Virginia Mennonite Conference

Editorial

Across boundaries and divisions, being “Neighbors: Strangers No More”

July 25, 2017
by Jon Trotter
Communications Manager

Across boundaries and divisions, being “Neighbors: Strangers No More”

I bind my soul this day to the neighbor far away, to the stranger near at hand in this town and in this land. (Verse 2 of I Bind My Heart This Tide) In a landscape of walls and fences, of separation and alienation because others may look, sound, and act different from us, delegates and those who attended the evening worship sessions at Virginia Mennonite Conference Assembly were challenged to become intentionally vulnerable, and to embrace the stranger and foreigner as our neighbor across lines of difference. In the …

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Faith formation in the congregational life

January 21, 2016
by Elroy Miller
Conference Moderator

Faith formation in the congregational life

At 19, I left the farm and my family near Goshen, Indiana, and traveled to Costa Rica, Central America, to engage in voluntary service during the Vietnam War. I was five months into my 26-month stay, crazy homesick, and in a real spiritual crisis. My childhood and youth of attending three church services a week, participating in regular family devotions and in dozens of youth group projects and singing with a multiple-church Mennonite youth choir had not prepared me for the pain of thinking and feeling like God had abandoned …

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Intrigued and challenged by our ‘Jerusalem’ events

October 18, 2015
by Elroy Miller
Conference Moderator

Intrigued and challenged by our ‘Jerusalem’ events

I left both Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) Assembly and Mennonite Church USA Convention in Kansas City feeling deeply moved by the worship experiences with emphasis on what it means to live like Jesus during challenging times. I was intrigued by the notion that holiness and unity aren’t just two dynamic concepts on a continuum, but rather “two sides of the same coin.” Both must be experienced in context of the other to fully appreciate their meaning. As moderator of VMC I asked the following questions: “What in the world can …

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Engaging possibilities and walking together in love

October 14, 2015
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

Engaging possibilities and walking together in love

Summer 2015 will be remembered for the gatherings of the body of Christ within our Anabaptist-Mennonite faith family. In mid-June Virginia Mennonite Conference held their annual Assembly on the theme “Built into a Spiritual House” (1 Peter 2) at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church. The first week of July, Mennonite Church USA held their biennial Convention in Kansas City, Mo., with the theme “On the Way” (Luke 24). Mennonite World Conference met in Harrisburg, Pa., at the end of July with the theme “Walking with God.” The opening worship service focused on …

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Renewing our Connections

March 3, 2015
by Clyde G. Kratz and Aaron Kauffman
Executive Conference Minister and VMMissions President, respectively

Renewing our Connections

For the past 25 years, Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) and Virginia Mennonite Missions (VMMissions) have shared the publication, Connections. In this editorial, Clyde Kratz, VMC Executive Conference Minister, and Aaron Kauffman, VMMissions President, discuss the challenges and the dreams that have emerged about this communication tool. Clyde: I value the joint effort by VMC and VMMissions to put forth a quality publication in order to minimize the duplication of services and share the financial burden. One of the by-products of this joint adventure, however, is the confusion of identity that …

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In the beginning!

December 23, 2014
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

In the beginning!

The biblical account of creation opens with the proclamation “In the beginning God….” (Genesis 1:1). The affirmation that God was present in the beginning, engaged in purposeful creation, bringing order out of chaos, is not lost on biblical commentators 1. When Jesus teaches his disciples and subsequently all disciples how to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), God’s continuation of presence and re-creation of the world is affirmed. Equally important in both the Genesis account of creation and the Lord’s Prayer is …

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A great cloud of witnesses

November 23, 2014
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

A great cloud of witnesses

The writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 [NRSV]) The …

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Leaders needed!

November 22, 2014
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

Leaders needed!

As part of the Listen and Learn Initiative, whereby I sought to visit with each lead pastor in Virginia Mennonite Conference, I had a startling discovery: two-thirds of the 60 lead pastors whose birth date is on record in my office will turn 70 in the next 15 years. Broken down in five year increments, I calculated the number of current pastors who will turn 70 or be beyond that age: In 2014-2019: 13 pastors In 2020-2024: 15 pastors In 2025-2029: 15 pastors 43 of the 60 pastors leading congregations …

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Spirit instinct!

September 12, 2014
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

Spirit instinct!

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. —Philippians 1:9-11 (NRSV)— A fifth scripture text that I have selected to guide my leadership practices is this prayer found in the opening chapter of Philippians. Acts 16 provides a historic account of the founding …

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Mission impulses and unity

March 24, 2014
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

Mission impulses and unity

The Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15 is the second key leadership text for my work as Executive Conference Minister. This story highlights the activity of the leaders of the faith community discerning appropriate responses to the tension between “circumstances and conviction.” (1) The circumstance in the text is the awareness that Gentiles are coming to Christ, assured of their salvation by the missionaries, and are baptized into a covenant relationship with God and the community of faith. The conviction at stake is that these new converts are not being …

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