Communion and Diversity: “A Community of Anabaptist­ Related Churches”

  • Reference Document

Presented to the General Council of Mennonite World Conference

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA,

July 2015

By Fernando Enns of Germany

Dear brothers and sisters!

It is a joy to be here, with you in Harrisburg,the place of our Assembly! And it is a joy to greet you as brothers and sisters! I simply take it for granted that I may address you as brothers and sisters.

This is the ultimate reason why I decided to come here: to be with my brothers and sisters, from the whole world! To meet you! To celebrate with you! To worship with you! To rejoice with you, and to lament with you! To be inspired by you! To learn from you, and to share my gifts with you! To confess my faith with you and to pray with you – and pray for you, as you will pray for me!

It goes without saying, that I come to this place, because I am part of this communion, this “community of Anabaptist related Churches”, called Mennonite World Conference.

This is my home – as much as it is yours. I count on many things we have in common: our faith in Jesus Christ, whom we confess as Lord and Saviour, our common heritage of the Radical Reformation, the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century; our way of being church, which was formed over the centuries by our common “Mennonite story”;; our passion for peace and justice; our common witness and mission in this world.

Yes, it is indeed a joy and a privilege to be part of this communion. And, I admit, it is also the diversity that attracts me. The different languages you speak, the different ways you look, the different cultures you come from. I feel enriched by the different ways of singing, praying, worshipping. I want to know, how you are church in a totally different political and societal setting.

I want to listen to your concerns and the challenges you encounter. I want to be informed by the way you read the Bible and how you interpret it, my brothers and sisters, because I know, from experience, how great it feels to be a global family, including all our differences, and yet being one in Christ. To be with you here informs me of how rich, colourful, beautiful and diverse “Walking with God” can be. I could simply stop here, and invite us to a song of joy!

There will be time for that later. Right now, I want to reflect with you on some challenges.