By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) — Registration for Mennonite Church USA’s Hope for the Future conference, to be held in Dallas, Texas, Feb. 9-11, 2024, is now open. The annual conference provides space for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) leaders from across the United States to gather and share in mutual support and worship. This year’s event is sponsored by Everence, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Education Agency and Mennonite Mission Network.
Worship speakers Abby Endashaw, summer service national coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee, Joanne Gallardo, co-conference minister for Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, and Steve Chun, a member of Pasadena (California) Mennonite Church, will speak on the theme, “Breaking Chains, Mending Walls” from Isaiah 58, during the daily worship sessions. Hendy Matahelemual and Marina Setyati will lead music.
In addition to the worship sessions, Dr. Felipe Hinojosa, professor of history at Baylor University, will provide a daily history lecture, focused on the history of how BIPOC have shaped the Mennonite church. The following learning labs will also be offered during the conference:
- Counting the Cost Amid Conflict.
- God’s People on the Move.
- Ministering to Gen Zs.
“Isaiah 58 is an invitation for God’s people to remember who they are and what they are called to do in times of catastrophic challenges,” said Sue Park-Hur, MC USA’s director of racial/ethnic engagement and one of the event planners, “I look forward to our keynote speaker, Dr. Felipe Hinojosa, who will share stories of BIPOC leaders in the Mennonite Church who have been breaking chains and mending walls. I pray our time together will reinvigorate our collective identity and call, which will strengthen our hope.”
There will be a gala on the first night of the conference, during which elders who have played important leadership roles within MC USA will be honored. This year’s honorees are: Bishop Leslie Francisco III, oversight pastor at C3 Hampton (Virginia); Corado and Esther Hinojosa, who were the earliest church planters in Brownsville, Texas; Wilma Redbird, who comes from Western District Conference and represents Native Mennonite Ministries; and Roy Williams, who currently serves as the assistant moderator of Mosaic Mennonite Conference.
Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA, said, “Hope for the Future is a crucial gathering for leaders in the MC USA, as it offers a space for worship, learning, networking and strategizing on critical issues affecting BIPOC communities and the church at large.”
Register for the 2024 Hope for the Future conference here. The registration fee of $250 covers the event costs, lunches and dinners. Attendees will be responsible for securing their own lodging at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dallas-Market Center. Conference planners have negotiated a special rate of $139.00 plus tax per night for anyone who reserves their room by Jan. 18, 2024. This rate includes one complimentary breakfast per room. Reserve a room here, and use the group code “MCU” to get this special rate. There is no airport shuttle service to this hotel, so conference-goers will need to arrange their own transportation.
Young BIPOC leaders are encouraged to attend the conference and learn from and with more experienced attendees. To foster a more intergenerational experience, MC USA-affiliated colleges and seminaries are encouraged to partner with MC USA to send a student to the conference. Schools are asked to pay for the student’s travel to the conference, and MC USA will cover the cost of the registration and lodging.
Mennonite Church USA is an Anabaptist Christian denomination, founded in 2002 by the merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church. Members of this historic peace church seek to follow Jesus by rejecting violence and resisting injustice. MC USA’s Renewed Commitments state the following shared commitments among its diverse body of believers: to follow Jesus, witness to God’s peace and experience the transformation of the Holy Spirit. Mennoniteusa.org