Mennonite World Conference

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Mennonite World Conference (MWC) is a global faith community in the Anabaptist tradition that links together Anabaptist-related churches and engages other world communions and organizations. Every six to seven years Mennonite and Brethren in Christ conferences and groups gather for a general assembly.

MWC provides a variety of print resources to connect members of the global Anabaptist fellowship. The organization issues regular news releases and publishes a quarterly periodical, Courier, that appears in English, French, and Spanish. Similarly, MWC has sponsored a Global History project that includes five books tracing the "origins, development and mission of the Anabaptist-related churches [in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America], reflecting the experiences, understandings and perspectives of these churches."[1]

Beyond print media, MWC connects Anabaptist churches through global initiatives like fund and gift sharing, world fellowships, interchurch dialogue, women's theological groups, and world fellowship Sundays.

In 2009 MWC included 227 organized Mennonite or Brethren in Christ Conferences across 80 countries and six continents. Membership stood at 1,616,126, with 60% of members living in Africa, Asia, or Latin America.


Contents

History

MWC began in Basel, Switzerland in 1925 when Christian Neff, president of the South German Mennonite Conference, called for a global Mennonite celebration of the 400th anniversary of Anabaptism in Switzerland. Neff also initiated the call for the two subsequent conferences. In 1930 Mennonites met in Danzig, Poland to organize a cooperative effort to respond to the needs of Russian Mennonite refugees who were settling in Paraguay, Brazil, and Canada. The third Mennonite World Conference was held in 1936 in Amsterdam, Netherlands to celebrate Menno Simons' conversion from Roman Catholicism. These three initial conferences laid the basic groundwork and built support for future Mennonite World Conferences.[2]

At the fifth Mennonite World Conference in Basel, the focus of the gathering shifted away from a celebration of shared historical heritage and began to work more deliberately with specific theological issues.[2]

By the eighth Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam in 1967, the Mennonite church's non-Western membership had grown considerably; the next Mennonite World Conference--held in Curitiba, Brazil in 1972--was the first Mennonite World Conference held outside North America or Europe. The gathering in Curitiba brought the Mennonite World Conference to a crossroads as some groups boycotted the assembly in protest of the political repression they perceived in the country. Nonetheless, at Curitiba Mennonites affirmed the growing ethnic diversity of the church and called for future Mennonite World Conferences with more equitable global representation.[2]

In recent decades MWC has continued to grow as an institutionalized global body.

For a more comprehensive history see John A. Lapp and Ed van Straten's "Mennonite World Conference 1925-2000: From Euro-American Conference to Worldwide Conference" or "Mennonite World Conference" on Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.

General Assemblies

Since 1925 MWC has held a general assembly every six or seven years. As of 2009 they had met in some fifteen of these sessions:

Year Location
1925
Basel, Switzerland
1930
Danzig, Poland
1936
Amsterdam and Elspeet, Netherlands
1948
Goshen, Indiana and North Newton, Kansas, USA
1952
St. Chrischona, Switzerland
1957
Karlsruhe, Germany
1962
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
1967
Amsterdam, Netherlands
1972
Curitiba, Brazil
1978
Wichita, Kansas, USA
1984
Strasbourg, France
1990
Winnipeg, Canada
1997
Calcutta, India
2003
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa
2009
Asuncion, Paraguay [2]

Key Leaders

Presidents

Name Years Served
  • Christian Neff (1863-1946), Germany
Konferenz der Süddeutschen Mennoniten
1925-1946
  • Peter C. Hiebert (1870-1963), United States
Conference of Mennonite Brethren (Canada/U.S.)
1948-1952
  • Harold S. Bender (1897-1962), United States
Mennonite Church (Canada/U.S.)
1952-1962
  • Erland Waltner (1914-2009), United States
General Conference Mennonite Church (Canada/U.S.)
1963-1973
  • Million Belete, Ethiopia
Meserete Kristos Church
1973-1984
  • Charles Christano, Indonesia
Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia
1978-1984
  • Ross T. Bender (1929- ), United States
Mennonite Church (Canada/U.S.)
1984-1990
  • Raul O. Garcia (1930- ), Argentian
Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Argentina
1990-1997
  • Mesach Krisetya, Indonesia
Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia
1997-2003
  • Nancy R. Heisey (1952- ), United States
Mennonite Church USA
2003-2009
  • Danisa Ndlovu, Zimbabwe
Ibandla Labazalwane kuKristu eZimbabwe
2009- [3]

Executive Secretaries

Name Years Served
  • Cornelius J. Dyck (1921- )
Working from office in Elkhart, Indiana, U.S.
1961-1973
  • Paul N. Kraybill (1925-1993)
Working from office in Lombard, Illinois, U.S.
1973-1990
  • Larry Miller (1949- )
Working from office in Strasbourg, France
1990- [4]
  • César García (1963- )
Working from office in Bogotá, Colombia
2012-

