Mennonite World Conference is inviting guests from around the world to Zurich, Switzerland, on May 29, 2025, to commemorate the beginning of the Anabaptist movement.
With the theme “The Courage to Love,” the event will mark Anabaptism’s history and celebrate what the movement has become today. Local government officials and church leaders of related traditions will also be invited.
“On this day, Anabaptists will become visible in the streets of Zurich,” said Liesa Unger, MWC chief international events officer.
Nearly 500 years ago, a group of young people gathered in a house in the shadow of the city’s main Catholic cathedral, the Grossmünster, to commit an act of subversion: adult baptism.
Their study of the Bible led them to challenge the Catholic practice of baptizing infants. They held that baptism was a symbol of their decision to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ and follow his example — a commitment only an adult could make.
This radical act, on Jan. 21, 1525, marked the beginning of the Anabaptist (“rebaptizer”) movement, which has grown to include some 2.13 million believers in more than 80 countries.
A walking tour in Zurich will feature stations commemorating historic events and reflect on the contemporary church. Workshops, music concerts, theatrical performances, panel discussions and more will be scattered throughout downtown.
The day will culminate in an ecumenical worship service that recognizes the many steps toward reconciliation that have occurred in recent decades and an act of public witness. The final worship service will be livestreamed.
Deborah Prabu of Indonesia, worship leader from the 2022 MWC assembly held in that country, is coordinating an international ensemble to lead congregational singing during the worship service. Rashard Allen of the United States, a member of the international ensemble at last year’s assembly, is coordinating ensembles from each of MWC’s five regions to participate.
“We want to have a strong historical component that makes it clear why we are gathering in Zurich. But an even stronger emphasis will focus on the future,” said historian and Renewal 2025 coordinator John D. Roth. “The Anabaptist movement continues to be dynamic, diverse and creative in sharing the gospel in many different cultural settings.”