By Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
WDC’s mission is to empower Anabaptist/Mennonite congregations to Witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, Dwell in just and loving relationships, and Connect to God’s mission in the world. The second priority – “Dwell in just and loving relationships” – was the theme of WDC Reference Council on September 26. Members of WDC’s elected leadership groups (Executive Board, Commissions, and Gifts Discernment committee) and staff met by zoom to collaborate in connecting this aspect of WDC’s mission to our current context. Conversation focused especially on racial justice and cultural diversity, with break-out times for each group to discuss how they are engaging these issues, what challenges they face, and what is needed to work more effectively towards greater justice and equity in WDC.
Groups reported back a variety of observations. It was noted that we Anabaptists have a great opportunity to bring hope into our current context, but we need to gain better understanding of the cultural and racial diversity of our communities. We need more Anabaptist resources in languages other than English. The WDC Hope Fund has supported needs of diverse congregations in WDC, and the quality of relationships in WDC also impacts the ongoing financial vitality of congregations and the conference. It is important to expand perspectives and build new relationships as we confront the fact that WDC culture and structures have been shaped largely by white people. How might we hear more diverse voices, both in contemporary stories and in historical narratives?
To conclude Reference Council, Heidi Regier Kreider presented information about anti-racism resources from Mennonite Church USA. This includes the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a tool to assess and develop intercultural competence, and online anti-racism training to gain an understanding of historical roots, individual manifestations and internal dynamics of institutional racism, and to develop a shared vocabulary, analysis, and road map to dismantle institutional racism.
Following Reference Council, at its meeting in November, the Executive Board affirmed a proposal for members of the Board and staff to take the Intercultural Development Inventory, with the intention to move forward to take online anti-racism training in 2021. WDC commissions and congregations are also encouraged to explore these resources, as tools to equip us to work towards greater systemic justice in WDC. For more information, see: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/resource-portal/resource/anti-racism-resources-for-mennonite-churches/.