Pastors from around the Ohio Conference gathered Sept. 28 at Maple Grove Mennonite Church in Hartville for a Year of Covenant meeting. David B. Miller, associate professor of missional leadership at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, was the presenter.
Covenants contain both privileges and commitments, but it is the commitments which tend to be neglected, Miller said. He noted that in Genesis God made a covenant with Abraham which called for Abraham to be a channel of God’s blessing in the world, saying “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3b).
One of the scripture passages Miller focused on was Luke 4, which contains both the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and also the people’s reaction to him in Nazareth when he read from the book of Isaiah in the temple.
Miller also focused on the account of the Jerusalem Council as found in Acts 15, when the leaders sought the leading of the Holy Spirit as they discerned the way forward. In the missional church, God gets to lead. What we need to do is discern God’s leading, he said. We need to be looking for the signs of the Spirit.
Pastors were seated at round tables for times of discussion. As a visual symbol, Miller placed piles of stones on each table. He said that stones can symbolize many things. Stones can be a weapon; stones can be a marker; stones can be an altar or a witness. When we pick up stones, we are simultaneously burdened and arming ourselves, he noted. The pastors were invited to take stones from the piles and to consider which metaphorical stones they need to lay down.
In addition to hearing from David Miller, the pastors had times of discussion in table groups and shared in a time of worship led by Kevin Himes and Bill Seymour.
Following this meeting, pastors were surveyed about their impressions of the day. Several common themes emerged:
- Appreciation for the conversation around the tables and a desire for more time for these conversations
- A desire to have more conversation about the application of the biblical texts to our current processes as a Conference
- A desire to plan for times in the future when pastors can study and talk together about issues that we are currently facing
- Appreciation for a time of worship together
- The recognition that we will do well to intentionally tend to building trust between pastors
A third Year of Covenant pastors’ meeting will take place sometime in January.
To see photos from this meeting, go to https://ohiomennoniteconference.org/about-the-year-of-covenant.