“Are you going to MWC?” It’s a trick question: Mennonite World Conference is not an event, but a family. Nevertheless, Indonesia 2022 – the well-known Assembly event that gathers Anabaptist-Mennonites from around the world – starts on 5 July 2022. There is much to prepare for the first-ever fully hybrid event for both on-site and online participants.
The Executive Committee met on Zoom in May to finalize the agenda for General Council meetings which take place every three years, attached to Assembly every second time.
In another first, there is a proposal for a name change for Mennonite World Conference. This global community of faith includes the Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) in Ethiopia, Amor Viviente in Honduras, Jemaat Kristen Indonesia in Asia, Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit in the Netherlands and the Brethren in Christ in the Americas and Africa. Many members do not call themselves “Mennonite.”
The Executive Committee asked the Faith and Life Commission to explore how MWC’s name could best reflect the vision, mission and members. After consultation, study and discernment, the Commission presented a proposal. The Executive Committee offers two of those options to the General Council: new name “Anabaptist Mennonite World Communion” or no change.
“The added or changed words ‘Anabaptist’ and ‘communion’ convey significant theological meaning,” says J. Nelson Kraybill, MWC president. “’Anabaptist’ speaks to our spiritual heritage and ‘communion’ accents the depth of fellowship we experience as the body of Christ. Our name should communicate that we are a church, not just a business meeting or educational enterprise.”
“This name does justice to the transformation of our global family,” says Executive Committee member Carlos Martínez-García of Mexico. He notes that within Mexico, some groups choose “Mennonite” and others who don’t. “’Anabaptist’ is wider, more inclusive,” he says.
After discussion, the General Council members will bring the proposal back to their congregations and leadership. The General Council will reconvene to decide on the name in MWC’s centenary year in 2025.
The General Council is also set to approve additional members, personnel changes on the Executive Committee and Commissions, and to approve the placement of emerging networks in the MWC structure: Global Anabaptist Higher Education Network and Global Anabaptist Primary and Secondary Education Network, Global Anabaptist Health Network, and Global Anabaptist Peace Network.
Although the General Council will meet in person in Indonesia, the networks will convene on Zoom in the weeks before and after. However, several will offer workshops at Assembly that can be attended online by Assembly registrants.
Since February 2022, Rebekah Doerksen serves in a part-time capacity as coordinator for the networks. She assists the chairs in administrative work and communicating with network members. She is a member of Crossroads Mennonite Brethren Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Bruce Campbell-Janz joined the MWC staff team in April 2022 as development executive. After Assembly, he will transition into the role of Chief Development Officer as J Ron Byler’s interim commitment draws to an end. Bruce Campbell-Janz is a member of East Chestnut Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.