‘Resource advocates’ volunteer their time
By Michael Spory
HARRISONBURG, Va.—Connecting Mennonite congregations with their denominational resources is hard work. They are diverse and spread out geographically. That is where a group called “resource advocates” comes in.
For Mennonite Church USA, the resource advocates are appointed by area conferences. Currently there is no such system for Mennonite Church Canada.
Resource advocates are volunteers who connect local congregations and church members with resources available from the agencies of Mennonite Church USA. They serve as contacts for information and questions in 20 area conferences, strengthening the congregations’ Mennonite theology and creating a sense of unity.
Each year the resource advocates join agency representatives for a weekend of training on new materials and programming. This year the event was at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va., Feb. 3-5.
Participating agencies include Executive Board, MennoMedia, Everence, Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Women, Mennonite Men, and Mennonite Health Services Alliance.
“The face time with the agencies is very valuable,” said Marlene Bogard, a resource advocate from Western District Conference. “Once I am better informed, I feel more confident in communicating to folks in congregations. Also, if I do need to contact an agency, I now know some of the people personally and have a good relationship with them.”
Since many of the advocates serve for several years, the weekend is a good way to connect with each other, along with having a bit of fun. Two of the advocates are sisters—Cathy Spory of Allegheny Conference and Carol Holsopple Froese of Mountain States Conference. They use the event as an excuse to do some catching up while staying connected to the work of the Mennonite Church.
For the agencies, these networking connections are invaluable resources for promoting Anabaptist/Mennonite materials in personal ways to congregations looking to link members and communities with the denomination’s unique theology.
“It’s a delight to work with people who have such vision and passion for sharing about all that the Mennonite Church and its agencies have to offer,” said Amy Gingerich, print media director for MennoMedia. “This group of volunteers always comes with great questions and ideas for new resources. I always appreciate talking about forthcoming MennoMedia resources and possibilities with the group as a way to test out how our resources might be received in the larger church. These folks know what their churches and conferences want and need.”
By serving their local communities and conferences, resource advocates advance the mission of the church and help congregations live out their Christian faith in new and relevant ways.
For more information about resource advocates or how to connect with the advocate in your conference, go to http://mennoniteusa.org/executive-board/resource-advocates/.
MennoMedia is an agency of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada that creates faith-based print, video, radio, and web resources. For more information, contact Steve Shenk, director of marketing and sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540 908-2592.
(right-click on image at top of story to download)
The Mennonite Church USA resource advocates, appointed by their area conferences, held their 2012 meeting Feb. 5-8 at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va. Among them were (left to right) Jan Mullet of the North Central Conference of the Mennonite Church, Lois Kaufman-Hunsberger of Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA, Charlotte Derksen of Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, Cathy Spory of Allegheny Mennonite Conference, and Carol Holsopple Froese of Mountain States Mennonite Conference. (Photo by Michael Spory)