Delegates Attend to Vision (and Look Ahead to Phoenix)
Delegates spent the majority of their time in assembly on Friday afternoon in table discussion and open-mic sharing.
After short reports on the Conversation Room and the theme for the Phoenix convention in 2013, delegates spent the greater part of the session discussing the long-term vision of Mennonite Church USA and a list of seven priorities that have been proposed for the church.
“(These priorities) are going to guide the Mennonite Church in the next 10 years,” said David Boshert, a member of the Executive Board. “Under each of the priorities several strategies are proposed that could affect how the church conducts business.”
The vision of the Mennonite Church is: “God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ and by the power of the holy spirit, to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.”
The seven priorities are Christian formation, Christian community, stewardship, holistic witness, leadership development, intercultural transformation and church-to-church relations.
Each of these priorities also have what the Executive Board calls “alternate routes” or different directions by which the church could approach the priorities. These alternate routes caused the most concern for some of the delegates who spoke at open mic. While affirming their support for the plan in general, delegates expressed some concern about the alternate approaches.
Ed Diller, the moderator for Mennonite Church USA, assured the delegates that the plan was a “living document.” All the responses from table groups will be available online as well as any changes made to the document so that delegates can see any changes.
“We are signaling to the delegates how we are going to handle future issues,” said Diller. “We are setting a pattern for decision making that we never have before.”
The plan is intended to engage delegates in the process of shaping church policy rather than simply electing leaders to do it for them.
Rachel Swartzendruber Miller, the director of convention planning for Mennonite Church USA, reported on preparations for Phoenix 2013. The theme for the convention will be “Citizens of God’s Kingdom: Healed in Hope.”