From the Conference Minister’s Heart, October 2016

From the Conference Minister’s Heart

     by Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister

This coming Sunday, October 2, is observed by many congregations as World Communion Sunday, celebrating the global body of Christ and promoting ecumenical cooperation and unity.  Whether or not your congregation observes the Lord’s Supper on this day, this is a good moment to reflect on how we relate to others who claim the name of Christ.

As Mennonites we have sometimes been wary of ties to other Christian groups, preferring to keep to ourselves to preserve the “purity” of our faith.   In contrast, I believe that WDC’s third mission priority – “Connect to God’s mission in the world” – encourages us to nurture relationships with other faith communities.   Mennonites have rich gifts to share with other followers of Christ, such as our theology of community, discipleship, peace and justice.  We also have our blind spots and shadow sides.  For example, our emphasis on “peace” has at times led us to avoid conflict and deny violence within our own families and congregations.  We have much to learn by interaction with other people of faith who bring different perspectives, experiences and traditions.

Our own denomination, Mennonite Church USA, relates to other Christian groups through its office of inter-church relations.  This has included official inter-denominational dialogue, as well as resources for building relationships on the local level.  For more information see http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/interchurch-relations/

Here in WDC, congregations are also creatively engaging their local faith communities and the wider church.  Recently I have had conversations with several pastors about their participation in local ministerial associations.  Some congregations join others in their community for special activities or fundraising to address hunger, poverty, gun violence, or natural disasters.   Others are part of wider ecumenical efforts to advocate for legislation that promotes justice and peace, or to facilitate dialogue between religious groups.

Of course, connecting with God’s mission in the world goes beyond just inter-church relationships.  It also calls us to build inter-faith relationships with people of other traditions and value-systems.   In a nation and world torn by violence and fragmented by political, economic, and religious divisions, Mennonites have a profound responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to bear witness to God’s gift of reconciliation, love and justice.  The integrity of our witness is strengthened when it is rooted in authentic relationships.

Let us join others around the world as the body of Christ – blessed, broken, and given for the sake of God’s beloved world.

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