By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Church USA) — Mennonite Church USA has released the seminar lineup for MennoCon23, the denominational convention being held in Kansas City, Missouri, July 3-6. Alongside daily worship services, seminars make up the bulk of the convention’s faith formation programming, with three seminar timeslots scheduled each full day of the event — one in the mornings and two in the afternoons.
MennoCon23 is offering more than 80 seminars, covering a wide range of topics from Anabaptist perspectives, such as biblical study, creation care, creativity, domestic and international peace and justice, faith formation, financial stewardship, LGBTQIA+ themes, pastoral care, race relations, and women in ministry.
Rod Hollinger-Janzen, the administrative assistant for MC USA Church Vitality, said, “I’m amazed at the breadth of topics that will be covered in seminars this year. This variety points to the many ways the Spirit of God is moving the church today.”
MC USA staff will lead several seminars. Executive Director Glen Guyton will lead two seminars, “DEI: The Missing Link” and “IMPROVe Your Cultural Competency Skills,” which both focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Michael Danner, associate executive director for Church Vitality, will present three seminars, “How to Supervise Your Pastor,” “Making Decisions Together” and “Turning Your Church Toward Engaged Mission” about congregational responsibility. Rachel Ringenberg Miller, denominational minister of ministerial leadership, will lead three seminars, “Conversation Circles for Pastors,” “Human Resources Basics for Congregations” and “What to Expect During a Pastoral Search Process,” which center pastoral care.
Ringenberg Miller said, “I hope these seminars will provide resources for congregations to thrive. I’m looking forward to engaging with people who are navigating the relationship between the congregation and the pastor.”
Sue Park-Hur, the MC USA director of racial/ethnic engagement, will also be involved in two seminars. In her first seminar, “Remembering the Forgotten War,” Park-Hur will discuss engaging the 70-year division in the Korean Peninsula. In her other seminar, “Creating an Intercultural Campus Culture,” she will lead a panel discussion about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students’ experiences in Mennonite higher education.
She said, “As our school campuses become increasingly diverse, we have an opportunity to learn across differences and become mutually transformed. However, we may not have the tools to engage interculturally. I am looking forward to listening to rich stories from our women of color panelists who have attended Mennonite/Christian schools and lean into their wisdom about making our campuses more inviting and hospitable for everyone.”
The remaining seminars will be led by people from across MC USA, with many of the seminar leaders representing MC USA agencies, ministry partners and higher education institutions. Everence consultants will lead several seminars on financial stewardship. Representatives from Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Mission Network and MennoPIN will present on topics related to domestic and international peace and justice and mission. Professors and administrators from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Bethel College, Bluffton College, Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College and Hesston College will lead both youth and adult seminars in biblical study and faith formation topics. MennoMedia personnel will share about some of their current faith formation projects, such as Anabaptism at 500. Many pastors and other leaders throughout the church will also lead seminars on a variety of topics.
Eric Frey Martin, the interim director of constituency engagement for Mennonite Mission Network, will lead two youth seminars that will encourage students to join in God’s mission, both in their everyday lives and as they determine what their next steps are after high school. He said, “My hope is that the ‘What Are We Doing Here Anyway?’ seminar will show youth participants how, even in the midst of a world in which there seems to be less and less hope, less cooperation among people, and less reason to trust others, that Jesus calls us to live lives of mission and service that give us purpose, allow us to seek peace and justice, and give us the grounding to love in the face of violence, hate and division.”
Each seminar is labeled as an adult, intergenerational or youth seminar, to identify the intended audience, but all seminars are open to any MennoCon23 registrant who would like to attend.
Hollinger-Janzen said, “I am grateful for the expertise and passion that will be shared at MennoCon23 as seminar presenters give of themselves to help our church grow in faith and faithfulness, following Christ. It is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn more about how God is calling the church at this point in history, and how we can participate in that calling.”
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 517 congregations and almost 52,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org