World Fellowship Sunday celebrates koinonia amid suffering
Bogotá, Colombia – “We celebrate World Fellowship Sunday because it is a way to remember the origin of our church: clearly, first comes the teachings of Jesus, but we also remember that 500 years ago some brave women and men, motivated by the real teachings of Jesus, decided to follow him even though that action cost them their lives,” says Oscar Suarez, member of Iglesia Menonita de Ibagué (Ibagué Mennonite Church), Colombia.
Each year, Anabaptist-related churches around the world are encouraged to worship around a common theme on a Sunday close to 21 January. On that date in 1525, the first Anabaptist baptism took place in Zurich, Switzerland. Mennonite World Conference’s World Fellowship Sunday provides an opportunity to remember our common roots and celebrate our worldwide koinonia.
For 22 January 2017, the churches in Europe have prepared materials with the theme “My cry is heard.”
“This theme has to do with the current situation of many refugees and migrants arriving in Europe. As such, it speaks to the reality in which many of our churches are immersed and to the pain and suffering of those of whom we are a part,” says MWC general secretary César García.
The materials (now in a new format) contain biblical texts, prayers, song suggestions, sermon ideas, stories and other resources.
A new 3-minute video, MWC Year in Review: 2016, that is now available online and for download, can also be used as part of World Fellowship Sunday celebrations.
Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, will use these materials to celebrate World Fellowship Sunday and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on 22 January 2017. “As a local congregation, we realize that we are part of a worldwide body of Christ that includes followers of Jesus from many different cultures and walks of life,” says pastor April Yamasaki. “The same Spirit enlivens and leads us, and draws us together: that’s good reason to celebrate, to pray for one another and learn from one another.”
“We remember the foundation of our Anabaptist faith and that we have sisters and brothers around the world, brave men and women motivated by the teachings of Jesus,” says Suarez.
MWC encourages congregations who celebrate World Fellowship Sunday to designate “one-lunch” offerings to Mennonite World Conference, and to appoint a reporter to send photos and event commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Mennonite World Conference release