On March 17 and 18 over 400 people gathered to worship, fellowship, network, and listen to stories. The assembly heard stories in full session with numerous additional stories during the two seminar blocks. If you were unable to hear these stories in-person at Celebration of Church life, you can see them at the Missional Church playlist on the LMC YouTube channel: youtube.com/user/2160LMC.
Nelson Bechtold, Bishop in the Elizabethtown and York Districts told a story of Chaotic Places on Friday evening. The title contained a dual meaning. As a chaplain for the local police department, he explained the chaos involved in accidents and other tragedies, including those with loss of life. As chaplain, he joined officers for next-of-kin death notification. But the chaos also included the internal confusion Nelson encountered as he processed serving alongside weapon-carrying officers, caring for distraught families, and dealing with health issues and trauma induced stress.
Mount Joy Mennonite Church told a congregational story of Courageous Hospitality. Karl Landis and Ryan McQuitty, both pastors at Mount Joy, told the story for their congregation. This year long journey followed the previous year’s focus on Courageous Generosity. Opening a door of hospitality, the Mount Joy congregation was transformed through sermons, study, sharing, practices, and visual reminders, which included a large wooden door covered with keys.
Developing the Next Generation of Preachers told the story of a youth preaching school at Elizabethtown Mennonite Church. Conrad Kanagy and Fred Zeiset, both pastors at Elizabethtown Mennonite Church, brought along two of their preaching students to share their personal journey toward the pulpit. Christian Cook and Erin Vago, senior-high students, explained their encounter with the Bible, the Holy Spirit, preaching theory, and church practice. Bottom line—they enjoyed the total experience.
Mark Wenger, director of STEP at EMU-Lancaster told theconcluding story, STEP in…Step Out. Mark brought STEP graduate Randy Carr from Beaverdam Mennonite Church and first-year student Sarah Garber from Bossler Mennonite Church with him. STEP is an acronym for Study and Training for Effective Pastoral ministry. Mark indicated that the graduating class of 2017 will put the number of graduates, over the 13 years of the program, at more than 100. The three presenters explained how the training program works, the benefits they receive, and some of their memorable moments. As a group, they encouraged emerging leaders to step into ministry training and step out into what God has for each of us.