The centrality of Jesus Christ

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. ─ 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NRSV) On March 4 and 5, Ohio Conference hosted our Annual Conference Assembly at Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold. During the assembly delegates unanimously affirmed our new mission statement – The mission of Ohio Conference of Mennonite…

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Loving my neighbor and forbearance

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister There is an old saying that goes something like, “We get to pick our friends, but we don’t get to pick our family.” Well, I would add, “We don’t get to pick our neighbors.” In the Great Commandment(s) Jesus tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your…

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Living the dream!

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister One of the responses that I seem to get more and more frequently from people whom I encounter, after asking them how they are doing is, “I am (just) living the dream!” Of course, for almost all of them that response is meant to be sarcastic and negative. What they really want me to know…

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Love God, love others, make disciples

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. — Romans 13:8 Over the past year or so, Ohio Conference’s Leadership Team, with affirmation from both our pastors and delegates at regional gatherings, has developed a new mission statement to guide us as…

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Return to our roots

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister I write this just a few days after we concluded our 2021 Annual Conference Assembly (ACA). Because of the continued COVID pandemic, ACA had to be held virtually, but due to the efforts of many gifted people in Conference and our many congregations, the feedback that we have received so far has been very positive.…

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Behold the Lamb of God

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister I write this in preparation for our 2021 Annual Conference Assembly, scheduled to be held virtually this year on Saturday, March 6. On March 7, 2020, we were able to meet in person at Sharon Mennonite Church. Little did we know that in less than a week our world would be turned upside down as…

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Unity in a divisive world

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister By the time you read this column in the Evangel, the United States will have voted to elect or re-elect its next president. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this we will know who won. It seems like each election cycle creates more and more division in our country. The United States is divided…

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The truth will set us free

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”— John 8:31-32 (ESV) Jesus said to his early disciples, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and…

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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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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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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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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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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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The Good News people

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” — Luke 4:18-19 (NIV) Jesus…

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A new church for a new day

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister “And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?”— Esther 4:14(b) NIV Those words from Mordecai to Queen Esther in the Old Testament should resonate with all of us Christians in New Testament times. All of us have come to the royal position we find ourselves…

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A new chapter of ministry begins

By Dick Barrett Conference Minister On Dec. 31 I completed my time as one of the pastors of Oak Grove Mennonite Church in West Liberty (four years as associate pastor and 12 years as lead pastor). There was much sadness and grief on my part in the ending. On Jan. 2 I began full-time as conference minister for the Ohio…

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Thankful and hopeful

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By Dick Barrett Conference Minister I have now completed two months as Conference Minister, working one to two days a week until beginning full-time on Jan. 1. I have participated in the four cluster meetings across the Conference, the congregational leadership team retreat in Bellville, the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council meeting in Chicago, a day-long pastors and credentialed…

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