For photos from ACA and a summary video, please see https://bit.ly/ACAPhotos.
Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA gathered in person for its Annual Conference Assembly (ACA) on March 4-5, 2022, at Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold, Ohio. The theme for the assembly was Befriending the Neighborhood: Am I a Good Neighbor? The focus was on the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.
New mission statement
One hundred fifty-six people participated in ACA, including 133 delegates from 34 congregations. In addition to times of worship, ACA included four business sessions, a variety of workshops, and times of fellowship. During the business sessions the delegates unanimously approved a new mission statement: The Mission of Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA is to Gather, Equip and Send our Congregations by the power of the Holy Spirit to live out God’s Greatest Commandments (Mark 12:29-31) and Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Delegates also unanimously approved a request from Trenton Mennonite Church, Trenton, Ohio, to become a member congregation of Ohio Conference. The transfer was approved by Central District Conference, of which Trenton had previously been a member congregation.
Three-Part review planned
Delegates spent time in table group discussions, and they offered feedback on a recent decision by Ohio Conference’s Leadership Team to spend the next church year (April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023) reviewing the Conference’s constitution, structure and affiliation with Mennonite Church USA. The Leadership Team’s decision was based on the recognition that the Conference’s current constitution and structure are based on a mission statement that was almost 20 years old. There was also the recognition that Ohio Conference and Mennonite Church USA are not the same conference and denomination that they were 20 years ago. Delegates also gave general affirmation to the Leadership Team’s request to use an outside consultant to assist the conference in the year of review.
Throughout the assembly several congregations shared missional stories about being a good neighbor in their own communities, and updates were given regarding Ohio Conference’s current initiatives: missional discipleship, anti-racism, immigration, leadership development, and the Akron Church Partnership, which is working on assimilating a group of Congolese refugees into membership in the Ohio Conference.
Staff transitions noted
Sherah-Leigh Gerber was welcomed as the new regional pastor for the eastern half of Ohio Conference, replacing Ralph Reinford who is retiring after serving 36 years in pastoral ministry, the last 11 as regional pastor. Sherah-Leigh previously served Ohio Conference as coordinator of volunteers from 2019 to 2014, prior to moving to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she served as associate pastor at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church from 2015 to 2021.
Worship focuses on Conference theme
ACA also included times of worship focused on the Assembly theme of “Befriending the Neighborhood.” Speakers Howard and Cathy Wagler of South Hutchinson, Kansas, have a passion for helping Christians to be missional in their own communities. Howard is the former lead pastor of Journey Mennonite Church. Cathy grew up in West Liberty, Ohio. They currently are network directors of South Central Mennonite Conference.