After deciding to offer the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Indonesia as a hybrid in-person and online event July 5-10, 2022, program committee members and assembly staff are exploring online opportunities.
“The goal remains the same: to give every generation of church member an opportunity to worship, learn, fellowship and share experiences together,” said Liesa Unger, chief international events officer, “but with the added option of online participation.”
Although live streaming has been part of the past two assemblies, rapid development of technology has created new opportunities to meet virtually. The assembly team is exploring:
— Hybrid workshops allowing online participants to interact. The presenter may be speaking remotely.
— Workshops and plenary session videos to revisit after the assembly.
— On-site and online exhibits with the possibility to schedule meetings with the exhibitor.
— On-site and online friendship or prayer groups.
— Virtual tours of Global Church Village.
“Early last year, we wouldn’t think that we would host a global multi-time-zone event virtually,” said general secretary César García. “But Online Prayer Hour and online conferences in which we have participated have shown us that we can. Technology does not replace face-to-face interactions but allows us to expand multicultural and transnational connections.”
Online attendance also benefits those who cannot travel due to health, financial, family or visa issues.
“In the past, their only option was to watch the livestreamed plenary sessions or read about assembly afterwards,” Unger said. “We are excited about making it possible for them to fully participate virtually, beyond just watching a broadcast.”
National advisory committee chair Paulus Widjaja said these approaches match the assembly theme, “Following Jesus Together Across Barriers.”
“Meeting face-to-face and building cross-cultural friendships are meaningful, and we still hope to welcome and host you in person,” he said. “However, we take comfort in the knowledge that fellowship, worship and prayers transcend boundaries and physical limitations. God is molding us to learn new ways of worship and fellowshipping with each other. Through technology, we will bring the assembly to a lot more people.”
Assembly registration will start at the end of the year.