Greetings to all of you in Jesus' name. Over the last eight months, we have been hard at work listening to hear where God is calling us and to respond to that call. In October we had our preview meeting with about 300 people present from around the United States and Canada.
Evana is for individuals and congregations that want to be on mission in their local community and to commit to a shared covenant. Currently we have about ten congregations that have joined and sixty individuals. In addition, there are around 50 additional congregations that are in some part of the process of joining. We have churches of all sizes and backgrounds and are equipped to provide resourcing and support for them. Our website provides more details about joining us as a member or a partner.
At the core of our structure are regional networks of churches that engage in local mission together. Our process begins with a careful study of the economic, social, health, and spiritual needs of the local community. The next step is a time of discernment through prayer and fasting, asking God to allow our hearts to be broken for the needs that are around us. Then churches will work together to help their community become a city of refuge for those who need hope and redemption. These efforts are not done through donating at a distance, but through radical hospitality and the healing presence of Christ.
Other Anabaptist agencies and institutions have shown interest. I was recently in Fresno, CA to explore possibilities for partnership with Fresno Pacific University and Seminary and with Mennonite Brethren churches. We are focused on providing tracks for church leaders to be fully equipped for their work through distance learning, internships and residencies. We are open to exploring ways that we can partner with institutions of higher learning to help us develop these offerings and to begin Evana Student Fellowships on campuses that will engage in local mission in their community.
We are in the early stages of developing partnerships with existing conferences and denominations that share our commitment to this mission and covenant. We believe our work can strengthen existing conferences and denominations by strengthening their churches. For those churches that do not have a conference or denominational connection, we provide credentialing services for those pastoral leaders.
On February 28-March 3, 2016, we are excited to offer our first pastor and spouse retreat at Lake Placid, FL with Reggie McNeal from Leadership Network. Pastors and spouses can register by first joining Evana as individual members. Our early bird registration discount ends on December 18.
In July, we will host ReGen 2016, an Anabaptist Youth & Adult Convention at Taylor University in Upland, IN. We will provide programming that is focused toward youth and young adults, along with tracks for pastors and church leaders who are there. Registration for that is now open.
We are developing as a network so that we will be fully supported by our partner congregations. Here at the beginning, we are dependent on the generous support of individuals, congregations, and businesses who are interested in our development. We are grateful for the support we have already received and would be glad to talk with you about making an investment into our work. We are at a critical place in our growth and development, and your contribution will make a significant impact in helping churches engage in local mission, supporting pastoral leadership development, and in building a Biblical Anabaptist witness. Please contact me if you would like more detailed information about our growth and development.
Our staff team is growing. Wes Furlong is our director of church development and gives leadership to our regional networks and community engagement efforts. Wes was lead pastor of Cape Christian Fellowship in Florida for the last 11 years and is now working full-time for Evana Network and living in Lancaster, PA. Suzanne Huffman is our operations manager and manages our database and gives oversight to our financial operations. Prior to Evana, she worked at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN as a data analyst. Sofia Yoder works for us part-time as a community manager and translator. Sofia is originally from Costa Rica and also works as a translator in Goshen, IN. Malaina Yoder is our communications coordinator and is a student at Taylor University in Upland, IN. Wes' assistant, Jen Tapp, is continuing to support Wes in his work with Evana.
I have been a pastor for the last 22 years in three churches in Indiana and Michigan. Most recently I was pastor of youth & young adults at Clinton Frame Mennonite Church. As executive director, I give leadership to the staff and I am often on the road developing partnerships and connecting with pastors and churches. Please keep us in your prayers.
John Troyer, Executive Director, Evana Network