Because of the location and events in Arizona in the past 2 years immigration was the major topic of the week. We heard excellent speakers with many optional learning experiences during the week. The theme: “Citizens of God’s Kingdom” was appropriate and well developed. Many of our Hispanic brothers and sisters stayed away because of fears of deportation (and others stayed away in solidarity with them). So consequently attendance was lower -- about 4500 people. High temperatures were not a major issue in my experience because we stayed all day in an air conditioned convention center. We affirmed our 2003 church statement on immigration and also laid the foundation for a updated statement on immigration to be developed in the next 2 years.
Discernment continues to be an important subject for us in MC USA. Ervin Stutzman has done some thorough work on this, recently authoring “Discerning God’s Will Together; Biblical Interpretation in the Free Church Tradition”. Delegates used these discernment processes in our sessions.
Mennonite Health Services Alliance was adopted as one of the church wide agencies; resolutions were adopted on Creation Care, and Protecting and Nurturing our Children and Youth. We continue to follow through and implement “Our Purposeful Plan”—a missional vision and purposeful plan for MC USA. Elizabeth Soto Albrecht is the new moderator, Patty Shelly is the moderator-elect.
Worship was meaningful and inspiring. The prayer walk through downtown Phoenix on Friday evening was a wonderful time. As always there were many excellent workshops, seminars and learning opportunities. Bawi Lian, a leader at the Burmese Chin church on the West Side of Buffalo, and I helped to lead a seminar that explored the mutually beneficial ways that immigrant congregations are relating to conferences. Sandy Miller of Mennonite Mission Network coordinated this well attended workshop. It was wonderful to have Bawi present there for the last days of the convention.
The next convention is July 2015 in Kansas City.
Gene Miller, Conference Minister