Delegates overwhelmingly affirmed a resolution on immigration at the 2019 Annual Conference Assembly (ACA) of the Ohio Conference. Those gathered at Salem Mennonite Church in Kidron March 8-9 numbered 204, including delegates from 38 congregations.
Ninety-five percent of the delegates affirmed the immigration resolution, which calls for individuals to become better informed about the issues surrounding immigration, as well as encouraging steps for congregations to take regarding this issue. (See the text of the resolution here.) Vote totals were as follows: yes — 134; no — 4; abstain — 3.
The immigration resolution was developed by an Immigration Resource Team, which included Dan King, Ministry Development Team member; Mara Weaver Boshart, Zion Mennonite Church; Hannah Troyer, Summit Mennonite Church; Kelsey Troyer, Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville); and Alysa Short, Ohio Conference coordinator of volunteers.
Spending plan approved
Delegates unanimously approved a spending plan for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The plan calls for spending totaling $371,100. While introducing the spending plan, Stewardship Ministry Co-chair Dean Falb noted that the Conference has not needed to transfer any money from capital funds during the 2018-19 fiscal year, even though such transfers were proposed in the spending plan. A copy of the 2019-20 spending plan is posted on the “Assembly Documents” page of the Ohio Conference website: http://bit.ly/ACADocuments.
Release of congregations
Regional Pastors Cliff Brubaker and Ralph Reinford led the delegates in a litany of lament and blessing for congregations which have closed or chosen to leave the Ohio Conference. During 2018, both Berean Fellowship in Youngstown and Chestnut Ridge Mennonite Church in Orrville closed. Kidron Mennonite Church, New Mercies Community Church in Burton, and Jubilee Mennonite Church in Bellefontaine have chosen to leave the Ohio Conference. Prior to the litany, Karla Kauffman from Jubilee Mennonite read a statement from the congregation, noting that Jubilee has chosen to affiliate with the Central District Conference.
Celebration of 50 years
In addition to taking care of business, the delegates also took time to celebrate the Ohio Conference. Because this gathering was the 50th Annual Conference Assembly, the business sessions included times to reflect on the past 50 years of the Conference. Moderator Bob Sauder had two retired pastors, Eldon King and David Tijerina, share memories of their time with the Ohio Conference. They also reflected on the changes that have taken place in the Conference over the past 50 years.
Each delegate session also included an ACA celebration time, which included a trivia competition. Delegates were seated in groups around tables, and each table group worked together as a team to answer questions about a variety of topics. In the process, the delegates learned more about Conference Minister Dick Barrett, Mennonite Church USA Executive Director Glen Guyton, Ohio Conference history, and the reports found in the annual report book. Matt Weaver, associate pastor at Lockport Mennonite Church in Stryker, led this trivia competition.
Missional stories shared
Delegates also heard stories of how God is at work in the Ohio Conference. Darwin Hartman, pastor of Pike Mennonite Church in Elida, told about the addiction ministry group which is meeting at Pike. Ryan Nafziger, associate pastor at Tedrow Mennonite Church, described the congregation’s homework table program. Haroldo Nunes, executive director of Open Arms Hispanic Ministries, told delegates about a bilingual marriage enrichment retreat. Joel Shenk, pastor of Toledo Mennonite Church, described how Toledo Mennonite has become involved in “Forging Peace,” a program which includes the use of blacksmithing to repurpose guns into garden tools.
In addition to business, delegates also spent time in worship at nearby Sonnenberg Mennonite Church. Speakers for the worship services were Sally Schreiner Youngquist and Steve North, who were also the presenters for the 2019 Missional Conference. At the Friday evening worship service, Sally Schreiner Youngquist focused on the Parable of the Mustard Seed. The worship service also included an installation service for Conference Minister Dick Barrett. Following the Friday night worship service, delegates were invited to a reception for Dick Barrett and Glen Guyton, the new executive director of Mennonite Church USA. At the Saturday morning worship service Steve North talked about living with God’s presence, basing his sermon on II Samuel 6:1-15.
In other business, the delegates:
- Welcomed pastors from the Akron Swahili Community Church;
- Approved several wording changes to the Ohio Conference Constitution, mainly related to changes in job titles;
- Attended workshops on a variety of topics;
- Approved the minutes of the 2018 ACA;
- Were introduced to pastors with new assignments in the Ohio Conference;
- Affirmed the personnel slate presented by the Gifts Discernment Ministry (see pages 7-10 for more information about these volunteers);
- Heard a brief overview of what is happening in Mennonite Church USA from Executive Director Glen Guyton;
- 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;
- Heard a report from Conference Minister Dick Barrett about the “Gathered” initiative, which has focused having pastors meet together for discussion and studying scripture together;
- Heard from Sue Short and Jamie Rye about the upcoming Pastor-Spouse Retreat;
- Heard a report from Karla Minter of Mennonite Mission Network;
- Celebrated communion.