Pastors speak of renewal at new church network gathering

Jan 23, 2015 by and

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When Wesley Furlong first learned about Anabaptists, the discoveries broke his stereotypes.


Bishop Leslie Francisco, pastor of Calvary Community Church in Hampton, Va., spoke Jan. 16 at an Anabaptist Renewal Circles gathering at Hartille Mennontie Church.

“There was such a crazy boldness when I had assumed a sheer passivity, a refusal to retreat and compromise where I had caricatured a detachment from culture,” he said.

As Furlong learned about Anabaptism, “I was struggling sometimes to find what I was reading about lived out around me.”

But he met some Mennonites committed to mission and now is the lead pastor of a Mennonite congregation, Cape Christian Church, in Cape Coral, Fla.

He and two other Mennonite Church USA pastors spoke at an Anabaptist Renewal Circles gathering Jan. 16-17 at Hartville Mennonite Church.

ARC, a group committed to spiritual renewal in MC USA, invited the pastors to offer sermons in between sessions where participants discussed the launch of a new Anabaptist church network.

Bishop Leslie Francisco described how his congregation, Calvary Community Church in Hampton, Va., began with 40 members and grew to more than 1,400.

“In our pluralistic society we struggle sometimes to find definition and identity,” he said. “We debate, we argue, we investigate, we process. We choose who’s right; we choose who’s wrong. We join, we separate, we tolerate, we even obliterate one another in the name of conscience, morality and faith.”

But, Francisco said, everyone has issues they don’t want anyone but Jesus to know about.

“The only thing we’re thankful of is that our issue has not been named,” he said.

Howard Wagler, lead pastor of Journey Mennonite Church in Hutchinson, Yoder and McPherson, Kan., spoke on the final morning of the gathering.

He emphasized that God is a missionary God and has been from the very beginning.

“That’s still who God is,” he said. “He works through the church. The church doesn’t need a mission. God’s mission needs a church. . . . The local church is the hope of the world if it’s working well.”

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