Scott Hartman is Convention Planning Coordinator for Mennonite Church USA.
How would you describe the Mennonite Church USA convention to someone who doesn’t know anything about it? After helping plan the convention for over 17 years, I have started describing it as a reunion (with 5,000 of my closest friends/family members). Everyone seems to be able to relate to the concept of a reunion. We’ve all been to a high school reunion or a family reunion at one point in our lives.
Think about the last reunion you attended. You went expecting to see certain people. I have a couple cousins that I only see at our annual family reunion. I’m excited to catch up with them. But you also went expecting to see new people. I have a couple cousins that have gotten married or are having children. I’m excited to get to know these new additions to our family. The same things can be said about convention. I go expecting to see certain people. There are just certain people that are ALWAYS at convention. But I also go expecting to see new people. New youth groups and new delegates attending convention for the first time.
If you can’t tell, I’m an extrovert and love people. Planning conventions is a great fit for me. Every convention brings the opportunity for me to work with some of the same volunteers, but also to get to know new ones. Every two years, the first worship planning committee meeting is a chance for me to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I always get to plan the “Get-To-Know-You Activity” at the beginning of the meeting. Joy Cotchen is an example of a volunteer that has worked with conventions for years, and I look forward to seeing her. She first volunteered for convention as our community life coordinator. After filling that role for several conventions, she decided she wanted to do something else. The last three conventions she has volunteered as our on-site office coordinator. Every convention we spend the first day or two catching up on the latest from each other’s lives. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Asia Frye. She was on our Kansas City 2015 worship planning committee. I had never met Asia before our first meeting. During that first meeting, I discovered that Asia is a little crazy but she has a huge heart for sharing Jesus with those around her. I can’t wait to see Asia at convention and what she is has been up to lately.
I’m looking forward to KC2015. I know some of my “old friends” are coming and we will get to share stories from the past year or two. I also know some “new friends” will be coming and I’m excited to meet them. I know all of you fit into one of these categories. I hope that you will join me in Kansas City this summer. Don’t be a stranger if you see me running around the convention center!