Harrisburg, PA, USA – We Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren, and Brethren in Christ of North America have invited our sisters and brothers from around the world to come to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a little more than a year from now—July 21-26, 2015.
The event, Pennsylvania 2015, is Mennonite World Conference’s every-six-year Assembly, fondly known as a reunion of the worldwide Anabaptist-Mennonite family. It’s the first time the event will be held in the eastern US in MWC’s 90-year history. The Assembly was last in the US in 1978 in Wichita, KS.
Here are some basic facts so you can plan to join this exuberant event and prepare to offer hospitality to those who accept our invitation!
Everyone who’s part of the family of 1.7 million souls (see the sidebar). Mennonite World Conference (MWC) staff are preparing for 6,000-10,000 people. Attending will be interested laypeople, leaders who represent their churches, families with young children, youth groups, and young adults.
Tuesday afternoon, July 21, through Sunday morning, July 26, 2015.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (This is close to the large Pennsylvania Mennonite and Brethren in Christ (BIC) communities of Lancaster, Grantham, Chambersburg, and Franconia. And it’s an easy drive from Philadelphia, central PA, and the Shenandoah Valley of VA.)
What will happen at PA 2015?
- Each day will begin with singing, led by a multinational worship team, with music from all continents.
- Each morning one of MWC’s four Commissions (Faith and Life, Missions, Peace, and Deacons) will present, and a young adult, selected by the Young Anabaptist group, will respond.
- Everyone attending will join a small multicultural group of 15-20 people for fellowship and a deeper discussion on the morning theme. The same groups will continue to meet throughout the week—a great opportunity for visiting and discovering new relationships.
- Afternoons will be filled with workshops, service opportunities, local tours, sports activities, and performances and exhibits in the Global Church Village.
- Each continent will contribute to each evening worship service, which will include testimonies, singing, prayer, and times of encouragement.
- PA 2015 will include a children’s program. After morning singing, children will experience their own multicultural program all day, including lunch.
- PA 2015 will also include a youth program (ages 18 and under). After morning singing, youth will meet for their own presentations, discussions, and service projects. They’ll join the adults for workshops, sports, tours, music, and relaxing in the Global Church Village.
- An international young adult convention, the Global Youth Summit (ages 18+), will take place July 17-19, three days before PA 2015. It will be held at Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA, just across the river from Harrisburg. Its theme is “Called to Share: My Gifts, Our Gifts.”
What is the theme for PA 2015?
“Walking with God.” Speakers each morning and evening will work with biblical texts and our own stories and experiences of joy and grief, uncertainty and hope.
Why should you plan to attend?
- Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience worship with our global Anabaptist family on our own continent. (If the MWC Assemblies continue to be held every six years, rotating among the five major continents, it will be another 30 years before the Assembly comes back to North America.)
- Because it is relatively inexpensive to attend, compared to the next Assembly, scheduled for 2021 in Indonesia.
- Because it will be global and colorful, full of character, stories, and inspiration, even though it is in the US!
- And mostly because worship with our sisters and brothers from all over the world will feed and nourish our souls and faith for years to come. This will be an experience of Jesus that we cannot fully replicate in our own congregations or denominations, a taste of heaven as we worship the Lamb of God in many languages and cultures.
- Because all of us who are members of the Body of Christ will learn about how to be more faithful Christ-followers today, as we fellowship and worship together.
- Because we will all be encouraged and have our hopes renewed by engaging with individuals from our global family, many of whom live in inhospitable settings.
What if you speak only English? Or Spanish? Or French?
The platform language will be English. There will be simultaneous translations for Spanish and French speakers.
How can you get updates about PA 2015?
Go to mwc-cmm.org/pa2015. And to be part of the ongoing conversation about PA 2015, go to Facebook.com/MennoniteWorldConference.
When and how do you register?
Registration opens on August 20, 2014. Go to www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015 for registration materials.
A special welcome from MWC’s leader
César García, MWC General Secretary, from Bogota, Colombia, says, “It isn’t possible to have real communion with those with whom we don’t communicate. It isn’t possible to build a global community if we don’t talk with each other. It isn’t possible to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep if we don’t know each other’s joys or sufferings.
“If we share our experiences, our resources, our gifts, and our fears and doubts, we will be strengthened and we will be more effective. Isn’t this what it means to be Christ’s church?
“Let’s come together in July 2015 in Harrisburg as a global family, an organic body, that is interconnected and ‘intercommunicated,’ so that we’re more than just a network of institutions!”
What is Mennonite World Conference?
A communion of Anabaptist-related churches, linked to one another in a worldwide community of faith for fellowship, worship, service and witness.
Who is included in Mennonite World Conference?
- 1.2 million baptized members of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches around the world. (There are a total of 1.7 million in the family, but not all are MWC members.)
- 101 national conferences (about 9,500 congregations)
- located in 83 countries
- 78% of baptized believers in MWC member churches are African, Asian, or Latin American.
What is a Mennonite World Conference Assembly?
A reunion of the Anabaptist-Mennonite family worldwide, usually held every six years, meeting on one of the major five continents on a rotating basis. During the nearly week-long gathering, attendees engage in fellowship, worship, service, and witness.
In recent years, a Global Youth Summit has preceded the Assembly. Young adults (ages 18-30) gather to experience the global church and to develop a network of relationships, prayer partners, and co-workers in Christ.
MWC release by Phyllis Pellman Good, a writer and editor for Mennonite World Conference from Lancaster, PA.
Storytelling and meditations will be shared by speakers from all of the continents.
Opportunities for visiting will fill the days—from small discussion groups each morning, to mealtimes, to relaxing in the Global Church Village in the afternoons.
(All photos by Merle Good)