Harrisburg, PA, USA – “Mennonite World Conference Assemblies come with many parts. Two of them are Assembly Gathered and Assembly Scattered,” explains Liesa Unger, Chief International Events Officer for MWC. Unger, of Regensburg, Germany, is overseeing the planning of “Pennsylvania 2015,” the next MWC Assembly to be held in July 2015.
“Assembly Gathered will happen at one place – Harrisburg, PA – during one week, 21-26 July 2015. Assembly Scattered will take place at multiple sites, with some events before Assembly Gathered and some following.”
Assembly Scattered first occurred as part of the MWC Assembly in Calcutta in January 1997. Because few Mennonites live in Calcutta, MWC leaders worked with churches throughout India, and in other countries in Asia, to host travelers on their way to or from Calcutta. Visitors experienced church life in communities across the region, and locals who weren’t able to attend the Calcutta Assembly fellowshipped in their home communities with sisters and brothers from other parts of the world who were traveling to or from the Assembly.
“Many of the Assembly Scattered sites for PA 2015 also include visits to nearby historical or cultural landmarks. Hosts will introduce their guests to places and activities they’ve read about. But this is more than tourism. By experiencing each other’s settings, we learn to know each other better,” reflects Unger.
“We’ve enlarged the Assembly experience for everyone’s benefit by offering both Assembly Gathered and Assembly Scattered,” explains Unger. “If you’re making the trip to North America, why not visit Mennonite communities that are close to or within southeastern Pennsylvania, or choose some that lie beyond? And if you live in Canada or the U.S. but can’t get to Harrisburg, why not experience the global faith family by welcoming members into your home and congregation?”
Assembly Scattered will take place in more than 10 communities during July 2015.
“This opportunity for fellowship flows both ways,” says Unger. “Visitors learn about day-to-day life in the U.S. and Canada, while also worshipping in Anabaptist-related congregations. And locals are enriched by opening their homes and churches to ‘family’ they would otherwise not have known. This is how lifelong relationships become real.”
Details about Assembly Scattered are available on the registration form for PA 2015.
MWC release by Phyllis Pellman Good, Lancaster, PA, a writer and editor for Mennonite World Conference.
Before Assembly Gathered: Pennsylvania locations
1. “Mennonites of Lancaster County, PA.” Visit several Mennonite congregations, dating from the 1700s, which are alive and well in beautiful Lancaster County, PA. Hear their joys and challenges; worship and fellowship with them. Learn about early Mennonite interaction with Native Americans. Tour the oldest home in Lancaster County. Visit a farm operated by Amish, as well as a modern farm operated by Mennonites. Become acquainted with Eastern Mennonite Missions in western Lancaster County. From 9:30 a.m., Saturday, 18 July through Tuesday morning 21 July.
2. “Mennonite Farms of Lancaster County, PA.” Visit some of the farms owned for generations by families who are members of the 300-year-old Mellinger Mennonite Church. Learn about modern farm operations in North America. Why do young people choose farming? Enjoy worship, fellowship, and recreation with the congregation on Sunday. From 8:00 a.m. Friday 17July through 7:30 p.m. Monday, 20 July.
3. “Fun and Fellowship with Pittsburgh (PA) Mennonite Church.” Discover this urban, multi-generational church’s efforts in environmental stewardship and sustainability, fellowship, peace, and justice. Learn the steel-industry beginnings of the “City of Bridges” and its rising economy in technology and education. From Friday evening 17 July through Monday morning 20 July.
4. “Anabaptist Welcome and Witness in Philadelphia Since 1683.” Beginning in 1683, Philadelphia was the primary port of entry for Mennonite immigrants. Today, 332 years later, 28 Anabaptist congregations in greater Philly worship in nine languages. Join multi-cultural worship with testimonies of how God is at work in the city. Experience three urban ministry sites. Visit historical sites in one of the U.S.’s oldest cities. From noon Friday, 17 July through Sunday evening, 19 July.
