Communities of Hope

Communities of Hope is a process for assisting congregations in becoming more culturally competent and working at undoing racism. Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, director for Transformative Peacemaking, is the coordinator of the Communities of Hope design team. This team works to create trainings that can be utilized by facilitators across Mennonite Church USA.

Current Team Members:

  • Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, coordinator of Communities of Hope, Portland, Ore.
  • Elaine Enns, restorative justice practioner and educator, Oak View, Calif.
  • Joanna Shenk, associate with the Mennonite Church USA national staff, Elkhart, Ind.
  • Samuel Voth Schrag, Mennonite Church USA executive board member and pastor of St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship
  • Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Africa director for Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Ind.
  • Ruth Yoder Wenger, certified STAR trainer, pastor of North Bronx Mennonite Church, New York City

Past Team Member:

  • Gilberto Perez, professor of social work at Goshen College and creator of the Bienvenido training, Goshen, Ind.

The Communities of Hope process is intended to be contextually adaptable.  The four steps of the process are:

  1. Constructing the current narrative of the congregation. Naming a congregation’s identity, gifts and calling within the congregation’s local context is crucial in constructing a narrative.
  2. Reflecting on the congregation’s current narrative.  Various tools are available to promote reflection. Congregations are encouraged to engage in an intercultural inventory to see where they are in terms of being interculturally competent.  Another option is for congregations to participate in anti-racism training.
  3. Constructing a narrative vision for where the congregation wants to be in the future with regard to intercultural competency and/or undoing racism.
  4. Writing a church covenant that details the steps the congregation will need to take in the next 2-3 years in order to make the vision set forth in step 3 a reality. This covenant should include a process of accountability for reviewing progress.

On this website you will find various frameworks for constructing narratives, information about the Intercultural Development Inventory, Damascus Road contact information, a bibliography, and other resources.  These resources are developed for use by trained facilitators.  We will do our best to continue adding additional resources as they become available.

Tools and Resources

  • Appreciative Inquiry Framework for Constructing a Congregational Narrative
  • Using a Biblical Narrative in Constructing a Congregational Narrative
  • Analysis of a Congregation – The intent of this exercise is to develop a current narrative of your congregation.
  • More resources
  • To request a Communities of Hope training, contact Brenda Zook Friesen


In August of 2013 the Racial Healing Task Group combined with the Communities of Hope Team.