Young Anabaptists to focus on global connections this year

June 14, 2011 | Young Voices
Elina Ciptadi-Perkins | Mennonite World Conference
Taipei, Taiwan

The new Young Anabaptists’ (YABs) Committee of Mennonite World Conference has made stronger international fellowship the focus of their projects for the coming year. Meeting May 2–9 in Taipei alongside the annual MWC Executive Committee meeting, the group also completed the transition between its predecessor, the MWC Youth Task Force (YTF), which had laid the groundwork for the formation and mandate of the committee.

“The involvement of young people in MWC leadership and decision-making has gone a long way from where it first started in Zimbabwe in 2003,” said Tigist Tesfaye, African representative to the YABs committee, “and we are very honored to facilitate the implementation of these dreams.”

Between 2002 and 2009, almost 6,000 young Anabaptists from around the world had expressed their hopes for the church through assignments and discussions associated with the Global Youth Summits in Zimbabwe (2003) and Paraguay (2009). In the last two years, the YTF had compiled these thoughts into the “YABs blueprint” (available for download on which became the basis for the work of the YABs committee.

Two YTF members, Kristina Toews from Canada and Marc Pasqués from Spain, are continuing to serve in the YABs committee until 2015. Three new continental representatives joined them for the Taipei meeting: Tigist Tesfaye of Ethiopia, Rodrigo Pedroza García of Mexico, and Sumana Basumata of India. They replace retiring members of YTF: Ayub Omondi of Kenya, Carlos Álvarez Woo of Colombia, and Melani Susanti of Indonesia. Omondi remains as mentor and secretary of the team, succeeding Elina Ciptadi-Perkins of Indonesia.

Since the Taipei meeting the committee has begun implementing the following initiatives:

  • Connecting Youth Groups. This effort seeks to pair youth groups across national boundaries so that they can learn how other Anabaptist communities express their faith, and explore common triumphs and challenges. The program will enable groups to support each other through prayer and the sharing of history and gifts. The YABs committee distributed the program’s description and application form to the MWC Executive Committee in Taipei, and to youth groups in Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan during recent visits. For more information on the initiative, contact the committee at
  • Face-to-face meetings. The YABs will continue to pursue opportunities to connect with young people whenever the YABs committee members travel. In the past 12 months, the Youth Task Force connected to youth and church leaders in USA, Ethiopia, India, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan, explaining and promoting the YABs network.
  • Collaboration with MWC commissions. The YABs committee will continue dialog with MWC commissions for opportunities to work together. As a start, the committee members will help with a MWC calendar project and MWC website improvement.

Other dreams that will require further development and administrative support include: electronic connections, especially through Facebook and Twitter; a video project that could help educate youth about Anabaptist identity; and a YABs day, similar to World Fellowship Sunday, when Anabaptist youth groups from around the world use the same material to celebrate their common Anabaptist roots and values.

At their meeting committee members also created a system of accountability for reporting progress. “With language limitation, cultural differences, and geographical distance between us, it is crucial that we discuss and agree on how to communicate with each other and with our constituents,” said Kristina Toews. Among other things, they agreed on plans for:

  • regular e-mail communication with each other;
  • participating in MWC projects and commissions;
  • regular communication with the youth and church leaders in their continents;
  • assigning managers to YABs projects.

“I admire the new team’s sense of unity and purpose,” said Ayub Omondi, YABs committee mentor, upon observing the dynamics of the team in Taipei. “They come into the committee knowing what needs to be done to bring young adult involvement in MWC to another level, and are committed to represent their continents well. Their gifts and skills complement each other well, and I am confident that they will make many positive contributions to MWC and the global church.”

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