Mennonite Church USA Convention 1995 in Wichita, Kansas. That was the first Mennonite Convention I attended as a high school youth. I hadn’t ever thought about whether or not there were other people who held the same values and theology as my little home church in Shickley, Nebraska, but sure enough, there were thousands of Anabaptists gathered together to deepen and celebrate our collective calling to bring God’s kingdom here to earth.
I remember being in the youth worship services and seeing Ritch Hochstetler, the leader of the youth worship team, lead us in worship of God in a way that I had not previously experienced. I felt connected during these worship services in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. I began to feel like the Mennonite church was not just my parents’, but mine, also.
As I continued to engage in the worship times, I was very impressed with the way Ritch and the worship team were able to help us all enter into the corporate worship experience. I remember thinking that it must be incredible to be able to be in his position, humbly leading thousands of people in song. I thought, “Maybe someday I could do that…,” but then quickly dismissed it, as it seemed completely out of reach.
Now, as I prepare myself for the 2013 MCUSA Convention in Phoenix, AZ, which will be my fourth time in the leadership of the youth worship team, I can’t help but be amazed and humbled that God has taken that improbable dream that I had as a youth and brought it to life.
I hope and pray that God will place dreams and aspirations in the hearts of the youth and young adults who attend the worship services in Phoenix next year. I hope that they grab hold of those dreams and allow God to bring them to fruition. And I hope that God will be lifted up before all nations for many Mennonite conventions to come.