Curt Weaver is the pastor of children and youth at Portland Mennonite Church in Portland, Oregon. Previously, he attended Eastern Mennonite University, served in Swaziland with Mennonite Central Committee, and received an MA from Anabaptist Mennonite Theological Seminary. He also served as a leader for Service Adventure, a program of Mennonite Mission Network. Curt lives in Oak Grove, Oregon with his wife Karin and their two teenage children.
I have been going to Mennonite youth conventions for a long time, first as part of planning teams and in later years as a youth pastor. It is these later years that have perhaps been the most rewarding. Seeing the convention experience through the eyes of the youth from our church brings home what a unique experience these conventions really are.
I have often heard our conventions referred to as family reunions. I think that is a helpful description, since they create space for us to gather as a broader church family. But beyond the joys of seeing old friends and making new connections, there is a deeper element that also fits this description.
At many family reunions I have attended, there are moments, perhaps in the evening after a good meal, where people begin to tell stories. The lore and meaning of the “family” are passed down as the old timers remember stories from the past. Often the younger generation asks questions that refine and sometimes challenge the stories they are hearing. The meaning of what it means to be part of the family deepens in those moments.
Seminars at convention are part of this deeper, intergenerational element of the family reunion. They are moments when our kids hear the story of who they are as part of the broader Mennonite family. Sometimes they return from seminars excited about what they have heard, and sometimes they may have disagreed with what they have heard. But that’s not what matters.
As a youth pastor, the faith formation conversations that result are some of my best memories of convention.
As we look forward and plan for this next convention, I want to thank the many people who have taken the time to present seminars at conventions in the past. I have seen you as partners in the faith formation of our kids.
And to all of you who are considering leading a seminar in Cincinnati, do not worry too much about offering the perfect seminar, just tell us your story. We youth leaders will take it from there.
Do you have an Equipping Seminar that you would like to offer at MennoCon21 (July 6-10, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio)?
Mennonite Church USA convention planners invite you to submit your seminar proposal by Saturday, October 10, 2020.