Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                                             Volume 6 – May 2018

#1 – CDC/AMC Affiliation Task Force at work
Your task force is working! The task force assigned to bring a recommendation to both Central District Conference (CDC) and Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC) has met three times, most recently on May 2, 2018.  Members include – J. Lorne Peachey (Scottdale), Dave Swanson (Pittsburgh), LeAnne Zook (Hyattsville) from AMC and Ron Guengerich, Donna Mast, and James Rissler from CDC.  Conference Ministers Doug Luginbill and Dave Mishler are giving staff support.

The task force is sorting through a series of options.  Having received feedback from delegates, AMC’s Leadership Council and the group of pastors that attended AMC’s recent Spring Bible Seminar, the option to dissolve Allegheny is not currently being pursued.  What has come to the top is some kind of strategic cooperation, which will help Allegheny remain as one of MC USA’s 18 conferences.  The message from the denomination into our conversation is – healthy conferences and healthy congregations best serve the church.  So what strategy best assists our congregations to be in ministry in their local places?  What will help Allegheny thrive as a healthy conference?  The Task Force has commissioned Doug Luginbill and Dave Mishler, conference ministers, to create several staffing scenarios which could lead to a period of strategic cooperation between Allegheny and CDC, for mutual benefit and sharing of expenses.  The Task Force will then put together broader scenarios for a proposed period of strategic cooperation, based in part on the staffing scenarios produced by Dave and Doug.  Other considerations extending beyond their work, like lending or transferring congregations from CDC to Allegheny, extending AMC youth ministry to CDC, will also be on  the table.

These are significant developments in walking the “two tracks” — remaining a separate conference or merging with CDC.  Not unexpectedly, a kind of “hybrid” proposal is what is in the works.  Allegheny’s vision of Jesus-centered, collaborative, place-based ministry may be realized in strategic cooperation with Central District Conference.  The shape of such strategic cooperation is percolating!

Please keep this task force, the future of our conferences and of our congregations, all of whom are part of Mennonite Church USA, in prayer these next number of months.  Share your visions and dreams for our conference, and your congregation’s role, in the comment section below.  We will be seeking your more specific discernment as a proposal comes together.

We again encourage all Allegheny delegates and participants in our congregations to learn more about Central District Conference.  Click these web pages and browse further to learn more about CDC congregations and how they express their priorities:
https://www.mcusacdc.org/who-we-are/congregations/
https://www.mcusacdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/identity-document-2004-1.pdf
https://www.mcusacdc.org/who-we-are/staff/
https://www.mcusacdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/CDC_Conference_Polity.pdf

#2 – The Shape of our Finances
The delegates took action to get to a zero-balance budget at our March 3 meeting.  In order to do so, we made significant items in the budget contingent upon increased congregational and individual support.  No more relying on reserves.  Erin Leatherman, outgoing treasurer, and Dave Mishler, conference minister, prepared a letter providing ideas and clarifications around the budget decisions we made.  Your congregational delegates and pastors received the letter in March.

So far, we have received unofficial reports from pastors, individuals and congregations that indicate about 1/3 of the 2018-19 contingencies could be funded through increased giving.  Many congregations are evaluating their capacity to increase current contributions in the current year and what further pledges can be made to re-instate all line items that were cut.  Please send your decisions about increased pledging or giving before June 30, 2018 so we can plan for stewarding the remaining reserves we have.   And thank you for your prayerful support!

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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Summer Celebration of Congregations and Conference

Our annual Celebration of Congregations and Conference will be held August 3-5, 2018 at Laurelville Mennonite Church with the theme being Abundance on the Journey. The scripture reference will be John 3:24-35 and the speakers will be Pastors Michelle  Burkholder (Hyattsville), David Swanson (Pittsburgh), and Jayne Byler (Stahl). Saturday evening after worship Everence will be sponsoring our ice cream followed by a jam session, so bring your instruments. Cindy Lapp and Eric Stoltzfus will be chairing the jam session. There will be activities for children, youth, and a staffed nursery will be provided during the worship services and business sessions. Plan on attending the weekend where you can celebrate and fellowship with one another. Here is a registration form: registration forms  and it is also listed on Allegheny’s website under the delegate tab.

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Cycling from Philly to DC

A Note from Ben Wideman, Campus Pastor at Penn State University

For a number of years cyclists with Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light have ridden their bikes each spring from State College, Pennsylvania to Washington, DC to raise environmental awareness about climate change and offer a faith-based response to our political representatives in Washington DC. For the first time this year, Pennsylvania cyclists will be departing from two different regions: State College, right in the middle of the state, and new this year, a group leaving from the Philadelphia area.

