A space to meet and exchange

Global Anabaptist Health Network envisioned by summit participants

Harrisburg Pennsylvania, USA – More than 90 health care leaders from 18 countries met 19–20 July 2015, preceding PA 2015. They gathered to worship, learn from each other and think creatively about how Anabaptist-related health care organizations and those working in this field might cooperate more fully in the future.

A major focus was consideration of a draft document calling for development of a Global Anabaptist Health Network. The draft was crafted by a group with strong support from Mennonite World Conference through César Garcia and others.

Rick Stiffney, a contributor to the document, led consideration of the draft. Stiffney is president and CEO of MHS Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that supports Mennonite and other Anabaptist faith-grounded health and human service providers in their leadership and strategic direction.

Pakisa Tshimika, former associate general secretary of Mennonite World Conference and founder of the Mama Makeka House of Hope, has long championed this idea.

“For many decades, I dreamed of a space where Anabaptist health professionals and institutions from around the globe could meet to share and exchange on subjects of common interest,” he says.

“Clearly, there is interest among us to lean into some new kinds of connections,” says Stiffney. Participants share a commitment to engaging in health ministries in a way that is shaped by an Anabaptist Christian perspective.”

A coordinating group representing the breadth of Mennonite World Conference will advance the summit’s ideas over the next three years, says Stiffney. They will develop a database, facilitate peer-peer exchanges and lay groundwork for a second leadership summit.

Tshimika hopes this is the first step on a journey toward a space where the North, South, East, and West will meet on a regular basis.

Summit moderator Karen Baillie, CEO of Menno Place, a community of care in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, says the summit reaffirmed the mission to serve as Anabaptists who value loving our neighbours, peace and justice. “Our decision to commit to each other and create a global network reinforces our vision of community and allows us to serve others better,” she says.

“We have long ways to go,” says Tshimika. Yet, Tshimika is excited about what the future holds for the emerging Global Anabaptist Health Network.

Larry Guengerich lives in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, USA and serves as director of Communications and Church Relations for Landis Communities.

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