Posted: July 14, 2021
Like the chambers of a heart, the four MWC commissions serve the global community of Anabaptist-related churches, in the areas of Deacons, Faith and Life, Peace, Mission. Commissions prepare materials for consideration by the General Council, give guidance and propose resources to member churches, and facilitate MWC-related networks or fellowships working together on matters of common interest and focus.
“Following Christ always leads to being a deacon”
Get to know a Commission member:
Jürg Bräker, Deacons Commission
How does this Commission practice being together in Christ?
In our meetings, we live the deacons work: hearing each other’s stories, standing by each other in suffering and joy.:
Materially, the Global Church Sharing Fund (administered by the Deacons Commission) is not something with which we can make big changes; it’s a symbolic way of showing “we are with you.”
The Deacons Commission also sends this message in letters of solidarity to our churches around the world when they are in situations of suffering.
What are examples of the Commission’s togetherness?
Praying together: including Zoom meetings with almost 100 people from all continents.
Delegation visits: it feels as if I have been on all of them because we hear the stories. The delegation brings people together: they listen to each other first. We weep together. After, we lift these connections in the other direction.
On the Burkina Faso delegation (in which I participated in early 2020) I was really touched by the peace culture among the religions. They have found ways of living together, renouncing violence, dealing with local tensions. They are very strong in saying: “This violence has nothing to do with religion or faith; it is terrorism. We do not let it split us.”
Why are you pleased to serve on this Commission?
It’s the role of the Deacons Commission to hold this awareness that to be a deacon is part of everything we do in body of Christ. Mission, peace, theology – we are always deacons.
Sharing or giving: this is the core of being a deacon. You don’t go to find solutions, you go to listen and pass on what you have received.
I receive a lot of encouragement from visiting or hearing stories. It’s not so much bringing. It’s receiving and being encouraged.
What is the name of your local church?
Mennoniten Gemeinde Bern (Alttäufer) (Mennonite church of Bern, old Anabaptist), Switzerland.
How do you serve the Mennonite church in your daily life outside of your Commission work?
I’m an elder in the local church and employed as theologian (effectively pastor). I preach, visit people at home, coordinate, work with the youth, connect groups together and represent the church in ecumenical events.
I also serve as general secretary of the Swiss Mennonite conference (half-time). Our churches are independent in theology and organizing, but even with a large diversity, we are the church together.
How do you experience togetherness in the body of Christ in your daily life?
A lot of this being together has to do with conversations, but it’s not only on national level but also on local level where you have diversity as well. There unity is important because you work together on a daily basis.
During the pandemic, we had new forms of meetings taking place because churches were learning from each other how to organize.
One thing that builds unity is actions: materials collection – knitting, sewing for Mennonite Central Committee. It helps with theological questions because you can disagree, but when you work together you create a basis that carries these conversations. The love we direct to others also binds us together.
How has being part of MWC affected your local congregation?
I’m the third “generation” of being an MWC representative from the Bern congregation. We celebrate Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday, Peace Sunday. I often bring examples from intercultural meetings; that’s where I feel the beauty of being with others.
We had Steven Mang’ana (Executive Committee representative for Africa) and Lisa Carr Pries (Executive Committee representative for North America) visit a few years ago. This is still remembered.
COVID-19 led to a focus on local organizing. MWC connections helped us to open up and see the real difficulty of the pandemic elsewhere. Our first worship service [after pandemic closures], the collection went to some sisters and brothers abroad, not our own needs.
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