2023 Summer Delegate Assembly Resources
Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg
A Hybrid Event
Assembly Schedule/ Cronograma
Thursday, July 13
Friday, July 14
Saturday, July 15
Community Worship Livestream
Community Worship Service
Friday, July 14 at 7pm
Park View Mennonite Church
Free. Open to all.
In person or livestream
9am-noon Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) with Caleb Schrock-Hurst. Cost $75.
The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is a rigorously-tested sociological tool that measures an individual's ability to navigate many types of cultural difference and then equips participants to improve that ability. This group training introduces the core concepts of healthy intercultural communication and will be followed throughout the fall with a one-on-one session discussing individuals intercultural giftings and growth points. A $75 fee covers this group training, a personalized assessment and results, and a one-on-one conversation with Caleb (this fee will happily be waived by the Racial Justice Task Force upon request if it is at all burdensome).
Thursday, July 13 at Park View Mennonite Church, Fireplace Room.
9am & 2pm Harriet Tubman Museum tour with Aldine Musser.
The museum provides a timeline on Harriet Tubman’s work and insight into the local slave safe house. “Freedom Trail” markers outside provide information on “The Hideout”, “The Auction Block”, and Slave Patrols”
10:30am Faith Formation - What to Do about the Kids? Reimagining Faith Formation with Moriah Hurst.
Sunday school before the pandemic was hard, and then we have faced the last few years. What is working — or not — for your congregation now? What do you dream of for the children of the church? Come be part of a conversation about dreaming into new ways of doing faith formation with youth and children. Bring stories of and ideas for how your church or conference is approaching this.
Thursday, July 13 at Park View Mennonite Church or Zoom
2pm Does One Size Truly Fit All? Exploring Leadership Styles for Diverse Communities of Faith with Bishop Leslie Francisco, III
In our ever-evolving, pluralistic society, we encounter a multitude of diversities, competencies, personalities, and cultural biases. As leaders, it is our responsibility to listen, discern, guide, and facilitate consensus within groups. In this workshop, we will delve into different leadership styles, and examine which suits the communities we serve or answer the question, “Does one style fit all?” Join us as we explore the dynamic relationship between leadership and emerging communities aiming to foster productivity and effectiveness in our diverse society.
Thursday, July 13 at Park View Mennonite Church, Fireplace Room or Zoom
3:30pm Park View Mennonite Church, Fireside Room
YEAR OF WORSHIP, HEALING, REFLECTION AND RENEWAL
iCLT Pastoral Letter to Virginia Mennonite Conference
We as the interim Conference Leadership Team (iCLT) desire for Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) to live fully into its vision of being an organization led by and centered on Christ Jesus, where God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world. We sense the Holy Spirit speaking to us that VMC is in danger of abandoning “the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4 NRSV). We do not believe that anyone has lost their love of Jesus – rather, we believe we have become distracted, and lost the love for each other in Christ which we once had. We believe this loss of love is being expressed in our mistrust of each other, VMC, and the larger church.
We see two core points of tension that enable mistrust. The first is VMC’s structure, culture and function. The second is VMC’s relationship with MCUSA.
As iCLT listens and interacts with VMC leaders, both credentialed and non-credentialed, we are learning the extent of hurt and frustration with VMC. The misconduct process has brought this reality to light. Conference Council is currently engaging in a thorough review of its and FLC’s actions and responsibility in enabling dysfunction.
At the MCUSA Delegate Assembly, Kansas City July 2015, the delegate body approved the Resolution of Forbearance that called for MCUSA congregations and structures to practice forbearance for different understandings and practices regarding LGBTQIA+. Each conference already possessed the authority to determine its own membership and practices regarding credentials. In 2016 FLC created PROCEDURAL GUIDELINES FOR SUSPENSION OF VMC MINISTERIAL CREDENTIALS IN EVENT OF CONDUCTING A COVENANTING CEREMONY FOR SAME SEX COUPLE. This document clarified the procedures for investigation of a violation of the 2013 FLC policy, and set the limit of forbearance for credentialed VMC leaders.
At a Special Delegate Assembly in May 2022, again in Kansas City, MCUSA delegates passed two resolutions. One retired the membership guidelines that included Section 3 which defined marriage as between one man and one woman for life. The other was the Repentance and Transformation Resolution that named the church’s treatment of LGBTQIA+ as wrong, apologized for the church’s actions, and called the church to repent. The resolution instructed the Executive Board to create a queer constituency group among other inclusive actions.
There has been growing tension within VMC regarding sexuality. As VMC sought to live into forbearance within the 2013 FLC guidelines, congregations chose divergent paths, with several leaving VMC to leave MCUSA and others realigning with other MCUSA Conferences. The actions of MCUSA Delegate Assembly in May 2022 has further raised this tension, bringing it to a breaking point.
As the iCLT we believe the Spirit is calling us to re-invest in our relationship with each other and in the Lord while addressing these two areas of tension. Any action or actions we might take in the future should come out of our love for the Lord and for each other.
