by Emily Ralph Servant, Director of Communication, Mosaic Mennonite Conference
“As the reconciled Eastern District & Franconia Conference, we are excited about the future that God is calling us into,” said Ken Burkholder, conference moderator and lead pastor of Deep Run East, Perkasie, Pa., in an announcement video. “We believe it is appropriate to mark this transition in our collective history with a new name.”
The new name, Mosaic Mennonite Conference, was affirmed by the conference board in February 2020 after a year-long process that included two rounds of focus groups over four months. The Naming Task Force received suggestions of nearly 50 names. “Mosaic” was a clear favorite in the focus group testing, popular across the conference’s cultures and geographies. It also translates well into the conference’s other five worshiping languages: 匯聚愛門諾區會 (Chinese), Konfwanz Menonit Mozayik (Haitian Creole), Mosaic Konferensi Mennonite (Indonesian), Conferencia Menonita Mosaico (Spanish), and Giáo hội Mennonite Đa chủng tộc (Vietnamese).
This creation of something new out of many parts was central to the choice of the new name. “We’re different people—we’re allowed to experience Jesus in different ways,” said Danilo Sanchez, conference youth formation pastor. “Each piece in this new mosaic that we’re forming has the ability to shine and be bright and to feel like they have value and worth.”
The name, Mosaic, also captures the “celebration of lots of things coming together in explosive and creative ways,” said conference board member Yvonne Platts of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life congregation in Pennsylvania. “I go back to an African proverb that we’ve been using lately that ‘I am because we are.’”
Mosaic Mennonite Conference was formed by the reconciliation of Eastern District Conference and Franconia Conference in 2019 and the transfer of congregations in California and Florida from Pacific Southwest and Southeast Conferences in 2017 and 2020. The new conference is now one of the largest and most diverse in Mennonite Church USA.
Pentecost was chosen as the day for stepping into a new name and identity because it’s about transformation, said Steve Kriss, executive minister of the conference, in his Pentecost message. “The times when names of people are changed in the biblical story represent a turn. We are turning in the midst of a crisis,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 quarantine, the economic downturn and the waves of #BlackLivesMatter protests around the country. “We did not plan this time. This is God’s time for us to gain a new name. To receive power. To recognize our gifts.”
“It’s a vulnerable time, but the Spirit has given each of us unique gifts that are held together ‘for the common good.’ We recognize that it is time, also, to raise our voice.” -Steve Kriss, Executive Minister, Mosaic Mennonite Conference
Part of the transformation the new conference was experiencing, said Kriss, was to move away from an identity of “the quiet in the land.” To be true to the conference’s missional, intercultural and formational commitments, Mosaic Mennonites will be a people who speak boldly and express the justice of God. “It’s a vulnerable time,” he said. But “the Spirit has given each of us unique gifts that are held together ‘for the common good’ [1 Corinthians 12:7, NIV]. We recognize that it is time, also, to raise our voice.”
The fire of the Spirit is “not only upon us, not only around us, but deeply inside of us, individually and together,” Kriss said. “May our new name, on these most strange days of Pentecost, shape new possibilities: for us, for our neighbors and for the whole world.”