Shared Convictions

Electronic Resources

Annotated Bibliography

  • Global Mennonite History Project (GMHP)
  • Lapp John A. and C. Arnold Snyder. Anabaptist Songs in African Hearts. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006.
  • Lapp John A. and C. Arnold Snyder. Testing Faith and Tradition. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006.
The Global Mennonite History Project is a MWC initiative to record the stories of Anabaptist related groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. To date (June 2009) MWC has released two volumes. Anabaptist Songs in African Hearts tells the histories of Anabaptist groups in South, Central, East, and West Africa. Testing Faith and Tradition describes the Anabaptist experiences in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, France, and Russia. To see a full description of the GMHP see MWC's Global History Project page.
  • Heisey, Nancy and Daniel S. Schipani. Theological Education on Five Continents: Anabaptist Perspectives. Strasbourg, France: Mennonite World Conference, 1997.
Theological Education on Five Continents is a collection of four major papers and the responses to those papers that were presented at a five continent consultation on theological education held in India in 1997. The book provides insight into grassroots theological ideas and the struggle for a unified Anabaptist identity.
  • Hussein, Bedru and Lynn Miller. Stewardship for All?: Two Believers - One from a Poor Country, One from a Rich Country - Speak from Their Settings. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006.
Stewardship for All? presents a collaborative, global approach to stewardship. The book is divided into three sections. The first is a paper that Bedru Hussein initially wrote for the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia as it became responsible for funding its own ministries after North American missionaries left. In part two Miller reflects on God's boundless generosity. Part three is a collection of a handful of stories about stewardship elsewhere around the globe.
  • Kreider Alan and Eleanor and Paulus Widjaja. A Culture of Peace: God's Vision for the Church. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2005.
This book, the 2005 Mennonite World Conference Global Shelf Selection, is an introduction into the Church's call to foster "a culture of peace." The authors cover a variety of themes including: biblical foundations, peace in the church, peace in the work place, and peace in the world around us.
  • Lapp, John A. and Ed van Straten. "Mennonite World Conference 1925-2000: From Euro-American Conference to Worldwide Communion." Mennonite Quarterly Review 77, no. 1 (Jan 2003): 7-45.
See Source Material section. This article summarizes the history of Mennonite World Conference from 1925-2000. Beginning as occasional meetings that allowed North American and European Mennonites to collaborate in their response to the crises Mennonite's in Russia were facing.. Since 1925 the Mennonite church has grown into global community, with the majority of its members living in the global south. In this context MWC operates as worldwide communion in which groups across six continents can offer their gifts and admonitions.
  • "Mennonite Women Theologians."
See Source Material section. This document describes a Mennonite women's theological group that facilitates conversation among Mennonite women theologians and promotes women's contributions to church life.
  • Mennonite World Handbook: 1984 Supplement. Strasburg: Mennonite World Conference, 1984.
  • Mennonite World Handbook: A Survey of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches. Lombard, Illinois: Mennonite World Conference, 1978.
  • Mennonite World Handbook: Mennonites in Global Witness. Edited by Diether Gotz Lichdi and Loretta Kreider. Carol Stream, Illinois: Mennonite World Conference, 1990.
The Global Mennonite World Handbook provides information on conferences and congregations that form the global Anabaptist church. The statistics, stories, and articles collected within provide a sense of the church’s activity and growth throughout the world.
  • Neufeld, Alfred. What We Believe Together: Exploring the "Shared Convictions" of Anabaptist Related Churches. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2007.
In What We Believe Together Paraguayan Mennonite scholar Alfred Neufeld outlines a shared set of Anabaptist beliefs adopted by the MWC General Council.
  • Ott, Bernhard. God's Shalom Project. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2004.
God's Shalom Project was the 2004 Mennonite World Conference Global Shelf Selection. In this work Ott encourages believers take their part within God's Shalom project.
  • Roth, Willard and Gerald E. Schlabach. Called Together to Be Peacemakers: Report of the International Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Mennonite World Conference, 1998-2003. Kitchener, Ontario: Pandora Press, 2005.
This book discusses the dialogue that occurred between the Catholic Church and Mennonite World Conference from 1998-2003.
  • "Shared Convictions." Adopted by Mennonite World Conference General Council, Pasadena, California, 15 March 2006.
See Source Material section. This is a brief one page statement about Anabaptist related churches' shared convictions.
  • Snyder, Arnold C. Anabaptist Seed: Exploring the Historical Center of Anabaptist Teachings and Practices. Intercourse, PA: Good Books; Kitchener, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2007.
In Anabaptist Seed, commissioned by Mennonite World Conference, Arnold Snyder explores the history of Anabaptist teachings from foot washing to pacifism.
  • Tshimika, Pakisa and Tim Lind. Sharing Gifts in the Global Family of Faith. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003.
In Sharing Gifts in the Global Family of Faith Tshimika and Lind use the image of family to explore global Anabaptist identity. The authors suggest that Anabaptists should willingly and selflessly share their unique gifts with their global family members. Tshimika and Lind identify three common features of family: relatedness, accountability, and responsibility.
  • Various documents related to Mennonite World Conference and its proceedings.
The Mennonite Historical Library (MHL) has numerous pamphlets and booklets that describe the proceedings of past world conferences, as well as collections of papers presented at several conferences.

External Links

Mennonite World Conference Official Website

Mennonite World Conference on Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online

Global Mennonite History Series

Citations

  1. "Global History Project," Mennonite World Conference, http://www.mwc-cmm.org/en15/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24&Itemid=37. (accessed 8 June 2009).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bender, Harold S. and Paul N. Kraybill. "Mennonite World Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 08 June 2009 <http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M4677ME.html>.
  3. "MWC Leaders." Document retrieved from MWC website, http://www.mwc-cmm.org/en15/ (accessed 15 June 2009)
  4. Ibid.
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