RESOLUTIONS REGARDING A YEAR OF WORSHIP AND DISCERNMENT
The following three resolutions are offered by the iCLT as a way forward. The first resolution is to enact the direction we as iCLT believe God is calling us to in worship. The second is to provide breathing space for both congregations and Virginia Mennonite Conference as we discern together how we can faithfully live into God’s word and God’s mission. The third resolution is meant as an affirmation of Conference Council’s appointment of the Denominational Alignment Work Group, and to indicate a time frame for potential responses by the Delegate Assembly.
- We as VMC commit to a year of pursuing spiritual renewal and discernment together. We wish to root the coming year in shared prayer, fasting, and worship in search of renewal of relationship with God and with each other. As such, between this assembly and Summer Assembly 2024 we ask each VMC district to host a renewal worship service which the whole conference is invited to attend.
- The VMC delegate body grants immediate permission (recognize and honor; acknowledge) for churches to consider themselves members of VMC and no longer members of (and the delegate body of) MC USA.
- The delegate assembly affirms CC’s decision to create the Denominational Affiliation Work Group (DAWG) to examine the legal and practical implications of VMC seeking to leave (the delegate body of) MC USA and asks that the Task Force bring their recommendation of decisive action forward for delegate approval by no later than VMC Summer Assembly 2024.
interim Conference Leadership Team
Duane Beck, Bishop Leslie Francisco, III, Maren Tyedmers Hange, Craig Maven, June Miller, Caleb Schrock-Hurst
 Renewal services are suggested to be held on the First Sunday of each month in September, October, November, and December 2023; and January, March, April, and May 2024 (Winter Delegate Assembly is the first Saturday of February). Congregations should consider suspending their typical Sunday morning service to view the VMC renewal service together. Congregations should also enter into discernment processes of their own this year to evaluate their relationships with MC USA and VMC.
 Congregations wishing to disassociate from MC USA and remain in relationship with VMC should inform their district minister(s), the iCLT, and Mennonite Church USA Executive Board staff of their decision. MCUSA bylaws do not officially recognize this action. However, VMC will honor disassociation in every way possible.
Virginia Mennonite Conference Community of Faith Statement
Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) is called to be centered around the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus Christ. We seek to strengthen our unity as a peace church, empowered by God’s Spirit to share Christ’s message of hope with all people.
VMC mission statement: VMC equips pastors, lay leaders, and congregants for worship and service and to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to neighbors near and far.
The past years have grown increasingly difficult for unity as a conference, as leadership and trust have broken down, theological debates have caused us to clash, political polarization has heightened, and technology has prompted us to have more screen time with less face to face opportunities in the midst of a pandemic that isolated us. Our denomination, Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA), has struggled to have a consensus on human sexuality, as do many other Christian denominations. The struggle for agreement threatens our connectedness, trust, and mission.
Beyond church statements and the struggle to exist corporately and theologically, are real life personal stories. We have many stories of deep pain, causing people to feel excluded from church and religion. We lament the harm and fracturing of our church families and seek to grow as a church community in maintaining the unity God has given us in Christ. As Jesus' disciples and the early church were diverse groups centered in Christ, we also seek to proclaim Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, while living in the Anabaptist way of peace.
Our recent conference- wide listening and learning feedback highlights that, “‘We create our own echo chambers’ tending to surround ourselves with those who see issues and conflicts in the same manner as we do; in so doing, the ability to ‘cross pollinate’, to share story and experience, to listen to and learn from those who stand at a different place, is lost.”1 We have not always been faithful, authentic, and vulnerable with one another. Persons with traditional beliefs, persons with progressive beliefs, people of color, persons who are LGBTQ+, women in leadership, and others have felt misunderstood, unwelcome and underappreciated. In the past we have navigated theological struggles over instrumental music in the home and church, dress codes, divorce and remarriage, and how to relate with persons in the military. Historically, we are aware of our shortcomings in relating with a variety of people, even when we believed our theology to be right.
Yet each day this conference has an opportunity to treat each person and each church with dignity, respect, hope, and love by keeping the life and teachings of Jesus at the center. We look forward to living more fully into our identity as the body of Christ and partnering together in the mission of the church, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We believe our pursuit of Jesus and our peace with one another testifies to God’s grace. The sanctity of marriage is important. We realize our theological perspectives may vary. We seek to honor one another and care for the brokenness within traditional marriage that has been long overlooked, and to show our value for persons who are single. While respecting each other's viewpoints, we recognize individual churches may not handle everything the same. Sitting in the same church pew from persons who differ from us and who offer different talents and gifts from our own, makes us a stronger witness to the greater body of Christ and models the peace stance we seek to profess.
May we be faithful to Jesus and to VMC’s Vision Statement: God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to grow as communities of grace, joy, and peace so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.
As an Anabaptist community, we commit to one another with Jesus at the center of our lives, giving witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and making every effort to maintain the unity God has given us while seeking to trust each other as we minister in our local contexts.
