Executive Committee approves theological education and creation care grants

Continues shaping networks, adding membership and supporting learning and action in member churches 

Funding for theological education and carbon tax small grants was passed at the annual meeting of Mennonite World Conference's Executive Committee meeting, 8-11 April 2024 in Curitiba, Brazil.  

Two new funds 

For many years, MWC member churches have called for more opportunities for Anabaptist-rooted theological training. “Now that the majority of our Anabaptist membership is in the Global South, we have a huge need to do theology, forming an Anabaptist identity in each context. We need to develop strong Anabaptist identities, focused on the centrality of Christ,” said César García, MWC general secretary. 

The Theological Education Fund will offer scholarships for theological training for pastors and other church leaders in places where Anabaptist theological education is difficult to find, specifically in the Global South. “We hope this will help leadership in our global communion more closely reflect the vision of Revelation 7 of a great multitude from every nation and people and language,” said César García. 

The Executive Committee also approved the creation of Carbon Tax Small Grant Fund. Since 2010, MWC has set aside a carbon tax surcharge on all organizational air travel. The funds collected over the years will now be available to national member churches in the Global South to implement creation care projects with direct relevance to reducing carbon emissions. 

“The intent of the surcharge is to 1) acknowledge the impact of air travel in a concrete way, 2) publicly demonstrate MWC’s commitment to taking care of God’s creation,” says Doug Graber Neufeld, Creation Care Task Force chair, who joined the meetings in Brazil via Zoom. “We’re pleased to offer a way to use the funds for an activity that in some way offsets the impact of flying.” 

Strengthening networks, expanding membership 

Over the last decade, MWC Executive Committee approved the placement of several emerging networks in MWC: Global Anabaptist Education Networks (GAEN), Global Anabaptist Health Network (GAHN), and Global Anabaptist Peace Network (GAPN). At these meetings, they approved a revised Terms of Reference (TOR) that explains how the networks interact with Commissions. The new TOR includes a different fee structure and provides greater clarity on the composition and organizational structure of the Networks. 

The revised TOR will also apply to existing networks Global Mission Fellowship (GMF) and the Global Anabaptist Service Network (GASN), part of the Mission Commission. The revised TOR will be considered by the General Council in 2025 before implementation. 

The Executive Committee also affirmed a proposal for constitutional change that will make room for Young Anabaptist (YABs) delegates to become members of the General Council, which will be tabled at next year’s General Council meeting. Saskia Horsch of Germany was confirmed as YABs representative for Europe as Gaëlle Oesch stepped down in 2023. 

Two new membership applications were also accepted: the Association of Christian Mennonite Brethren Churches of Ukraine (AMBCU) and Kanisa La Mennonite La Kiinjili Tanzania (KMKT – Evangelical Church of Tanzania). This brings MWC’s worldwide membership to 110 member churches in more than 10,000 congregations in 60 countries, with over 1.5 million baptized members. 

Ecumenical relations 

In preparation for the 500th anniversary commemoration events, the Executive Committee approved a joint statement with the World Communion of Reformed Churches. An international team of five theologians from each communion drafted “a common statement of confession, gratitude and commitment” to be presented at the event 29 May 2025. 

The Executive Committee approved the 2023 financial report and 2024 budget. It also considered proposals with the potential to redefine aspects of membership in MWC. 

In addition to decision-making sessions, the Executive Committee also had equipping sessions. Faith and Life Commission chair Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld gave three sessions on the new tagline: following Jesus, living out unity, building peace. Conflict, change and leadership consultant Betty Pries of Canada facilitated strategic planning for 2025-2031. 

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