Mennonite World Conference will appoint a creation care task force to raise awareness and propose actions for our global church family. The task force will work in closely with the four MWC commissions.
“This [discussion] comes at the right time,” says MWC vice president Rebecca Osiro. “The young people in my congregation observe that this issue begins with them. I hope this task force will find ways of reaching out to engage with even more people within our national churches who are interested in this subject.”
The Executive Committee approved the task force at the Executive Committee meetings 30 March to 2 April 2020. Through online meeting software, MWC’s Executive Committee met virtually despite the cancelled in-person meetings and postponed Renewal 2027 event in British Columbia, Canada.
The Executive Committee approved administrative proposals concerning financial statements, officers’ reports, a policy for workshop and seminars at Assembly 2021 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS).
“The AMBS MOU builds on the idea of sharing gifts in our global church,” says MWC general secretary César García. “This opens the door for the possibility of AMBS working with other theological institutions in the Global South.” Also, the emerging Global Anabaptist Higher Education Network (GAHEN) can help Mennonite educational institutes around the world to work more closely with each other.
Study on baptism dialogues
Alongside the commission proposal about the climate change task force, the Executive Committee received the official report “Baptism and Incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church.”
The report is the result of five years of dialogue between representatives of Mennonite World Conference, Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).
The MWC Faith and Life Commission is developing a study guide for churches to explore the implications of the report and act on its recommendations.
“We urge pastors and leaders to mine this resource,” says MWC president J. Nelson Kraybill. “We can learn from other traditions and appreciate their perspective even as we strengthen our own theological foundations.”
“What is different about this dialogue is that it gives specific recommendations that imply changes in relation to the reception of members raised in traditions that practice infant baptism,” says César García. “We want to be intentional about studying this document.”
The Executive Committee approved the proposed 2020 budget while recognizing the financial uncertainty created by the global pandemic. Over the year, staff and officers will regularly apprise Executive Committee of the financial situation and implications for the budget, and will consult if major budget changes are required.
Expenses will be carefully managed in keeping with income received, says Chief Financial Officer Len Rempel.
The Executive Committee will meet virtually several times in 2020 to deliberate commission proposals regarding a name change for MWC and the placement of emerging networks within the organizational structure. Recognizing the loss of extended conversation and relationship-building time at face-to-face meetings, the Executive Committee affirmed the financial and environmental stewardship benefits of online meeting.
“We might need to adapt a bit and learn to understand each other in an online fashion,” says Europe Executive Committee member Wieteke van der Molen.
The Executive Committee will add at least one day to its planned meetings before Assembly in 2021.
Finally, the Executive Committee accepted the invitation of Meserete Kristos Church, MWC’s largest national member church, located in Ethiopia, to host the 18th global Assembly in 2027.
—Mennonite World Conference release