Lancaster, PA—Both the welcome anticipation and the challenges of hosting the next Mennonite World Conference Assembly were evident in the meeting of the National Advisory Council held here March 22-23.
Council members, who represent the four inviting denominations, spoke of the “honour” and “privilege” of hosting members of the MWC global communion for the 16th Assembly to be held July 21-26, 2015 in Harrisburg, Pa. They shared stories of the life-changing impact of relationships with Anabaptists from other parts of the world.
Council members agreed to help increase awareness and ownership of the upcoming assembly within their respective denominations. They will appoint members to a prayer network, a Finance Task Force and a Visa Task Force.
The Council approved a unified fundraising goal of $850,000. While most of the income in an assembly break-even budget of $2.8 million would come from registration fees, $400,000 will be required from fundraising. The overall goal also includes $150,000 for the Global Youth Summit and $300,000 for the travel fund for the pre-assembly General Council and the Executive Committee meetings.
An initial draft of the fundraising proposal included specific fundraising targets for each continental region within MWC. The Council raised concerns, however, about asking for specific amounts from less wealthy parts of the global communion for an event to be held in one of the wealthiest countries with MWC membership.
At the same time, the Council emphasized the importance of having each continental region take ownership—including in a financial way—of the assemblies. Representatives of each continental region will be asked how much money they can raise—over and above their fair share contributions for ongoing MWC operations—as the beginning of a pattern that will be used for future assemblies.
In response to concerns raised by the Young Anabaptist Network (YABs), the Council reaffirmed its commitment to do everything it can to make it possible for young adults from outside the U.S. to get visitor visas for the assembly. With this commitment, the YABs will not pursue the possibility of an alternate location outside of the U.S. for the 2015 Global Youth Summit.
MWC staff met with David Myers, Director of one of the U.S. Centers for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, on March 26 to explore ways to best approach the visa challenge, especially as related to young people. Myers directs the center within the Department of Homeland Security; similar centers are located in numerous other government departments.
Council members include: Richard Thomas (chair), Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Sheldon Good from Mennonite Church USA; Dennis Becker (officer), Lynn Jost and Ed Boschman from the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches; Warren Hoffman, Don McNiven (secretary) and Chris Sharp from the Brethren in Christ General Conference; Lowell Bender and David Kochsmeier (officer) from the Conservative Mennonite Conference.
Howard Good appointed as National Coordinator
At meetings in Lancaster, the National Advisory Council appointed Howard Good of Lancaster, Pa. as National Coordinator for the 2015 MWC Assembly. In this position he will be responsible to lead the Assembly Logistic Planning Group, which will arrange things such as food services, transportation, lodging, local tours and others. For his MWC involvement, Good will be seconded for some of his time from his ongoing work as vice president for Association Engagement with Mennonite Economic Development Associates.
He will work as part of an assembly planning team directed by Liesa Unger, Chief International Events Officer, from Regensburg, Germany. She will lead the Assembly Program Planning Group responsible for the overall program, worship, workshops, assembly scattered and other areas. Also on the team is Bert Lobe, North American Representative, from St. Jacobs, Ont. He will coordinate the Visa Task Force, the Prayer Team and communication for the event. He will also provide leadership, along with Merle and Phyllis Good of Lancaster, Pa., in assembly fundraising.