Mar6WedMarch 6, 2019
On Saturday, March 23rd, five appointed delegates from First Mennonite Church (Doug Roth, Herb Roth, Lavonne McGuire, Pastor Tom and Pastor Aaron) as well as Bethany Fosdyck (as an outgoing MLT member) joined the annual gathering of Illinois Mennonite Conference delegates at Camp Menno Haven.
Four major actions were taken throughout the day. 1) Delegates prayed for one another. 2) The 2019-2020 budget of $111,325 was affirmed. This includes expenses for a full-time Conference Minister, a part-time Administrator, work done by Summit Accounting, the part-time ministry of Martin Navarro (who serves as an Associate Minister to our IMC Hispanic churches) and a few other ministry expenses. 3) Persons were affirmed for leadership within the Missional Leadership Team (MLT), the Church Life Team (CLT), and the Gifts Discernment Team. 4) A Nepalese congregation from Madison, Wisconsin was welcomed into IMC while the delegates also lamented the closure of Community Mennonite Fellowship of Sterling.
Here is a summary of what our Interim Conference Minister and ‘Acting Moderator’ shared.
From Steve Slagel, Interim Conference Minister: Steve has been focusing his efforts in three areas. 1) He is helping IMC congregations in their pastoral staff processes (which currently includes Prairieview Mennonite Church, St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship, and Freeport Mennonite Church). 2) He is helping to provide leadership for credentialing new pastors within IMC (which have included Ashley Litwiller at Arthur Mennonite, Jessica Litwiller at Hopedale Mennonite and Tom Linderman at FMC). 3) He is relating to pastors of congregations outside of the Chicago-area through congregational visits, one-on-one meetings and facilitating the monthly ‘downstate pastor-peer group.’ Steve will be concluding his work with IMC at the end of July. In the months to come, the Missional Leadership Team will be focusing on hiring a part-time Conference Administrator before they begin the search process for a full-time Conference Minister
From ‘Acting Moderator’ and Missional Leadership Team member, Jacob Landis: “In the very near term, the MLT will begin reflecting with Steve what he has observed within IMC, and some possible ways that IMC can be flexible and relevant to our congregations well into the future . Before the end of 2019, we anticipate having a clearer direction for the shape of future IMC leadership, especially as related to the [Conference Minister] position and structure. However, challenges remain for IMC. Our budget is anticipated to shrink in the short term. Issues involving sexuality and how our congregations relate to sexuality will continue to be present… Questions will remain: Why are we linked together as a gathering of congregations? How do we relate to each other as a gathering of congregations? To what level can we tolerate different beliefs among this family? What expectations or ground rules need to be established for us to trust each other enough to be in fellowship? Or is there too much trust broken already? How does MC USA impact our conference and our congregations? At what point might IMC no longer be able to function as its own independent conference? How do we, as a collection of communities, embody the Kingdom of God and provide a witness to the world? These will be the questions we must all wrestle with in the months and years to come, and which the MLT will attempt to give some shape to.”
Since we are an active participant within Illinois Mennonite Conference, I invite you to pray for our conference leadership during this season of instability and transition. I also encourage you to pray for your Elders and Church Board as we discern FMC’s role within our conference and prepare to send delegates to the biennial MC USA conference this July.