Tag Archives: Randy Nyce

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.

Enter into life with all your heart

by Emily Ralph, Swamp Mennonite

Luke and Dot Beidler were recognized for their lives of ministry, service, and stewardship at the joint Franconia and Eastern District Conference Assembly on November 11. Everence representative, Randy Nyce, presented Luke and Dot with the organization’s National Journey Award for excellent stewardship of time, money, and service.

“We’d like to return that honor and praise to God,” Luke responded. Dot agreed.  “My heart is really warmed by a God that provides paths for us to go on,” she shared. “And as we say yes to the opportunities we have in life, we find God is all-sufficient. . . . Even if what we have doesn’t seem like enough, God makes it enough.”

From a young age, Luke and Dot experienced the sufficiency of God. As children, they moved with their families to Haycock Township (Pa.) to join a mission effort that led to the planting of Franconia Conference congregations like Rocky Ridge, Salem, and Steel City.

High school sweethearts, Luke and Dot married after graduating from Eastern Mennonite College in 1965. They wanted to participate in mission and enthusiastically accepted an inivitation to serve as missionaries in Vietnam with Eastern Mennonite Missions.

In Vietnam, they saw the reality of war up close. Some friends and fellow missionaries didn’t make it home. Luke and Dot struggled with their need to depend on a government to airlift them out when the fighting intensified and their children’s lives became endangered. How should a pacifist respond?

Back in the states, Luke returned to school, this time at the University of Pittsburgh to study anthropology and international education. In that university environment, he and Dot discovered that their Vietnam experience made them particularly sensitive to the anti-war crowd. “We were as hippy as you could be,” Luke recently told a class of seminary students. Then he laughed. “On the inside.”

Luke and Dot Beidler with their son Ken and daughter Marta when they were serving in Indonesia.

But their heart was still for mission and in 1976 the Beidlers joined Mennonite Central Committee in a partnership with local missionaries in Indonesia. Their years on the island of Borneo shaped their identities as they learned about true simplicity: living without electricity, washing clothes and bathing in the river, and eating whatever food was available.

When their children reached high school age, Luke and Dot returned the family to Pennsylvania where the teens enrolled in Christopher Dock Mennonite High School. Luke served as the Missions Secretary for Franconia Conference while Dot taught at Penn View Christian School.

After ten years of serving in the conference, Luke and Dot were ready to move back to the fringe. Luke was invited to serve as an associate pastor of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life in 1995 and, one year later, he and Dot purchased a home next door to the church building. It had been converted into apartments by a former missionary to provide low-income housing. The Beidlers felt called to continue this mission.

For the last 15 years, they have lived alongside their residents and they have come to love their home as well as their neighbors. Luke tends the gardens around their building and the church property. “We feel safe in community with a household,” Dot believes. “Urban issues have taken on faces as we live in this place. We hope to grow old here. “

Dot has worked for 15 years in a before- and after-school program in Norristown.  Luke continued in his pastoral role at Nueva Vida until 2007 while also serving at Methacton beginning in 2003. Although he formally retired in March, he and Dot continue to worship at Methacton. Ministry, for them, is a life-long calling.

“Get involved in a local congregation, serve in every way you can, take opportunities to cross cultures and learn from others at home and abroad,” they encourage young leaders. “Enter into life and faith with all your hearts.”

Franconia Conference announces board candidates and sets August public meeting


Stephen Kriss

The Nominating Committee of Franconia Mennonite Conference announces seven candidates for open board positions and an election/affirmation process that will commence immediately by written or email ballot.   The seven candidates are:

Moderator:  John Goshow
John Goshow is retiring this fall after 33 years of service and leadership at Penn Foundation, Sellersville, Pa, where he served as president and CEO for the last decade. John and his wife Janet live near Perkasie, Pa, and are the parents of three adult children. They attend Blooming Glen Mennonite Church where John is a Sunday school teacher. John has served on the Board of Directors of Mennonite Health Services Alliance and in local and regional associations for community building and behavioral healthcare. He brings experience with organizational leadership as well as a social work background, combined with years of service connected with the church.

Assistant Moderator: Miriam BookMiriam Book is lead pastor at Salford Mennonite Church near Harleysville, Pa.   Originally from Lancaster County, Pa, Mim came to serve as part of the pastoral team at Salford after over 20 years of service in Mennonite Church denominational agencies where she worked with area conferences and overseas ministries as well as convention planning.  Mim brings gifts of connectedness across the denomination, a commitment to cultivating the gifts of both male and female leaders and acuity for administration and fair process.  She and her husband, Jim Lapp, live in Harleysville, Pa. and are parents of three adult children.

Finance Committee Chairperson:  Randy Nyce
Randy Nyce is church relations manager for MMA/Everence based at the Souderton (Pa) office.  He and his wife Juanita and son Garrett have recently relocated to Hilltown Twp, Pa, where they live in a three-generation household after a decade of living in Philadelphia.   Having grown up in Franconia Conference, Randy worked as a teacher at Philadelphia Mennonite High School and as executive director at Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust.  Randy had worked with stewardship education in his previous congregation (Circle of Hope Brethren in Christ in Philadelphia) and currently helps facilitate young adult Sunday school classes at Salford Mennonite Church.

