“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?
Twelve people representing diversity across the denomination came together in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 9-11 to design a process for Mennonite Church USA to forge a path into the future. Under the guidance of consultant Catherine Barnes of Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, the Design Team set plans in motion for a generative, open space for denomination-wide conversation — the Future Church Summit — to dream together, reset priorities and engage one another in answering the question: How will we follow Jesus as Anabaptists in the 21st century?
Talks about the new process began in fall 2016, when Glen Guyton, chief operating officer and director of Convention Planning for Mennonite Church USA, presented a proposal to the Constituency Leaders Council and Executive Board.
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.
Additional participants in the summit will go through a separate registration process, and must be nominated and/or vetted by an entity connected to Mennonite Church USA. The number of non-delegates will be capped to maintain an approximate ratio of 70 percent delegates and 30 percent non-delegates. If you are interested in being considered please complete the form below.
Vetting and Endorsing Entities
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.
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.
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:
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 the outcomes of the Summit. Affirmation could specifically guide the priorities of the Executive Board and shape resolutions from the Delegate Body in future Assemblies.