Virginia Mennonite Conference

Pathways

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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Convention: facilitating difficult table conversations

October 22, 2015
by Loren Swartzendruber
President of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Convention: facilitating difficult table conversations

With the exception of two Mennonite Church USA Conventions, I have been present as a pastor or as an employee of a denominational agency or institution for the last 40 years. Kansas City 2015 was the first time I served as a delegate, in this case appointed by Virginia Mennonite Conference. I also served as a table group leader in the delegate sessions. Because of my role as a delegate and other responsibilities on behalf of EMU, I did not attend as many of the worship services as usual, nor …

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God met us at Table 80

October 20, 2015
by Phil Kniss
Lead pastor of Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, Va.

God met us at Table 80

The work we had to do weighed heavily on those of us around Table 80 at Mennonite Church USA Convention in Kansas City. We were carefully prepared for our work of “spiritual discernment,” and were reminded often throughout the delegate assembly to work in a spirit of prayerful openness to each other and to the Holy Spirit. God met us there at Table 80. We had deep differences between us, but the Spirit enabled us to listen and learn from each other as we honestly shared our hearts and our …

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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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