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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Podcast hosts to conclude their work

After more than three years and dozens of podcast episodes, Thomas Dunn and Bill Seymour have decided to resign as hosts of the Ohio Conference Cast podcast. The Ohio Conference Cast began in the fall of 2016 with the goal of creating another avenue for people to learn about happenings within the Ohio Conference. Since that time, Bill and Thomas…

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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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Peaceful at Heart explores healthy masculinity

What does Anabaptism have to teach us about healthy masculinity? Don Neufeld and Steve Thomas, coordinators of Mennonite Men Canada and Mennonite Men USA, respectively, have edited a collection of essays, Peaceful at Heart: Anabaptist Reflections on Healthy Masculinity, with support from the Institute of Mennonite Studies to answer this question. This project of Mennonite Men is a collaborative effort…

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Applications pour in for COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund

By Susan Kim GOSHEN, Indiana — Anabaptist churches in the U.S. have submitted more than 200 applications to the new COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund since its launch on April 13, 2020. The great majority of the applications have come from churches serving racially or ethnically diverse communities – congregations whose needs center around lost jobs and income that have led…

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University Euclid congregation closes

University Euclid Christ New Testament Church, an Ohio Conference congregation in Cleveland, has closed, reports Regional Pastor Ralph Reinford. The congregation’s pastors, Brian Anderson and Sheila Spencer Anderson, resigned in September 2019. A small group from the congregation continued meeting through February of this year, when the congregation decided to close. The congregation intends to donate the church property to…

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Engaging Mission 2020 has been canceled

Please note: Because there is uncertainty about when restrictions will be lifted for public gatherings, the Ohio Conference Leadership Team has decided to cancel Engaging Mission 2020. This intergenerational missional festival was scheduled to take place June 24-26 at Bluffton University. Plans are already underway for a missional conference next March. The 2021 missional conference is scheduled for March 4-5 at…

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MennoMedia offers free resources for calming fears

In light of the alarming coronavirus headlines, MennoMedia is providing free resources to help calm the fears of congregations. Beyond Our Fears: Following Jesus in Times of Crisis was originally created after the SARS outbreak of 2009, but the content is just as relevant today. To download this material, go to http://bit.ly/BeyondOurFears. For children, MennoMedia is offering Don’t Be Afraid:…

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Conference shares recommendations regarding the coronavirus

In an effort to be cautious but not overanxious regarding the spread of the coronavirus, Ohio Conference offers the following recommendations for our congregations to follow at the present time: Limit the practices that could spread germs, such as the shaking of hands and hugs. Make hand sanitizer and/or wipes readily available, and encourage their use. Communion and other activities…

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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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Missional festival is for people of all ages

You’ve probably heard the word “missional” many times before. But what does it really mean? And how can you live missionally? You can explore the answers to these questions at Engaging Mission 2020, an Ohio Conference missional festival planned for June 26-28 at Bluffton University. This will be a bilingual event in both English and Spanish. Engaging Mission 2020 is…

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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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Pastors participate in leadership program

Four pastors of Ohio Conference congregations recently participated in the Values-Based Leadership Program at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. The program includes two four-day sessions, one in October and one in February. “This is an excellent program that we encourage other pastors to participate in,” said  Paula Snyder Belousek, pastor of Salem Mennonite Church in Elida. The…

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Delegates gather for business, worship

One hundred seventy-three people gathered at Sharon Mennonite Church in Plain City on March 7 for the 51st Annual Conference Assembly (ACA) of the Ohio Conference. Delegates from 36 congregations participated in the one-day meeting. Delegates worship In addition to business sessions, the one-day event included a time of worship, focusing on the theme “Hearts of Wisdom,” based on Psalm…

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Volunteers accept Conference positions

Members of Ohio Conference congregations who volunteer their time play a vital role in Conference life. Without the help of numerous volunteers, many of the programs and functions of the Ohio Conference could not take place. Much of the work of Ohio Conference is done by the Leadership Team, the Ministry Development Team, the Credentialing Ministry, the Stewardship Ministry and…

