“Normally when I am away from home, I only want to go home again. Now, I just want to stay here,” said one participant in the first European Menno’s Global Youth Assembly.
From 30 May to 2 June 2019, 45 young Mennonites from The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine met in Dopersduin, Schoorl, to connect, inspire each other and learn from each other about what it means to walk together as one church.
Every day concluded in church with reflection and prayer, songs of gratitude and contemplations on calling and hope from the book of Jonah.
From every country, participants shared perspectives on being Anabaptist and the challenges they face. The group from Ukraine shared about being church on the front lines of war zone. “Their impressive and emotional call touched the hearts of all of the listeners,” said Marijne Stenvers.
At the beginning of the conference, many of the attendees kept to their own nationalities, but soon all were mixed up. “The multinational choir that formed spontaneously during the Sunday morning service was probably the best example of that,” said Marijne Stenvers.
The weekend was filled with workshops, guest lectures and excursions, discussing topics such as the difficulties and blessings of interreligious relations and the necessity for freedom and peace to be more than the absence of war. They talked about the urgency of refugees and climate change and asked how to live a sustainable life. They interpreted the story of Emmaus (Luke 24) from different contexts and used biblical stories in improvisational theatre.
A percussion workshop and acroyoga session allowed participants to learn with their bodies.
Participants also went on excursions to learn about the history of Mennonites in the Netherlands, visit hidden churches in Amsterdam, or learn about the natural challenges of the dunes.
Suitcase of hope
The delegation from Spain left with the intention to organise the weekend next year. The organisation handed over a “suitcase of hope” with a symbolic starter package for the next assembly.
Menno’s Global Youth Assembly is an initiative of the young Dutch organisation ‘Menno’s Global Village’, to encourage and support young adults (18-30 years) to gain enriching, lifelong experiences within the international (Mennonite) network. More information on www.mgv.doopsgezind.nl (Dutch language).
—A Mennonite World Conference release with files from Doopsgezind.nl.