Tag Archives: Warren Tyson

Dock, Penn View schools announce merger

The boards of Penn View Christian School (Souderton, Pennsylvania) and Christopher Dock Mennonite High School (Lansdale, Pennsylvania) announced that they have unanimously agreed to pursue a plan to create a unified school system. The two schools have entered a formal process to outline the details of integration, with a goal of implementing the plan in the 2015-16 school year. The process is expected to last around three months.

Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel. In addition to providing space, the move will also allow more regular interaction between students, pastors and conference staff.
Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel.

The action taken by the boards is the culmination of many years of collaboration between Penn View and Christopher Dock. Throughout the discernment process, both boards have sought input from Mennonite Education Agency, and Mennonite Health Services also provided consulting support. Dr. Conrad Swartzendruber will serve as the “Staff Integration Officer.” He was jointly appointed by both boards and will oversee communication and planning during the formal three-month integration process.

“Throughout our histories, the schools’ stories have been interwoven, as Mennonites responded to God’s call to provide high-quality, Anabaptist-infused primary and secondary education,” said Warren L. Tyson, chairman of the Christopher Dock board. “Our vision is to build on that history and extend the impact of Christ-centered Mennonite education by creating a unified school system guided by Anabaptist values.”

In 2006, the schools partnered with Franconia Mennonite Conference and Eastern District Conference to develop GPS 2012, a strategic planning document that has been used by both schools to guide decision-making and growth initiatives.

“We believe that the integrated school system will enhance our ability to further realize the GPS 2012 goals of connections, accessibility, educational excellence and impact,” said Penn View Board Chair Mark Bergey. “Together, we can create a fully integrated curriculum and a streamlined transition process for students, while enhancing educational and administrative specialties across the system.” Penn View currently has 565 students in early childhood through eighth grade, while Christopher Dock has 353 students in grades nine through twelve.

Conference center announces move to Christopher Dock

by Sharon K. Williams, for Franconia Conference

Franconia Mennonite and Eastern District conference offices will move to the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School campus in Lansdale, Pennsylvania in January 2015, in a strategic collaboration involving four conference related ministries. The offices will be on the first floor of the Rosenberger Academic Center.

Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel. In addition to providing space, the move will also allow more regular interaction between students, pastors and conference staff.
Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber speaks to students in chapel. In addition to providing space, the move will also allow more regular interaction between students, pastors and conference staff.

The conference center is currently located in a building owned by the Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania (MHEP) in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

While MHEP and the conference offices have had an amicable partnership, MHEP had offers from other organizations that were interested in renting the whole building, which would generate additional income for MHEP.

Recently, Christopher Dock offered a viable solution.

“The reconfiguration of some classroom and office space makes this very efficient arrangement possible. But a larger significance is found in the collaboration,” said Christopher Dock principal Conrad Swartzentruber. “Dock strives to build relationships among our students, congregations, and conferences. Our hope is that this will be a lively, ongoing effort. Christopher Dock’s mission is to educate Franconia and Eastern District youth and other youth who share Anabaptist values. Our relationship to both conferences is very healthy and important to us. This new arrangement will allow us to rub shoulders with conference and congregational leaders. We look forward to sharing our campus in this way.”

Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference and Warren Tyson, conference minister with Eastern District Conference, affirm the move to Christopher Dock and the continued sharing of one center for both conferences. John Stoltzfus, youth minister for all three ministries, already works from an office on Christopher Dock’s campus.

“Eastern District wants to continue living into a shared vision and working relationship with Franconia, and we value this opportunity to connect with Christopher Dock, one of our conference-related ministries,” said Tyson, who also chairs the school’s board of trustees.

“The relationship between the two conferences is very beneficial, and I look forward to the possibilities of interaction between the Dock community and conference leadership,” said Whigham. “This will also encourage our pastors to visit the campus.”

Sarah Wolfgang Hefner, director of MHEP, expressed appreciation for the relationship with the conference office, saying, “I have enjoyed getting to know conference center staff over the past few years and will miss the interaction with them.”

“We are grateful for our partnerships with MHEP and all our conference related ministries,” said John Goshow, moderator of Franconia Conference. “We encourage and rejoice in creative collaboration. This particular situation is a four-way win.”

Conferences lunch with CRM leaders

CRM lunch
Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District, visits with John Hendrickson, CEO of Frederick Living.

