The beauty of listening the stories of the global church is immense,” says José Arrais, a Mennonite Brethren church leader from Portugal. “We are all so diverse, with so complex backgrounds, with such unique dynamics between the regions, that each story is an original inspiration that all of us can learn from.”
Locals near the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada—and anyone around the world with an internet connection—can learn from these stories March 25 at Renewal 2023.
Renewal 2028 is a series of events commemorating the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This year, British Columbia is the local host with a Saturday evening event at South Abbotsford Church at 6:30 p.m. (PDT). Two Mennonite Brethren are among the speakers who will address the 2023 theme, Jesus Christ our hope.
“Learn more about Mennonite World Conference, sing songs from the global church, hear testimonies of hope from different countries and join in prayer for brothers and sisters in the faith from around the world,” says John Roth, Faith and Life Commission secretary and event co-organizer.
Portugal’s Arrais is one of the speakers. A specialist in international business communications and sales, he served as president of Associação dos Irmãos Menonitas de Portugal (the Portuguese Mennonite Brethren church) from 2013 to 2020. In 2021, he was elected European Coordinator of the Mennonite Conferences and alongside that role serves as Mennonite World Conference regional representative for Europe.
“Being from Europe, where the Anabaptist movement started 500 years ago, I feel that the history has been extremely rich and inspirational and really impacted many layers of society,” he says. With the current war in Ukraine, “Never was it so relevant to see the Anabaptist movement impacting all around us…: with solidarity with the ones suffering (in other zones in conflict too), standing for minorities, providing fruitful dialogue among other confessions of faith,” says Arrais.
“As we remind ourselves of the truth foundation which is grounded on the Bible, it always washes away any impurity in our doctrine due to the governing ideology of this world and also help us to be revived back to our origin,” says Tigist Tesfaye, another speaker at the event. A youth mentor and coach in the Meserete Kristos Church (Mennonite) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she is managing director at The Spark Valley, an organization that empowers young people for meaningful engagement in civic, social and cultural spheres.
“It’s a great opportunity for our renewal as a church and as a body of Christ as we come together to celebrate and remined ourselves of our foundation,” says Tesfaye.
Also scheduled to speak are Amos Chin of Bible Missionary Church, Myanmar; Cynthia Dück, Asociación Hermanos Menonitas (MB national church), Paraguay; (pending visa approvals) and Ashley Rempel, Mennonite Church Canada.
Mennonite World Conference guests from around the world will preach in local congregations the next day, followed by a week of meetings with the Executive Committee.
Mennonite World Conference is a communion of Anabaptist-related churches linked to one another in a worldwide community of faith for fellowship, worship, service, and witness. USMB is a member conference of this global ministry.