Growing networks add faces in Virginia

“We also valued very much our first face-to-face meeting with the Faith and Life Commission as a whole, and Anicka Fast as in-coming secretary,” says David Wiebe, chair of GAHEN.  

In development for several years already, three additional networks are in the process of being added to MWC organizational structure. Although not all members were able to attend, the MWC networks held official face-to-face meetings prior to the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Festival and Conference in June 2023 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA.  

Each morning, one of the four MWC Commissions (Deacons, Faith & Life, Mission, Peace) led a joint worship session. The Networks each discussed revised Terms of Reference (general objectives, definition of membership, internal structure, relationship to MWC) and a new fee structure (0.2% of budget) to be considered by General Council for approval in 2025.  


For the emerging network GAEN*, 15-16 June 2023 was a meeting of steering committees of the dual-track organization. More than three quarters of GAPSEN* and GAHEN* steering committee members were present. 

“We were very pleased to be together to work through some important matters that will shape our networks,” says David Wiebe. They laid plans for future gatherings on Zoom and in person in 2025.  

GAEN falls under the supervision of the Faith & Life Commission, so the meetings also provided opportunity for the steering committee to meet the members of the Commission. Through the meetings GAPSEN and GAHEN members “cultivated a shared educational vision between schools and church,” says David Wiebe.  

Steering committee members (2023-2025) 

  • David Wiebe (chair, GAHEN) Canada 
  • Cheryl Pauls (GAHEN) Canada 
  • David Boshart (GAHEN) USA 
  • Gishu J. Ebissa (GAHEN) Ethiopia 
  • Hinonori Minamino (GAHEN) Japan 
  • Marlene Wall (GAHEN) Lithuania 
  • Rebecca Stoltzfus (GAHEN) USA 
  • Victor Wall (GAHEN) Paraguay 
  • Elaine Moyer (chair, GAPSEN) USA 
  • Conrad Swartzentruber (GAPSEN) USA 
  • Delbert Unruh (GAPSEN) Paraguay 
  • Gloria & Theo Fumana (GAPSEN) Canada 
  • Yesaya S. Wijaya (GAPSEN) Indonesia 

Mission and Service 

The 13-14 June 2023 meetings of existing networks GASN* and GMF* served as the triennial gathering (usually held alongside General Council meetings). The Mission Commission also participated in the meetings. 

There were equipping sessions with César García and Sarah Bixler, storytelling from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and six seminars offered by GASN and GMF members.  

GASN and GMF each discussed a program plan for the current period, including online gatherings for learning and fellowship. Global warming and the environment is one of the priorities GASN identified to address in the coming years. GMF plans to learn about unreached people groups.  

There are around 50 members of GASN and some 70 members of GMF.  

Steering committee members (2023-2025) 

  • Barbara Hege-Galle (chair, GASN) Germany 
  • Fabio Carvalho (GASN) Brazil 
  • Rick Cober Bauman (GASN) Canada 
  • Satyendra Basumata (GASN) India 
  • Shambu Balcha (GASN) Ethiopia 
  • Nelson Okanya (chair, GMF) USA/Kenya 
  • Carlos Daniel Soto (GMF) Argentina 
  • Felo Gracia (GMF) DRC 
  • Lorri Bentch (GMF) USA  
  • Sangita Tigga (GMF) India 


More than 20 GAPN network members and observers participated in 13-14 June 2023 meetings in person and online. This was the first face-to-face meeting for the GAPN. 

They shared hopes and expectations for the network, shared contextual analysis of peacebuilding issues from their regions, and strategized themes, activities and events for the upcoming years.  

“There was much agreement and intersectionality of thought and experience on at least eight themes, including interfaith engagement, polarization in church and society, climate change and systemic violence,” says Wendy Kroeker, steering committee chair. “A decolonizing lens could become a common perspective or approach to organize efforts in the coming year.” 

Steering committee members (2023-2025) 

  • Wendy Kroeker (chair, GAPN) Canada 
  • Danang Kristiawan (GAPN) Indonesia 
  • Daniel Moya (GAPN) Colombia 
  • John Wambura (GAPN) Tanzania 
  • Scott Holland (GAPN) USA 


Also emerging is GAHN, a network of health professionals, which has gathered for several webinars on Zoom over the past three years. They launched a new website ( and newsletter and are planning a learning tour in Central America in November 2023.  

Steering committee members (2023-2025) 

  • Dodanim Vásquez (chair, GAHN) 
Elina Ciptadi

Other MWC news 

Members of the four MWC Commissions also met prior to the Festival. “When we meet face-to-face, our understanding of each other deepens and our commitment to our common goals flourishes,” says J. Ron Byler, Coordinator of Commissions. In worship together and in informal conversations, Commission members learn how the work of our Commissions interconnects and how, together, we help our global community to encourage each other as we follow Jesus into the world.” 

In the communications department, Elina Ciptadi returns as Interim Chief Communications Officer while Kristina Toews is on maternity leave. Elina Ciptadi was part of the original YABs Committee (called AMIGOS at the time) and has experience in nonprofit, government and for-profit marketing, public relations and communications. 

GAEN Global Anabaptist Education Networks 
GAPSEN Global Anabaptist Primary/Secondary Education Network
GAHEN Global Anabaptist Higher Education Network
GASN Global Anabaptist Service Network
GMF Global Mission Fellowship
GAPN Global Anabaptist Peace Network
GAHN Global Anabaptist Health Network