Franconia and Eastern District Conferences’ leadership met with Conference Related Ministry (CRM) leaders on Wednesday, April 24, to fellowship, build relationships, and further clarify the partnership that these ministries have with both conferences.

During the lunch, Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference, and Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District Conference, updated CRM leaders on the status of the Eastern District/Franconia relationship.  They also suggested common values that Conference Related Ministries share with Franconia Conference and honored the ministries for their excellent support of conference constituents, regardless of their conference affiliation.

CRM lunch
Joe Landis, executive director of Peaceful Living, swaps stories with Ertell Whigham, executive minister of Franconia Conference.

CRM leaders were also encouraged to provide the conference with areas of expertise in which their staff could provide resourcing for congregations.  These resources will be gathered and included in a new directory on the Franconia Conference website.

Conference Related Ministries are organizations that collaborate with Franconia Conference and serve congregations and neighborhoods in the name of Jesus.  To see a full list of CRMs, check out our directory.

God@Work: Conference cousins in conversation

by Warren Tyson, Eastern District Conference Minister, & Ertell Whigham, Franconia Executive Minister

Forum with Eastern DistrictWhen relatives get together who haven’t seen each other in many years, they share their stories of their journeys with each other. They share where they have been, what they have been up to, how they have occupied their time. In some ways, the last couple of years of relationship between Eastern District Conference and Franconia Mennonite Conference have felt somewhat like that.

For the last two years, moderators and conference ministers have been meeting about every two months to share stories and reflect on where God has taken us in the past and where we sense God is taking us forward. It’s been a journey of revealing what we share in common as well as our differences as we become more aware of each other’s conference systems and how they function. In the midst of this journey, we have intentionally invited God to make his presence real guiding our path.

These two conference families split 165 years ago over issues such as taking minutes, organizing Sunday Schools, educating pastors, and urban mission. Today, we are well aware that these particular issues are no longer divisive, yet as we continue to explore shared ministry, we must consider what differences do exist in our separate conference systems that the other should be attentive to.

Historically, Eastern District has had a more limited conference staff composition with greater emphasis on congregational autonomy than Franconia has. In recent years, however, this difference has lessened as Franconia has cut back some of its staff services and Eastern District has added a church plant coach.

Forum with Eastern District
Members from Eastern District and Franconia Conferences met for two forums earlier this year to discuss the conferences’ shared history and the possibility of a shared future.

A year ago, after seeking counsel of our member churches, Eastern District and Franconia Conferences partnered with Christopher Dock Mennonite High School to employ a youth minister. Early this summer, the conferences together engaged the services of a Peace and Justice Minister through the guidance and support of the Peace and Justice Committee, which has included active members from both conferences for well over ten years. Most recently, we have been in conversation around the idea of forming a joint Faith and Life Ministry Team to discern together what the Holy Spirit is saying to us about the real issues our congregations are facing.

The last few years, we have become more aware of congregations working together across conference lines, pastors finding support from one another, and outreach ministries developing as a shared vision in the local community develops.  These stories of God @ Work have invigorated our bi-monthly leadership gatherings, as we continue to seek God’s way in developing a shared vision. What this ongoing work means for our future is yet to be determined.

We look forward to hearing your stories of where you see God @ Work–where God is developing a shared vision your local community.  You will have opportunities to share your stories at this year’s united Conference Assembly, November 10, at Penn View Christian School in Souderton.  You can also share you story online or register for workshops, meals and childcare on our website, assembly.franconiaconference.org.

Conferences contract Peace & Justice Minister

Samantha LioiHARLEYSVILLE, PA: Eastern District and Franconia Conferences have contracted a new Peace and Justice Minister to resource congregations in a deeper witness of “shalom,” a holistic understanding of peace rooted in Christ. Samantha Lioi, Whitehall congregation, began work for the conferences in May.

Lioi, a graduate of AMBS with a concentration in peace studies, is passionate about God’s concern for both mercy and justice as expressed in the prophets and the life and teachings of Jesus. “My experiences in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the Penn Foundation over the past year with people facing and working to heal from their addictions has highlighted the need for these complementary movements of mercy and justice,” said Lioi, “finding oneself loved by a Creator and welcomed in the midst of sin and brokenness, and being invited to claim responsibility for one’s actions and make amends.”

