The Details of Building Community

by Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation

“It is rewarding to see pastors and leaders come together to enjoy one another’s company, to network and build bridges,” Brooke Martin shares about her work as the Youth and Community Formation Coordinator with Franconia Conference. 

The community formation aspect of her job involves planning the conference’s major formation meetings and events. These events include the annual Credentialed Leaders Appreciation gathering, the Conference Related Ministry equipping meals, and leading the team that plans Fall Assembly. Brooke is also an at-large member of the Intercultural Team to keep an intercultural lens at the center of event planning. 

Brooke sees her job as playing a vital role in building community. “Noticing the details and seeing what needs to be done, then taking care of it, is energizing for me,” Brooke says. 

Brooke is also part of Youth Formation Team. In this role she is responsible for connecting with Youth Pastors in the Lansdale area, and helping to plan events that resource and equip all of Franconia’s youth leaders and youth pastors.

Prior to working for Franconia Conference, Brooke was the Interim Youth Ministry Leader for four years at Franconia Church. Brooke was thankful to have the opportunity to stay at home when her second child was born, but when it came time to start looking for work again, she was also grateful to work part-time while continuing to have time with her two children. 

“The opportunity to support the work of the Conference, utilize my gifts in administrative organization and building community, and share my passion for youth ministry while having a schedule that aligns with the needs of my children, has been a gift,” Brooke reflects.  

Brooke’s passion for youth ministry started as a teenager, when Melanie Nofziger was her high school youth pastor. Working at Camp Luz in Ohio with camp director Deb Horst was also a formative time for her, and these experiences led her to an associate degree at Hesston College in youth ministry, studying under Michele Hershberger. 

“Hearing the journeys of other women in ministry, learning from their strengths and how they face challenges in ministry, has been formational for me,” Brooke shares. 

Brooke encourages congregations to provide opportunities for young people to cultivate and meaningfully use their gifts: “Youth are the church now, not the church of the future. We need to give them the opportunity to serve now.” Part of that work is in helping youth identify their gifts and inviting them into leadership roles in the congregation, such as teaching Sunday School, serving on the sound team, as an usher, or in the nursery. 

“I’m excited to be able to meet more with youth ministers and hear their stories, their questions, and their challenges. It is an honor to be a part of empowering people in ministry and of what God is doing in the churches of our conference,” Brooke says. 

Brooke’s faith journey started young; when she was eight, she lost her brother Shaun in a car accident. “God became my sounding board because God was the one who could understand and connect with my young grief,” she remembers.  

Originally from “the cornfields of Ohio,” Brooke felt intimidated when she moved to the suburbs of Pennsylvania because she was unsure of how to build community in her new homeplace. “It’s been beautiful to learn that there is community here, even though it looks different,” she says. 

Outside of work, Brooke finds joy in dance and in parenting. Dance has been an important part of her life since she was three years old and she sees it as a way to worship God. Being a parent has allowed her to “see the world through children’s eyes and witness their pure reliance on God; it is the holiest ground I have been on,” Brooke says.