Michelle Burkholder Ordained at Hyattsville Mennonite Church

“Today is a mountain top day.” Pastor Cynthia Lapp began her March 3 Transfiguration Sunday sermon with these fitting words as Hyattsville (MD) Mennonite Church celebrated the ordination and full credentialing into ministry of Michelle Burkholder by Allegheny Mennonite Conference.  The mountain top experience made reference to the transfiguration of Jesus in Luke 9:28-36.

For the service of ordination, David Mishler, Allegheny Mennonite Conference Minister, led the examination, prayer of ordination, and anointing.  Wyatt Feeler, Cong. chair, and Mary Jo Schumacher, Pastorate chair, read a congregational affirmation.  During the prayer of ordination and anointing, those with ministerial credentials, including her father, and many members, surrounded Michelle with a laying on of hands.

Michelle, joined by her wife Becky and son Simon, led the peace lamp lighting and tenderly reflected on the pain and joys of her long journey to pastoral ministry and ordination.  She remembered our United Methodist LGBTQ siblings during a painful week for their denomination, as well as those who have created safe spaces of justice for LGBTQ people. Michelle prays for courage and strength for those who continue in that work.

During the Time for Children, Leanne Zook shared stories about how each child could aspire to be who or whatever they wanted to be.

The worship arts were in full bloom.  A cello trio played the prelude and the HMC bluegrass band delighted all with some traditional hymns during the offertory and postlude.  Claire Noël-Miller created a blocked print banner with varied geometric forms representing community that featured Michelle’s official colors of black and khaki.

Following the ordination, Michelle shared that she felt a strong undercurrent of a call to ministry for many years.  In many ways, she was destined to become a pastor; pastoring is a vocation held by many members and ancestors in Michelle’s family going back five generations.  The congregation affirms the many gifts that Michelle brings to our congregation through her art, creative sermons, guiding the children and youth, her humor and joyful presence. 

A stole created by former member Ruth Kitchin Tillman was presented to Michelle. It incorporates representations of cross cutouts from Michelle’s artwork and is accented with a rainbow-colored edge.  A large framed photo of the church sanctuary with hand-written messages of affirmation, support, and love, was also presented. 

Many friends, family, and AMC representatives joined in this service of celebration and consecration, swelling attendance to over 200, well beyond the HMC average.  All were invited to a potluck meal following the service that featured an array of Michelle’s favorite foods in the Fellowship Hall festively decorated with splashes of pre-Lenten color.  “It was a mountain top service” and similar words were a common refrain expressed by many during the meal and as we parted ways.

–Peter Goering

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Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                 Volume 14 – February 2019

#1 – Spring Faith & Life Gathering only a few weeks away! March 16, 2019 Allegheny delegates and friends will meet at Scottdale Mennonite Church (801 Market Street, Scottdale PA 15683) for a significant meeting in the life of this emerging conference.  Following a decision to go forward as a member conference of Mennonite Church USA, Allegheny is doing the hard work of establishing staffing and spending priorities within a sustainable financial framework for the long haul.  The Leadership Council, in its annual January retreat, has begun to set new priorities and is looking to further develop vision and mission statements that reflect our understanding of how our conference will operate and affirm our values of being – Jesus-centered, Collaborative, and Committed to place-based ministry. You will be hearing more about new strategies and direction for our conference at the delegate meeting.  We need your continued prayers, love and financial support!  Hope to see you in Scottdale!

#2 – Spring Study registration is open! Rebecca Barrett-Fox will be leading pastors and leaders from across the church in a compelling and timely study – “Unsustainable: Why Churches Must Counter Hate and How They Can Do It Now.”  Laurelville’s Lodge is the location.  April 8-11 are the dates.  Registration fees, including lodging and meals is only $185 (early registration has been extended one week to March 8).  For a full description of the seven sessions, scripture focus, and Rebecca’s bio, check out our website – alleghenymennoniteconference.org/coming-events

#3 – A reframing of Allegheny’s vision ongoing. Peter Senge says – “a vision is a picture of the future you would like to create, described in the present tense as if it were happening now” (Ken Bechtel, Leader magazine Winter 2018-19).  I think that also describes much of the New Testament, writings from the early church which capture the already/not yet character of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Allegheny is committed to living into that gospel vision with imagination and the power of the Spirit of Christ.  More on this thought 2019!

