Virginia Mennonite Conference

Pathways

Finding the image of God in each incarcerated neighbor

October 11, 2017
by Jason Wagner
Licensed minister for jail chaplain ministry and mission worker of Virginia Mennonite Missions

Finding the image of God in each incarcerated neighbor

I will not forget my first time in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Regional Jail. I was leading music for a Sunday service with Minister Mark Lehman. We were let into the building through a system of locked doors, each controlled by some unseen force behind the surveillance cameras. Arriving in the room where the service would take place, we arranged the chairs and put song sheets out on the tables. What happened next, I was not prepared for. The door opened to the classroom and prisoners—in bright orange jumpsuits cuffed together in …

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Where does the Virginia Mennonite story begin?

October 10, 2017
by Steven Nolt
Young Center Senior Scholar, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and recognized author of Mennonite history

Where does the Virginia Mennonite story begin?

Perhaps the Virginia Mennonite Conference story begins in early summer 1671, in a village in the German Palatinate, where deacon Valentine Heatwole offers bedding and clothing to Christina Weis, a thirty-six-year-old refugee who had fled her home in Switzerland, traveling more than two hundred miles with her three children, the youngest only twelve months of age. The sad fact was, Heatwole reported, Weis actually had five children, but was forced to leave two of her offspring behind. She also had no hope of seeing her husband again. He was among …

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FaithTrust Institute trains Investigation Team, others in VMC

September 28, 2017
by A member of the Investigation Team

FaithTrust Institute trains Investigation Team, others in VMC

Every Virginia Mennonite Conference pastoral leader agrees to honor certain boundaries as part of receiving ministerial credentials. Knowledge of what are appropriate behaviors and what are not is crucial to a pastor’s effective ministry. To increase awareness of the need for healthy and appropriate boundaries, and to provide ongoing education, VMC invited a consulting group called FaithTrust to provide training for Faith and Life Commission and the Investigation Team that will investigate complaints against credentialed leaders. The training was in two parts—first, a day-long training led by Lonnie and Teresa …

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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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