‘Gathered and Sent’ is theme of  2018 Assembly

Missional Consultant Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg (right) invited participants interested in being part of a missional network to plot their congregations on a map of Ohio. To see more ACA photos, go to the ACA video and photos page.

What valuable services does Conference provide to your congregation and pastor? What are the activities of Conference that you could do without? Delegates to the 2018 Annual Conference Assembly (ACA) of the Ohio Conference discussed these questions when they met at Bluffton University March 9-10. Two hundred seven people participated in ACA, including delegates from 41 congregations.

Delegate feedback to the discussion questions will help the Ohio Conference Leadership Team as it sets priorities for the future. Delegates also gave ideas for new programs and services that they would like to see Conference provide.

Conference minister announcement

Conference Moderator Bob Sauder made a statement about the search for a conference minister. (See a  copy of the statement for more information.) The Leadership Team has concluded that hiring a conference minister at a half-time capacity is not a healthy thing for any candidate or the Conference at this time, considering the scope of the position’s duties.

Bob Sauder also announced that Regional Pastor Ralph Reinford, who has been taking on many of the conference minister duties since the departure of Transitional Conference Leader George O’Reilly, will take three months for respite beginning in May, and then will return to Conference work after that time. He will transition to a  half-time position as regional pastor on Nov. 1 or when a new conference minister is in place.

At a later business session, delegates passed a resolution of appreciation for the work of Regional Pastors Ralph Reinford and Cliff Brubaker. (See the text of the resolution.)

Spending plan approved

Delegates approved a spending plan for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The plan calls for spending totaling $380,150. While introducing the spending plans to delegates, Stewardship Ministry Co-Chair Melanie Miller noted that giving to the Conference during 2017-18 has exceeded projections. A copy of the  2018-19 spending plan is posted on the “Assembly Documents” page of the Ohio Conference website: http://bit.ly/ACADocuments.

Release of congregations

Delegates approved a motion to release two congregations which have chosen to leave the Ohio Conference during 2017-18, Leetonia Mennonite Church and Lima Mennonite Church. Leetonia Mennonite Church voted on Nov. 30 to leave the Ohio Conference and Mennonite Church USA. The congregation has joined the Evana Network.

Lima Mennonite Church had been a dual-conference congregation with membership in both Central District Conference and the Ohio Conference. After a time of processing the decision, the congregation decided to affiliate solely with the Central District Conference. Lima Mennonite’s pastor, Emily Hedrick, read a statement from the congregation and expressed her appreciation for the positive experiences she has had with the Ohio Conference. Regional Pastor Cliff Brubaker led the delegates in a prayer for Leetonia Mennonite and Lima Mennonite.

Missional Consultant Reports

Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg, who is serving Ohio Conference as a missional consultant on a part-time volunteer basis, reported on her work with the Conference. She described herself as a “disturber and equipper” at Zion Mennonite Church, and told delegates that a missional movement has to come from the grassroots up. She brought a map of Ohio to the meetings and invited delegates to plot their church on the map to indicate their desire to participate in the missional network in Ohio Conference, as well as giving their contact information. She asked delegates to consider the question, “What are you being called to do?”

Missional stories shared

Delegates also heard stories about how God is at work in the Conference. Jared Chase shared the story of Sharon Mennonite Church’s summer work camp. Larry and Ginny Cress talked about the Wheelhouse, a ministry in Lima which helps provide bicycles for people who need transportation. Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg told delegates about Zion Mennonite Church’s development of a collaborative ministry team. (You can learn more about Sharon Mennonite’s work camp and the Wheelhouse by listening to episodes of the Ohio Conference Cast. Go to http://bit.ly/SharonWorkCamp and http://bit.ly/WheelhouseLima to hear these episodes.)

Delegates worship

In addition to business, delegates also spent time in worship. Speakers for the worship services were Meghan Good and Marvin Lorenzana, who were the presenters for the Gathered and Sent Missional Conference which preceded ACA. At the Friday evening worship service, which had the theme, “The Church Needs to be Evangelistic to be the Church,” Meghan Good spoke about “The One That Got Away,” focusing on Jesus’ announcement of his ministry in Luke 4 and on the Parable of the Lost Sheep. On Saturday morning, Marvin Lorenzana spoke about discipleship in his message, “Igniting a Culture of Multiplication.”

In other business, the delegates:

— Attended workshops on a variety of topics;

— Approved the minutes of the 2017 ACA;

— Attended a plenary session featuring speakers Meghan Good and Marvin Lorenzana;

— Were introduced to pastors with new assignments in the Ohio Conference;

— Affirmed the personnel slate presented by the Gifts Discernment Ministry (see pages 8-10 for more information about these volunteers);

— Heard from Credentialing Ministry Chair Andy Stoner, reporting on the activity of the Credentialing Ministry and explaining the procedure for dealing with pastoral sexual misconduct cases;

— Heard a report from Myron Weaver, pastor of Berlin Mennonite Church, about the “Gathered” initiative, which has focused in the past year on having pastors meet together;

— Heard a report from Jacob Dodson, pastor of Wooster Mennonite Church, about the “Sent” initiative, which is encouraging missional activity in the Conference and developing opportunities for missional education such as the Gathered and Sent Missional Conference;

— Heard a report from Assistant Moderator Thomas Dunn about the work of the Ministry Development Team;

— Heard from Bill Seymour and Darrin Snyder Belousek about the work of the Voice Task Force;

— Heard reports from Karla Minter, Mennonite Mission Network representative; Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi, Central Christian School superintendent; Andrew Michaels, Camp Luz director; Barb Martin of Brazo en Brazo; Haroldo Nunes, executive director of Open Arms Hispanic Ministry; and Terry Shue, director of Leadership Development for Mennonite Church USA;

— Celebrated communion.