Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA – “We’re coming together at PA 2015 to talk with each other about our faith-life with open hearts and open minds,” says Liesa Unger, International Coordinator of this summer’s Mennonite World Conference Assembly.
“We’ve invited our speakers to address the creative tensions found in several important topics that we all face daily,” explains Unger, who’s working closely with the Program Planning Committee for the global gathering.
“As Christians, we tend to think we should conquer or resolve these struggles,” she commented. “So we’ve asked a pair of speakers each morning to explore how we live faithfully within these tensions.”
“Walking with God” is the guiding theme for PA 2015, which opens Tuesday evening, July 21, and continues through Sunday, July 26.
Speakers will address these subjects during morning worship services:
- “Walking in Doubt and Conviction,” Wednesday, July 22
- “Walking in Conflict and Reconciliation,” Thursday, July 23
- “Walking in Autonomy and Community,” Friday, July 24
- “Walking in Receiving and Giving,” Saturday, July 25
Confirmed speakers for the mornings include Rebecca Osiro (pastor from Kenya), Tom Yoder Neufeld (professor from Canada), Nancy Heisey (professor from the U.S.), Shant Kunjam (bishop from India), and Hippolyto Tshimanga (mission director from Canada).
“We’ve also invited young adult speakers from around the world to be full members of our platform team at PA 2015,” comments Unger. “A young adult leader will give a response each morning to the presentation.” Confirmed are Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle (Ethiopia), Remilyn Mendez (Philippines), Rodrigo Pedroza (Mexico), and Marc Pasqués (Spain/Australia).
“God has given us such a rich variety of experiences, cultures, and settings – and we want to learn from our different lives while we’re together in July,” says Unger. “So often we only see a narrow wedge of God’s Kingdom among us. Each of us, in our particular settings, is up against dilemmas that feel threatening. So why not explore the Bible in the company and support of each other and together commit to greater faithfulness?”
César García, General Secretary of MWC, from Colombia, reflected recently about the idea of “walking with God”: “I like the idea of understanding the Christian life as a way of living that’s under construction, a process that isn’t static or finished. I really believe that our conversations at PA 2015 will transform us because we’ll be discovering together the implications of following Christ in our home communities.”
An unusual small group experience planned for morning services
“Each morning, international Friendship Groups will gather after the presentations to talk about what’s been said. We will help the audience form these groups, and the same groups will meet each day, so friendships can develop. This is a fellowship experience, as well as a chance for give-and-take in a fairly intimate setting about matters we care deeply about. We don’t want anyone going home and saying they never talked with anybody except friends they knew before,” smiles Unger.
Additionally, an international music group will lead all who gather each morning in rousing singing.
Programming planned for children and youth
“Children and high-school youth will love their days at PA 2015,” says Unger. “What greater gift can we give our children than 4+ days in the arms of the global church!
“After the morning singing, children ages 4-11 will enjoy a multicultural program and lunch. They’ll rejoin the adults for dinner and evening worship.”
“Youth from ages 12-17 will have their own morning program after the singing, as well as late night events for youth staying at Messiah College. Their afternoons will be filled with workshops geared especially to youth, service projects (including building a house for MDS), tours, kayaking, hiking, sports, and even a Menno World Cup! And the Global Village stage will feature a line-up of not-to-be-missed acts from all over the world throughout the afternoons.”
Evening programs to be filled with music, storytelling, and witness
“Worship planners on the program committee and the music director are just now listening to recordings of groups from many parts of the world who have applied to sing and play during the evening worship services. We’re praying that the choirs, ensembles, and individual musicians will be able to get visas so they can minister in worship at the close of our days together.”
“In addition to singing each evening, the services will include stories and witness, prayer, sharing of gifts, stories, and encouragement.”
For more information about the programming and to register for PA 2015, go to www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015.
Article by Phyllis Pellman Good, Lancaster, PA, a writer and editor for Mennonite World Conference.
Tom Yoder Neufeld. Photo by Liesa Unger
Rebecca Osiro. Photo by Merle Good
Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle. Photo by Liesa Unger