5. “Living Discipleship in Community.” Visit one of two Bruderhof communities in Pennsylvania: Spring Valley or New Meadow Run. Join in community gardening, work projects, meals, games, outdoor activities, and campfire fellowship. From 11:00 a.m. Friday 17 July through noon on Sunday 19 July.
Before Assembly Gathered: Eastern U.S. locations
6. “Mennonites, Monuments, and African American History in Washington, D.C.” Take guided and interpreted walking tours of national monuments (focusing on peace monuments, among them, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s) and of Georgetown (focusing on African American history). Includes attending area Mennonite congregations. From Friday morning 17 July, through Sunday evening 19 July.
7. “Diverse Anabaptist Communities in Miami (FL) Metro Area.” Experience Miami and Dade County, home to 50 BIC congregations, 10 Mennonite, and three Amor Viviente fellowships, with members from Hispanic, Haitian, Anglo, Garifuna, and other cultural groups. An introduction to immigration realities through testimonies of immigrants and those who offer assistance. Join in spirited worship and fellowship. From Friday 17 July, through Monday 20 July.
8. “Join North Carolina’s Six Historic African American and One Hispanic Mennonite Brethren Congregations for a Weekend of Worship, Music, and Inspiration.” Learn how the only MB congregations in the eastern US began during segregation in the South and about their vibrant ministry today in the mountain communities of eastern NC. Enjoy fellowship on Friday evening 17 July, a visit to the churches and their ministries on Saturday, and a final worship service on Sunday, ending at noon, 19 July.
9. “Living Discipleship in Community.” Visit one of two Bruderhof communities in New York: Foxhill or Bellvale. Join in community gardening, work projects, meals, games, outdoor activities, and campfire fellowship. From 11:00 a.m. Friday 17 July, through noon on Sunday 19 July.
Before Assembly Gathered: North American locations
10. “DOOR San Antonio (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) in Partnership with San Antonio Mennonite Church, Texas.” Hear from locals about immigration. Witness life at the US/Mexican border. Volunteer with nonprofit agencies in San Antonio. From Friday 17 July, through Sunday 19 July.
11. “Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren, and Brethren in Christ Churches in the Pacific Region.” Experience the diversity of MWC-related churches – Indonesian, Latino, Nigerian, Congolese, and Korean – while interacting with church members and visiting outreach ministries and church institutions in Fresno, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino/Riverside counties, California. From Thursday 16 July, through Monday 29 July.
12. “Walking with God in the City and the Wilderness: Anchorage, Alaska.” Fellowship with members of Prince of Peace Mennonite Church (the northern-most Mennonite church in the world!), visit ministry locations of the Voluntary Service unit, engage Alaska’s native cultures, and hike and sightsee in the wilderness. From early Thursday 16 July, through late Monday 20 July.
13. “Participate in the 105th Annual Conference of Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC) in Hartville Ohio.” Our theme will be “Step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). You’re welcome to join with representatives from over 100 North American CMC churches in worship, workshops, discussion, and fellowship. Begins Thursday evening 16 July, and concludes at noon, Sunday 19 July.
After Assembly Gathered locations
14. “Two Kingdoms, Two Loyalties: Anabaptist Engagement with Government in the U.S. Capital.” Visit and converse with various Anabaptist-related advocacy offices in Washington, D.C. From Monday morning 27 July, through Wednesday evening, 29 July, or Thursday morning 30 July.
15. “DOOR San Antonio (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) in Partnership with San Antonio Mennonite Church, Texas.” Hear from locals about immigration. Witness life at the US/Mexican border. Volunteer with nonprofit agencies in San Antonio. From Monday 27 July, through Wednesday 29 July.
Pending Assembly Scattered location
16. New York, New York. Visit with members of the Anabaptist-related Garifuna-, Spanish-, and English-speaking churches in at least three of New York City’s boroughs.
Members of the Prince of Peace Mennonite Church in Anchorage, Alaska, one of the congregations that will welcome Assembly Scattered participants. Photo courtesy of John David Thacker