The 17th Mennonite World Conference assembly, to be hosted by the three Anabaptist-Mennonite synods in Indonesia on July 5-10, will be limited to 700 on-site participants due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The assembly normally draws thousands of Anabaptists from around the world every six years. It was postponed from 2021 to 2022 due to the pandemic.
On-site registration will begin March 8. Registration for online participation opened in December at mwc-cmm.org/assembly.
A little less than half of the 700 on-site registration spaces are reserved for Indonesians, divided between full participation and daily participation. There will be the option of additional Indonesian guests for opening night and the closing service.
The remaining registration spaces are divided equally between four registration categories, based on national gross domestic product, to give members from different parts of the world the opportunity to participate.
Each group will have about 100 registrants. The United States and Canada are in a group with Europe and several other high-GDP countries, mostly in Asia.
MWC announced the on-site attendance limit on March 1.
“This mode for assembly increases complexities in planning but offers more opportunity for local church members to engage with international visitors, creates more opportunities for online participants to get to know Indonesia and to respond faster to possible health concerns,” said Liesa Unger, MWC chief international events officer.
Paulus Widjaja, chair of the national advisory committee in Indonesia, said: “We want as many people as possible to come. We first dreamed of it [at the MWC assembly] in Paraguay in 2009. The pandemic discouraged us, but we are still very enthusiastic to bring people to Indonesia.”
Sangkakala Seminary, an Anabaptist seminary located outside Salatiga, Central Java, will host most of the plenary sessions. Satellite meeting places at four local congregations will live-stream evening plenaries, while the international choir sings at the seminary. The closing service will be celebrated at JKI Holy Stadium, an Anabaptist church in Semarang.
“This way, online participants can ‘travel’ with us to different places in Indonesia,” Unger said.
Most of the afternoon activities — including workshops, Global Church Village, fun and games, and children’s program — and lodging will take place at two hotels in Salatiga.
Morning and late-night youth program will also take place at the hotel’s indoor and outdoor venues.
The Global Youth Summit — on the theme “Life in the Spirit: Learn, Serve, Worship” — will be attended by GYS delegates and 60 full-time participants July 1-4 in Salatiga. Indonesian young adults can join for the evening worship organized by GYS delegates of different continents.
The General Council meetings that precede the assembly will take place online.
“With additional visa required and quarantine periods changing frequently, the financial risk of ballooning lodging costs and rescheduling flights for more than 100 General Council delegates is too great,” said César García, MWC general secretary.
Meetings involving the Executive Committee, Commission chairs and secretaries and MWC staff will take place in Indonesia. These groups, which normally meet face-to-face, have not been together in person since before the pandemic began.