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

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 will hold a summer missional festival, Engaging Mission 2020. This missional festival will take place at Bluffton University June 26-28. Featured presenters will be Seth and Theresa Crissman…

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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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Church planting conversation begins

On Oct. 15 interested persons gathered at the Ohio Conference office for a conversation about planting new Visible Kingdom Communities. This meeting was an initial conversation about what the process of starting new church communities may look like in Ohio. Several people who could not attend in person took part in the conversation via a video conference. The conversation included…

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Ohio Conference leaders share at Constituency Leaders Council

By Paula Snyder Belousek Assistant Moderator Conference Minister Dick Barrett, Moderator Lynn Miller and Assistant Moderator Paula Snyder Belousek presented information about the Ohio Conference during the Oct. 17-18 meeting of Mennonite Church USA’s Constituency Leaders Council in Glendale, Arizona. Each conference and constituency group gave 10-minute presentations over the two days of the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC). Each group answered…

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Churches come together for World Communion Sunday

Ohio Conference congregations from Wayne and Summit counties gathered at Central Christian School on the afternoon of Oct. 6 for a World Communion Sunday service. The worship service was a partnership of several local Mennonite churches and the Swahili Community Church of Akron, a Congolese Mennonite congregation. The worship service was held in English, Spanish and Swahili and included prayer,…

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2019 Advent guide for families is now available

Anabaptist Faith Formation and Mennonite Church USA are offering a free, downloadable guide for family worship during Advent written by Elsie Rempel. This resource, titled Waiting and Wondering, is designed for parents to use at home with their children. With this free worship guide, families can create a space to notice important questions and bring them to God. For six weeks from…

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Camp Luz to host spiritual direction event for pastors

Ohio Conference will be offering a day-long event to introduce the concept of spiritual direction to pastors on Feb. 4 at Camp Luz in Kidron. Led by Janice Hershberger, Randy Murray, and Christine Nafziger, attendees will learn about spiritual direction while also experiencing how spiritual direction functions. Registration cost is $25 and includes the event and lunch. Lodging and breakfast…

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Explore a call to ministry with Journey

When God calls someone to ministry, a journey begins. Perhaps you are on that journey. Perhaps you are looking for mentors and companions along the way. Ohio Conference invites you to join Journey: A Missional Leadership Development Program. This program is for pastors and other congregational leaders who are called without specific training for ministry or who are exploring a…

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Tony Doehrmann to serve as regional pastor

The Ohio Conference Leadership Team and the Ministry Development Team are pleased to announce the appointment of Tony Doehrmann as the new regional pastor covering the western half of Ohio Conference. He will begin his work with the Conference on Oct. 1. Tony served as pastor of Jubilee Mennonite Church in Bellefontaine from 2008 until the end of 2017. During…

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Credentialed leaders meet in Upper Sandusky

Forty of Ohio Conference’s credentialed ministers gathered Sept. 12 at the Upper Sandusky Public Library as part of the Conference’s continued Gathered and Sent initiative. It was a day of dwelling in God’s Word (Ephesians 5:1-21), reflecting on the Conference’s Identity Statement released by the Leadership Team in April, fellowship and looking forward to what lies ahead for the Conference.…

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Conference awards nine ministry grants

The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded nine grants totaling $24,750. The MDT approved these grants at its Aug. 19 meeting. Funding for these grants comes from surplus funds that had accumulated during years in which the Conference ended its fiscal year with a surplus. The MDT has awarded these grants each year since 2012. The grants will…

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A biblical people?

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. — Hebrews 13:8 (ESV) Each year I try to read through the entire Bible, both the New Testament and the Old Testament, following different Bible reading plans. I must confess that I have not always been successful. I also often find myself struggling with parts of…

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Church planting discussion planned

By Ralph Reinford Regional Pastor Are you interested in church planting? The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team wants to initiate a conversation about growing new Visible Kingdom Communities, formerly known as church planting. This article is an invitation to anyone interested in, passionate for, or feeling a call to be a part of supporting new endeavors. We are planning a…

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Senior designs her own social work internship through Bluffton’s Summer Discovery Program

BLUFFTON, Ohio — Rowena Zuercher, a member of Sonnenberg Mennonite Church in Kidron, is making the most of her college experience. The social work and Spanish double major from Apple Creek, Ohio, is a student ambassador, active on campus and spent a semester in Guatemala. This summer, she created her own internship through the Summer Discovery Program, which provides a…

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Summer festival to focus on mission

Plans are underway for an Ohio Conference missional festival, “Engaging Mission 2020,” to be held at Bluffton University June 26-28, 2020. This event will be for people of all ages, including family groups. The festival will provide an introduction to missional living where participants will be challenged to create space for mission in their lives. In the past several years,…

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You are invited to make disciples

In Matthew 28, Jesus called for his disciples to make disciples of others. But the call to make disciples continues today. You are invited to join others in the Ohio Conference who are participating in the Missional Discipleship Initiative (https://www.mennonitemission.net/MDI). What is the Missional  Discipleship Initiative (MDI)? MDI is an initiative launched by Marvin Lorenzana and Mennonite Mission Network to…

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Immigrant care kit drive is underway

Open Arms Hispanic Ministries is coordinating a drive to collect immigration detainee care kits, which are being distributed by Mennonite Central Committee Central States and its partner, the South Texas Response Team. These kits, which contain clothing and hygiene products, are given to individuals who are being released from detention centers. On Oct. 2 Orrville Mennonite Church is hosting an…

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Lynn Miller accepts moderator position

The Ohio Conference Leadership Team is pleased to announce that Lynn Miller of Tedrow Mennonite Church has agreed to serve as our Conference moderator. Lynn has been a part of Tedrow Mennon­ite Church all his life, and he has served as a delegate to Ohio Conference in the past both as a member of Tedrow and as a member of…

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Vickie Yoder accepts new assignment

As of Sept. 1, Vicki Yoder will become chair of the Credentialing Ministry when Verle Brubaker steps down. Verle has accepted a new ministry opportunity in Pennsylvania and will be leaving the Conference shortly. Vickie is part-time interim associate pastor at Sharon Mennonite Church in Plain City, and she recently retired from her work as a chaplain. She has served…

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Developing leaders is a ‘Journey’

Ohio Conference is partnering with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, to provide a part-time long-distance leadership development program. Journey: A Missional Leadership Development Program is a three-year certificate program designed for people exploring a call to ministry. The program is also for pastors and other congregational leaders who have already been called to serve but who lack…

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The changing church landscape

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister The church landscape in 21st century America has radically changed over the past 20 years. We can no longer expect that the church model that existed for most of the 20th century is going to be effective for carrying out God’s call upon our lives as disciples of Jesus: to go out and make more…

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When disciples make disciples

By Laurie Oswald Robinson KANSAS CITY (Mennonite Mission Network) — Several years into her role as pastor at the 178-year-old Salem Mennonite Church in rural Elida, Ohio, Paula Snyder Belousek felt a growing dissatisfaction. Something was missing. Even though the congregation had faithfully followed Jesus for the long haul, older generations — rooted in traditional understandings of the Anabaptist faith…

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