Rebecca Barrett-Fox in State College, PA – April 13 & 14

We were thrilled to have Rebecca Barrett-Fox in town to help us break down walls of hatred and exclusion as part of our annual Palm Sunday Peace Walk. Her voice was an incredible gift to a campus and community that is still working to be a place where all people can not only co-exist but also thrive. Dr. Barrett-Fox also spoke at an evening event on Saturday of that weekend, and was the guest-preacher for a collaborative Palm Sunday service with University Mennonite Church and University Baptist & Brethren Church on Palm Sunday morning.

Rebecca Barrett Fox is Rebecca Barrett-Fox is assistant professor of sociology at Arkansas State.  She lives in the Wasatch Mountains in northeastern Utah with her husband Jason (Bethel ’01), a professor of rhetoric and writing, and their three school-aged children.

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Article and photos by Ben Wideman.

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April’s Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                                                  Volume 16 – April 2019

#1 – Rebecca Barrett-Fox Comes to Allegheny Some 20 leaders from Allegheny, Central District, Indiana-Michigan and Virginia Mennonite conferences converged at Laurelville April 8-11 to engage Rebecca Barrett-Fox in a compelling and timely study – “Unsustainable: Why Churches Must Counter Hate and How They Can Do It Now.”  Rebecca, author of God Hates:  Westboro Baptist Church, American Nationalism and the Religious Right, led seven conversational sessions reviewing the history of hate groups in the U.S. and how effective protests, in various forms, helped to turn the momentum at various places.  With the rapid growth of hate groups currently, Rebecca told the participants countering hate wherever it raises its head is the only way to overcome it.  Various scriptures (Old and New Testament) focused the conversation with biblical stories showing how hate was confronted throughout salvation history.  Rebecca spoke at Pittsburgh Mennonite and Penn State University on either end of the Spring Study.  See Ben Wideman’s account of her time in State College on our website.

#2 – Suraj Bhandari completes CNA training The pastor of the Bhutanese Nepali Church of Pittsburgh (BNCP) has completed his training to becomes a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and has retained a part-time job to supplement his income as he also ministers to a congregation of Bhutanese-Nepali immigrants.  Suraj plans to enter training to become a Registered Nurse in the Fall.  He says, “If everything goes as planned, I will be more active in ministry after I complete my RN.  Please pray for me and BNP.”  Congratulations Suraj!

#3 – 99 days to Summer Celebration at Laurelville! Hope you are 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 fellowship, mutual counsel, challenge and collaboration.  John 15:1-8 is our scripture focus.  Dave Mishler (Scottdale), Kate Heinzel (University) and Wes Bergen (Morgantown CoB) will be preaching.  Much fruit – do you see God’s kingdom from a scarcity or an abundance frame of reference?

Bring table games, puzzles, Rook and Dutch Blitz (not for the feint of heart) and other favorites for Friday and Saturday post meeting shenanigans.

Registrations are open, here is a link for the registration form: Registration Form

#4 – Closing in on a sustainable giving planAs of this writing, we are closing in on achieving a better than anticipated season of giving for our 2018-19 fiscal year.  Congregations are on track to meet the 56% portion of total anticipated revenue.  Individuals/Other income is expected to top the $15,000 projection.  With a $4,000 contribution from Central District Conference and $4,250 from Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference to cover national delegate expenses, Allegheny will likely retain much of the current balance in reserves (instead of using the almost $14,000 budgeted).  To ensure a positive year-end report, we ask congregations to send in their quarterly/monthly contributions as soon as possible before June 30.  Individuals and businesses who want to enhance reserves for the future, now is the time!  Thank you to everyone who is making significant effort to sustain Allegheny Mennonite Conference!

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 15 – March 2019

1 – Spring Faith & Life Gathering at Scottdale Mennonite Church

March 16, 2019 Allegheny delegates and friends met at Scottdale Mennonite Church 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, 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. 45 delegates approved a spending plan for 2019-20, affirmed Treasurer (Karin Miller), Conference Minister (David Mishler) and Conference Minister of Children and Youth (Joy Cotchen) for 3-year terms. Joyce Hall (University) will represent Allegheny (two years) at the national Constituency Leaders Council, our national ‘elders’ board, and incumbent Jane Rittenhouse was elected to a second three-year term on the Leadership Council. Julianna Tennefoss will join Karen Howard, Leah Lumeya, and Paul Lehman on the Nominating Committee. A new Ministry Resources Team is being formed to work at strategies to fund our conference ministries to levels we aspire towards. The offering for lunch was designated for Laurelville’s welcome center/pool project; after expenses, we forwarded $211.45 to Laurelville Mennonite Church Center – thank you Jane Rittenhouse and the hospitality team from Scottdale.

2 – Michelle Burkholder ordained for pastoral ministry at Hyattsville.

Hyattsville Mennonite Church celebrated the ordination of Michelle Burkholder on March 3, 2019 with some 200 persons attending. See the full article by Peter Goering on Allegheny’s website!

3 – Spring Study registration growing

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.” Registrations exceed last year’s numbers and are growing. Three MC USA conferences and some 11 different congregations are represented thus far. April 8-11 are the dates. In order to boost attendees, we are offering a part-time registration option for the first time, from $40 to $70 per day, depending on the day and overnights selected (call for more information). For a full description of the seven sessions, scripture focus, and Rebecca’s bio, check out our website – alleghenymennoniteconference.org/coming-events

4 – Tree of Gratitude provides windows into our culture of generosity

Delegates were asked to write the first 5 things that came to their minds for which they are grateful. Also, two things of which God has entrusted them to be faithful stewards. At this writing we are still collating all the answers.  Family and relationships are consistent answers in the grateful category.  Skills, resources, abilities and engaging/growing relationships top the stewardship list.  More details in future newsletters.


Delegates were asked to write the first 5 things that came to their minds for which they are grateful. Also, two things of which God has entrusted them to be faithful stewards. At this writing we are still collating all the answers. Family and relationships are consistent answers in the grateful category. Skills, resources, abilities and engaging/growing relationships top the stewardship list. More details in future newsletters.

5 – Less than 133 days to Summer Celebration at Laurelville!

Hope you are 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 fellowship, mutual counsel, challenge and collaboration. John 15:1-8 is our scripture focus. Dave Mishler (Scottdale), Kate Heinzel (University) and Wes Bergen (Morgantown CoB) will be preaching. Much fruit – do you see God’s kingdom from a scarcity or an abundance frame of reference?

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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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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