#1 — Called from Within: Raising Up Leaders in Your Congregation
Sarah Short, associate pastor, Inlet Mennonite
How do we raise up the next generation of leaders? How do we equip people in our church to use their gifts to serve God? We’ll ponder these questions and look at some ways to build up the leaders among us. Sarah will share from her journey of the last 18 years and her own experience of being called from within her church. Participants will also have a chance to learn from each other as we share some things that we do in our home congregations to help call leaders.
#2 Inside Narnia’s Wardrobe: Learning to Know our Guatemalan Neighbors (SATURDAY ONLY)
Dan (retired pastor) and Jeanette (retired nurse) King; Dan now chairs the Immigration Resource Team
Participants will hear stories from Dan and Jeanette’s work with Hispanics in Dover/New Philadelphia over the last four+ years, integrated with biblical reflections and thoughts on present immigration challenges. Participants will gain a better understanding of the lives of Hispanic immigrants as they move to Ohio in search of a better life. Participants will be challenged to find ways they can become good neighbors in their particular settings.
#3 Leading So All Are Heard
Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi, member of Orrville Mennonite Church and Senior Process Consultant with Design Group International
As Anabaptists, we value discernment in community. We believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through us even in times of conflict. We want each person to be heard and to more deeply understand each other, but often don’t know how to imagine a process other than town halls or table groups. This very participatory session is for any elder, pastor, committee chair, Sunday school teacher or church member who has the opportunity to plan a process with a group of church people. Participants will be equipped with concrete ideas and further resources for facilitating processes to hear and value all voices.
#4 Learning to be Good Neighbors with Gay Believers
Darrin Snyder Belousek, author, teacher, member of Salem Mennonite (Elida)
Can we remain committed to a biblical-traditional marriage doctrine and sexual ethic as a conference while loving gay believers in our congregations? Yes, we can – and to do that we must learn how to love. In this workshop, we will engage with the faith stories of gay believers striving to follow Jesus. We will listen to their personal experiences of being hurt by the church as well as hear their desires to belong to community and give their lives in love and service. We will consider how their faith stories might teach us about what it means to live faithfully as followers of Jesus. We will acknowledge ways our congregations have fallen short in treating gay believers as brothers and sisters
and imagine ways our congregations can become hospitable communities where gay believers can thrive as followers of Jesus.
#5 Memento Mori: Becoming a Better Neighbor by Remembering your Death
Christiana Peterson, author, with Matthew Peterson, pastor, Midway Mennonite
Modern medicine and the funeral industry have created an ever-increasing distance between us and our mortality and tend to strip death of its mystery. In this presentation, Christiana will describe how our Western culture (even our Christian culture) often finds ways to avoid talking about or facing death. Being more open about our own deaths can not only help us lean more into that mystery but give us the ability to love and care for each other better, in our families, our churches, and our communities. Matthew will offer some thoughts from a pastoral perspective.
#6 Re-plant to Plant
Howard and Cathy Wagler, church planters, Hutchinson, Kansas
In order for a local church to plant a church, the first work is with the current church to prepare them to be open to trying new things. We found that as a very important part of the DNA of South Hutchinson Mennonite Church as we began looking forward to ‘What is next?’ for our church and local community. A lot of prayer went into these discussions with leaders as well as the congregation coming on board with what God was doing among us. Preparing the congregation while praying and listening to God and the Holy Spirit are both as important as the work of opening something new. As an outcome of the workshop, we would hope to inspire and encourage those who already think outside the box to voice their thoughts to others who will come alongside and help lead in furthering God’s work in the community. We want to help persons learn that in brainstorming, no idea is too new or ‘weird.’
#7 Risky Stewardship: The Cost of Being a Good Neighbor
Bruce Breckbill, managing director, Everence, Northeast Ohio
Being a good neighbor often requires taking risks, but risktaking is part of being a good steward of what we have been entrusted with. W e too often worry about the results and not doing what is right. Participants will explore, through input and discussion, what it means to be a good neighbor through the stewarding of our time, energy, money and other resources in a way that is honoring to God. Upon leaving, participants will be armed with new understandings and ideas of how to be a good neighbor in their context.
#8 — That Crazy Neighbor!
Ramon Lianez, co-pastor, Central Mennonite
We tend to forget two very important things as Christians: God’s people are the Church, and while we may think our neighbors are strange they too might see us as uniquely crazy! In this session, we will look at how God has put the task of making bridges to get to know our neighbors on us. We will also look at various ways to break the ice, and most importantly, how to share Jesus with them over time.
#9 — What is That in Your Hand? (Exodus 4:2)
Larry and Ginny Cress, members of Salem Mennonite (Elida), retired educators, developers of The Wheelhouse – a Christian Bicycle Cooperative
The workshop uses this text, spoken to Moses, as a lens for introspection as we struggle to discern our calling in this time of change. Following an overview of our own journey with The Wheelhouse bicycle ministry, the workshop will provide a time for self examination of skills and passion as part of the discernment process. Participants will dream about how identified skills and passions represent their shepherd’s staff and can lead to serving God and their neighbor using the tools already ‘in their hand.’ This workshop will incorporate some suggested steps allowing individuals or groups to explore incorporating concepts in their discipleship journey.
#10 — Why are We Here? (FRIDAY ONLY)
Haroldo Nunes, executive director, Open Arms Hispanic Ministries
Participants will hear about root causes of migration and why we should welcome the immigrants. This workshop will talk about Push or Pull factors that drive Central American (and Mexican) migrants to the U.S. Also, we will discuss some characteristics of migration in the view of Anabaptist author Palmer Becker. Unfortunately, the debate about whether migrants come primarily because of the “pull” factors to the U.S. or because of the “push” factors motivating them to leave their countries of origin is unresolved. Past research has suggested that some come primarily for the social and economic benefits of living in the U.S., but more recent findings suggest that more decide to begin new lives in the U.S. primarily because of real fears about their futures – fears that “push” them northward despite increased border security and stricter U. S. Immigration policies. There will be stories of families that are being welcomed and helped by Open Arms Hispanic Ministries on a daily basis.
Because of the shortened schedule of the 2021 Annual Conference Assembly, workshops did not take place on March 6, the date of the delegate business sessions. Instead, online workshops were offered during March and April.
Recordings of these workshops are available below.
Being Andrew: Sharing the Savior and Redeemer of the World
(Please note that the first part of this workshop was not recorded.)
Following Jesus aCROSS Barriers
Transforming Conflict: Tools for the Toolbox
Transforming Conflict – Tools for the Toolbox – an accompanying handout
Creating a Culture of Ordinary Goodness
Rooted and Grounded: Faith, Land, and Creation