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iCLT News: When We Come Together

January 11, 2024
by June Miller
Director of Administration and Communication

“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Ephesians 4:11-12


Caleb Schrock-Hurst
Minister of Church Relations and Racial Justice

When We Come Together

This fall, the interim Conference Leadership Team (iCLT) has advocated for a renewed focus on our Virginia Mennonite Conference mission statement. Our VMC mission is to “equip pastors, lay leaders, and congregants for worship and service, and to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to neighbors near and far.” Craig Maven’s iCLT news from a few weeks ago highlights some of the ways we on iCLT hope to refocus our energy on equipping and mission going forward.

It is great to think about new ways of equipping believers, and also important to remember all that we already do together on our mission to equip.

We equip pastors – and churches – by providing support and accountability, both directly through District Ministers and indirectly through relationships and activities.

We equip lay-leaders through hosting and supporting enrichment events and through gathering as a corporate body of believers at Delegate Assemblies.

Recently, we’ve been equipping congregants by helping them connect beyond their individual churches at District Renewal Events, where multiple churches worship and share together.

VMC has equipped tens of thousands of people for various missions through creating partner institutions over the last two centuries, from Eastern Mennonite University, VMMissions, Pleasant View, Highland Retreat, Williamsburg Christian retreat center, and many, many more.

These are all good things – but we also need to make an important shift in our thinking about who is doing the equipping. Every time I used “we” above, I’ve referred to conference staff and leadership, when in reality, as June Miller reminded us in her recent iCLT news, we ALL are VMC.

Everyone, from pew through pastor, has a role to play in building up the body of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we are all called, in the spirit of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” We are at our best when we look for, find, and then support the good work God is already doing among us. When we come together to collaborate and build up the ministries God has called us to, we can continue on the path of mutual support and encouragement.

May we always remember that VMC is not just office staff, and not just leaders in various committees and formal roles. Just as the church is not a building, but the body of believers, so too is our conference. May our mission of equipping others for worship, service, and evangelism be renewed and joy filled as we celebrate Christmas, when we remember once again the divine mystery: God humbled himself for the sake of us all, equipping us all for the ministry of reconciliation.

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