Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                Volume 8 – July 2018

#1 – Our 2018 Celebration of Congregations and Conference

In less than two weeks, we will be gathering at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center for our annual Celebration event.  Abundance on the Journey is shaping up to be a formational weekend which pastors, delegates and everyone interested in engaging with the regional and national church won’t want to miss.  Doug Luginbill, Conference Minister for Central District will be on hand to interact and share from the perspective of their delegates as our mutual-get-acquainted-strategic-cooperation-ongoing-focus rolls on.

We ended our fiscal year much stronger than anticipated.  Our reserves are larger than we expected.  We are beginning to receive updated information on next year commitments from congregations which could get us closer to our goal of a balanced budget with reasonable reserves.

ALAS and ANEW will be part of our worship focus as we share our identified pain and our hope for the future in the context of God’s provision.  Expect to be challenged and encouraged!

 #2 – FUTURE EVENTS

Much significant work is on horizon.  In addition to the reporting from Central District Conference and our processing of how an affiliation might work as we meet at Laurelville, please get on your calendar our next Faith and Life Gathering where we will potentially be making more formal decisions about such an affiliation.  November 3 we will be meeting at University Mennonite Church in State College, PA where a proposal from the Affiliation task Force is expected to be on the floor for discussion and decision.

University Mennonite Church is also in the news as they welcome new lead pastor Kathryn (Kate) Heinzel, who will begin her term of service on September 1.  Be on the watch for a date for an installation service to be held this Fall.  Congratulations and blessing as UMC moves into this new chapter of ministry in their neighborhood!

Pittsburgh Mennonite Church is CELEBRATING!  50 years of ministry in their neighborhood will be recognized in a weekend long event, August 10-12, 2018.  A coffee house and ice cream bar, worship services, and several festive meals will be part of the happenings.  Check out PittsburghMennonite.org/50th for more information.

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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Joy Cotchen Ordained

Allegheny Mennonite Conference ordains Joy Cotchen
on June 3, 2018 as Minister of Children and Youth            by David Mishler

For over 18 years, Joy Cotchen has served the children and youth of Allegheny Conference as Minister of Children and Youth.  She was licensed on November 9, 2003 after being hired for the position on November 8, 1999.  From her congregational base of Stahl Mennonite Church (Johnstown, PA), Joy grew into the role, was noticed beyond Allegheny, and has been called to serve numerous Mennonite Church Youth  Conventions as part of the on-site staff and planning committees.

Joy sees her primary role as “mentor”.  Under her leadership, the conference “youth cabinet” has grown into a place where high school juniors and seniors develop leadership skills, and she has been a catalyst for beginning the journey into pastoral and youth ministry for numerous persons now serving across the church.  She has been a visionary leader for re-framing the summer youth camping program at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center beyond initial commitments for Christ into a place of forming young disciples who follow Jesus.

So, her congregation and conference leadership joined together to confirm her calling, honor her service, and grant her the credential of ordination, following a unanimous recommendation from the conference credentialing committee.  Congratulations, blessing, and hope for many years ahead as Joy follows her passion of forming disciples who walk in the way of Jesus

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Allegheny Miscellany

By David Mishler, Conference Minister                                                 Volume 7 – June 2018

#1 – CDC/AMC Affiliation Task Force at work
Important task force progress! The task force assigned to bring recommendations to both Central District Conference (CDC) and Allegheny Mennonite Conference (AMC) met for the fourth time on June 7. Your AMC members again – J. Lorne Peachey (Scottdale), Dave Swanson (Pittsburgh), LeAnne Zook (Hyattsville); and from CDC – Ron Guengerich, Donna Mast, and James Rissler. Conference Ministers Doug Luginbill and Dave Mishler are giving staff support.

Strategic cooperation or strategic partnership is beginning to take some shape. Specifically, the conversation, which is now projected to develop a proposal by November, is beginning to focus on staff-sharing as the single greatest factor in producing a workable budget to sustain Allegheny into the future. Sharing the work of conference ministers, conference administrative staff and Allegheny’s minister of children & youth are being examined. Proposals from the task force will be taken to each conference leadership body to be formed into a joint CDC/AMC proposal for our respective delegates to consider.

Let me just say here that there are some exciting possibilities coming to the table which could creatively serve our conferences for the immediate and long-term future with mutually beneficial outcomes and be seriously energizing at the same time! Pray for the task force and each conference leadership group as they put legs under the work of the task force over the next several months. You will be hearing more about our progress at our annual Celebration of Congregations and Conference at Laurelville, August 3-5.

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 – Our 2018 Celebration of Congregations and Conference
Spaces are filling for “Celebration” which is coming at us in less than 8 weeks! Abundance for the Journey will be an inspirational and informational weekend that pastors, delegates and everyone interested in engaging with the regional and national church won’t want to miss. Good food, fun, fellowship, worship, a jam session (bring any instrument to join in!), meeting with national leaders are all on the schedule. Doug Luginbill, Conference Minister for Central District will be on hand to interact as our mutual-get-acquainted-strategic-cooperation-ongoing-focus rolls on.

And we have mostly good news to share about our financial condition. We have needed to use less of our reserves than anticipated because of current year contributions. We are beginning to receive updated information on next year commitments from congregations which could get us closer to our goal of a zero-balanced budget and growing reasonable reserves.

If you haven’t already registered for Celebration, do so now! http://www.alleghenymennoniteconference.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/registration-forms.pdf

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 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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