Solidarity with a Mennonite church at a crossroad

From 1–8 December 2019, a joint delegation from Mennonite World Conference’s Peace Commission and Deacons Commission visited three Mennonite churches in Hong Kong, other denominations and also some educational institutions to offer solidarity and to respond to the request for further perspectives on Anabaptist peacemaking.

The delegation members included Peace Commission Chair and Coffee for Peace founder Joji Pantoja, Peace Commission member and Canadian Mennonite University’s peace and conflict transformation instructor Wendy Kroeker, Deacons Commission chair Siaka Traoré and Deacons secretary, Henk Stenvers.

During their time with the members of the church, the delegation listened to the experiences and hopes of the members of the church while also sharing some of their experience of mediation and reconciliation through an Anabaptist lens.

Henk Stenvers said: “We were there to offer solidarity to our brothers and sisters, showing them they are not alone in this trying time. Churches globally are not immune to conflicts and the political dynamics around them. By visiting them, we get to see what they are experiencing, listen to them, and also encourage them by sharing our peacemaking experience.”

Political discussion never quite existed in Hong Kong, a place that has long enjoyed stability and economic prosperity – at least overtly.

“People here were focused on being productive be it in their studies or at work. Now they have political aspiration, but politics are dividing the people, including in the church,” said Jeremiah Choi, pastor of Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong.

“We ask that the global church support us in prayer. Pray for wisdom for the leaders, the protesters, and the police; that there will be a peaceful resolution to this; and that churches can have unity and become peacemakers when some choose to be violent,” Jeremiah Choi asked.

About the Hong Kong protest

Hong Kong is currently experiencing its most tumultuous political situation in decades. Protests in Hong Kong, mostly involving young people, are continuing into a sixth month demanding withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, investigation into alleged police brutality during the protests, full amnesty for those arrested during the protest, declassification of protesters as “rioters,” and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Although the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the protesters are refusing to back down until all five demands are met.

—a Mennonite World Conference release by Elina Ciptadi