Following the decision to offer the 2022 Assembly in Indonesia as a hybrid event, the Mennonite World Conference Assembly Program Committee members and Assembly staff are now re-imagining the event and its additional online opportunities.
Mennonite World Conference assemblies are global reunions of the Anabaptist-Mennonite family that take place every six years. The assembly in Indonesia was first scheduled for the summer of 2021 but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the organizers to postpone the gathering to July 5-10, 2022 in Semarang, Indonesia, at the same venue, Holy Stadium in Semarang.
“The goal remains the same: to give every generation of church member an opportunity to worship, learn, fellowship and share experiences together,” says Liesa Unger, MWC chief international events officer, “but with the added option of online participation, so more people around the globe can join the event.”
Although live streaming has been part of the past two assemblies, the rapid development of communication technology has created new opportunities to meet virtually in 2022. The assembly team is exploring the following ideas:
- Hybrid workshops that allow online participants to interact with those attending in person. The presenter may also be speaking remotely.
- Workshops and plenary sessions as on-demand videos to revisit at different hours or after the assembly.
- On-site and online exhibits with the possibility to schedule meetings with the exhibitor.
- On-site and online friendship or prayer groups.
- Virtual tours of Global Church Village and more.
MWC general secretary César García says, “Early last year, we wouldn’t think that we would host a global multi-time zone event virtually. But Online Prayer Hour and online conferences in which we have participated have shown us that we can. Technology does not replace face-to-face interactions but allows us to expand multicultural and transnational connections.”
Unger says, “Attending online also benefits those who cannot travel due to health, financial, family or visa issues. In the past, their only option was to watch the live streamed plenary sessions or read about Assembly afterwards. We are excited about making it possible for them to fully participate virtually, beyond just watching a broadcast.”
National Advisory Committee chair Paulus Widjaja says, “Just like our theme for Assembly: “Following Jesus Together Across Barriers,” we are forging ahead despite some uncertainties. Meeting face-to-face and building cross-cultural friendships are meaningful, and we still hope to welcome and host you in person, however we take comfort in the knowledge that fellowship, worship and prayers transcend boundaries and physical limitations.
“God is molding us to learn new ways of worship and fellowshipping with each other. Through technology, we will bring the Assembly to a lot more people!”
Registration for both the online and on-the ground event will start at the end of 2021.
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.