“I feel we have lost our vision, and it needs to be reignited. I came to this church to be part of a different narrative — a counter-cultural, anti-Christendom movement that follows a radical Jesus. The first Anabaptists chose to be radical – not assimilated to culture or the spirit of the age. We need to go back to the beginning — our radical reformation theology — and reignite an Anabaptist vision in our own context.”
—Hyun Hur, co-founder and director of ReconciliAsian in Pasadena, California, speaking at the first planning meeting for the upcoming Future Church Summit, a gathering to imagine an Anabaptist future for Mennonite Church USA.
The Future Church Summit will be a generative, open space for denomination-wide conversation — to dream together, reset priorities and engage one another in answering the question: How will we follow Jesus as Anabaptists in the 21st century?
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?
The Design Team and convention staff are working at intentional efforts to ensure the summit is as representative and inclusive of the diversity throughout the denomination as possible. All registered delegates — representatives from Mennonite congregations, area conferences and Racial/Ethnic groups across the country — will automatically serve as participants in the summit. As participants in both the Delegate Assembly and the Future Church Summit, delegates at Orlando will have an especially important role to play in forging the future of the church.
There are many people at all levels of our church who are responsible for carrying out the mandates and decisions of the delegate body. As part of the Future Church Summit we are inviting those stakeholders to be a part of the process, working alongside the delegate body to help shape the emergent understandings, ideas and priorities generated. The process is designed to include 70% delegates and 30% additional participants.
The design team has looked at over 19 categories of additional participants who should be part of the Future Church Summit. While no process is 100 percent inclusive, we want a well-designed process that represents the breadth and depth of Mennonite Church USA.
Vetting and Endorsing Entities:
- Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, agencies, and organizations
- Colleges, Seminaries, and Schools
- Inclusive pastors in consultation with BMC and Supportive Communities Network (SCN)
- Racial/Ethnic Groups
- Groups related to delegate actions such as Dove’s Nest, Women in Leadership, Creation Care Network, and ADNet
- Official Ecumenical Appointees
- Mennonite Chaplains Association
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Future Church Summit will be held July 6-8 during Mennonite Church USA’s 2017 Convention in Orlando. After a truncated, four-hour Delegate Assembly session for essential business, including the consideration of a revised resolution on Israel-Palestine that was tabled by delegates in Kansas City in 2015, approximately 300 additional people will join the official delegate body for the Future Church Summit.
The summit will include generating a timeline of key events, turning points and developments in the Mennonite Church — to name and reflect on the denomination’s historical legacies, taking stock of where the church is now and the direction it is heading. Conversation at table groups will include appreciative inquiry interviews and the World Café model of collaborative dialogue. Additionally, the summit will include a time for “speed networking” interviews with participants at the convention, with a special emphasis on gathering input from youth and young adults. Trained teams will be equipped to listen and gather input from table groups, synthesizing ideas to report back to the plenary. These “Theme Teams” will include artists working in various media, including poetry, music and visual art, to generate responses to the ideas and themes as they emerge.
WHAT WILL THE RESULT BE?
The summit at Orlando will be the first step in an ongoing process that will continue through the next biennium. Denominational leaders and institutions —including all the churchwide agencies, Executive Board and staff — will use the vision generated at the summit to reshape denominational priorities and restructure their work.
The Design Team is hopeful that the summit will lead to:
- A deeper capacity to listen to each other across our diversity, helping to strengthen our ability to live together within our church and in the wider world.
- A pathway toward greater trust and meaningful relationships, which will enable us to develop greater resilience and ability to act together as we follow Jesus.
- An emergent understanding of what it means to be a church together. This will be rooted in our shared and different understandings of our history together and the legacies it has created.
- Relevance and application at all levels of the church — that the summit will not be “yet another process,” and that the outcomes set priorities that guide denominational, conference and congregational leaders.
- Deep engagement in what it means to be Anabaptist-Mennonite in the 21stcentury, including what it means to be a peace church and how we understand our evangelism.
The anticipated outcome will be a document that brings together the convergent ideas and priorities that have emerged through deliberation in the process, with all participants expressing their personal preferences through interactive polling technology.
The formal Delegate Assembly meeting immediately after the conclusion of the Summit will have an opportunity to affirm or reject the outcomes of the Summit. If affirmed by delegates, the outcomes of the Future Church Summit will need to be carried forward in multiple layers to give them life beyond the Orlando convention. Affirmation could specifically guide the priorities of the Executive Board and shape resolutions from the Delegate Body in future Assemblies.