Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister      Volume 9 – Aug/Sept 2018

#1 – Laurelville Celebration of Congregations and Conference offers foundation for new life.
Abundance on the Journey was a formational weekend which pastors, delegates and visitors from across the church found both sobering and inspirational.  The weekend, planned by pastors Dave Swanson & Cindy Lapp, along with a worship team from Pittsburgh Mennonite and speakers Michelle Burkholder, Dave Swanson and Jayne Byler, was a departure from business as usual and focused on acknowledgement of pain and hope from each of our congregations.  ALAS and ANEW, we looked at what has brought us to this point in our history and what could launch us into a new future.  Centered in Jesus, working collaboratively, developing placed-based ministries in our various neighborhoods – is our vision which we believe can build unity in the midst of our diversity to be disciples who walk in the way of Christ.  Powerfully good stuff, supplying abundance for our continued journey.

We also heard from Doug Luginbill, conference minister for Central District Conference (CDC) and Michael Danner, denominational minister for church vitality who shared vision and direction for our connections with sister conferences and MC USA.  Feedback from delegates at both Central District Conference and Allegheny strongly support AMC continuing as our own conference.  Financial support from Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and CDC is making it possible for AMC to build a bridge to a solid financial future as staffing and budget priorities are sorted out over the next two years.

#2 – FINANCIAL UPDATE
With the introduction of the new “administrative fee” of $500 per congregation, due between July 1 and August 31, Allegheny has experienced the best summertime cash flow in decades.  Some congregations used this as an opportunity to increase giving.  Some made quarterly contributions early.  An early first read of trends shows that we are on track for expending less of our reserves than anticipated, which will help us build toward a fully balanced budget for 2019-20.  Thank you to all congregations and donors for your responses.  A fund letter is planned to go out in early December which is designed to raise the $15,000 of receipts called for in our annual spending plan.  Give generously as you are able!

#3 – FUTURE EVENTS
Our next Faith and Life Gathering will be held on November 3 at University Mennonite Church in State College, PA.  A final report from the CDC/AMC Affiliation Task Force, along with a proposal for the character and shape of how we might affiliate with CDC, will be the major delegate focus.  We will also be reviewing potential revisions to our staffing arrangements and other ways of refining our financial priorities going into our next round of budget preparation.

University Mennonite Church has welcomed new leader pastor Kathryn (Kate) Heinzel, who began her term of service on September 1.  There will be an installation service for Kate on October 21.  Everyone is invited to attend.

With the receipt of contributions from IN-MI and CDC, Allegheny will be sending a full complement of representatives to the next Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) meeting in Chicago, October 11-13.  Phoebe Sharp, Enos Tice and David Mishler will be attending.

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Lament Leads to Hope at AMC Summer Celebration

A sk the Spirit to gather us together

L ament our past wounds

A sk and offer forgiveness

S eek healing together

A sk the Spirit to come

N ame growing edges

E nvision new faithfulness

W elcome new hope and new life

ALAS ANEW.  This was the theme of this year’s annual Allegheny Mennonite Conference Summer Celebration at Laurelville.  We heard and read stories of pain and stories of optimism from member congregations and shared our reactions on post-it notes next to the stories.  We sang songs of lament and songs of hope, and we heard sermons that reminded us that lament can lead to hope, even if hope sometimes looks more like chaos.  Pittsburgh Mennonite Church led us in worship over the course of the weekend, including an activity in which we worked together to create a beautiful tree mosaic made up of individual broken pieces of pottery.

During the business portion of the weekend, delegates were encouraged about the future of the conference, hearing a report from the AMC Affiliation Task Force that they have hope for AMC as an independent and successful, if still small, conference.  The gathered adopted a working draft for publication of a new Polity and Purpose Document, describing AMC as a family of siblings.

From the polity statement: “Conference for the congregations in Allegheny is something like a family of siblings. We love each other and are concerned about each other. We want to help each other, but we do not feel a need to control each other. We share a common faith heritage and commitment, as well as a desire for common mission. Being together helps us strengthen those commitments, continue discovering God in significant ways, and define what it means for our walk as Jesus’ disciples and Anabaptist Mennonites today.”

Attendees also heard good news about AMC’s budget, most notedly the receipt of significant new individual offerings and less need to dip into reserves.  Perhaps the best news of the weekend was an announcement from Bob Yoder, co-moderator of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, that they were gifting AMC enough resources to send three representatives to the next national Constituency Leadership Council.  AMC had previously been forced to cut that line item from the budget, effectively silencing our voice within the larger Mennonite denomination.