We pledge to support and work together through these commitments:
- We will do our best to practice mutual trust and respect in thought, word and deed, giving each other the benefit of the doubt when we perceive there to be We will move toward conflict with curiosity, expecting the Holy Spirit to illumine us.
- We will seek to draw from each other's strengths and support each other as we grow together, seeking to publicly and privately support and honor each other.
- We will seek to be in touch with our own feelings and to express them clearly and appropriately, while recognizing the validity of each other's feelings and
- We will attempt to clearly communicate our own needs and expectations and listen carefully to each other with ears, mind, and heart before speaking critically to an (James 1:19)
- We will do our best to provide a safe and brave place to express differing opinions and ideas, and make space for everyone to contribute. (Ephesians 4:15)
- We will seek to represent the love, grace, and reconciliation of Jesus Christ in all we
1 Quote from the VMC Listening & Learning Feedback document (page 15) provided to VMC February 4, 2023 at the Winter Delegate Assembly by Gilliam & Associates.
Signatures of VMC Statement:
Joe Friesen- Delegate, Zion Mennonite
- Sarah Piper - Pastor, Zion Mennonite
- Elwood Yoder - Zion delegate
- Lori Friesen -Pastor, Zion Mennonite
- Marian Buckwalter - Pastor, Crest Hill Community Church
- James Åkerson - Pastor, Beldor Mennonite
- Tim Friesen - Delegate, Immanuel Mennonite Church
- Linda Wenger - Delegate, Stephens City Mennonite Church
- Glen Kauffman - Delegate, Ridgeway Mennonite Church
- Kevin Gasser - Pastor, Staunton Mennonite Church
- Chad Miller - Pastor Ridgeway Mennonite Church
- MaryBeth Heatwole Moore, Delegate, Faith & Life Commission
- Floyd Blosser - Delegate, Central District
- Robert Yutzy - Lead Pastor, Lindale Mennonite Church
- Jimmy Miller- Elder Co-Chair, Lindale Mennonite Church
Faith and Praxis Resolution
Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by calling his followers to put his teachings into practice: “Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Matt. 7:24). This consistency between faith and praxis has always been central to the Anabaptist movement. We humbly yet courageously seek to live out what we say we believe. The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995) is affirmed by multiple Mennonite groups and articulates the broadest consensus of what we as Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC) understand the Scriptures to teach. Yet in recent years, a gap has grown between what is stated in this Confession of Faith and what some Mennonite leaders, including leaders within VMC, actually believe and live out, particularly in the area of marriage and human sexuality. The approval of the Resolution for Repentance and Transformation by Mennonite Church USA has only served to widen this gap.
The Gilliam Report noted high levels of mistrust in VMC leadership and the desire for clarity about our collective theological identity. The 2013 Faith and Life Commission polity statement has never been approved by the delegates, nor are non-credentialed VMC leaders asked to affirm that statement or the Confession of Faith as standards to be upheld as they serve in their respective roles. Consequently, we, the undersigned, call on VMC’s governing body, Conference Assembly, to consider the Faith and Praxis Resolution below as an opportunity to clarify the trajectory of VMC by aligning our practice with our stated beliefs.
Be it resolved that the 2013 Faith and Life Commission (FLC) polity statement, “Guiding Principles for Suspension of Ministerial Credentials in Event of Conducting a Same-Sex Ceremony” (with the FLC clarification following MC USA’s retirement of the Membership Guidelines), is the practice of Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC). Because VMC consists of congregations who “subscribe to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995) and make voluntary commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior a priority,” (VMC Constitution, Article II) all current and future credentialed and/or conference-wide leaders (including VMC officers, staff, and members of Conference Council, Faith and Life Commission, Congregational Life Commission, and other conference-wide leadership bodies) will, in writing, commit to uphold the 2013 FLC statement as the practice of VMC and the Confession of Faith (1995) as the teaching position of their respective role(s). Furthermore, Conference Council will create a mechanism for holding credentialed and conference-wide leaders accountable to these commitments.
Curt Stutzman, pastor, Weavers Mennonite Church, Central District
Suzy Kanode, Lead Elder, Mosaic of Grace Church, Harrisonburg District
Harold Miller, pastor, Trissels Mennonite Church, Northern District
Seth Hankee, pastor, Greenmonte Fellowship, Southern District
Joshua Cox, pastor, Grace Mennonite Fellowship, Northern District
David Lehman, former District Minister, Eastern District
Jason Rhodes Showalter, Global Ministries Director, VMMissions
Luke Schrock-Hurst, District Minister, Potomac District
Rev. Peter Eberly, Pastor, Eastside Church, Harrisonburg District
Aaron Kauffman, President, Virginia Mennonite Missions
John Engle, Pastor, Powhatan Mennonite Church, Eastern District
Matt Schwartz, Pastor, Eastside Church, Harrisonburg District
Risha Metzler, Co-Pastor, Mosaic of Grace Church, Harrisonburg District
Chuck Hostetter, District Minister, TCK District
Michael Metzler, Pastor, Mosaic of Grace Church, Harrisonburg District