This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Renewal group holds national conference

EAST EARL, Pa. — Three hundred Mennonite leaders and members from more than a dozen U.S. states and Canadian provinces gathered July 10-12 at Weaverland Mennonite Church for a conference sponsored by Anabaptist Renewal Circles.

The national conference was the first planned by the group, a network of leaders whose vision is to mobilize the Mennonite and Anabaptist community to bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The conference theme, “Celebrating the Good News of Jesus,” was rooted in Jesus’ proclamation in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”

Participants worshiped in song, silence, prayer and communion and engaged in conversations in 22 workshops. Esdras Ferreras led a concert of prayer.

Plenary speakers were Nelson Okanya, Wes Furlong, Christopher Yuan, Madeline Maldonado and Ervin Stutzman. Myron Augsburger spoke briefly, calling the church to boldly proclaim the gospel.

One participant said upon arrival: “I am tired of spinning wheels in my life and work. I am coming with a keen curiosity to discover how other leaders and churches are finding renewal.”

Other comments included:

  • “Renewal must begin in the hearts of leaders through prayer, repentance and worship.”
  • “Doing kingdom business means allowing the Spirit to work in messy situations.”
  • “There is a solution to our tired and burnt-out state of being, and that is accepting the rest and healing that Jesus offers and that only he can truly provide.”
  • “The time has come to change the script of the values and priorities our culture offers us in materialism, militarism and individualism and focus on the new script of the kingdom offered us by Jesus.”
  • “For renewal and revival to happen, we need to focus on the centrality of the gospel. Jesus is our foundation, the only foundation on which we build.”
  • “Unconditional love is not equivalent to unconditional approval. Though love was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry . . . that message alone did not get Jesus on a cross. What was radically threatening in Jesus’ message was his call to repentance and kingdom living.”

In addition to about 200 adults, 30 children under 12 and 70 youth attended.

“Radical Followers of Jesus” was the guiding theme of the youth and young adult worship gathering on Friday evening. Al Taylor and Neal Martin spoke.

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