Bogotá Colombia – As Mennonite World Conference (MWC) kicked off Renewal 2027 (a 10-year event commemorating Anabaptism’s birth through the Reformation), the Executive Committee welcomed a record number of new members at their meeting in Germany.
Before and after “Transformed by the Word: Reading Scripture in Anabaptist Perspectives” (Renewal 2027) in Augsburg, Germany, 12 February 2017, the Executive Committee, four commissions, Young Anabaptists (YABs) committee and MWC staff including regional representatives gathered for fellowship and decision making. The multi-year trilateral dialogues, in which MWC engaged with the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity, also held their final meeting in Germany during this time.
Official church membership of Mennonite World Conference totalled 105 national churches and 1 international association after the executive committee processed membership updates, which the General Council will affirm in 2018 along with any other new members received in 2018. The Australia Conference of Evangelical Mennonites, Convención de Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas del Noreste de México and the British Conference of Mennonites, United Kingdom, were moved to inactive or closed status. The executive committee welcomed Hmong 7th District of the Church of Christ in Thailand, Convenção Brasileira das Igrejas Evangélicas Irmãos Menonitas (COBIM), and Convención de Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas de Puerto Rico as full members, and the following national churches as associate members (due to their size): Uganda Mennonite Church, Mennonitische Freikirche Österreich, Associação dos Irmãos Menonitas de Portugal.
The executive committee recommended a proposal to General Council to start a discernment process on a potential name change for MWC. Over the next year, regional representatives will engage church leaders regarding a more inclusive name.
John Roth of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism presented on the Global Anabaptist Project. Published in English as Global Anabaptist Profile: Belief and Practice in 24 Mennonite World Conference Churches, the report will also be translated into Spanish, French and three additional languages, and the PDF is posted at www.goshen.edu/isga/gap.
To ease financial planning in response to the volume of donations received in December, the executive committee will meet online in late 2017 to process the possibility of a year-end change to 31 August 2018.
The general secretary’s six-year term comes to an end in 2018. The executive committee unanimously requested César García renew for a second term. “MWC wants to hire a ‘wool-making, milk-producing, egg-laying pig that can be eaten’!” says MWC president Nelson Kraybill, quoting a German proverb. “Despite the large assignment, César works hard, has vision for MWC, and is effective in a broad range of tasks and roles. We are grateful he has accepted [another term.]”
At their meetings, the Peace Commission accepted Jeremiah Choi Wing Kau (China – Hong Kong), replacing Namshik Chon (South Korea), and the YABs Committee welcomed Oscar Suarez (Colombia) who will represent Latin America after Dominik Bergen (Paraguay) stepped down.
“When 70 followers of Jesus from around the world meet at a historic centre of 16th-century Anabaptism, the past and future of the church meet in life-giving ways. At Augsburg, these modern-day witnesses on the leading edge of Anabaptist mission worshiped, shared vision, debated, planned, laughed and sometimes wept,” says Kraybill. “It was a particular joy to fellowship with Catholic and Lutheran representatives who were part of the recent trilateral dialogue on baptism. To build friendship today and find shared hope in the gospel is an encouragement to all and a strength for our shared witness to the world.”
—Mennonite World Conference release