“Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord,” said Mennonite World Conference (MWC) President J. Nelson Kraybill. At the Executive Committee meetings, eight pastors and leaders from Asociación Iglesias Cristianas Menonitas de Costa Rica shared about how their congregations are growing together and start new ministries.
The MWC Executive Committee (EC) met 8–12 April, 2019 in Heredia, Costa Rica, home of the first Mennonite congregation planted by Rosedale Mission in 1965. From that first local church, there are now 23 Mennonite congregations who joined with MWC’s Renewal 2027 celebration, a one-day Anabaptist anniversary event that preceded the EC’s annual meeting.
Appointed by the General Council, Executive Committee members meet annually to carry out the work of MWC. These two representatives from each region manage the finances, authorize programs, approve task forces, articulate the vision and mission and develop long-range plans.
Discussion and agreement
The EC discussed and approved guidelines on appointment of specialists to Commissions and application to the Jubilee account of the Global Church Sharing Fund.
Overall in finances, unrestricted contributions are positive position, but net assets saw a significant drawdown due to spending for the General Council meetings in Kenya in 2018. Fundraising for these meetings is more challenging than for Assembly, the worldwide gathering every six years. “Efforts are on the way to help resolve this situation,” said MWC treasurer Sunoko Lin.
The Executive Committee withdrew the proposal, “MWC Policy for Dealing with Controversial Issues,” presented to the General Council in Kenya last year, which proposed guidelines for a process to discuss controversial topics in MWC. At the 2019 meeting, the EC passed a new resolution by consensus, emphasizing the goal for mutual learning in MWC. “We want to provide a safe space for our groups to learn from each other on matters of faith and life,” read the new resolution. “We recognize that our member churches have confessions of faith and ecclesial practices that are not always in agreement with each other. Beyond the Shared Convictions, MWC does not advocate a single confession or practice for our member churches.”
Communication and consensus
Living out the priority of relationships in MWC, Glen Guyton of Mennonite Church USA taught on intercultural competence. An effective intercultural communicator prepares, observes, compares, reflects, inquires and respects, said Guyton.
MWC makes an important link to other worldwide Anabaptist churches, said MZ Ichsanudin, EC member for Asia. “Maybe we can learn from the experiences of our brother or sister from another continent. Maybe it applies to our congregation, can make us a better congregation. We are enriched from each other.”
Three EC members were not able to attend the meetings, one for family reasons, two due to visa complications.
For the first time, the EC invited Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), International Brethren In Christ Association (IBICA) and International Community Of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) to attend the meetings in the role of advisors. These organizations are also global in scope of work, and work in a close relationship with many of MWC member churches. Ron Byler (MCC) and Doug Sider (IBICA) were present.
“Remember, sisters and brothers, that salvation and reconciliation through the cross and resurrection are the greatest hope for us and for a broken world,” said Kraybill.
—Mennonite World Conference release