But the roots of her fascination with the ways different people perceive and interpret the world and their place in it go back even further. They can be traced through her curiosity and attentiveness as a child during missionary visits to her congregation, her introduction to Mennonite faith and practice while attending Houghton College, intercultural experiences in college and seminary, and a trip to Colombia last year with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  “[That trip] confirmed my desire to continue connecting—through friendship and partnership—with people working for justice and dignity in international relations,” Lioi said.

Lioi moved to Allentown in November 2010 to give additional leadership to the Whitehall congregation and help birth the Zume House, an intentional community that includes pastors from the Whitehall and Ripple congregations.  Lioi finished her short-term service at Whitehall in January, but continues to be involved in the life of both of these congregations.

“I envision Samantha’s ministry developing relationships between rural, suburban and urban congregations,” said Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District Conference.  “I look forward to seeing how Samantha’s vision and passion for peace and justice ministries will affect Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference congregations living out God’s missional call in local settings.”

Lioi is contracted through the joint Peace and Justice Committee of both conferences, a committee she joined in March 2011.  She will serve as a liaison to strengthen relationships among faith communities, facilitate mutual resourcing, and encourage congregations to be bold in following the Spirit’s prompting.  (Read the full job description here.)

“I’m excited about the collaboration with Samantha and Eastern District Conference,” said Ertell Whigham, executive minister of Franconia Conference.  “I believe it’s the next step of our conferences working together toward understanding peace and justice as the core of what it means to be the intercultural people of God.”

****

Samantha is in the process of meeting with pastors and other leaders to learn how congregations are already modeling God’s peace and what kind of resourcing would be helpful.  To schedule a meeting with Samantha, contact her at 484.632.2651 or samantha@interculturalchurch.com.

Eastern District Conference will be handling Samantha’s financial support package.  All gifts to support this ministry should be made payable to Eastern District Conference, Roger Perry, treas., 734 Martingale Rd, Schwenksville, PA 19473, memo: Peace and Justice Minister support.

Forum #2: Who are we now?

Forum with Eastern District
Mike Derstine, Plains, and Edie Landis, Zion, participate in table conversations at the second Forum between Eastern District and Franconia Conferences.

On May 24, leaders from Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference met together to continue conversations about partnering in the future.  Eastern District conference minister Warren Tyson and Franconia Executive Minister Ertell Whigham shared ways that the two conferences are already working together as well as suggestions of future possibilities.

After table conversations, the gathered leaders reflected back to the larger group some of their affirmations, concerns, or questions.

Listen to the whole Forum:

 

Download the podcast

Watch the video:

Christopher Dock, Conferences Name Youth Minister

Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, Franconia Conference and Eastern
District Conference celebrate their ministry partnership by naming John Stoltzfus
Conference Youth Minister.

“Youth are a key segment of God’s community. They are ambassadors of Christ
here and now, but also the future leaders of our congregations,” said Dr. Conrad
Swartzentruber, principal of Christopher Dock. “It’s exciting to see two
conferences join our school in this focus on youth ministry. John Stoltzfus has a
passion for helping youth become radical followers of Christ. We are pleased to
welcome him to our team.”

In his new position, Stoltzfus will become campus pastor for Christopher Dock’s
365 students, and will encourage, support and promote youth ministry in the
churches represented by the two conferences, which are part of Mennonite
Church USA. It is the first time that all three entities have collaborated on a youth
ministry position.

“I look forward to youth ministry connections growing between our member
churches, our two conferences and the school community,” said Warren Tyson,
conference minister for Eastern District Conference and a member of the
Christopher Dock Board of Trustees.

Stoltzfus comes to his new position after 10 years as associate pastor at
Lombard Mennonite Church, which is part of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. A
graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary
(Harrisonburg, VA), Stoltzfus has also served with a Christian Peacemaker
Teams in Colombia, and participated in China Educational Exchange, a program
of Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite
Central Committee that is now known as Mennonite Partners in China.

“I found John’s insight, understanding and commitment to engaging in the work
of intercultural transformation and relationships to be both relevant and sincere,”
said Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference. “This was
particularly evident as he shared experiences and learnings from his ministry in
China. I thank God that we are moving ahead and look forward to John’s arrival
and our work together.”

John with his wife Paula and children Justin, Lilianna, and Elaina. (They are expecting their fourth child in December).

