MWC leaders connect with Colombian churches
German, South African national churches become newest members
SOACHA, Colombia — Tears mixed with singing and dancing as a Mennonite World Conference delegation exchanged stories and blessings with members of Iglesia Menonita de la resurrección (Mennonite Church of the Resurrection) May 18.
Representing 18 countries, the delegation was en route to Bogotá from a Catholic retreat centre in Fusagasugá, where they had met for five days. The meetings included the Executive Committee, the Young Anabaptists Committee, a representative from each commission and some MWC staff.
Members of the Soacha congregation shared stories about their ministry with people displaced by violence in their communities. They celebrated by sharing food with the delegation in a facility called Comedor pan y vida (cafeteria for bread and life).
They extended their hands in blessing to the international visitors who responded with their own stories.
“Thank you so much for coming,” exclaimed Adaia Bernal, leader of the Soacha congregation. “Don’t lose contact with the umbilical cord to the base communities that make up the church.”
The challenge of helping connect Anabaptist communities around the world was high on the agenda during the Executive Committee meeting. To increase its own capacity to build relationships, meetings began with a training session on intercultural competence.
The committee accepted into MWC membership two national churches, the Brethren in Christ Church in South Africa and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Brüdergemeinden in Deutschland (Association of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Germany).
Upon affirmation of this decision by the MWC General Council, total membership will be 103 national churches in 57 countries with about 1.3 million baptized members.
MWC general secretary César García reflected his enthusiasm for the 2015 assembly theme, “Walking with God,” by announcing that this theme, together with the Emmaus road story in Luke 24, would serve as the framework for MWC program planning for the six years after the assembly.
The assembly will take place July 21-26 in Harrisburg, Pa.
The theme emphasizes that the Christian walk is a journey.
“We have not arrived at the goal,” he said. “We are in process. We have not yet completed our knowledge about God. We need to be transformed continually. . . . We need each other to discover the truth. We resist the tendency to walk away from each other when we do not agree.”
To help fund its networking ministry, MWC requests a “fair share” contribution from churches on each continent. MWC leadership invites congregations to annually donate the equivalent of what one lunch would cost in their context.
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