This year myself and two other Mennonite pastors with ties to the Franconia region are joining the Philly-to-DC trip as participants. I was curious if you’d like to highlight this ride in AMC’s newsletter or blog.

Mike Ford (Youth Pastor at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church) and John Stoltzfus (Dock Youth Minister and the Youth Minister for local Mennonite Conferences) are joining myself as we ride with other people of faith from the Philadelphia area to Washington, DC. Our journey will depart from the beautiful John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, May 13th at 1pm, and will take them through Delaware and Maryland, ending in our Nation’s Capital on May 15th.

We would love your support as we begin this journey! You can follow the bike trip by visiting this website – http://paipl.us/what-do-we-do/bike-trip/

If there are individuals or organizations interested in offering their support, they can visit this webpage – http://paipl.us/sponsors/

Thank you!

Ben (with Mike and John)

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Allegheny Miscellany

Allegheny Miscellany
by David Mishler, Conference Minister                                        Volume 5 – April 2018

#1 – CDC/AMC Affiliation Task Force at work
The task force assigned to bring a recommendation to both Central District Conference (CDC) and Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC) has met two times. Members include – J. Lorne Peachey (Scottdale), Dave Swanson (Pittsburgh), LeAnne Zook (Hyattsville) from AMC and Ron Guengerich, Donna Mast, and James Rissler from CDC. Conference Ministers Doug Luginbilll and Dave Mishler are giving staff support.

The task force has identified a series of options, sort of on a continuum, for consideration. The options range from remaining two separate conferences on the one hand to a full merger on the other, with numerous configurations of cooperation and support in between. One of the emerging questions seems to be which we value most – moving forward as two conferences or one conference. But another question has equal or more weight – which strategy best assists our congregations to be in ministry in their local places? And third – how does any decision affect Mennonite Church USA, which we are part of?

To say the least, ideas and preferences are percolating together – all with a clear vision of listening to the voice of the Spirit as we seek to be centered in Christ and walk in the way of Jesus as we give witness to a Jesus-looking faith. Following the next national conference ministers’ meeting and the elders of MC USA (the Constituency Leaders Council), the task force will meet again in early May for the ongoing work of discernment.

Please keep this task force, the future of our conferences and the future of our congregations, all of whom make up Mennonite Church USA, one of the (smaller) pieces of the global church, in prayer these next number of months. Share your visions and dreams for our conference, and your congregation’s role, in the comment section below.

We encourage you all to learn more about Central District Conference. Click these web pages and browse further to learn more about their congregations and how they express their priorities:

Congregations


https://www.mcusacdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/identity-document-2004-1.pdf

Staff


https://www.mcusacdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/CDC_Conference_Polity.pdf

 

#2 – Faith and Life Gathering – March 3, 2018
Some 67 delegates and guests met for our Spring Faith and Life Gathering at Stahl Mennonite Church (Johnstown, PA). Significant engagement ensued throughout our six-hour meeting as we heard stories of faithful discipleship from two of our congregations (Stahl and Crossroads). We listened and made decisions around our future life together as a MC USA conference, including adoption of a 2018-19 spending plan, feedback for our Affiliation Task Force members as they converse with Central District Conference, selection of members to our nominating committee and Leadership Council, and updates/simplification for our bylaws around regional structures and membership pathways.

Our worship was led by the Stahl congregation: Scripture – Philippians 3:3-11; Wangerin and Seuss were featured (Ragman and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!); and music led by Service Adventure leaders, Krista and Leah Rittenhouse. Our worship set the tone for a great day of counsel and discernment under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ.

At the urging of our pastors, a plan for healing and journeying forward with the Hyattsville congregation is underway and will be part of our August Celebration of Congregations and Conference at Laurelville, August 3-5. Get that into your calendar and plan for a fruitful time together, reaching for healing and hope and covenant commitments.

Welcome to Leah Lumeya (University) and Paul Lehman (Crossroads) to the Nominating Committee, and Karrie Peterson (Hyattsville) and Lester Lind (Philippi) to Leadership Council.

With regards to our Spending Plan, the delegates made a request to provide ideas for congregations to financially support the conference in this important year of decision, beyond our original commitments which were incorporated into the adopted budget. We are seeking to get to a zero-balance budget (no more relying on reserves), so Erin (treasurer) and Dave (conference minister) prepared a letter which provided ideas and clarifications around the budget decisions we made. Your congregational delegates and pastors received the letter in March.

Many congregations are evaluating their capacity to increase current contributions in the current year (before June 30) and whether any further pledges can be made to re-instate line items that were cut as we adopted the new budget July 1 to June 30, 2019). Please send any decisions about increased pledging or giving before June 30, 2018 so we can plan for stewarding the remaining reserves we have. And thank you for your prayerful considerations!

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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