#4 – Conference Minister undergoes knee replacement surgery. On January 23, Conference Minister David Mishler received a total knee replacement, necessary some thirty years after a soccer injury which tore his ACL and meniscus.  Dave is rehabbing well, has achieved 121 degrees of bend after 5 weeks of therapy, and is back to a regular schedule, albeit using a cane for stability.  Thank you for your prayers, cards, well-wishes.  The knee replacement is step one of a two-step process to address the right hip, which could be up for another surgery as soon as this summer. Dave almost smiles at the thought….

#5 – Not too early to think about Summer Celebration at Laurelville! Yes, this could be a busy summer if you are going to national convention in Kansas City (July 2-6) and also planning to attend our annual family-friendly gathering at Laurelville (August 2-4).  Plans are underway to follow last year’s event, powerfully addressing lament and healing for our recent history, with a view to our future as a vibrant conference of vibrant congregations within the life of MC USA.  You and your congregation are needed for mutual counsel, challenge and collaboration.

Please respond with your questions, comments, hopes and dreams to this post.  If you are viewing this post in your email account, use your email “reply” as one way to respond.  Or if you are reading this post on our website, post a comment here.  All online comments are screened before they go live.

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Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                      Volume 13 – January 2019

#1 – Allegheny delegates respond with strong financial commitment – more work ahead.

The prayer card and narrative budget emphasis from our new treasurer, Karin Miller (Springs), has been met with strong support from those delegates and donors who answered the year end call.  Over $3,100.00 has been received to date.  Along with strong contributions leading up to the year-end appeal, Allegheny is on pace to meet the $15,000.00 “other giving” target.  “Other giving” means above normal congregational contributions.  This revenue source will be an ongoing part of our regular support needs going forward.  Special gifts from Indiana-Michigan and Central District Conferences have also assisted the effort to not draw any monies from reserves during the current fiscal year.  At the recent Leadership Council Retreat, a new Stewardship Resource Ministry task force is being developed to give direct input and leadership to meeting our annual financial goals.  You will be hearing more about these new strategies and targets at our upcoming Faith & Life Gathering in March (see below).  We need your continued prayers, love and financial support!

#2 – Everence “My Neighbor” program also boosts Allegheny.

If you are looking for a great way to help Allegheny Conference’s annual revenue goals, with virtually no effort, consider using Everence’s personal or business Mastercard.  1.5% of all purchases go to Allegheny Mennonite Conference simply by choosing AMC as “My Neighbor.”  The $1,437.61 check just received from Everence represents several persons/businesses selecting AMC.  For more information, check out the My Neighbor program and Everence.com or call Kathy at the conference office.  Thank you!  Allegheny appreciates our “Neighbors”!

#3 – A reframing of Allegheny’s vision ongoing.

Peter Senge says – “a vision is a picture of the future you would like to create, described in the present tense as if it were happening now” (Ken Bechtel, Leader magazine Winter 2018-19).  I think that also describes much of the New Testament, writings from the early church that captures the already/not yet character of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Allegheny is committed to living into that gospel vision with imagination and the power of the Spirit of Christ.  More on this thought 2019!

#4 – Conference Minister undergoes knee replacement surgery.

On January 23, Conference Minister David Mishler received a total knee replacement, necessary some thirty years after a soccer injury which tore his ACL and meniscus.  Dave plans to work from home a bit more as he undergoes therapy, but is scheduling congregational visits and keeping up a “regular” schedule as much as he can tolerate.  Thank you for your prayers, letters and emails of support and caring, and your challenges to take care of myself.  I will do my best to balance recovery with the ongoing work of Allegheny.

#5 – Change the Date! – the Spring Faith and Life Gathering at Scottdale Mennonite Church has officially been moved to March 16, 2019 (third Saturday) due to MC USA schedule conflicts.  Make sure to get this important meeting as we determine next steps in AMC’s journey.

Please respond with your questions, comments, hopes and dreams to this post.  If you are viewing this post in your email account, use your email “reply” as one way to respond.  Or if you are reading this post on our website, post a comment here.  All online comments are screened before they go live.

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Springs installs Interim Pastor

Early in November we were blessed to have Paul Versluis III join us as part time interim pastor at Springs Mennonite Church.

Paul and his wife Joy are currently residing in Broadway, VA and they spend part of each week in our church and community.

On November 18, our Conference Minister, David Mishler joined us to lead in an installation/commissioning service for Paul.

We are truly blessed by the gifts both Paul and Joy bring to our congregation.

Submitted by Lois Hepler

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