Day 5, Day 4, Day 3, Day 2, Day 1

We had two delegate sessions, today, as well as two worship sessions and an afternoon time for a seminar/panel.

Here was our agenda for the delegate sessions:

Note that there are no resolutions scheduled for today. In fact, there are none for the whole week. The focus this year is continued work on Journey Forward and our Renewed Commitments. That said, there is a Resolutions Committee table, because if resolutions are to be introduced, they want to make sure they are clearly stated and ready for discussion & vote.

The moderator expressed desire for us to work in “spiritual and mutual discernment” as much as possible, and to avoid parliamentary procedures except as needed for official business.

One of those pieces of business that we will be voting on are bylaw updates. The bylaw changes include adding youth delegates as full voting delegates. This is an extension of the great Step Up program that started last convention at #MennoCon17 and the Future Church Summit, and has continued for #MennoCon19.

Tom Yoder Neufeld led the delegates through study of how God gathers us, using the following verses:

  • Deutoronomy 30:2-4
  • Isaiah 40:11
  • Jeremiah 29:10-14
  • Zechariah 10:8
  • Ephesians 1:10
  • Ephesians 2:11-22

God “whistles” for us to gather into oneness with each other and with God. In looking at Ephesians 1:3-14, Tom reminds us that

“You’re meant to run out of breath rehearsing the blessings of God.”

Tom’s overall message focused on Ephesians 2:11-22, and started a process of investigating how we are both unified and diverse.

“What makes the body of Christ perfect is all the strangers and enemies that have been grafted in.”

At the request of the delegates, we had time to discuss in table groups before moving into Q&A with Tom. In answering questions about “good” versus “bad” diversity, he challenged diversity that is a result of “brokenness, hostility, fear, and sin” while also warning against trying to set a “horizon” or limit on how far God is going with “gathering all things.”

To another question about spiritual diversity, Tom again warned us against trivializing the radical provocation of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord by treating that Christian profession of faith simply as “one flower in a floral arrangement of religions” but at the same time recognizing that God is present in ways and places we aren’t yet imagining.

In our afternoon session, Executive Director Glen Guyton gave a state of the church report. He detailed some of our needs, including:

  • We need more resources: volunteers, money, and tangible goods
  • We need less structure, less mechanical authority, and more relational authority
  • We need to assess where God is calling us today
  • We need to embrace the generations
  • We need better leaders
  • We need to be willing to say “no”:
    • to doing too much
    • to worldly labels and practices that divide us
    • to things that don’t model who we are as Anabaptist peacemakers
    • to traditions and practices that discriminate or hide evil

We also started a series of table discussions regarding the on Journey Forward process and our Renewed Commitments. Todays question focused on the Follow Jesus commitment.

Table groups discussed where Jesus would show up in our town today, where Jesus would go, what Jesus would say, and what Jesus would do. We then shared some of the insights with the group.

We saw Jesus being born in or visiting the margins. We saw Jesus in the tent camps, immigrant detention centers, women’s shelters, and more. We wondered about where Jesus would proclaim hope, and what the “woes” and “blessed” statements might be.

We looked for where Jesus would have righteous fury with us or with systems. Perhaps Jesus would challenge us with why we haven’t been making disciples. Or how our rules, traditions, and barriers keep people from feeling welcome in our churches. Maybe Jesus would storm into hospitals and throw medical billing into the incinerators.

Maybe Jesus would ask us why we haven’t been loving each other?

May we continue to look for Jesus in our midst and in our margins.