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:
#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!
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