In honour of God’s creation and the church universal

The Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford won’t soon forget that Mennonite World Conference guests were there in March 2023. A tree was left behind in remembrance.  

Mennonite World Conference has a tradition to plant tree on the grounds of a Mennonite institution when the Executive Committee meets: “in honour of God’s creation and the church universal.” 

In March 2023, after an informative tour with executive director Richard Thiessen, MWC Executive Committee members and other staff guests gathered on the grounds of the museum to plant a maple tree.  

“May creation find ways to resurrect and may we take our responsibilities to care for God’s creation,” prayed Henk Stenvers, MWC president, in the dedication of the tree.  

During 1997 Executive Committee meetings, then-general secretary Larry Miller suggested that a tree be planted wherever these meetings took place.  

Since then, trees have been planted in the following places:  

  • 1999: a yellow bamboo at GKMI synod office, Semarang, Indonesia. Unfortunately, this tree had to be removed during the campus renovations in 2022.  
  • 2001: Thomashof Mennonite retreat centre in Karlsruhe, Germany. 
  • 2002: Mpopoma BIC Church, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, at a ceremony attended by hundreds.  
  • 2004: Eglise Mennonite Bourg-Bruche / Le Hang, Molsheim, France. This is close to the “Mennonite tree” at Le Salm, France, planted in 1793 in recognition of Jakob Kupferschmitt’s efforts to secure exemption from military service for Anabaptists during the French Revolution. 
  • 2005: On the campus of Conrad Grebel College in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The red maple was later discovered to be in poor health, so several former MWC staff funded its replacement with a Japanese maple in 2021. A white pine, a symbol of peace to Indigenous peoples in Ontario, was planted at the Mennonite Central committee Kitchener property where MWC also has offices.  
  • 2007: On the grounds of Iglesia Principe de Paz, a General Conference church and Mennoniten Brüder Gemeinde Concordia / Iglesia Hermanos Menonitas Concordia (Concordia Mennonite Brethren Church). in Asuncion, Paraguay. A fourth tree was later planted in the Chaco.  
  • 2010: 38 trees at Misrak Meserete Kristos Church, Ethiopia.  
  • 2013: Mennonite Central Committee Welcoming Place, Akron, Pennsylvania, USA. 

“Trees are a rich source of symbolism: the remind us of the many branches of the global Anabaptist-Mennonite family; they leave behind an organic memento of a visit from MWC; they speak to our commitment to creation care,” says César García, MWC general secretary.

Tree at Thomashof Mennonite retreat centre in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Liesa Unger


Tree at Conrad Grebel College in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Fred Redekop


Tree at Spanish church, Paraguay.


Trees at Misrak Meserete Kristos Church, Ethiopia. Photo: Tewodros Beyene


MWC Trees