One hundred and twelve credentialed leaders and invited guests of Virginia Mennonite Conference assembled at Waynesboro Mennonite Church on Friday, November 8, to discuss the role and function of the Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective. This event was planned by the Leadership Enrichment Committee of the Faith and Life Commission and included times of worship, two presentations and group conversations at tables.
Following a time of worship led by Phil Lehman and Brad Kolb, George Brunk III highlighted the significance of writing or creating a confession was for the purpose of building unity. He highlighted the awareness that when the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church embarked on creating a new confession, it resulted in two significant groups of people agreeing on specific beliefs that eventually became known as the Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective. The document was the result of an effort to bring unity to these two groups which eventually led to MC USA.
Owen Burkholder’s presentation highlighted the importance of an implicit theology based on our experiences. His focus placed an emphasis upon the awareness that as followers of Jesus, we generate our statements of belief as we encounter life and the changing dynamics of our experiences in the world. Subsequently, our faith statements are often provisional statements about specific theological themes rather than a once for all definite statement for all of time.
George Brunk III presented on the ways the Confession was historically used to build unity among different groups. Photo: Jon Trotter
Video of the presentations by George Brunk and Owen Burkholder are available here.
Participants engaged in conversation after each presentation guided by a facilitator and specific questions. These table conversations provided opportunity for participants to tell their stories, engage in clarification of practices, and challenge each other with ideas for further consideration. The relationships that developed through the table conversations and over the lunch time were as important as the presentations. The data received from these conversations will be shared with the Faith and Life Commission for further discernment.
Thanks to Waynesboro Mennonite Church for hosting this event. Participants were grateful for the quality of food, timely service, and graciousness of the hospitality committee that provided for our physical needs throughout the day.