Assembly team reflects on why they keep coming back for more
Many people serving the Mennonite World Conference today started as participants or delegates to its six-yearly Assembly. Here, Assembly staff members share how Assembly transformed their view of the church: from local to global, from small to significant; from giver-recipient relationship to equal partners in the ministry; and why they crave this global fellowship.
From participants / delegates of past Assemblies
Liesa Unger, Germany, MWC chief international events officer
My first Assembly was Strasbourg 1984, France, when I was 20 years old. We went there by bicycle, riding 100km from our church in Germany. It was such a life- changing experience that I went to every single Assembly since, because I want more of those encounters with people from around the world that touch my life and broaden my perspective.
Ebenezer Mondez, the Philippines, YABs committee member and Assembly registration assistant
I went to the Assembly in Pennsylvania 2015 as a Global Youth Summit (GYS) delegate with no background of the global Mennonite family. I come from a country that always has foreign missionaries. We have always been the recipient. The Assembly made me realize that I have a gift to share too. I come from a very small church with no more than 1 000 members nationally, but I was chosen to be part of the YABs (Young AnaBaptists) Committee, serving the global young generation of the church in a small way. To me, it’s remarkable that I can share something I have…even though I’m not white and I have no theological education. I can contribute to the kingdom of God – we all can. And that’s the amazing global Mennonite family to me.
Tigist Tesfaye, Ethiopia, Assembly volunteer coordinator and Young Anabaptist mentor
I was a GYS participant in Paraguay 2009; in Pennsylvania 2015 I was part of the YABs committee organizing the Global Youth Summit; and now I’m a staff member. The Assembly to me is a glimpse of the kingdom of God when we go to heaven. I’m excited about it.
Nelson Martinez, Colombia, Assembly registration coordinator
Indonesia 2022 will be my second Assembly, but I’m experiencing both Assemblies as a staff member. Pennsylvania 2015 was a huge event with a few staff, and what we could accomplish was amazing. That’s why I’m staying in the team, believing that God will make everything possible. When the event is over, there’s this sense of not wanting to leave the place and the people I’ve been working with so closely. I’m sure Indonesia 2022 will be like that too. Working toward the same cause globally is amazing.
Rianna Isaak-Krauss, Canada/Germany, Assembly assistant
Pennsylvania 2015 was my first Assembly, where I was a GYS delegate from Winnipeg, Canada. I love Assembly because that’s where we find co-conspirators on the journey of building the kingdom of God. Here we meet other Jesus followers who are passionate about justice, peace and community. Other kindred spirits. That connection is really powerful. I also ended up meeting my husband at the Assembly. We were both GYS delegates, and meeting him changed the trajectory of our lives.
Jardely Martinez, Colombia, Assembly youth program coordinator
Assembly is a great space not just to connect with others but also to be encouraged in our communal spiritual journey. Pennsylvania 2015 was my first Assembly and I was really encouraged after my return home, talking about how we’re part of a larger community of faith with those in my church. I want them to experience some of that. Assembly is an opportunity for us to be encouraged and then encourage others. I’m really thankful for that.
Preshit Rao, India, Assembly registration assistant
I went to Pennsylvania 2015 when I was 19 as a GYS delegate. Since then God has helped me with opportunities to work with and serve MWC in various matters while I never thought I would have the chance to serve the global community. I’m thankful for that, and it’s full of learning experiences. It’s nice to be around people from all over the world. In hard times, when you have a global family, they’re there with you; they pray for you. It’s very reassuring to know this. The pandemic has affected many people: Assembly will be the time to encourage each other.
Agus Setianto, Indonesia, Assembly national co-coordinator
My first Assembly was Winnipeg 1990, where I performed a traditional dance from Indonesia. Then in Calcutta 1997, I was also part of the cultural performances; in Bulawayo 2003, I was part of the international choir; in Paraguay 2009, I was a General Council member; and in Pennsylvania 2015, I was elected as an Executive Committee member representing Asia. I’m now a national coordinator. All the previous Assemblies I’ve taken part as a participant and delegate, but I didn’t know the massive work behind it. Now it’s my turn to learn to host you, at my 6th Assembly.
Elina Ciptadi, Indonesia, Assembly communications
My first Assembly was in Bulawayo 2003, and I’ve been to every single one since then. Once you’ve been to one, you can’t stop because a global fellowship like this is rare. In normal times, you get together with people in your church, your small group, and feel that the challenges you’re facing are yours alone. Then you go to Assembly, where many people encounter and have worked on similar challenges. In listening to them, we see the many ways in which people seek to be better witnesses and followers of Jesus. There is strength and encouragement in this connection. And that connection is life changing.
Karina Derksen-Schrock, USA, translation and interpretation coordinator
My first Assembly was Bulawayo 2003. Assembly is all about the relationships we build and the opportunity to continue connecting over the years. I’m really excited about meeting people next year.
Messages from your host:
Lorenzo Fellycyano, Indonesia, Assembly registration assistant
I’ve never been to any previous MWC Assemblies. But every time I’m connected to the global community, it always becomes a moment to find myself in others and through others. I see similarities and differences in people who have come into my life from different cultural backgrounds. In connecting with them, I find my truer self.
Rut Arsari, Indonesia, Assembly registration assistant
This will be my first Assembly, and it’s exciting although there are a lot of things we’re thinking about and I have many questions. For me, Assembly is like a little box with a question mark hovering above it, like in cartoon movies. Outside of that box are things I’ve learned and read about the Assembly, but I still don’t know what’s inside. That’s why I chose to be part of the Assembly team: I want to know what’s in the box. The only way to know is to be part of Assembly. And it doesn’t matter how many Assemblies you’ve gone to, each one of them will offer something new.
Ary Rusdianto, Indonesia, Assembly Indonesian language coordinator
I’m excited about meeting old friends who were part of the Mennonite Central Committee’s exchange program in the past. Indonesia 2022 will be a reunion, and I hope many of them can come to Indonesia.
Sarah Yetty, Indonesia, Assembly national co-coordinator
I look forward to welcoming you to the first Assembly in Indonesia. In the meantime, we are trying to speed up COVID-19 vaccination in and around the Semarang area to protect the population. Other than using the JKI Holy Stadium church as a vaccination centre, we’re also going door-to-door to make sure everyone has access to vaccines. (As of October 10, 2021, half the population of Central Java has received their first dose, 20% has been fully vaccinated).
Daniel Trihandoyo, Assembly fundraising and marketing
In 2009, I was planning to attend Assembly in Paraguay but couldn’t get leave from work. Indonesia 2022 will be my first Assembly and I’m happy to serve in fundraising and marketing. We have a long way to go with fundraising due to the pandemic, but the team is excited to continue the work and make Assembly a success.
Lydia Suyanti, Indonesia, Assembly assistant
Indonesia 2022 will be my first Assembly, also the biggest event I have ever experienced where I would be able to meet people from around the world and share our love for Jesus. I’m glad that I have an international family with Mennonite World Conference.
Simon Setiawan, Indonesia, Assembly logistics assistant
Indonesia 2022 will be my first Assembly, and I look forward to hosting and serving the participants who come to my country.
It’s not too early to put Indonesia 2022 on your calendar:
Or join virtually. More information available here