Author: Rempel-Burkholder, Byron
Date published: May 30, 2011
At its annual meeting earlier this month in Taipei, the Executive Committee of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) reviewed and discussed updates from the Faith and Life Commission on two draft documents that seek to nurture Anabaptist identity. The documents, which may eventually become available as teaching tools and references are:
* "A holistic vision statement of the 'Anabaptist Vision exploring fellowship, worship, service and witness"; and
* "The Anabaptist tradition: Historical roots; central theological themes; contemporary significance."
American John D. Roth, newly appointed as secretary of the Faith and Life Commission, presented a proposal for "The MWC global Anabaptist profile project." The research project, based at Goshen College, Ind., where Roth teaches, would be independently funded but overseen by MWC. It would randomly select 25 national churches for in-depth study of what Anabaptist-related churches believe and practise. Based partly on a smaller survey conducted among churches relating to Eastern Mennonite Missions, the project would help MWC in its discernment of how best to serve its member churches in the future.
"We need to look at this in light of the commission's discussions," Iris de Le?n-Hartshorn of the U.S. cautioned, referring to the difficulty that MWCs four commissions have in finding the funds and time to do their work. "The reality is that we can't do it all," she said.
The proposal was approved, with the proviso it not detract from other MWC priorities and that it not be dominated by theological and cultural questions that come only from the Global North.
Transitions and assembly plans affect budget
MWCs new director of finance and administration, Len Rempel, presented a financial report that showed the organization in good financial health, despite the global recession. While the Restricted Fund balance is currently at $1.2 million, it will be brought down significantly as the leadership transition is completed in the next year, and especially as MWC prepares for Assembly 16 in 2015.
The Executive Committee passed a revised 2011 Unrestricted Fund budget of just over $1 million. The 2012 budget was also approved for $991,000, while projections for 2013 and 2014 show a decrease in expenses to under $900,000 in each year as MWC moves beyond the transition and begins preparing for the next assembly.
The Executive Committee:
* Accepted the nine-congregation Iglesia Evangelica Menonita de Chile (the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Chile) as the 100th member church of MWC.
* Accepted the International Brethren in Christ Association as an associate member, a category of membership that can apply to networks of churches.
* Agreed to appoint an MWC member to the joint governing council of Mennonite Central Committee in its new structure.
* Heard updates on two developing conversations with other world communions: a trilateral dialogue with Lutherans and Catholics on baptism; and a conversation initiated by the world body of the Seventh Day Adventists, who are rediscovering and wanting to explore their Anabaptist roots.
* Approved the formation of a standing task force, with youth representation, charged with creating the annual World Fellowship Sunday worship materials.
BY BYRON REMPEL-BURKHOLDER
Mennonite World Conference