“The growth of digital platforms has increased the awareness of what our [Mennonite World Conference] family is doing during the pandemic,” said Carlos Martínez García, Executive Committee member for Latin America and the Caribbean at the triannual Executive Committee meeting in April. “I realize a greater awareness that we are a global community.”
With continuing pandemic restrictions on travel, 2021’s Executive Committee meetings take place three times a year for two days of 90-minute meetings on Zoom each time.
At April’s meetings, the Executive Committee received reports from administration, commissions, communications, development, operations, regional representatives and Mennonite Central Committee.
“In the midst of the pandemic, natural disasters and difficult circumstances, churches have found in MWC a source of inspiration, consolation and support that contributes to affirming their faith, strength and hope,” Willi Hugo Perez, MWC regional representative for Latin America, wrote in his report. The region has not only been battered by COVID-19 infections but also two hurricanes and existing crises of everyday violence and migration.
The pandemic resulted in job losses around the world, which affected the ability to give to MWC. Finances remain uncertain; however, cancelled travel resulted in expenses $150,000 lower than budgeted.
“God surprised us this year,” said Sunoko Lin, MWC treasurer. “However, we still have a big task in raising funds for assembly.”
MWC president J. Nelson Kraybill said, “The possibility of relying on Zoom opened our eyes to new possibilities for witness and fellowship.”
However, online meetings highlight inequities of internet quality. Problems connecting prevented attendance for parts of the meeting, including vice-president Rebecca Osiro from Kenya.
“Finding new ways to connect, missing the old, but also shedding some old habits that were keeping us back without noticing so, COVID-19 has broadened our practice and strengthened our faith” said Wieteke van der Molen, Executive Committee member for Europe. “God works in digital ways too.”
The ready adoption of technology will influence and shape Christian institutional faith in ways we have not yet imagined. some of it may be for good, some of it....? May hasten our assimilation to a new, technocratic panopticon that will leave us friends of the world and alienated from our non-conformist brothers and sisters. Technology enables and fulcrums both good, and evil. therefore, beware.
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