Representatives of Anabaptist churches and service organisations from around the world have gathered in Addis Ababa to look at ways of working together more effectively.
The consultation, the first ever of its kind for Anabaptist service groups worldwide, drew 53 participants from 27 agencies, departments, or committees of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member churches.
From 18 countries and all continents, more than 80 per cent of the total global Anabaptist membership was represented, according to Reg Toews, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, one of three consultation facilitators.
As outlined by Pakisa Tshimika, Mennonite World Conference Global Church Advocate and another of the facilitators, the consultation grew out of previous conversations on diakonia held in connection with the MWC General Council in Pasadena, California, USA, in 2006.
Participants called for “a space or entity under MWC auspices in which every member relates in an interdependent way in order to more effectively serve the church and the world.”
They also agreed to support the new endeavour with finances, personnel, gifts, and skills. With equal access to service bodies and churches in both the North and the South, the new initiative is to focus on both local and global connections while maintaining each participating agency’s identity and autonomy.
Participants agreed to appoint a provisional task force, charged with gathering and disseminating information about current Anabaptist service activities and planning for future consultations and activities. The task force will be under the direction of MWC during its initial mandate, which will last until May 2012.
The proposal depends upon approval by the delegating bodies by the end of 2010.
During the consultation, participants were reminded of the risks of being involved in humanitarian service when they remembered the death of Mennonite Central Committee aid worker Glen Lapp in Afghanistan, which happened while they were gathered in Ethiopia.
With thanks to MWC and Lorne Peachey