Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA – “We should be well informed hosts,” said Richard Thomas recently about PA 2015, the Mennonite World Conference Assembly, to be held next July 21-26 in Harrisburg, PA.
Thomas, who chairs the National Advisory Council for the event, is urging all North American Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren, and Brethren in Christ to honour their guests next summer by starting to prepare now.
“Most of us probably can’t become fluent in Indonesian or Amharic or French between now and next July. But we can certainly learn to know more about our sister churches around the world before we’re sitting next to their members at next summer’s Assembly!” commented Thomas.
Five-volume Global History Series available
Mennonite World Conference commissioned the writing of a five-volume Global History Series over the span of several years. The volumes, one for each continent, are written by persons from their respective continents, and so reflect the perspectives, experiences, and interpretations of the local churches.
“I’m reading these books as one way to get myself ready for PA 2015. I want to have a deeper understanding of how my sisters and brothers have found and sustained their faith,” said Thomas. “Many of them have survived wars and hunger and immense political pressure. Many have Muslim neighbors. I have so much to learn from them – and the histories tell those stories.”
Book about Shared Convictions
Thomas said he is also reading What We Believe Together: Exploring the “Shared Convictions” of Anabaptist-Related Churches. The book is a lively expansion of one of MWC’s great gifts to the global church – the brief statement, “Shared Convictions of Global Anabaptists.” In the book, Alfred Neufeld from Paraguay writes with unusual insights and examples from around the world.
“Everyone should read these books, whether they’re coming to PA 2015 or not,” said Thomas. “This common reading material can be one of our global glues. And we’ll be talking about our ‘Shared Convictions’ when we’re together next summer.”
Book discussions planned
In eastern Pennsylvania, book discussions are scheduled, beginning October 26, 2014, and continuing through June 1, 2015. Go to www.mwc-cmm.org/journeytopa2015 to see the dates for the discussions, the book being discussed each time, and the location of each event.
“If you live too far away to attend these get-togethers, why not schedule discussions of the books in your community? Invite anyone to come who’s interested, even if they haven’t read the books,” urges Thomas.
The five histories include: Testing Faith and Tradition (Europe volume), Mission and Migration (Latin America volume), Anabaptist Songs in African Hearts (Africa volume), Churches Engage Asian Traditions (Asia volume), and Seeking Places of Peace (North America volume). These titles are available in the United States from the Bookshop and Online Book Service of Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society (www.lmhs.org, 1-717-393-9745) and in Canada from the online Bookshop at Pandora Press (bookshop.pandorapress.com, 1-866-696-1678). The title What We Believe Together is available only from the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.
MWC release by Phyllis Pellman Good, Lancaster, PA, a writer and editor for Mennonite World Conference.