We recognized pastoral transitions throughout AMC, enthusiastically welcoming new pastors at Stahl Mennonite Church, Springs Mennonite Church (interims), and University Mennonite Church (beginning September 1).  We also shared in the joy of Stahl congregation as they ordained AMC Youth Minister Joy Cotchen earlier this year, and shared in heartfelt prayers of sending to the Christian Peacemaker Team leaving for Israel-Palestine and to Springs’ outgoing pastoral team.

Much fun was also had this weekend.  Joy Cotchen and her youth leaders led activities for children of a wide age range and beautiful songs and crafts emerged.  The Young Adults led an exciting and enjoyable painting activity for young and old alike during one of the Saturday afternoon seminars.  We experienced good natured competition for participation numbers during roll call, and shared yummy snacks at the snack table and cool and delicious ice cream sundaes sponsored by Everence.  New friends were made and new connections were developed as we browsed the displays of organizations such as Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) and ate traditional purple M&M cookies from Bluffton College, and met representatives from organizations such as the Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet).  We also welcomed Michael Danner from Mennonite Church USA (MC USA), who talked about the next steps from the Future Church Summit, a study guide titled the Journey Forward.  Congregations should note that responses to the Journey Forward are due back to MC USA by December 31, 2018.

A good time was had by all and much business was accomplished at the 2018 Summer Celebration.  Delegates and guests look forward to the next AMC gathering, which will be held November 3 at University Mennonite Church in State College, PA.

Contributed by Meryt McGindley

 

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Allegheny congregation plans first responders appreciation event

 On Sunday August 12, 2018 Scottdale Mennonite Church is introducing an open house for Scottdale and Everson first responders. The church invites the public to an Open House at Scottdale central fire station on Pittsburgh Street, Scottdale, between the hours of 10:00 AM  to noon.

One of three priorities of the church is to support local first responders, according to recent church council minutes. This open house is one way to show that appreciation.

All ages are invited to stop in to meet and thank first responders including Scottdale police, ambulance personnel, Mutual Aid workers as well as Everson and Scottdale volunteer fire departments. Scottdale volunteer firemen will open the station and be on hand to answer questions. Everyone is encouraged to sign the giant “Thank You” cards at this time.

At least four Scottdale Mennonite members regularly support various aspects of the first responding. Brothers Ben Savanick and Nathan Savanick are active in the Scottdale fire department. Brian Howard is a Mt. Pleasant Fire Volunteer. Michael Butti is employed by Mutual Aid Ambulance Service.

Pastor Dave Mishler said the three priorities have grown out of congregational processes following a couple board retreats two years ago. “Individuals with a concern ave motivated others to adopt their cause and three have stood out.”

This plan follows a Sunday last year when the Scottdale fire company parked a fire truck behind the Scottdale Mennonite church and the church served an informal breakfast.

“The first responders do so much for our community. We wanted to organize an event that tells them how much we appreciate that” said Audra Shenk, former owner of Brilhart Hardware and church member.

A Boot Drive is also being organized for the two volunteer fire departments. Local churches are passing the boot during their worship service and will bring those donations to the Open House. The public may also contribute at this time by stopping in or driving by the station.

“We want the local community to see that our church supports everyone. We especially appreciate the help and neighborly responses from our first responders,” said David Hiebert, a member of the peace and mission committee of the church.

The Scottdale Mennonite Church was formed in the early 2000s as a merger of the former Kingview Mennonite and Mennonite Church of Scottdale. Currently about 50 members worship each Sunday. Mennonites were some of the first European settlers in southwestern PA. World-wide, Mennonites are known for their service ethic, stance on pacifism/world peace and following Jesus in daily life.

– submitted by David Hiebert

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Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is in need of Canner Operators

URGENT: Two Canner Operators needed for the Upcoming Season!

Are you interested in an exciting opportunity to travel across the U.S. and Canada canning meat for those in need all over the world? Consider serving with MCC as a canner operator! Canner operators travel with the mobile meat cannery to 30 different locations, canning beef, turkey, chicken and pork. Canners are responsible for all aspects of the project including: operating steam and pressure vessels, coordinating volunteers, maintaining and communicating USDA regulations and the maintenance of all machinery in the process. Potential applicants should be male, single, at least 21 years old with CDL eligibility and possess mechanical aptitude. Student loan assistance available. Visit mcc.org/canning for more information!

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