New MWC network to encourage, support and connect peacebuilders

Around the world, Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member churches act out the belief that the Spirit of Jesus empowers us to…become peacemakers who renounce violence, love our enemies, seek justice and share our possessions with those in need (MWC Shared Conviction #5) through local congregations, national churches and related ministries.

“The 105 member churches that form MWC have produced much ‘fruit,’ such as peace related organizations and programs,” says MWC Peace Commission secretary Andrew Suderman. “Finding ways to connect, encourage, and have these Anabaptist peace organizations be in solidarity with one another in our common work towards peace has given rise to the emergence of a Global Anabaptist Peace Network (GAPN).”

Two multi-year grants are providing seed money for this emerging network. The Kindred Charitable Fund from Kindred Credit Union, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, awarded $7,500 in 2017, $5000 in 2018 and $2500 in 2019 [Canadian funds] for MWC’s GAPN. The Anabaptist-rooted United Service Foundation also awarded a significant three-year disbursement to support the peace network’s establishment.  

These grants funded the network’s first steps: appointing Andrés Pacheco-Lozano, a Colombian peaceworker currently studying in the Netherlands, as network coordinator in October 2017 and facilitating the first face-to-face meeting of the newly formed GAPN steering committee at the General Council meetings taking place in Kenya in April 2018.

The Peace Commission hopes to formally launch the network at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival in Amsterdam in 2019.

A 2016 proposal identified four potential tasks for the GAPN: sharing prayer and advocacy requests, sharing news/information/stories about peace work, developing a member directory, and creating space – electronic and physical – “where those who are part of the network,” says Suderman, “can meet, connect, and build mutually transformative relationships.”

“To see the GAPN become something that is truly global in nature takes patience and investment,” says Arli Klassen, MWC chief development officer. “We are grateful for donors –individuals, organizations like Kindred, and the family foundation who gave a multi-year grant – who share that vision.”

This network will relate with MWC’s structure through the MWC Peace Commission. “While the Peace Commission focuses on supporting our MWC member churches,” says Suderman, “the GAPN will seek to connect those churches’ peace-related organizations, programs and workers. In this way, we continue to walk with and support one another in the pursuit of God’s peaceable kingdom.”

—Mennonite World Conference release