Gahira sat on the street, resting from her one-mile walk into the city.
Cheryl (United States) had met Gahira on the plane into Axum, Ethiopia. After using gestures and drawings to get to know one another, Gahira made it clear that she wanted to serve Cheryl coffee, an Ethiopian act of hospitality.
When they had parted at the airport, Cheryl wasn’t sure if she would ever see the Ethiopian woman again. But here Gahira was, a woven basket of injera and a carafe of coffee in hand. Cheryl gathered coffee cups from the hotel and sat on the patio with Gahira and her son, an interpreter, and the other members of Cheryl’s touring party.
“Together we celebrated our presence in this place,” Cheryl reflected later. “This place made holy by the warm, loving gesture of Gahira.” (read the full story)
Cheryl and her companions were just some of the hundreds who participated in Assembly Scattered in 2003, where they encountered the people, ministries, and stories of Anabaptist churches in an urban area or community while traveling to or from the Mennonite World Conference Assembly Gathered in Zimbabwe.
In 2015, Assembly Scattered will take place in communities across North America immediately before and after the Assembly Gathered in Harrisburg, PA, USA on July 21-26, 2015. These visits provide opportunities for Anabaptist brothers and sisters from around the world to get a taste of the church in North America and for hosts to experience the wonderful diversity of the global family of faith.
“After 20-some hours on planes, with my body clock six hours off, I finally arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, eager for rest and sleep,” remembers Daniel (United States). It was dark when he arrived at his hosts’ home, but the evening meal was ready. “[Canaan and Listei] had me sit down in the living room in front of a coffee table arrayed with food.”
Listei washed his hands in a Zimbabwean gesture of welcome. “She apologized that she couldn’t kneel before me because her knees were stiff,” says Daniel. “We older people understand each other on a subject like this.” (read the full story)
The 2015 Assembly Scattered will open doors for building new relationships with Anabaptists from around the world. Each location will include partnerships among local congregations and ministries to introduce participants to a specific context of Anabaptism in North America. Although the participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements and paying for their own lodging and food for the 1-3 day trip, local communities are encouraged to offer hospitality.
“Despite the additional work involved, it was a great privilege to serve borscht [soup] to so many visitors,” says the main cook at the KM 81 Mennonite Leprosy Hospital in Paraguay, which hosted an Assembly Scattered group in 2009. “I dare say that most enjoyed the food and showed their appreciation by singing beautiful hymns.” (read the full story)
Groups of North American churches are invited to submit applications to host an Assembly Scattered in their community. Go online at www.mwc-cmm.org/pa2015 and click on “Assembly Scattered” for more information and registration forms.
“I’m looking forward to working with North American churches that are eager to extend hospitality to guests in their communities,” says Evanna Hess, the newly appointed Assembly Scattered coordinator from central Pennsylvania. “It will be exciting to see the friendships that develop as a result of their hospitality.”
The deadline for submitting proposals is June 1, 2014.
This article was submitted by Emily Ralph for Mennonite World Conference.