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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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.

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