Ohio Conference pastors meet for trust building, make recommendations
Pastors representing 53 churches in the Ohio Conference met at Bellville, Ohio, to discuss their future recommendations relative to the relationship of the Ohio Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Church USA (MC USA). Pastors were divided into table groups with table leaders who used a modified Circle Process. The Leadership Team facilitated the meeting in a process of trust building, listening and direction setting.
Pastors were surveyed on their congregation’s likelihood to remain part of Mennonite Church USA and Ohio Conference. Overall consensus was that congregations preferred to remain part of Ohio Conference, but for some, the relationship to Ohio Conference hinged on the future relationship of Ohio Conference and MC USA. Some congregations only wished to remain part of Ohio Conference if not required to remain part of MC USA, and others only committed to Ohio Conference if Ohio Conference remained part of MC USA. Future commitment to MC USA was varied.
Pastors’ table groups were asked to give the Leadership Team options for the direction of the Ohio Conference going forward. Group-discerned options ranged from keeping the status quo to complete separation from Mennonite Church USA. When pastors individually were asked to express what they thought were their own congregation’s top one or two preferences from among the various options identified, the two most-cited recommendations were that the Ohio Conference give congregations the option to remain part of the Ohio Conference but to allow congregations to opt out of Mennonite Church USA, or for the Ohio Conference as a whole to leave Mennonite Church USA. The Leadership Team will be reviewing these group-discerned options and the content of the discussions and will bring a recommendation to congregational representatives at upcoming fall cluster meetings.
Summary of expressed preferences from among group-discerned options
for moving forward for Ohio Conference
1. Leave — Ohio Conference would leave affiliation with MC USA — quite strongly supported possibility
Several of these indicated that Ohio Conference should seek affiliation with some entity supporting the 1995 Confession of Faith or simply another entity.
2. Adopt some form of provisional membership — quite strongly supported possibility
Ohio Conference would remain affiliated with MC USA but adopt a provision whereby congregations could be members of Ohio Conference without being part of MC USA.
3. Stay — strongly supported possibility
Ohio Conference would retain its present affiliation with MC USA.
4. Probational — strongly supported possibility
Ohio Conference remains affiliated with MC USA but self-identifies as being at “variance” in defined ways with policies, actions, or such of MC USA. Ohio Conference undertakes steps to clarify future relations and boundaries.
5. Provide other options — supported possibility
Ohio Conference retains affiliation with MC USA and works to aid congregations which decline connection with MC USA to find other optional connections.
Credentialing Ministry Team announces procedures
The Ohio Conference Credentialing Ministry Team (CMT) would like to announce several new procedures they will be using:
CMT member Lavonne Hartman will be the person who contacts pastoral candidates to set the time of their interview and to make sure they have turned in the needed documents on time. These tasks were formerly done by the regional pastors.
The Credentialing Ministry Team is working to compile questions to give to any pastoral candidate who is new to the Ohio Conference, such as a student, a pastor from another Mennonite Church USA conference, or a pastor from another denomination. The candidate will need to submit answers to these questions to the Credentialing Ministry Team for their review prior to the prospective pastor’s candidating weekend with a congregation. CMT will inform the congregation’s search committee of anything they see which might indicate that the pastoral candidate could not be licensed in the Ohio Conference. Ohio Conference will no longer install new pastors prior to their license being granted by the Credentialing Ministry Team.
Transitional conference leader hired
The Ohio Conference Leadership Team interviewed candidates for the transitional conference leader position on Aug. 7 and have hired George O’Reilly. George recently completed a transitional pastorate at First Mennonite Church in Canton and started full time with the Ohio Conference on Sept. 1.
George’s primary role will be to help the Leadership Team in listening, trust building and direction setting for Ohio Conference with a long-term goal of discerning a shared vision for the Conference. One of his first tasks was participating in the Sept. 2 All-Ohio Conference Pastors’ Meeting. Please keep George in your personal and congregational prayers as he begins his work with the Ohio Conference.
Central Mennonite to host Assembly
Please mark your calendar now: The 2016 Annual Conference Assembly of the Ohio Conference will take place March 11-12 at Central Mennonite Church in Archbold. The theme for the gathering will be “Holy Ground: Founded on Christ, Flourishing in Faith,” based on 1 Corinthians 3:6-11.
Delegate News is for you
…if you are a delegate to Ohio Conference’s Annual Conference Assembly. Each Ohio Conference congregation is eligible to send at least two delegates (or more, depending on the number of members), as well as an additional young adult delegate. In addition, all credentialed pastors of Ohio Conference congregations are automatically delegates, as are paid staff and members of the Leadership Team, Ministry Development Team, Credentialing Ministry, Gifts Discernment Ministry and Stewardship Ministry.
If you are no longer a delegate for your congregation, please forward Delegate News to the new delegates in your congregation. In addition, please inform Judy King, Conference administrative assistant, of the change. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-857-5421.