Worship leaders announced for San José 2007

sj_slogan.gifNEWTON, Ks—¬Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership announces Maribeth Troyer of Phoenix, Az, and Rod Stafford of Portland, Or, as adult worship leaders for San José 2007. Youth worship leaders will be Ben Bolanos of San Francisco and Rachel Gerber of Denver.

Music leaders for the adult worship services will be Tom Harder of Wichita, Ks; Helen Hudgens of Evanston, Il; and Brother George Makinto of Palos Verdes, Ca. Jeremy Kempf of Goshen, In, will lead music for youth worship services.

Worship and music leaders met with the Youth and Adult worship planning committees for San José 2007 at the groups’ last meeting Oct. 26 through 28 in San José, Ca. San José 2007 will be July 2 through 7 in San José, Ca. The host area conference will be Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference.

Troyer is a member of Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Az, where she is currently serving as the pastoral intern. She also has chaplaincy certification. Stafford, a native Californian, is lead pastor at Portland Mennonite Church. He attended seminary in Pasadena, Ca. Director of Convention Planning Jorge Vallejos is confident Troyer and Stafford will facilitate meaningful worship for San José 2007 participants.

“In selecting worship leaders we wanted to make sure they possessed a strong Anabaptist frame of reference coupled with a stage presence that is welcoming and sincere,” Vallejos said. “I think both Maribeth and Rod possess these qualities plus a strong commitment to Christ’s church. Moreover, Maribeth is from Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference, and Rod from Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, which will give our worship sessions the additional and unique West-coast touch.”

Bolanos is an active member of First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and has served on the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference Board of Directors. By trade, he is a high school history teacher in Palo Alto, Ca. Gerber is associate pastor of faith formation at First Mennonite Church in Denver and serves Mountain States Mennonite Conference as its Conference Resource Advocate.

“By adding Ben and Rachel to the mix, we are widening the spectrum of people who are impacted by convention worship. We, as a committee, are blessed to have them on board,” said Rachel Swartzendruber, associate director of Convention Planning for Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership. “They bring fresh ideas and have a sense of calling to this role. They are excited about helping youth Live the Call!”

Worship planning for San José 2007 has been underway for several months and is almost complete, and the worship planning committees for the youth and adult conventions finished their meetings in San José, Ca, last October. Each group was charged with planning the multiple worship services to be conducted throughout the week of July 2 through 7, including joint worship sessions where youth and adults will come together. Music leaders also participated in planning for San José 2007 worship times.

Harder serves as co-pastor with his wife Lois of Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita and is an active and versatile musician with a doctorate in classical guitar performance from Arizona State University.

Hudgens is the worship minister at Reba Place Church in Evanston, Il, where she helped start the Reba Gospel Choir in 1995 and the vocal ensemble Reba Praise in 1997. Hudgens also is on the faculty of the School of Music at North Park University.

Brother Makinto is a multi-talented musician, singer, composer and international recording artist. He has traveled through more than 60 countries studying different music styles including classical, jazz and African traditional music.

Kempf currently works as recruitment coordinator for Mennonite Mission Network. He graduated from Hesston College and Greenville College with a degree in Contemporary Christian Music and has spent several years as lead guitarist in the Christian rock/worship band thirstborne.

Joel Shenk of Pasadena, Ca, has served on the Adult Worship Planning Committee and says he is looking forward to seeing how the creative and thoughtful work of the different people planning worship for San José 2007 will come together under the Live the Call! theme.

“God was definitely at work in bringing together a team with a wide range of gifts and skills, all of which are needed to plan and coordinate large-scale worship services,” Shenk said.

“I’m continually amazed by the passion our planning committee members bring to each San José 2007 meeting. We have committee members who have dedicated their lives to youth ministry and others who are youth themselves. This provides us with a very wide spectrum of people represented and that is what makes our meetings so beneficial,” Swartzendruber said.

For more information on San José 2007, visit http://www.sanjose2007.org/ or call toll-free 1-866-866-2872 and ask for Convention Planning. Online and paper registrations are now being accepted.

Ben Balonos grew up in Franconia Mennonite Conference’s Allentown congregation.

sanjose.jpg From left, Members of the Youth Worship Planning Committee for San José 2007 Ben Balonos, Jeremy Kempf and Kendra King work to plan worship for convention. The group last met October 26 through 28 in San José, Ca. Photo by Marathana Prothro