Virginia Mennonite Conference

Pathways

Helping pastors develop intercultural competence

June 2, 2017
by Aldine Musser
Co-pastor of Stephens City Mennonite Church, Stephens City, Va.

Helping pastors develop intercultural competence

The term “white privilege” was not in my vocabulary or understanding while living in a neighborhood for 18 years, where whites were in the minority. In my faith community as a child, my Sunday School teacher and classmates were non-white. It wasn’t until I thought about attending Hesston College that I recognized it was more possible for me to leave the city than many of my neighborhood friends. Economically there were similarities — my parents couldn’t afford college and neither could my neighbors — yet I had an opportunity to …

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Asheville Mennonite Church volunteers serve veterans

April 30, 2016
by Charles (last name withheld)
Member of Asheville Mennonite Church, Asheville, N.C.

I have been helping to serve dinner at the Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville, N.C., with other volunteers from Asheville Mennonite Church. As veterans come through the serving line, interacting with them is enjoyable but usually very hurried and brief. I find that refilling their drinks afterwards allows me to meet them on a more personal level and hear their stories. I can relate to them and understand their stories and their choices on some level because I, too, am a veteran. Many, but not all, are at the Quarters …

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Patchwork Pantry: a ministry of multiple congregations serving the food insecure

April 28, 2016
by Jennifer Ulrich
Serves with Patchwork Pantry and resides in Harrisonburg, Va.

Patchwork Pantry: a ministry of multiple congregations serving the food insecure

Every Wednesday evening, people from many walks of life come together to help provide food to persons who are food insecure in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County area of Virginia. Patchwork Panty’s mission is to provide a three-day supply of food for its clients. Virginia Mennonite Conference congregations in the local area have been strong supporters of Patchwork Pantry since its beginning. Community Mennonite Church has housed the pantry since its opening in 1992, because its founding director, Sheri Hartzler, attended the church. The pantry uses the sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen and …

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Building frameworks of Christian formation at Huntington

January 25, 2016
by David Mishler
Pastor of Huntington Mennonite Church, Newport News, Va.

Building frameworks of Christian formation at Huntington

For over six months, the new Christian Formation Team (CFT) at Huntington Mennonite Church has been wrestling with what an Anabaptist Christian formation “framework” might look like. The task assigned to our group comes from newly-formulated congregational guidelines with the following purpose statement: “Building on the foundation of the life and teachings of Jesus, [CFT] shall encourage a growing personal relationship with God and others and the development of mature character and faith. The CFT shall coordinate spiritual formation themes through teaching, mentoring, and modeling.” Like many congregations, we have …

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Serious Sunday School

January 22, 2016
by Ryan Ahlgrim
Pastor of First Mennonite Church, Richmond, Va.

Serious Sunday School

A proposal to bring seminary level content to adult classes I have a proposal for strengthening spiritual formation for adults: let’s make adult Sunday school more like seminary, and let’s get seminary into adult Sunday school! What are the essential classes every Christian should take in order to become a mature and effective disciple of Jesus? For many years I have been developing (and partially implementing) a “core curriculum” for adult Sunday school. This would include: Old Testament survey New Testament survey How to interpret the Bible The teachings of …

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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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Middle School event: Trust in a God who trusts in you

January 20, 2016
by Deb Horst
Associate Pastor of Christian Formation and Youth at Lindale Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va.

Middle School event: Trust in a God who trusts in you

On a cool rainy Saturday in September, ninety middle school youth and seventeen youth leaders, representing thirteen churches, gathered at Eastern Mennonite High School for a Middle School one-day youth event. Welcomed by Clyde Kratz, Executive Conference Minister, and led in lively worship by Seth Crissman and Greg Troyer, the event featured speaker Rebekka Stutzman. Rebekka and her husband Dave are missionaries in partnership with Virginia Mennonite Mission and Mennonite Mission Network. They are on furlough from their work in the South German Mennonite Conference. Using Matthew 14:22-23, drama, and …

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Our Stories, God’s Story: Mennonite Women of Virginia retreat

January 19, 2016
by Jean Oswald
Co-chair of the Mennonite Women of Virginia retreat committee and a member of First Mennonite Church, Richmond, Va.

  “My story is as sacred to God as God’s story is sacred to me. Nothing is lost on the breath  of God,” became a familiar refrain by the end of Mennonite Women of Virginia retreat, October 30-November 1. A crisp fall weekend at Massanetta Springs Resort, near Harrisonburg, Va., provided a perfect setting for relaxation and renewal. Women from as far away as North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania joined women from Virginia to celebrate God’s stories. Through the story of Hagar (Genesis 16), Sharon Clymer Landis, spiritual director, co-author …

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Pastoral Consultation meets to engage questions of “Same-Gender Attraction, Relationship, Lifestyle”

November 18, 2015
by Jon Trotter
Virginia Mennonite Conference Communications Manager

Pastoral Consultation meets to engage questions of “Same-Gender Attraction, Relationship, Lifestyle”

One hundred pastors and credentialed leaders in Virginia Mennonite Conference gathered in November at Lindale Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va., for a three-day Pastoral Consultation, a time of intentional listening, sharing and discernment on “Same-Gender Attraction, Relationship, Lifestyle.” This was the fifth in a series of five Virginia Mennonite Conference consultations that offered a space for input and conversations on issues in the church. The format included plenary sessions, table discussions, listening and responses as leaders sought to come to a greater awareness and understanding of each other and the mission …

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Mennonite World Conference connects father and son

October 22, 2015
by Aldine Musser
Co-pastor of Stephens City Mennonite Church, Stephens City, Va.

Mennonite World Conference connects father and son

Alberto Othuon, a third generational Mennonite from Tanzania, currently worships at Stephens City Mennonite Church. The 16th Global Assembly of Anabaptists brought his father to Harrisburg, Pa., from Tanzania for international worship and fellowship with 7,500 Mennonites from 65 countries. His father, Bishop John Nyagwegwe, has been walking with God (the Mennonite World Conference theme) for a long time. He serves in the town of Shirati, Rorya District of the North Mara region. He operates in 28 villages, in seven wards. Lancaster County missionaries started the Mennonite Church in East …

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