iCLT News: Will this boat float?

April 12, 2024
by Craig Maven
Minister of Administration and Church Relations

I like sailboats. I own a small sailboat.  I was watching a video featuring a fairly prominent New England boat building rummaging through a boat yard commenting on derelict and abandoned sailboats. To me they looked like lost causes. And at least one of them was. However, for most of them his comment was, “We could have this boat floating by this afternoon.” His refrain was, “If you want to sail don’t let obstacles keep you from sailing.” His point was it didn’t matter if the boat was scratched and gouged. It doesn’t matter if the woodwork needs varnishing or even replacing. It doesn’t matter how dirty and stained the boat is. If the engine will start and there are sails, even old blown-out sails, you can get on the water. Follow your dream and just go!

Change is happening in Virginia Mennonite Conference.  We have a number of churches that are choosing to realign with different conferences or associations, and a few are closing. Delegate will be informed, when all of the requirements are met, of exact numbers, which churches and whether they are leaving or closing.

Yes, it’s disappointing for those who remain committed to the health and vitality of Virginia Mennonite Conference. Yes, this causes confusion and raises questions. And it is easy to get discouraged and wonder if Virginia Mennonite Conference has become like one of those abandoned and derelict sailboats left “on the hard.” My answer is, “Doesn’t matter what Virginia Mennonite Conference looks like. She still floats. The engine still runs. There are sails to catch the wind. Virginia Mennonite Conference is still seaworthy!”

Change is upon us. A wise person noted that change is constant, and we can either let change manage us or we can manage change. My choice for us is to manage the change. It is time for us to ask some probing questions about who we are and what we do together.

Virginia Mennonite Conference’s Mission Statement: Virginia Mennonite Conference equips pastors, lay leaders, and congregants for worship and service, and to bring Good News of Jesus Christ to neighbors near and far.

This statement is what we have agreed to do together. And that goal keeps me engaged and energized. Virginia Conference will be smaller after the Summer Delegate Assembly. And we will lament that change. But Virginia Mennonite Conference still will be a viable conference. We will need to adapt to the new realities. Adapting will mean new ways of doing our work together, but the work will continue.

To return to the sailboat analogy… It’s time to replace the running rigging (the lines that control the sails) and maybe the standing rigging (the cables that hold up the mast) too. There are other parts that are worn and need refurbishing, revarnishing, repainting, and rebuilding. Old electronics that no longer work need to be removed and updated. And the bilge needs a good cleaning. But this boat will take us anywhere we need to go just as it is. And with effort and care we can have Virginia Mennonite Conference fit to cross any ocean.

I [we] can do everything through him who gives me [us] strength. – Philippians 4:13

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