At-large members:

Marta Beidler Castillo

Marta Beidler Castillo lives in Norristown, Pa, where she is serves as an associate pastor at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation.   Marta grew up in both Vietnam and Indonesia, the daughter of Franconia Conference-rooted mission workers.   She’s committed to the intercultural work of antiracism and racial reconciliation.   Marta lives in a bilingual Spanish/English household with her husband, Julio and children, Andres and Daniel. With broad mission experiences internationally and in a US urban location, Marta is committed to prayer along with active engagement of diverse neighborhoods with the message of Christ’s Good News.

Joe Hackman
Joe Hackman lives in Lansdale, Pa, with his wife Angela and daughter Ila.  He grew up attending Swamp Mennonite Church at Quakertown and currently serves on the pastoral team at Salford Mennonite Church.  Joe is a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Pennsylvania, returning to school after several years of teaching at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School.  He’s passionate about the possibilities for Anabaptism in a postmodern context, loves working with young leaders and has worked hard to build bridges between the established and emerging congregations of Franconia Conference.

Beny Krisbianto
Beny Krisbianto lives in Philadelphia where he serves as lead pastor of Nations Worship Center, a congregation comprised mostly of recent immigrants from Indonesia.  Beny relocated to Philadelphia to begin a new Anabaptist congregation in South Philadelphia after completing studies at Jubilee School of Theology in Iowa.  Since coming to Pennsylvania, Beny has studied at Eastern Mennonite Seminary toward a certificate in Anabaptist leadership.  Beny is fluent in English, Javanese and Indonesian.  He’s gifted at calling forth new leaders and committed to establishing Anabaptist congregations within the Indonesian immigrant community on the East Coast.

James B. Longacre
James B. Longacre attends Bally Mennonite Church where he grew up as son of the pastor.  Jim has been active in the congregation’s leadership and believes that the Anabaptist/Mennonite way of telling and living the Good News is particularly relevant in today’s world.  Jim is an attorney specializing in employee benefits law, working with a regional firm in Reading, Pa.   He and his wife Ann along with their children Ben, Sam, and Zoe moved back to the family farm near Bally, Pa after years of living in Washington DC and now can frequently be found at youth sporting events throughout southeastern PA.

Upon affirmation of conference delegates, the new board members will begin service in September 2010.   The moderator and assistant moderator positions are open due to the impending resignations of current moderators Blaine Detwiler and Randy Heacock. Two at-large board positions are available due to the resignations of Karen Moyer and Yvonne Platts that followed the approval of LaVern Yutzy’s conference review report earlier this spring.  As approved by the board, the nominating committee moved to reconstitute board leadership by receiving nominations from across conference constituency for all open positions.  Current and remaining board members include Jim King (Plains congregation), Jim Laverty (Souderton congregation), Rina Rampogu (Plains congregation) and Nelson Shenk (Boyertown congregation). Conference staff members Noel Santiago and Ertell Whigham will continue to meet with the board but do not have voting privileges as was recommended by the conference review report and approved by the board in May.

After prayerful discernment and consideration, the nominating committee presents this slate of qualified and committed leaders to help guide Franconia Conference toward a hopeful future. The seven candidates were selected from among those nominated based on skills, gifts, commitment and representation from across the Conference community.  The selection process requires a quorum of votes to affirm the new candidates by July 26, 2010.

Nominating committee members Donella Clemens (Perkasie congregation), Mike Derstine (Plains congregation), Beny Krisbianto (Nations Worship Center) and Joy Sutter (Salford congregation) have worked alongside the Review Steering Committee and current Conference Board to assure a transition that opens possibilities for the continued historic witness of Franconia Conference congregations, embodying Christ’s peace while recognizing our diversity of experience.  The nominating committee is grateful for God’s leading and the Spirit’s movement in the midst of the discernment process.  According to Mike Derstine, “We are impressed by the willingness and enthusiasm that all seven persons have for offering their gifts of leadership and wisdom to the present and future ministry of Franconia Mennonite Conference.”

CLICK HERE to download the ballot as a PDF.

A ballot will be sent by email and by the US postal service to all delegates for a signed or emailed response from each delegate. Emailed responses should be sent to ballot@franconiaconference.org.  All ballots will remain confidential. Franconia Conference bylaws require a 50% quorum and a two-thirds vote to affirm the candidates for service on the board.

The Review Steering Committee also announces an all-Conference meeting of prayer, update and introduction of new and current board members for August 12 from 7-8:30pm at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. This meeting will include prayerful reflection, a financial update from the Conference and a timeline for further work rooted in the Yutzy conference review commissioned by the board earlier this year that seeks to guide in the alignment of the Conference’s work, staffing, finances and future.