MWC commissions hold rare face-to-face meetings

Sessions cover theology, dialogue, fellowship projects

Jul 7, 2014 by ,

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SCHOORL, Netherlands — Leaders and members of the four Mennonite World Conference commissions met March 19-24 for a time of face-to-face discussion, worship and strategic planning to advance MWC’s mission.

 Mennonite World Conference commissions meeting leaders included, from left, Mission Commission chair Richard Showalter, Faith and Life Commission chair Alfred Neufeld, Peace Commission chair Paulus Widjaja, Mission Commission secretary Rafael Zaracho, Faith and Life Commission secretary John Roth, Peace Commission secretary Robert J. Suderman, Deacons Commission secretary Henk Stenvers and Deacons Commission chair Cynthia Peacock. — MWC


Mennonite World Conference commissions meeting leaders included, from left, Mission Commission chair Richard Showalter, Faith and Life Commission chair Alfred Neufeld, Peace Commission chair Paulus Widjaja, Mission Commission secretary Rafael Zaracho, Faith and Life Commission secretary John Roth, Peace Commission secretary Robert J. Suderman, Deacons Commission secretary Henk Stenvers and Deacons Commission chair Cynthia Peacock. — MWC

It was only the second such meeting since the commissions’ formation in 2009. They last met face-to-face in 2012 in Switzerland, prior to the MWC General Council meeting.

About 50 women and men from around the globe gathered for the meetings, convened at Mennonite Conference Center Doperaduin, one of three retreat centers run by the Algemene Doopsegezinde Sociëteit (Dutch Mennonite Church).

Conflict resources

The Peace Commission focused on building their web-based “Manual of Resources for Dealing with Conflict,” under which it plans to place tools and materials related to conflict transformation, reconciliation and trauma healing. One resource already available is “Guidelines for Determining MWC Response to Internal Conflicts of Member Churches” on the Peace Commission page at mwc-cmm.org.

The commission worked on a second resource, “Reconciling Our Perspectives, Restoring Our Relationships: Dialogue and Understanding Within Mennonite World Conference.” The document provides guidelines for dealing with interpersonal and intergroup conflict within the MWC community. A draft is being refined and reviewed.

A theology of mission

The Mission Commission focused on drafting a key resource document: an Anabaptist theology of mission. The draft will be presented for review to the Global Anabaptist Service Network and Global Mission Fellowship, both of which function under the Mission Commission.

The Mission Commission also spent time outlining their plan for a Global Association of Anabaptist Missiologists. This body would provide intercultural fellowship among Anabaptist missiologists worldwide, reflect on missions from an Anabaptist perspective and create Anabaptist vision and perspectives on mission that are global.

Koinonia delegations

The Deacons Commission affirmed or reaffirmed two initiatives — the regular rotation of Koinonia delegations and the Global Anabaptist Deacons program — and spent time planning each.

In affirming a regular rotation of Koinonia delegations to Latin America, Africa and Asia, the commission returns to a plan established in previous meetings. Though planned earlier, implementation was delayed by logistical problems and more pressing visits. The commission hopes to put this rotation into place after deciding about the size of delegations and financing of visits.
The commission strategized for a potential relaunch of the Global Anabaptist Deacons program. Their plan is to recruit deacons from each continental region in which MWC has member churches to serve locally as the “eyes and ears” of the commission and communicate about situations that require attention. Global Anabaptist Deacons will also inform their churches about global church prayer requests.

Ecumenical dialogues

The Faith and Life Commission continued to work on and oversee projects including the Global Anabaptist Profile, the Bearing Witness Stories Project and ecumenical dialogues with Catholics, Lutherans and Seventh-day Adventists.

The commission devoted much of its time to discussing ways to bring the results of ecumenical conversations to bear within congregations and educational institutions. Earlier this year, the commission circulated a letter encouraging Anabaptist-Mennonite educators to a new way of teaching Lutheran-Anabaptist history, one that reflects recent reconciliation.
The commission also identified future dialogue partners, including Pentecostals.

With reporting by Janneke Leerink.

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