Conference Narrowly Votes to Reinstate Hyattsville

Hyattsville Mennonite Church (Photo credit:  Jake Short)

Hyattsville Mennonite Church
(Photo credit: Jake Short)

Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC) delegates met March 7 at Springs (Pa.) Mennonite Church and voted 72-70 to reinstate Hyattsville (Md.) Mennonite Church as voting members of the conference.   Later in the meeting, delegates released three congregations from membership in the conference.

In 2005, AMC delegates voted to keep Hyattsville as nonvoting members and to not allow members of the conference to hold elected positions in AMC or in Mennonite Church USA.  The reason for this, according to the 2005 resolution, was that Hyattsville had been found to be “inconsistent with the Membership Guidelines of Mennonite Church USA.”  Delegates had expressed concerns about the congregation’s membership practices, including the appointment of a person in a same-sex relationship as a delegate.

The new resolution stated that AMC “is willing to live together with theological disagreements, using the 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective as a guiding document, not a disciplinary document.”

Both the 2005 decision to sanction Hyattsville and the decision to reinstate them as full members were passed by a majority.  The decision to remove a congregation from membership requires a two-thirds majority vote, according to AMC leadership.

According to Donna Mast, AMC conference minister, the March 7 meeting was “civil [and] people were respectful.”  While there was laughter at various times throughout the day, she said in a March 8 phone interview, “the meeting was a sober one, made more so by the close vote.”

Three Maryland congregations—Glade Mennonite Church in Accident, Gortner Union Church in Oakland and Red Run Mennonite Church in Grantsville—submitted letters asking to be released from membership in AMC. Two of these letters had been submitted before the conference; Red Run’s was submitted after the vote, while delegates attended to other business.  Reasons for leaving had to do with differences about how to deal with same-sex relationships.  The resolution that passed also stated that “any congregation choosing to leave [AMC] as a result of this decision can request and receive assistance from the current Leadership Council in finding appropriate affiliation.”

This leaves AMC with 27 member congregations, two of which are church plants. Mast said the conference “will have to look hard at our structure,” which current giving patterns cannot sustain.

Cynthia Lapp, pastor of Hyattsville, said it is hard to know how to respond to the decision.  “It is obvious there are no winners here,” Lapp said in a March 8 email. “We have worked at building relationships for the past 10 years while we were under discipline. We will continue to work at building relationships for the next ten years as full members. We remain committed to praying with and for the conference as we move together into an unknown future.”

Written By: Gordon Houser  (Reprinted with permission, The Mennonite 3/9/2015)


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Plan Now for the Big Valley Bike, Hike, and Cycle Event on May 2

Not only will there be riding for bicyclists and walking for hikers but also a 70 mile route for motorcyclists to enjoy the gorgeous Big Valley in Bellevillebike Hike 14 group, PA.  Gather your pledges and join us! Persons with a donation or pledges of at least $25 will be entered in a drawing to receive gift cards from local vendors to take place at 9:00 a.m.  All funds raised will be sent to Mennonite Central Committee through TriState Relief Sale.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Maple Grove Mennonite Church, 115 Maple Grove Rd., Belleville. The event will end at noon. Distances: Bikers 33 miles or 16.5 miles;  Hikers 6.25miles or 4.5 miles (shorter or longer distances available for hikes & bikers);  Motorcyclists 70 miles.

Download the sponsor form and information from or contact JoAnn Byler at 717-437-1336 or  For questions regarding the motorcycle ride, contact Wib Zook at


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TriState Spring Workday to be April 18

knottersSaturday, April 18, will be the spring workday at Springs Mennonite Church at Springs, PA, to prepare items to be sold at the TriState Relief Sale, July 17 & 18. Other items will be made to send to where needed most through Mennonite Central Committee.

Please come at your convenience between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM and bring a covered dish for lunch. Table setting and drink provided.  There will be opportunities for quilters, comforter knotting and relief kit bag sewing.  Bring along a friend, join in the fellowship, learn about MCC and share your talents whether you quilt, knot, or sew.

For more information or questions, contact Darlene Miller at 301-895-5557

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RAWtools PeaceMaker Tour to Forge Peace in State College

raw toolsOn March 20, the RAWtools PeaceMaker Tour, an effort to raise awareness and encourage dialogue around the issue of gun violence, will present a live demonstration at the State College Presbyterian Church, 132 West Beaver Avenue. The hour-long event, slated to begin at 6 p.m., will feature a blacksmith transforming a gun into a garden implement outside the church, while inside the sanctuary—as the blacksmith demonstration is video streamed live—individuals who have been affected by gun violence will share their experiences.

Author and activist Shane Claiborne will be the keynote speaker. Claiborne’s peacemaking adventures have taken him to many troubled areas around the world, including Rwanda, the West Bank, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Calcutta, where he worked with Mother Teresa.

Also speaking will be Terri Roberts, mother of Charles Carl Roberts, the shooter in the 2006 Nickel Mines Amish school shootings. Terri Roberts, a mother of four sons, will share her perspectives on the tragedy that propelled her into the public’s eye and how she has found strength and healing through God’s grace.

“By event’s end,” according to the RAWtools Facebook page, “a physical representation of God’s prophecy of ‘beating your swords into plowshares’ from Isaiah and Micah is created in actuality. People experience opportunities for healing, purpose, and a reinvigoration of imagination as a new reality is encountered in this physical representation of ‘forging peace.’”

A time of refreshments and fellowship will follow the presentation.

Event organizers are in the process of finalizing details for an outdoor demonstration of the gun to garden tool transformation on the morning of March 20th. More details will be released on the event’s Facebook page.

The RAWtools event is sponsored by Abba Java Coffee HouseMennonite Central Committee U.S. (MCC U.S.)University Baptist & Brethren ChurchUniversity Mennonite ChurchWestminster Presbyterian Fellowship, and 3rd Way Collective.

Learn more about RAWtools and the PeaceMaker tour at


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