During the 1970s a number of Mennonite congregations felt that some evangelical dimensions of the Mennonite faith were being neglected by the larger church. Eventually a number of church leaders came together, culminating in the holding of a consultation at Smoketown, Pennsylvania on 10-11 July 1979. A six part declaration called the "Smoketown Statement" included the need for "a reaffirmation of the authority of Scripture, a reexamination of priorities with emphasis on the saving power of the Gospel, and a clear call for renewed emphasis on evangelism." A second consultation, sometimes referred to as "Smoketown II", was held in Berne, Indiana in March 1981. In 1992 the movement organized the Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship (EAF).
By 1995, merger talks between the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church had progressed to the point where a decision was made to pursue becoming one body. At the same time a new Confession of Faith was adopted as the basis of the proposed merger. As the content of the new Confession was being developed prior to 1995, serious reservations had been raised about some of the statements being proposed. Persons involved with EAF raised their concerns and made suggestions, some of which were heeded and some modifications were made. However, to many in sympathy with EAF, the final wording of the new Confession appeared to be left quite ambiguous. Specific issues included the perceived absence of the concept of infallibility of the written Scriptures and the expressed intention of the use of the new Confession as a guideline for the church rather than a definitive or binding statement to which leadership was expected to adhere. Related concerns included the nature of the mission of the church in the world and the handling of lifestyle issues in the church. EAF was asked if it could facilitate a meeting to discuss alternative options to participating in a merger.
A meeting took place on 12 February 2000 in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, attended by 47 Mennonite pastors and church leaders from four states representing 24 congregations from seven area conferences. In that meeting a consensus formed that the emerging restructuring and transformation of the denominations of which they had been a part were perceived to be tolerating positions or moving in directions contrary to the original foundational purposes of these congregations. The following resolution was unanimously approved, with several abstentions: "in light of the formation of the new Mennonite Church USA and its departure from Biblical orthodoxy, we believe God is calling us to form a new affiliation of evangelical Anabaptist congregations." Participants then authorized the EAF Board of Directors to appoint a steering committee from among those present to consider the implications of the group's action and to recommend the next steps.
The steering committee met during spring 2000 and adopted a working name of Association of Evangelical Mennonite Congregations. An initial public meeting was held on 30 September 2000 in the Paradise Mennonite Church, a Lancaster Conference congregation in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Within the Eastern District Conference, an almost identically named organization with similar concerns had formed in November 1998—the Association of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations. This was an incorporated body, with Milford Square, Pennsylvania as the initial postal location.
After the birth of Mennonite Church USA in early 2002, the congregations in both associations were left without denominational or conference ties. They joined together, forming a new alliance. The group of nine congregations from Eastern District Conference of the former General Conference Mennonite Church comprised the majority of the first regional unit of the alliance.
A chartering service was held on 28 September 2002 at Paradise Mennonite Church, at which time the name of the alliance was changed to Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations (AMEC). Rev. Carlton Minnis, pastor of Second Mennonite Church in Philadelphia, on behalf of his congregation was the first to sign the historic document.
Biennial conferences began in 2004. Regional conferences have been held annually. Member congregations were encouraged to continue their mission support and service involvements and develop fraternal relationships with other ministries and agencies consistent with the purposes of the alliance.
In 2010 AMEC was comprised of 23 congregations in Pennsylvania and New York. Persons credentialed by the alliance also served in three additional Anabaptist churches. Officers in 2010 were: President Jonathan Yoder, pastor of Pine Grove Mennonite Church, Bowmansville, Pennsylvania; Vice President Leon Shirk, pastor of Rockville Mennonite Church, Honey Brook, Pennsylvania; Secretary Richard Woodcock, pastor of Indian Valley Mennonite Church, Harleysville, Pennsylvania; Treasurer Alvin Horning, pastor of Grace and Truth Fellowship, Elverson, Pennsylvania; and members-at-large Glenn Alderfer, pastor of Living Faith Fellowship, Souderton, Pennsylvania and Philip Barr, instructor at Rosedale Bible College, Irvin, Ohio.
In 2006 Robert W. Gerhart was appointed Executive Director of the alliance. In 2010 an office was established at 20 Front Street, Bally, Pennsylvania. In 2010 the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations published a periodical, The Interlink, via email and web.
Member congregations in 2010 were:
|Andrews Bridge Christian Fellowship||Christiana||Pennsylvania|
|Bart Mennonite Church||Christiana||Pennsylvania|
|Bethany Grace Fellowship||East Earl||Pennsylvania|
|Derry Mennonite Church||Danville||Pennsylvania|
|East Swamp Mennonite Church||Quakertown||Pennsylvania|
|Grace Bible Fellowship||Huntingdon Valley||Pennsylvania|
|Grace Point Church of Paradise||Paradise||Pennsylvania|
|Hereford Mennonite Church||Bally||Pennsylvania|
|Indian Valley Mennonite Church||Harleysville||Pennsylvania|
|Korean Evangelical Church||Huntingdon Valley||Pennsylvania|
|Living Faith Fellowship||Souderton||Pennsylvania|
|Living Hope Christian Fellowship||Wellsboro||Pennsylvania|
|Living Stones Fellowship||Bird-In-Hand||Pennsylvania|
|Lower Skippack Mennonite Church||Skippack||Pennsylvania|
|Media Mennonite Church||Oxford||Pennsylvania|
|Pine Grove Mennonite Church||Bowmansville||Pennsylvania|
|Providence Mennonite Church||Collegeville||Pennsylvania|
|Rockville Mennonite Church||Honey Brook||Pennsylvania|
|Saucon Mennonite Church||Coopersburg||Pennsylvania|
|Second Mennonite Church||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania|
|Springfield Mennonite Church||Coopersburg||Pennsylvania|
|United Mennonite Church||Quakertown||Pennsylvania|
|West Union Mennonite Church||Rexville||New York|
Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations. "Beginning an Alliance - the Chartering." Web. 23 October 2010. http://www.amecalliance.org/beginninganalliance.html.
Office Address: 20 Front Street, Bally, Pennsylvania
|Author(s)||Robert W Gerhart|
|Date Published||October 2010|
Cite This Article
Gerhart, Robert W. "Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Web. 31 Jul 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Alliance_of_Mennonite_Evangelical_Congregations&oldid=116156.
Gerhart, Robert W. (October 2010). Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 July 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Alliance_of_Mennonite_Evangelical_Congregations&oldid=116156.
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