After the busyness and rush of the holidays, January offers us some respite and time to appreciate the dormant part of the annual life cycle. Of course, we know that deep beneath the frozen surface of our mountain and prairie landscapes life continues in a kind of suspended state—waiting for the signal to begin the gradual process of emergence into a new cycle of growth.
My hope for Mountain States Conference is that we practice a bit of “expectant dormancy” by holding the activity and transition of the past several years in ways that allow God’s presence to enfold us. We begin a new year with the anticipation of ongoing change as we continue to redesign our structures and initiate the process of searching for new leadership.
As I begin this new role as Mountain States Conference moderator, I hope I will be a careful listener—and also able to help discern decisions as we live in that space between faithful curation of a common vision and prophetic imagination that pulls us into uncharted territory.
Some priorities that are floating to the top of my “pay attention to” list include:
Finalizing our restructuring process and finding new leadership. Our main priority is to finish the redesign of our right-sized conference structure and find a leader who will be able to help us navigate a future that holds both great challenges and great potential.
Clarifying our credentialing process. There are some differences in the way each of MC USA’s area conferences practice ordination and hold credentials. The credentialing review committee is working to clarify what MSMC’s credentialing process has in common with the broader denomination and what is unique to our conference.
Formation and practice. What shapes our lives in ways that help us honor God’s calling and guidance? How do we find mutuality when we arrive at such divergent understandings of the same scriptures? How do we experience Holy Spirit-guided discernment as we work out a common identity?
Communication. Increasing the lines of communication in ways that are transparent and build trust is critical in a conference that is as spread-out as MSMC. John Longhurst, a Mennonite communications professional from Manitoba recently noted that we receive up to 80% of our information via our smart phones. In addition to publishing Zing! can we use communication technology more creatively to improve our sense of common vision and calling?
Mission. The Holy Spirit never stops moving—even when we ourselves don’t. Often we find the Spirit is active in unexpected places and among people we may have discounted. How do we move beyond cultural Christianity to identify and connect with the activity of the Spirit—in ways that resonate with our understanding of how we are called to be followers of Jesus?
So, enjoy this time of dormancy. We know it won’t last!