The Youth Minister position is full-time, and involves partnering with youth
workers in congregations and at Christopher Dock to “actively invite every youth
to commit to a personal relationship and everlasting adventure with Jesus Christ,
mentoring them towards a supportive church community and empowering them
to bring healing and hope to the world.” In addition, Stoltzfus will be charged with
providing support, training and resources to those who minister to junior and
senior high youth, so that they are better able to carry out the youth ministry
mission and vision of Franconia and Eastern District Conferences. He will begin
his work in January.

“I am excited about this new venture of journeying together with the youth and
community at Christopher Dock and Franconia and Eastern District
Conferences,” Stoltzfus said. “I look forward to discovering how God is at work
among us and calling our young people to be faithful followers of Christ in our
world.”

John Stoltzfus will begin as Conference Youth Minister in January 2012.

Christopher Dock, Conferences Name Youth Minister

October 17, 2011, LANSDALE, Pa. —  Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, Franconia Conference, and Eastern District Conference celebrate their ministry partnership by naming John Stoltzfus Conference Youth Minister.

“Youth are a key segment of God’s community. They are ambassadors of Christ here and now, but also the future leaders of our congregations,” said Dr. Conrad Swartzentruber, principal of Christopher Dock. “It’s exciting to see two conferences join our school in this focus on youth ministry. John Stoltzfus has a passion for helping youth become radical followers of Christ. We are pleased to welcome him to our team.”

In his new position, Stoltzfus will become campus pastor for Christopher Dock’s 365 students, and will encourage, support and promote youth ministry in the churches represented by the two conferences, which are part of Mennonite Church USA. It is the first time that all three entities have collaborated on a youth ministry position

“I look forward to youth ministry connections growing between our member churches, our two conferences and the school community,” said Warren Tyson, conference minister for Eastern District Conference and a member of the Christopher Dock Board of Trustees

Stoltzfus comes to his new position after 10 years as associate pastor at Lombard Mennonite Church, which is part of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. A graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary (Harrisonburg, VA), Stoltzfus has also served with a Christian Peacemaker Teams in Colombia, and participated in China Educational Exchange, a program of Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Central Committee that is now known as Mennonite Partners in China.

“I found John’s insight, understanding and commitment to engaging in the work of intercultural transformation and relationships to be both relevant and sincere,” said Ertell Whigham, executive minister for Franconia Conference. “This was particularly evident as he shared experiences and learnings from his ministry in China. I thank God that we are moving ahead and look forward to John’s arrival and our work together.”

The Youth Minister position is full-time, and involves partnering with youth workers in congregations and at Christopher Dock to “actively invite every youth to commit to a personal relationship and everlasting adventure with Jesus Christ, mentoring them towards a supportive church community and empowering them to bring healing and hope to the world.” In addition, Stoltzfus will be charged with providing support, training and resources to those who minister to junior and senior high youth, so that they are better able to carry out the youth ministry mission and vision of Franconia and Eastern District Conferences. He will begin his work in January.

“I am excited about this new venture of journeying together with the youth and community at Christopher Dock and Franconia and Eastern District Conferences,” Stoltzfus said. “I look forward to discovering how God is at work among us and calling our young people to be faithful followers of Christ in our world.”

Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference announce joint assembly

By Emily Ralph, eralph@franconiaconference.org

Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference of Mennonite Church USA will hold a joint conference assembly this November.

“We felt that this is an exciting opportunity resulting from a long standing conversation about what it means to work together for God’s purpose and ministry in our region from Georgia to Vermont,” says Ertell Whigham, Franconia Conference’s executive minister.

The annual gathering, which will be held November 11-12 at Penn View Christian School in Souderton, Pa., will be planned by a team consisting of members from both conferences.  Although some details are still in process, the event is already scheduled to include a joint worship service on Friday evening and then separate delegate sessions on Saturday.

The purpose of this joint event, says Eastern District executive minister Warren Tyson, is to strengthen the unity of the two conferences and continue to move forward in common work in this region.  Added benefits would include costs savings and increased value for Conference Related Ministries, who would only have to set up booths at one event instead of two.

This is not the first partnership between Franconia and Eastern District Conferences: they already share office space and staff and are in the process of hiring a joint conference-wide Youth Minister.  The conferences also share resources and training events, so the joint conference assembly is a logical next step.

“It feels natural and timely,” says Whigham.  “We are excited about the possibilities of what it will mean for our future together.”