Immigration Resource Team recommends book

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An update from the Ohio Conference Immigration Resource Team: Please keep in your prayers our many immigrant neighbors who are at greater risk of infection with COVID-19 — those in crowded detention centers, meat packing plants, etc. Consider a donation to Open Arms Hispanic Ministry or Brazo en Brazo, who are working directly with this population. Here is a must-read,…

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MC USA leadership encourages discussion

Save the date: Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) is planning a second webinar on the theme “Race, Church and Change.” This webinar is scheduled for July 23 at 6:30 p.m. EDT on both Zoom and Facebook Live. To register for this webinar, please go to https://bit.ly/RaceChurchandChange2. The first “Race, Church and Change” webinar took place on Thursday, June 25, and…

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Involving young adults in ministry

How is your congregation ministering to youth and young adults? How are you involving these young people in ministry? Ohio Conference’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Team has been encouraging Ohio Conference congregations to share their stories of how they are relating to youth and young adults. In this issue of Ohio Mennonite Evangel, we check in with Matthew Reed,…

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Engaging immigration: Some action steps

A few thoughts from the Ohio Conference Immigration Resource Team: Are you aware that a significant number of immigrants living in Ohio (and the rest of this country) face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their work in meat processing plants and other factories? Don’t forget to pray for them. There’s plenty of time left this summer for…

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Leadership is visioning for the future

The Ohio Conference Leadership Team and the Pastoral Team have begun meet­ing with consultants Howard and Cathy Wagler from South Hutchinson, Kansas. They are looking at our current mission and purpose statements (introduced in 2006) as we begin discerning together God’s vision for the future of the Confer­ence over the next five to seven years. The Leadership Team and Pastoral…

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Women in Leadership Retreat planned for February

Save the date: Ohio Confer­ence will hold a Women in Leadership Retreat Feb. 5-6, 2021, at the St. Francis Spir­ituality Center in Tiffin. The input speaker for this retreat will be Rebecca Slough, aca­demic dean emerita and pro­fessor emerita of worship and the arts at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Retreat plan­ners are encouraging every Ohio Conference congregation to send at…

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‘Race, Church and Change’ is webinar theme

Save the date: Mennonite Church USA is planning a second webinar on the theme “Race, Church and Change.” This webinar is scheduled for July 23 at 6:30 p.m. EDT on both Zoom and Facebook Live. To register for this webinar, go to https://mcusa.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JKz_I1rpS76YxM8QwSvRzg. The first “Race, Church and Change” webinar took place on Thursday, June 25, and featured a discussion…

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New members join Immigration Resource Team

The Ohio Conference Immigration Resource Team has added two new members from western Ohio, Megan Bettelon and Krisha Pagniano. Below they share some information about themselves and their interest in immigration: Megan Bettelon: I’ve been a lifelong attendee of Huber Mennonite Church in New Carlisle. I am a social worker and currently work in a school setting. Growing up in…

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Being Jesus in the reopening of his churches

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister  The past several months have certainly been a difficult time in our individual lives and in the lives of our churches throughout Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA. It seems like “a perfect storm” — a pandemic that almost none of us have ever experienced before, an economy that crashed with no one sure of…

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June 21 is World Refugee Sunday

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June 21 has been designated as World Refugee Sunday. The Immigration Resource Team of the Ohio Conference is encouraging congregations to highlight World Refugee Sunday during their worship services on June 21, perhaps by mentioning it in any sharing or announcement time and including it in the pastoral prayer. The following links have numerous excellent ideas for observing World Refugee…

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Leadership Team makes statement on racial injustice

As the Leadership Team of Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA, we affirm the recent statement from Mennonite Church USA on racial injustice and Executive Director Glen Guyton’s open letter to the denomination. We lament the death of George Floyd, the latest death of an African-American person at the hands of a white police officer. We grieve the violence that has erupted…

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Faith leaders call for National Day of Mourning and Lament

This week America surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. Many of those who died had to do so without the presence of family and loved ones. The deaths have been disproportionate in age, race and economic status. As we mark this grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths in America and more than 350,000 worldwide, faith leaders from across our country…

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MMN webinar to focus on spiritual practices

Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) is offering a free webinar, “Spiritual practices for peacemakers: finding your center when you feel pulled apart.” Karla Minter, church relations representative for MMN, will lead the webinar on June 4 at 7 p.m. She will invite participants to encounter or rediscover spiritual practices that create a daily rhythm to help turn despair and isolation into…

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Thoughtful and prayerful reopening

All of our congregations throughout Ohio Conference are dis­cerning when is the best time to start gathering together in person again and what steps need to be taken to try to prevent any spread of COVID-19. Most will be reopening in phases offering limited interaction (e.g. no Sunday school, no nursery care, no coffee and refreshments). Some will begin by…

