Susquehanna Conference 
May 2018 Newsletter

Bishop's Desk

I am sitting at a table in Kenya as I write today. What a privilege and opportunity to represent the Brethren in Christ U. S. at the mid-term meeting of Mennonite World Conference. In this gathering we are one of some 107 conferences from around the world that meet together to think and process the work of God in our midst. We had some 58 nations of the world represented. The Kenyan church hosted us for two weeks of gatherings in several places. We looked at issues facing the various church fellowships around the world. We worshipped together. We prayed for each other, and we learned to know each other in our time together. For us as Brethren in Christ there was a meeting of the International Brethren in Christ Association with some 27 people from 9 countries meeting together. It is great to be a family within a family of churches.

Many Thanks
What a special time for us to be together as a conference at The Meeting House - Dillsburg. Thanks so much to The Meeting House for hosting us this year for our Annual Meeting. The stories and the work of the conference were good and challenging. It is so good to hear the story of what God does in times of transition as we face the fear and opportunity of transition or crisis. God is at work among us. What an opportunity to meet Bishop Bob Beaty and his family as we welcomed them among us! They will move our way in June. And then the wonderful surprise for Carol and me as we finished the day. You are all so gracious. Thank-you for your kind words and the tangible gifts. You are in our hearts. This time of ministry will always be remembered. God is good!
Bishop Ken
In This Issue
General Assembly

July 13 - 16, 2018

Open Hands Ministries








A ministry of spiritual direction and faith coaching for pastors.

If you would like to learn more about spiritual direction or faith coaching, I am willing to pay for coffee, a breakfast or a lunch to explore their benefits for your ministry.  Please call or email me using the contact information below.  In the meantime, I am praying for you and your congregation.

Eldon Fry
(717) 385-3980

Mark Your Calendars!
June 6                   Theological Study Group
June 27                Vision Team and Cohorts Meeting at McBiC at 11:30 a.m.
July 13                 Awaken One Day Retreat
July 13 - 16          General Assembly at Messiah College
Sept 23 - 25         Ministry Enrichment Retreat at CRC
Congratulations!

Congratulations to Ken and Judy Keller who were married on May 19 th
in a special ceremony conducted by Ken's sister, Jean Keller-Thau. They will be living in Carlisle as Ken continues his pastoral ministry and she runs her business in Newville.
Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ Church Planting
For over 20 years one of the ways McBIC has tried to fulfill our mission of 
helping people connect with Jesus is through church planting. In 2001 we sent 60 people to launch Mountain Ridge Church in Dillsburg and in 2014 Pastor Chad Wenger and 75 people from McBIC started Mechanicsburg Community Church at the Mechanicsburg Middle School. During that time we also sent out approximately 85 people to start two other churches-one of which still exists as a series of house churches and the other, which never really got traction.
 
Church planting is wonderful-when it works-but it's not easy. Statistics I've seen estimate that only 1 in 3 church plants become viable churches. Due to the limited success rate in church planting and the trauma churches that plant go through watching people they love leave to go elsewhere and dealing with the negative impact planting can have on their ministries and finances, it's natural to raise the question, "Why not just continue to grow big here, rather than sending people away to start something new?"
 
Last Thursday Pastor Chad Wenger (MCC), Pastor Ken Landis (MRC) and Pastor Sam Hepner (MRC Gettysburg) met for breakfast, as we've been doing monthly for the last 9 months. Naturally, we talked about our Easter services and I asked them how many people attended their church on a day that's often the most well attended Sunday of the year. The combined attendance among our 4 churches was just over 1,300 people. 1,300 people is roughly 2x the size of McBIC. And here is what I'd like you to reflect on with me... 
 
If instead of planting churches since 1996, McBIC had focused our resources on growth at McBIC, we might be a church of 1,000 to 1,500 people. If we were a church that size we would need additional staff; we would need either an additional service or two and/or a larger facility; and, our ministry and programming would need to be much more extensive. Ostensibly, our larger size would allow us to increase our ministry footprint locally, regionally and globally.
 
Instead, McBIC is a church of 600 and we're now linked to 2 daughter churches and a granddaughter church. Those churches have gifted staff members and teams of volunteers with gifts and passions for ministry that are effectively serving in Mechanicsburg, Dillsburg and Gettysburg in ways that McBIC never could and over the years the footprint of those churches will continue to expand.
 
There are nearly as many ways to "do church" as there are churches and many of these strategies bear fruit for God's Kingdom, but I enjoy reflecting from time to time on the impact of God's call for McBIC to be a "church planting church." Church planting isn't easy and it demands sacrifice on numerous levels, but the fruit is sweet-growing churches focused on transforming lives, impacting the communities in which they're located with Jesus' life and partnering with other churches to see God's will done on earth as it is in heaven regionally and globally.

Layne Lebo
Senior Pastor
(Emailed with Permission)
Awaken Seminar
Preparing for General Assembly
All credentialed pastors and elected delegates from congregations are voting members of General Assembly.  We are privileged to host General Assembly this year right here in the Susquehanna Conference at Messiah College, July 13 - 16, 2018.  Each congregation is to name their delegates and to send their pastor(s) to this significant time for us to be together as a church family.

One of the items on the agenda for this gathering relates to the changes we are making in our Manual of Doctrine and Government related to our Bylaws.  This process was approved in principle at our last General Assembly in Florida.  We will gather to finalize our work this year.  A great resource is available to all of us in a Webinar that was provided and recorded for us if we missed it.  Please see the following material.  All pastors and delegates should be sure to watch this material prior to General Assembly.
Hispanic Ministry
Having started Spanish ministry in April, 2003 the Susquehanna conference currently has 4 small Spanish congregations and two other ministry points. We are recruiting a team of interested people and faithful prayer warriors to surround these cross-cultural kingdom efforts with prayer. We desperately need prayer for a hunger for God and his salvation for Hispanics around us and a breakthrough of harvest among them. If you would like a current report of these works, to sign up for a monthly prayer letter or to commit to weekly pray for us, send an e-mail to   mikerholland@gmail.com . Would you be one of the 120 to join us to see this breakthrough?

Directed Study Courses - Summer 2018

The Brethren in Christ U.S. is providing ministry training opportunities for 2018:  registration is now open for Summer Term 2018 DSP courses and 2018 core courses. 

Directed Study Courses  - Summer term begins May 7 and runs through August 10.

To check out these courses and/or to register go to https://bicus.org/training/directed-study-program/  

Core Courses

Theology of the Church - Taught by Dr. Terry Brensinger
   Hollowell BIC, Waynesboro, PA                         June 11-13, 2018                  8:30 am - 4:30 pm
 
BIC History and Values - Taught by Dr. John Yeatts
   Elizabethtown BIC, Elizabethtown, PA               July 30-August 1, 2018         8:30 am - 4:30 pm
 
Theology of Salvation - Taught by Dr. Alan Robinson
   Fairview BIC, Englewood, OH                            August 9, 2018                     7:00-9:30 pm
                                                                              August 10-11, 2018              8:00 am - 4:00 pm
 
Leadership and Structure Within the Brethren in Christ Church - Taught by Dr. Layne Lebo
   BIC U.S. Church Offices, Mechanicsburg, PA    August 13-15, 2018              8:30 am - 4:30 pm
 
To check out these courses and/or to register go to https://bicus.org/training/core-courses/

If you have any questions, contact Donna Sturr, Registrar at  dsturr@bicus.org  or 717.697.2634, ext. 5435.
 
Blessings!
 
Donna Sturr
Assistant for Leadership Development