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Workshops: 2024 Summer Delegate Assembly

All workshops will be held at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church on Thursday, July 18, 2024.

Workshop Descriptions

Workshop I      9:00 am

Growth, Good Feelings, and Fragmentation, 1990-2005, Elwood Yoder

Membership in the Virginia Conference grew by 46% during the 1990s, with an all-time record membership of 9,639 by 1999. New congregations were added during the decade. Good feelings, volunteerism, and a desire to help others fostered a sense of unity and shared purpose. However, by 2005, the Virginia Mennonite Conference grappled with significant challenges. Membership dropped considerably as eighteen congregations departed from 1995-2005. There were deep-seated doctrinal and theological differences, which were further complicated by the Integration of the Mennonite Church (MC) and General Conference (GC).

Peace with Creation, Steve Pardini

This workshop examines how God has entrusted humans with the responsibility to care for the Earth, explores how human activity has contributed to climate change, discusses our current efforts in addressing climate change, and explores ways to further reduce human impact on the climate.

Celebrate Recovery: Enjoy the Holy Spirit in our life!, Jim Hershberger, Duane Beck, Margaret Michael, Nathan Carr

Celebrate Recovery is a Sermon on the Mount, Christ centered recovery program for anyone struggling with hurts, habits or hangups of any kind. This church ministry is a safe place to find community, accountability and freedom from the issues that are controlling our life. It helps us recover and strengthen our relationship with God, our families and our church brothers and sisters.


Workshop II 10:15 am

Seeking to Make an Impact: Race, Faith and Finance, Leonard Dow

Leonard Dow is VP of Community & Church Development. Leonard will be sharing about his own life journey and how his Anabaptist faith and life experiences intersect with his current work at Everence where he engages historically underserved and low to moderate income communities. What can be done, how is Everence seeking to respond, how are/can you participate in making an impact? It promises to be a time of sharing, learning, listening and equipping.

Christ-centered Identity and Inclusion (Acts 10-15), Mark Thiessen Nation

Given the Jewish context of the original Jesus movement, there is no question but that what happens in Acts 10-15 is unexpected and radically re-defining. What had previously been seen as “unclean” meat, forbidden for faithful Jews, is now rendered clean. Moreover, God had required circumcision of every male in Israel (Gen. 17). And now Paul and other Jewish leaders among the followers of Jesus the Messiah are saying that circumcision is no longer required of every male to be in a faithful, covenantal relationship to the God of Israel and His people. Centuries-old, God-ordained requirements were made optional. How can we understand these six chapters as they relate to being Christ-centered and inclusive today? And how might they help us in our current discernment regarding our identity and disagreements?

Cultivate: How to Sow the Gospel in Your Circle of Relationships, Lizzette Hernandez and Kierston Kreider, VMMissions

This workshop will introduce you to 10 fundamental paradigms of a missional church, alongside introducing a highly practical framework for making disciples anywhere and everywhere, called Four Fields. Expect an engaging and hands-on experience, offering a glimpse into two multi-day trainings VMMissions will provide for missional leaders this fall. Additionally, VMMissions is offering a cohort-based opportunity to receive coaching and peer-mentorship for pastors and leaders wanting deeper engagement with these paradigms.


Workshop III 1:00 pm

From Non-Resistance to Justice: A Mennonite Shift to Active Peacemaking, Ervin Stutzman

This workshop examines the transformation of progressive Mennonite theology and practice over the last several decades. This change came about through modernization and a shift in the spiritual life in congregations.

Mission: a dying colonial experiment or our intentional way of showing up in the world?, Eric Frey Martin, Mennonite Mission Network

Depending on what circles you run in, mission can feel like an outdated word fraught with the fear of being implicated in a system of colonialism, racism, or cultural insensitivity. Certainly, there is a history that informs us that Christian mission has been co-opted by these pervasive systems in the past. The temptation for us can be to walk away from any endeavors that resemble “mission”. However, we can also recognize that following Jesus demands that we show up in certain ways in this world. So how can we embrace a mission that is reflective of the liberation and reconciliation seen in Jesus’ ministry?

In this session we will look at:

  • Dominant narratives that surround our lives and effect how mission has and is done
  • Pre-conceived notions we have around mission
  • Personal experiences with mission
  • Ways in which we can envision a liberating and reconciling mission

Return to Hope: Inner Healing in Congregational Life, Paula Stoltzfus, Roy Hange, Juan Carlos Malvaez, Peter Eberly (Double session, workshops III & IV)

Jesus spent much of his ministry healing persons and the early church had a 3 year catechism that included emotional and spiritual mentoring and transformation. In this workshop the four pastors will tell how inner healing ministries has become a core part of congregational life and a source of hope.


Workshop IV 2:15 pm

Return to Hope: Inner Healing in Congregational Life (continued)

(See description under Workshop III)

Introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion, MaryBeth Moore

In this workshop, we will explore how to be kind and caring towards ourselves during difficult times, just as we would be towards a treasured friend. This simple yet powerful practice can help us develop inner strength, reduce self-criticism, and thrive in ministry. The session will include a guided meditation centered on receiving God's abundant loving-kindness and sharing it with others.

Will Our Children Have Faith? Urgent Questions about Faith Transmission, Sarah Bixler

In 1976, theologian John Westerhoff published Will Our Children Have Faith? Over the past 50 years, pastors, congregations, families and researchers continued to ask this question. As church attendance declines in the U.S. and young people are less interested in organized religion, the question feels all the more urgent. This workshop explores connections between key factors that impact the transmission of faith to the next generation, emphasizing new research findings about the importance of relational security. Participants will reflect on networks of belonging in their congregations that support children growing in faith and align with the core Mennonite value of community.