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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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Everence’s MyNeighbor program benefits Ohio Conference, other nonprofits

During January the Ohio Conference received a check for $1,077.66 from Everence Financial as part of Everence’s MyNeighbor credit card program. With the MyNeighbor program, individuals and businesses generate reward dollars for their favorite nonprofit every time they use their MyNeighbor credit cards from Everence. Everence donates 1.5 percent of each purchase to the card user’s chosen nonprofit agency. Then…

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Credentialed leaders meet for discussion

On Feb. 11 credentialed ministers from across Ohio Conference gathered at the Upper Sandusky Public Library. Thirty-five pastors and other credentialed leaders worshipped in song, dwelled in God’s Word together, discussed the recently released Mennonite Church USA Membership Guidelines Report, ate together, and prayed for one another. The biannual meeting is part of Ohio Conference’s Gathered and Sent initiative, which…

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Course offers congregations tools for engaging conflict

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) — For six weeks each year, Betty Pries, Ph.D., a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ontario, leads an online short course for AMBS as a sessional instructor. In the course, Transforming Congregational Conflict and Communication, Pries and her students draw on biblical, theological, practical and spiritual sources in examining difficult experiences that pastors and…

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Engaging Mission 2020 is for all ages

Please note: Due to the uncertainty about when restrictions will be lifted for public gatherings, the Ohio Conference Leadership Team has decided to cancel this event.      Over the past four years, Ohio Conference has held a missional conference immediately prior to Annual Conference Assembly. This year there will not be a missional conference in March. Instead, the Conference…

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Bluffton University students explore faith through interactive program on Christianity

BLUFFTON, Ohio — For the second semester in a row, Bluffton University’s campus ministries team and student volunteers led Alpha, a multi-week video series and discussion group centered on the Christian faith. The international program, developed in London in 1977, creates spaces where participants come together for conversations about faith, life and God. “Alpha is specifically designed for people who…

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A peace church?

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” — Luke 2:12-14 (ESV)…

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Youth and young adults: the NOW and FUTURE church

Photo credit: “Bulletin Board” by chelmsfordpubliclibrary is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. By Alex Dye She was 8 years old, chin up with eyes squinting, scrutinizing the faces on the bulletin board. Her gaze glanced across the names under each face and fell upon accompanying titles like “Church Council Chair” and “Worship Committee Chair” and “Trustee” and “Elder,” all designations…

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Pastor-Spouse Retreat offers rest, renewal

Twenty-eight couples participated in the Ohio Conference Pastor-Spouse Retreat Nov. 15-17 at the Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The weekend was a time for pastors and their spouses to rest, rejuvenate, and reconnect. Retreat planners included Sue Short, Bill Seymour, Jamie Rye and Coordinator of Volunteers Alysa Short. Photos by Sue Short and Tony Doehrmann

Thankful for the incarnation!

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister We are entering into the special time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was originally a religious holiday in which people paused to give thanks to God for the blessings of the harvest. Thanksgiving is followed by the beginning of Advent as Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately,…

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Wind of the Spirit enlivens MDI

Small groups begin to multiply By Laurie Oswald Robinson Mennonite Mission Network NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) — After coming up empty-handed on volunteers for disciple groups within his congregation last fall, Pastor Robert Esh at Valley View Mennonite Church in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania, couldn’t help but feel downhearted about his vision-casting. No matter how hard he campaigned, no one wanted…

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Local congregations pack 175 immigrant detainee care kits

By Jennifer Steiner MCC Great Lakes  On Oct. 2, area congregations gathered at Orrville Mennonite Church to learn about the current situation for border detainees and to work together on a tangible response. In a little over an hour, volunteers had packed 175 immigration detainee care kits to provide much-needed supplies for those being released from border detention. Volunteers assembled…

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Border learning tour highlights immigration struggles

By Paula Snyder Belousek Ohio Conference Assistant Moderator At our last Annual Conference Assembly, Ohio Conference delegates passed an Immigration Resolution, and one of the components challenges members of the Conference to become better informed about the issues surrounding immigration. In response, I took the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona, with other Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) leaders following the…

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