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Jesus is the Center

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister More than 10 years ago now Palmer Becker wrote a small book titled What is an Anabaptist Christian? The booklet was his attempt to highlight the distinctiveness of an “Anabaptist Christian,” and he did so by highlighting three core values: 1) Jesus is the center of our faith; 2) Community is the center of our…

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An important part of Christ’s Body

By Ramon Lianez Central Mennonite Church I believe that young adults are an important part of Christ’s Body, but we are not ministering to them accordingly. The ball is being dropped on both sides; however, through appropriate means and in God’s timing, we all can turn our present situation around. I do not attest that I am an expert in…

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Hispanic families suffering more in the era of COVID-19

By Haroldo Nunes Executive Director Open Arms Hispanic Ministry Hello my sisters and brothers, I would like to start this article with a quote from Jim Wallis of Sojourners: “We believe that the ultimate test of our discipleship to Jesus Christ is how we treat the most vulnerable in society, or as Jesus refers to them in Matthew 25, ‘the…

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Issues to consider before meeting in person

As the State of Ohio introduces plans to slowly open up once more after weeks of stay-at-home orders, congregations have many things to consider before reopening their church buildings and returning to in-person worship services. As your congregation’s leaders discuss plans for returning to meeting in person, here are two articles outlining issues to consider: “Twenty-four questions your church should…

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Seminary hosts online forum series on navigating ministry during COVID-19

Eastern Mennonite Seminary is hosting Navigating Ministry During COVID-19, a free online forum series for pastors. All forums will be live via Zoom on Wednesdays, from 3-4:30 p.m. EDT. Register here. The series is an outgrowth of an April 1 online gathering that drew 32 pastors, including 22 alumni, representing Mennonite Church USA, the Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian Church USA and United…

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CommonWord and AMBS offer resources for dealing with COVID-19

CommonWord has compiled a curated list of worship, family, and other resources for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to downloadable documents, the list includes links to articles on topics such as “An Examen for Life During COVID-19” and “How to Livestream Your Church Service: A Practical Guide.” To view these resources, go to www.commonword.ca/go/2005. Another source for COVID-19-related…

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Easter – now what?

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By Dick Barrett, Conference Minister This past Sunday we celebrated Easter in a way far different than most of us have celebrated Easter in the past. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we couldn’t celebrate it together in our churches with all the pomp which we normally do. Most of us had to celebrate in a much more subdued manner in…

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Hope Series offers online prayer, more

Mennonite Mission Network is offering a new digital ministry called the Hope Series. The series includes prayer gatherings which are live streamed on Facebook Monday-Saturday at 1 p.m., as well as devotional times and opportunities for group interactions. To learn more about the Hope Series, see https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/the-hope-series/.  

MennoMedia provides free resources

While gatherings are limited because of COVID-19, MennoMedia is providing free online resources. MennoMedia is offering a special issue of its daily devotional magazine, Rejoice!, as a free download from the MennoMedia website. The special publication, titled Rejoice! A Time Such as This: Reflections on COVID-19, was written, edited, and designed by individuals volunteering their time to contribute their gifts…

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What is truth?

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By Dick Barrett, Conference Minister This year we find ourselves on a Lenten journey different than any other year, especially with the coronavirus pandemic, our need to stay isolated, and our inability to worship together as churches. “What is truth?” That is one of the questions that Pilate asked Jesus to help him decide whether to turn him over to…

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Planning for Sunday school amid church closures

While gatherings are limited because of COVID-19, MennoMedia is offering free online resources for Christian education. These materials are from MennoMedia’s Shine curriculum, and they are free for use by churches for online learning or to send to parents for use at home. You can find them at https://shinecurriculum.com/shineathome/free-resources.

MDI virtual learning communities connect people in distancing times

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As the spread of COVID-19 creates distance between people out in public, Mennonite Mission Network’s Missional Discipleship Initiative  (MDI) continues to connect people online by spreading God’s good news in Christ through its training of missional leaders, said Marvin Lorenzana, Mission Network’s MDI director. To learn more about how MDI is helping people connect online, please see the news release…

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In an anxious time: Be still and know that I am God

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where…

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Pastors explore spiritual direction

On Feb. 4 Ohio Conference held a daylong event to introduce pastors to spiritual direction, a practice of deepening one’s relationship with God and learning to grow in one’s own spiritual maturity. This event, held at Camp Luz, brought together an equal number of spiritual directors and pastors, approximately 20 people altogether. Facilitated by Janice Hershberger, Randy Murray, and Christine…

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Seeking

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. — Matthew 6:33 (NIV) I recently spent a week alone with God. I try to do that a couple of times a year. I have learned to go into the week without my own expectations of how…

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Christians at the Border looks at immigration through the lens of scripture

By Greg Bowman Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible, 2nd Edition (2013) by M. Daniel Carroll R. This author makes a profoundly simple — but perversely challenging — request: Christians, please base your attitudes about immigration on the clear teaching in the Bible — in both testaments — before considering cultural, economic, and legal arguments. He…

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