Next gathering might be in 2017, followed by 500th anniversary of Anabaptism in 2025
By Gordon Houser for Meetinghouse
Anabaptists will probably have to wait longer for their next world assembly. Two Mennonite World Conference leaders spoke about the organization’s future at a July 15 workshop.
Outgoing president Nancy Heisey of the United States and Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, the new MWC president, listed some benefits and costs of these assemblies, which have been held every six years. “Nothing replaces personal contacts,” Ndlovu said.
Among the costs are the literal one of finances, said Heisey. After the 1990 assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, MWC had such a large deficit it took years to dig out. She added that it’s complicated to get people together from around the world. About 200 MWC delegates to this assembly had their passports held by the Paraguayan ministry, she said. Sometimes diseases are a problem, and few from the global South can afford to come.
Heisey noted, however, that many in North America think assemblies are all that MWC does. She pointed out that MWC’s executive committee meets annually, the General Council meets every three years and a koinonia delegation visits a member church somewhere around the globe each year. In addition, MWC organizes the Global Youth Summit, the MWC history project, ecumenical work and World Fellowship Sunday.
She reported that the General Council meets next in 2012 in Switzerland. At that time they plan to make decisions about the next assembly, which will likely be in 2017 or 18. They hope to hold an assembly in 2025, perhaps in Switzerland, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of MWC and the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Anabaptist movement.