Following the decision to offer the 2022 Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly in Indonesia as a hybrid event, the Program Committee members and assembly staff are now re-imagining the event and its additional online opportunities.
“The goal remains the same: to give every generation of church members an opportunity to worship, learn, fellowship and share experiences together, but with the added option of online participation, so more people around the globe can join the event,” says Liesa Unger, MWC’s chief international events officer.
Although live streaming has been part of the past two assemblies, the rapid development of communication technology has created new opportunities to meet virtually in 2022. The assembly team is exploring the following ideas:
- Hybrid workshops that allow online participants to interact with those attending in person. The presenter may also be speaking remotely.
- Workshops and plenary sessions as on-demand videos to revisit at different hours or after the assembly.
- On-site and online exhibits with the possibility to schedule meetings with the exhibitor.
- On-site and online friendship or prayer groups
- Virtual tours of Global Church Village and more.
César García, MWC’s general secretary, says, “Early last year, we wouldn’t think that we would host a global multi-time-zone event virtually. But “Online Prayer Hour” and online conferences in which we have participated have shown us that we can. Technology does not replace face-to-face interactions but allows us to expand multicultural and transnational connections.”
“Attending online also benefits those who cannot travel due to health, financial, family or visa issues,” says Unger. “In the past, their only option was to watch the livestreamed plenary sessions or read about [the] assembly afterwards. We are excited about making it possible for them to fully participate virtually, beyond just watching a broadcast.”
Paulus Widjaja, the National Advisory Committee chair, says: “Just like our theme for assembly, ‘Following Jesus together across barriers,’ we are forging ahead despite some uncertainties. Meeting face to face and building cross-cultural friendships are meaningful, and we still hope to welcome and host you in person; however, we take comfort in the knowledge that fellowship, worship and prayers transcend boundaries and physical limitations.
“God is moulding us to learn new ways of worship and fellowshipping with each other. Through technology, we will bring the assembly to a lot more people!”
Registration for both the online and on-the ground event will start at the end of 2021.