The worldwide Anabaptist family reunion will come to the eastern U.S. next summer for the first time in Mennonite World Conference’s 90-year history.
U.S. Mennonites and Brethren in Christ are inviting sisters and brothers from around the world to Harrisburg, Pa., July 21-26, 2015, for MWC’s every-six-year assembly.
The event was last held in the U.S. in 1978 in Wichita, Kan.
Everyone in the global Anabaptist fellowship of 1.7 million souls is invited to attend. MWC staff are preparing for 6,000 to 10,000 people.
“It isn’t possible to have real communion with those with whom we don’t communicate,” said MWC general secretary César García. “It isn’t possible to build a global community if we don’t talk with each other. It isn’t possible to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep if we don’t know each other’s joys or sufferings.
“If we share our experiences, our resources, our gifts, and our fears and doubts, we will be strengthened and we will be more effective. Isn’t this what it means to be Christ’s church?”
The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg will host activities. This is close to the large Pennsylvania Mennonite and Brethren in Christ communities of Lancaster, Grantham, Chambersburg and Franconia, and an easy drive from Philadelphia and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Under the theme “Walking with God,” each day will begin with singing, led by a multinational worship team.
Each morning will feature a presentation from one of MWC’s four Commissions: Faith and Life, Missions, Peace and Deacons. A young adult, selected by the Young Anabaptist group, will respond.
All attendees will join a small multicultural group of 15 to 20 people for fellowship and a deeper discussion on the morning theme. The same groups will continue to meet throughout the week, creating an opportunity to form new relationships.
Afternoons will be for workshops, service opportunities, local tours, sports activities and performances and exhibits in the Global Church Village.
Evening worship services will be led by a different continent each evening, with testimonies, singing, prayer and times of encouragement.
The assembly will include a children’s program. After morning singing, children will experience their own multicultural program all day, including lunch.
The assembly will include a youth program for ages 18 and under. After morning singing, youth will meet for their own presentations, discussions and service projects. They will join adults for games, workshops, sports, tours, music and relaxing in the Global Church Village.
Before the assembly, an international young adult convention, the Global Youth Summit, for ages 18 and up, will take place July 17-19. It will be held at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, just across the river from Harrisburg. Its theme is “Called to Share: My Gifts, Our Gifts.”
Many reasons to go
There are many reasons to attend the assembly, MWC leaders say. If assemblies continue to be held every six years, rotating among the five major continents, it will be another 30 years before the assembly comes back to North America. It is relatively inexpensive to attend, compared to the next assembly, scheduled for 2021 in Indonesia.
Most important, worship with sisters and brothers from around the world — many of whom live in inhospitable settings — will feed and nourish souls and faith for years to come.
The platform language will be English, though there will be simultaneous translations for Spanish and French speakers.
Registration begins Aug. 20 at mwc-cmm.org/pa2015.