U.S. to host next MWC assembly

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Assembly 16 to be held in Pennsylvania

MWC News Service

Mennonite World Conference (MWC), a global fellowship of Anabaptist-related churches, will hold Assembly 16 in Harrisburg, Pa., at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in 2014. 

After considering an extensive feasibility study, the MWC Executive Committee endorsed the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex as the assembly venue. The inviting churches will decide between two available dates: July 21-26 or August 4-9.

Bert Lobe, North America Representative for MWC and part of the feasibility group, told committee members that the Harrisburg area is well endowed with Mennonite and Brethren in Christ congregations and institutions, and thus presents rich possibilities of volunteer participation and personal connections. Harrisburg is also close to many historical sites that are important to North American Anabaptists.

Concerns from the global South figured in the committee’s acceptance of the offer of United States member and associate member churches to host the next global assembly in the U.S. A major worry was the difficulty many global visitors will face in getting entry visas. The U.S. currently places severe restrictions on visitors from many parts of the global South, particularly those between ages 18 and 25.

Representatives of the Young Anabaptists (YABs) network, meeting at the same time as the Executive Committee, presented an impassioned plea that the U.S. churches promise to advocate for – and help finance­­ – youth who want to attend the Global Youth Summit (GYS) associated with the assembly.

“U.S. visa refusal is more likely with young people, who may not have significant bank statements or assets to show, a steady job, or family to come back to,” explained Marc Pasqués of Spain in an interview. Pasqués is the European representative on the YABs committee. “Then there is the fact that the vast majority of young people in Africa, Asia and Latin America could not afford to travel overseas.”

“Can people still call it a ‘global’ youth summit when there is a risk that the face of the global church may not be adequately represented in GYS?” added Elina Ciptadi, outgoing member of the YABs committee.

In a related action, the Executive Committee also accepted the invitation of the three MWC member churches in Indonesia to hold the 17th Assembly in that country in 2021. Indonesia’s three Mennonite church bodies are home to about 90,000 baptized members.

The MWC Executive Committee met May 4-10 in Taiwan.

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