Akron, Pennsylvania, USA – Preparations for the 2015 Global Youth Summit and transitions within the committee marked the annual meeting of the Young Anabaptists (YABs) Committee held here 23-28 May 2013.
The committee welcomed Lani Prunés of the United States as the new North American representative, replacing Kristina Toews of Canada who is now serving as the MWC Web Communications Worker in Bogotá, Colombia. Toews, the outgoing chair, will continue to be available as a consultant to the YABs Committee.
“The transition into this group was at first overwhelming,” Prunés said. “I didn’t know what to expect from this group of international Anabaptists; however, from day one I felt not only warmly welcomed, but a part of a group that respected me and cared about what I had to contribute.”
Rodrigo Pedroza García of Mexico, YABs Latin American representative, was affirmed as the new YABs Committee chair by the Executive Committee, though he was unable to get his visa in time to attend the meeting.
The YABs Committee communicated with Pedroza frequently via Skype. However, “the lack of face-to-face communication was greatly missed in our discussions, and we felt the distance when making decisions by consensus,” commented Sumana Basumata of India, YABs Asian representative.
At this meeting key decisions and preparations were made for the third Global Youth Summit (18+), to be held 17-19 July 2015, right before the MWC Assembly scheduled for 21-26 July. The YABs Committee toured Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA, and confirmed the college as the location for the next GYS. This event is open for all young adults, aged 18 and older, to come and learn from each other, build relationships, worship and be the church together.
“Through participating at GYS, God lets us encounter his manifold grace, opens our eyes to the different realities of the world, and allows to experience our great big family, different but united by the love of our Lord Jesus,” shared Pedroza.
The theme of GYS 2015 is Called to Share: My Gifts, Our Gifts. “We all have something to share, all the Global North and the Global South. Sharing is not only giving, but both giving and receiving what we the global family have as gifts,” explained Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle of Ethiopia, YABs African representative.
Challenges facing the next GYS were also discussed among the YABs Committee and Executive Committee. The global Anabaptist family needs to hold the issue of obtaining visas to visit the United States in prayer. The YABs Committee is also committed to working with the MWC Visa Task Force and sharing their recommendations with young people around the world.
Marc Pasqués of Spain, European representative on the YABs Committee, explained: “We know that getting visas will be a major challenge for GYS 2015. Choosing Rodrigo as our chair even when he was not able to come to this meeting is an example of how we will do our best to include every single person in GYS, no matter where are they from or how difficult it is to get a visa.”
In the next two years the YABs Committee will focus on preparing for GYS 2015 and on building and strengthening connections and relationships in the global family. They will do this with communication and social media, continuing to work with groups who have applied for the Connecting Youth Groups program, and working with the development of a new Anabaptist teaching material for youth.
While in Pennsylvania, the YABs Committee also took opportunities to share with local young Anabaptists about MWC and the coming events in 2015. They shared at Lancaster Mennonite School and in various Anabaptist churches about GYS and high school youth activities that will be held at Assembly 16.
News Release by Kristina Toews, MWC Web Communications Worker
Rodrigo Pedroza García of Mexico, YABs Latin American representative