​From top left: Naomi Leary, Oscar Siwali, Eric Frey Martin. From bottom left: Rebeca González , Linda Shelly, Fernando Pérez.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Mennonite Mission Network will host five seminars at MennoCon23, the biennial convention of Mennonite Church USA, in Kansas City, Missouri, July 3 - 6. 

 

 

Towards the May/June 2024 South African General Election


Presented by Oscar Siwali, Director, Southern African Development and Reconstruction Agency

How do church leaders and community mediators in South Africa help the electoral community to deliver a peaceful, free, fair and legitimate government election?

This seminar focuses on the role the church plays before, during and after elections to support the electoral process and address issues of mistrust, seeds of discontent and possible unrest and violence. In every election in recent history, the church in South Africa plays a leadership role in conflict between groups, and advocates for peace in the face of possible violence.

How does the church in the United States participate during government elections? Are there lessons to be for both churches?

The mission of the church in the challenge of migration and people who have disappeared

Seminar presented in Spanish with interpretation to English

Rebeca González Torres and Fernando Pérez Ventura, executive coordinators of the Comunidad de Instituciones Teológicas Anabautistas (Community of Anabaptist Theological Institutions)

Rebeca and Fernando serve in a transitional pastoral role at Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania in Newton, Kansas, a congregation made up predominantly of first-generation immigrants. In previous short-term roles, they accompanied asylum seekers released from detention in Colorado and refugees at Quito Mennonite Church in Ecuador. When at home in Mexico, they fellowship with families of those who have disappeared. Mexico: 100,000 disappeared and missing people (wola.org)

Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network Regional Director for Latin America

Linda relates closely with Fernando and Rebeca in her Mission Network role and in a supportive role at Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania in Newton.

While living in various countries and contexts, Rebeca and Fernando have accompanied people with diverse experiences in migration. They will present some observations and lessons learned as they share and analyze small responses of churches in the face of such a great need to carry out the mission of accompaniment and support with these vulnerable groups. They will share from their experiences in Denver, Colorado; Quito, Ecuador; Morelos, Mexico; and Newton, Kansas. Workshop participants will also be encouraged to share experiences.


Rivers in the Desert: Experiences from Mennonite Voluntary Service Tucson

Seminar presented by Michaela Esau, Cade Fisher, Jessie Landis and Andrea Troyer

This is for people of all ages who have an interest in service.

The Tucson, Arizona, MVS unit will share stories about their year of service in the Sonoran Desert and facilitate discussions about some of the misconceptions about mission and the transformative power of friendship as the guiding force of service.

"I wouldn’t call what we do mission work. We go somewhere and try to be helpful, and we just make friends. And then we wait for our friends to voice the needs of the community.”

— Tucson MVS unit

From the moment participants arrive at the Tucson MVS unit, they are brought, quite literally, into the middle of the community’s unique pairing of faith and service. The Tucson MVS unit house itself is nestled between the unit’s supporting congregation, Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, and one of the unit’s service placements, Community Home Repair Project of Arizona. Through placements with migrant and refugee services, home repair, community food bank gardens, English language programs and more, participants engage with a community as complex and vibrant as the desert around it.

Themes

  • Justice
  • Outreach
  • Peace
  • Spiritual transformation


What are we doing here anyway?

Seminar presented by Eric Frey Martin, Interim Director of Constituent Engagement

As young people spend time on the internet looking through news stories and social media feeds, they can come away with a sense of dread about the trajectory of our world. Threats of climate change, failing systems and growing violence can seem overwhelming and lead to a sense of dread and a valid questioning of what life’s purpose is.

In this seminar, we will discuss some of the challenging global living conditions and look at how joining in God’s work offers us instructions and clear guideposts to follow as we make our way. The aim will not be to diminish the significance of humanity’s troubles, but to recognize the worry and sorrow that can arise (often for good reason) and then, to remember how God’s mission in this world calls us to love, have strength and act for change.


What You Do Next Matters

Tuesday, July 4, 3:45 p.m.

Seminar presented by Eric Frey Martin, Interim Director of Constituent Engagement

This is a fun and interactive seminar for youth to learn about a myriad of options they have following high school, not only to advance their education or pursue interests, but also ways to put their faith into action for peace and justice. Attendees will enjoy games and activities and win some "merch."

Frey Martin and representatives from five Mennonite colleges will discuss the options youth have to connect their faith and vocation as they think about the next stage in life. 

Students will learn about “gap year” (a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between secondary school and higher education). Mission Network Service Adventure gap year advantages include time to explore your faith while getting real-world experience though placements with grassroots agencies and church ministries. SA participants live in community with other young adults. SA can serve as a bridge between high school graduation and college while accumulating college credits.

This is often helpful for students who have not decided on an academic path or may be restless to join the workforce.

College representatives will discuss the unique programs offered at each college — from accounting and information technology to sustainability management and theater — and the ways students can engage in service to God and others throughout their educational experience.

Following the seminar students are encouraged to speak with the representatives from each college and from Mission Network to talk about what options might be best for them.


MennoCon registration


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