putting my theoretical learning to use in the ministry opportunity of pastoring a congregation through a time of leadership transition. I am honored to do this with a wonderful pastoral team and many committed volunteer leaders. This reality tempers my fears as I realize that ministry is a community calling when that community is open to God’s leading. To this end I find comforting the words of Jesus when he said to his disciples in John 16:12-14:

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Three congregations credential new leaders on Pentecost

by Sheldon C. Good

Many Christian congregations commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, and three Franconia Conference congregations in particular acknowledged the Spirit’s movement through the credentialing of leaders for ministry.

On June 8, all occurring in southeastern Pennsylvania, Donna Merow was ordained and Danilo Sanchez and Phil Bergey were licensed for ministry. Their credentialing brings the number of credentialed leaders in the conference to approximately 160 men and women serving in at least seven states and four countries.

Merow was ordained for pastoral ministry at the Ambler congregation, where she has pastored for more than four years. LEAD minister Jenifer Eriksen Morales led Merow’s credentialing. Merow chose to be ordained on Pentecost Sunday after discovering she was confirmed in the United Methodist church on Pentecost 40 years prior.

Donna Merow's ordination
LEADership Minister Jenifer Eriksen Morales and members of the congregation pray at the ordination of Donna Merow (seated center), pastor of Ambler Mennonite Church. Photo by Andrew Huth.

“The 40-year journey from one public confession of faith to another,” Merow said, “has been a significant one for me — including marriage and becoming a mother and grandmother, completing college and graduate work, worshipping in multiple traditions other than the one in which I grew up, and facing the challenges of breast cancer and kidney disease.”

Merow was only 12 when the possibility of religious vocation was first suggested to her. Between now and then, she “worked at a church camp, dropped out of college, cared for blind students, got married, and raised two daughters.” She has also been an active participant in churches from several denominations: Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Mennonite.

She described her credentialing ceremony as “an outward acknowledgement of an inward change in identity as I became a pastor in the process of practicing pastoral care.”

Sanchez was licensed for youth ministry among multiple Anabaptist congregations in and around Allentown. LEAD minister Steve Kriss led the credentialing. Sanchez is primarily working with Whitehall and Ripple, both Franconia congregations, by leading music or teaching children, but is also working alongside Karen Fellowship (independent), Iglesia Menonita Evangelica Restoracion (Lancaster Conference), Christ Fellowship (Eastern District Conference), and Vietnamese Gospel (Franconia Conference).

Sanchez said his licensing felt like an important personal and professional step because many people and institutions, including Franconia Conference and Whitehall, “are recognizing my gifts and willing to walk alongside me as a pastor.” Sanchez, grew up in the Boyertown congregation and has interned with both Souderton congregation and Philadelphia Praise Center while a student at Eastern University. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite Seminary last year with a Master of Divinity degree.

Members of Whitehall Mennonite Church pray over Danilo Sanchez
Members of Whitehall Mennonite Church pray over Danilo Sanchez. Photo by Patti Connolly.

“I finally feel like a pastor,” he said. “I am so honored that God has called me to be a leader. I’m thankful for the ways that Whitehall and Ripple will shape me into the leader God has called me to be.”

Bergey was licensed as interim lead pastor of the Blooming Glen congregation, where he has been a member for about 20 years. Ertell Whigham, executive minister of Franconia Conference, led the credentialing. Bergey is former conference executive of Franconia Mennonite Conference.

In the wake of Firman Gingerich’s resignation as Blooming Glen’s lead pastor, the congregation’s board invited Bergey to assume a part-time interim lead pastorate. The congregation is searching for a long-term pastor.

Phil Bergey
Phil Bergey, interim lead pastor of Blooming Glen.

Bergey preached the morning of his licensing, focusing on the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12. He framed the commencement of his pastoral leadership and the pastoral search processes not as the beginning of a journey but the continuation of a journey. That journey, he said, includes the history of the Blooming Glen congregation, the Anabaptist tradition, and the Christian church, going all the way back to Abraham and Sarah.

Bergey said: “Blooming Glen, like other congregations, has been through pastoral transitions before; it is simply part of a congregation’s life together. And pastoral transitions are especially true for a congregation that is approaching 300 years of age.”