Mennonites seek to strengthen global vision of local churches

By agency reporter
30 May 2008

Mennonite World Conference is unveiling a new way for individual congregations of MWC member churches to participate in and be supportive of the world church and the Anabaptist family of churches.

The aim is to deepen global vision and involvement at a time of great need and challenge in the world. Called Global Church Congregations (GCC), this new initiative had its initial “trial run” at the 2006 General Council meetings in Pasadena, California, USA.

For the Pasadena gathering, a dozen congregations—all of them from North America—made financial contributions to the MWC travel fund, sent participants to the General Council meetings and agreed to host delegates from churches in other countries after the Pasadena meetings.

GCC is again operating in connection with MWC’s Assembly 15, scheduled for July 14-19, 2009, in Asunción, Paraguay. Instead of just for North American churches, the goal is for at least 30 congregations from throughout the world to participate. A key feature of the program will be the pairing of congregations from different parts of the world to work together to

• establish a congregational communication and prayer link with each other and with MWC;

• send a delegate from each congregation to MWC gatherings as possible;

• study one of the “Anabaptist Shelf” book selections;

• agree upon and make an annual per member contribution to MWC according to MWC’s fair share formula.

MWC will administer the program by developing publicity, processing applications for participation (in consultation with the national conference to whom the congregation belongs), pairing successful applicants, and providing special communications and informational support to congregations.

A gathering of GCC representatives present at the Paraguay assembly is being planned by MWC. However, it is hoped that the program will be largely self-administered with congregational pairs making use of each other’s gifts to resolve problems and meet challenges. Administrative leadership for the GCC program will be provided by MWC staff from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

GCC is seen as a natural continuation of MWC’s emphasis on global gift sharing. While it is not intended to be primarily a “sister congregation” program, GCC will allow congregations from different cultures to discern together how they can both participate more fully in the work of the global community through the sharing of gifts.

The program also follows decisions taken by the 2006 MWC General Council to extend “participant” status to congregations of MWC member churches willing to make certain commitments to the global communion. GCC is seen as the vehicle for this participation.

Every effort will be made to accept all qualified applicant congregations. However, the commitment to pair congregations cross-culturally may mean that some congregations from over-represented areas will have longer waits for pairing and placement. It is intended that the program will be ongoing.

MWC will encourage congregational pairs to develop their relationship over at least three years and include either an MWC Global Assembly or General Council meeting.

Additional information and application forms are available at www.mwc-cmm.org

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