Photo: Omot and Hannah Aganya speak at the June 10-11 annual assembly of South Central Conference. The Aganyas hope to plant a church in Kansas City. Photo by Gordon Houser.
At its annual assembly June 10-11 in Hesston, Kan., South Central Conference (SCC) delegates voted to use part of a surplus of money for several church planting projects.
With a surplus of around $375,000, due to several factors, including the sale of buildings of churches that have closed in recent years, SCC “is in a good financial position,” said moderator Gary Wolfer on June 11. The conference’s executive committee wanted to put some of that money to use. In the meantime, several church planting opportunities have arisen or are possibilities. The proposed budget exceeded income by $123,450, due largely to $73,500 committed to support church plants.
Earlier on June 11, Regional Conference Minister James Wenger introduced Omot and Hannah Aganya, who live in Minneapolis, Minn. Originally from Ethiopia, the Aganyas want to plant a Mennonite church in Kansas City, where they plan to move soon.
Other church-planting possibilities are in early, formative stages. For example, Grace Tijerina, who graduated from Hesston College in May, is interested in possibly planting a church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Delegates affirmed the direction of “moving God’s kingdom forward.” Wolfer encouraged member churches to form sister relationships with church plants. Marion Bontrager, another of South Central’s regional conference ministers, noted that financial support can be tricky because “you don’t want to create dependency.”
In other business, SCC accepted Inman (Kan.) Mennonite Church as a member. Representatives from the Inman Church reported that they contacted Wenger in February about joining SCC. Later the church withdrew its membership from Western District Conference, where it had been a member since 1923. The representatives said the church was concerned with the direction WDC was going, particularly in regard to its acceptance of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective’s statement on marriage as “between one man and one woman for life.” In 2015, Western District Conference affirmed the “Rainbow Resolution,” that stated that that “pastors, with the affirmation of their congregations, consistent with Mennonite polity, and without fear of censure, may officiate or refuse to officiate ceremonies that consecrate before God monogamous, life-long unions, regardless of the sexual orientation of those being united.”
Delegates voted to accept Inman into membership.
Earlier, delegates received a report about Greensburg (Kan.) Mennonite Church, which left Mennonite Church USA earlier this year but wants to remain a member of SCC. Since SCC requires a 60-day notice to amend its bylaws, delegates voted to put off formally enabling Greensburg to remain as a member until next year’s assembly; in the meantime it remains in good standing.
Normally, members of area conferences of Mennonite Church USA are automatically members of the denomination, but conferences can allow exceptions. Ohio Conference took such an action earlier this year, allowing some congregations to withdraw from MC USA but remain members of Ohio Conference.
John D. Roth, history professor at Goshen (Ind.) College, spoke on the conference’s theme, “Declaring What We Have Seen and Heard.”
Delegates affirmed Tim Sweigart as moderator-elect. He is a member of Whitestone Mennonite Church and lives in Hesston.
SCC is a regional conference of Mennonite Church USA. SCC is made up of 27 member congregations, one associate member congregation, and five church plants. SCC churches are located in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Mexico.