Bishop Describes Church of ‘Many Beautiful Colors’
Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, president of Mennonite World Conference and a Brethren in Christ bishop, began the series of greetings.
He emphasized that the Mennonite World Conference, one of the 200 Mennonite conferences, is not separate from Mennonite Church USA but that both are part of the vibrant Anabaptist world.
“For me, Mennonite World Conference is like a flowerbed with many beautiful colors,” Ndlovu said. “You walk the streets and see reds, yellows and blues—that’s what Mennonite World Conference is all about.”
Every six years, Mennonite World Conference meets together as one body. The last assembly was Paraguay 2009. In 2015, it will be held for the first time in the United States, in Harrisburg, Pa.
Ndlovu is concerned about the ability of international church members to secure United States visas. He urged the delegates to be persistent in working for this.
“Of the 6,000 congregations represented by Mennonite World Conference, 60 percent of them are in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” he said. “And many of them are struggling. We hope that all of you sitting here will do your best to help our people come here and experience your fellowship.”
Willard Metzger, the general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, then appeared in a video greeting. Delegates of Mennonite Church Canada are also meeting this week in Waterloo, Ontario.
Andre Gingerich Stoner, the director of interchurch relations for Mennonite Church USA, then introduced six guests representing different denominations.
The denominations represented were the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Congo, the Brethren in Christ Church, the Church of the Brethren, Church of God Cleveland, Christian Churches Together and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Three of the guests gave brief speeches of greeting and gratitude for the interchurch connection between their congregations and the Mennonite Church.
Rev. Donald McCoid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America brought a special message from the July 2010 Lutheran World Federation’s statement asking Mennonites to forgive the Lutherans’ persecution of Anabaptists in the 16th century.
“The statement asked for forgiveness from God and from our Mennonite brothers and sisters,” he said. “There were unanimous votes that we acknowledge our common history and how we are guilty.”
He described the reconciliation that followed this process as full of “tears, embraces, and joy.”
Gingerich Stoner saw the presence of all of the guests as symbolic of the Mennonite call to live not as “disembodied, amputated body parts, but as one body of global Christians.”
“These relationships are very important,” he said. “We aim to support, encourage, and, at times, challenge each other in our faith.”
Greetings from Guests
Dr. Leonid Kishkovsky of Christian Churches Together
“The Mennonite Church offers deeply significant Christian witness and service.”
Reverend Donald McCoid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
“Friends, we are different in the Lutheran Church. We also say we are people who should seek peace and justice in this world.”
Jimmy Smith of Church of God Cleveland
“We want to express to you that we need you and we pray that you need us.”
Willard Metzger of Mennonite Church Canada
“As we meet at our convention this week, we will stand on the shoulders of Mennonite
Church USA and build our network together.”
Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, president of Mennonite World Conference
Hometown: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Children: Thinkgrace, Trustworthy and Devotion
Involved in Mennonite World Conference: since 2003
Appointed Mennonite World Conference president: July 2009
“I am excited to make connections here and meet new people. It’s great.”