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Charlotte 2005 to help Mennonites share faith stories with each other, the world

   

Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Church USA joint release
For immediate release
Nov 15, 2004
-by Laurie Oswald

 


Members of the youth and adult planning committees tour the Charlotte 2005 convention site during a late-summer planning meeting in Charlotte. From left they are Ron Byler, associate executive director for Mennonite Church USA; Shana Boshart, conference youth minister for Central Plains Conference; Scott Hartman, Convention Planning staff member; and Anna Rehan, youth ministries facilitator for Mennonite Church Canada.

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Charlotte, N.C..— When asked to define “Can’t Keep Quiet” – the theme for Charlotte 2005 – no two planners answer alike regarding the joint assembly with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

But what joint youth and adult planning committees do agree on is that God is doing many great things among Mennonites in Canada and the USA that are worth talking about. These things are captivating the imaginations of planners who have met periodically in Charlotte and Winnipeg to plan the biennial gathering for July 4-9 in the Charlotte Convention Center.

At their latest joint planning meeting in early fall, youth and adults from the United States and Canada discovered yet more ways that assembly participants of all ages may connect with the theme from Acts 4: 20: “We can’t stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”

Part of telling about the good things that God is doing is sharing common Anabaptist faith heritage with brothers and sisters from a sister denomination, said Craig Friesen, a member of the adult planning committee and pastor of Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church in Canada.

“Many of the stories of the early Anabaptists during the Reformation are stories of persecution,” Friesen said while leading devotions in the early fall planning session. “They face real consequences when they spoke out about their faith. When they did speak out, they were asked to recant their views or face death.

“But most continued to share their stories despite that. … They teach us that we don’t have to be extraordinary people to be bold in our faith. Rather, God asks us for our commitment and willingness to obey.”

Committees help staff plan

These perspectives from planning committee members help Mennonite Church Canada’s and Mennonite Church USA’s planning staff to build on the theme’s foundation, said Jorge Vallejos, director of Convention Planning, and Lana Miller, assistant director. The planning committees – along with youth and adult worship planning committees – finalize myriads of logistical and content details for the event at the Charlotte Convention Center.

The planners expect that about 10,000 Mennonites of all ages from the United States and Canada will attend. The assembly will include events for young adults and conventions for children, junior higher youth, high school youth and adults.

Activities will include worship, servant projects, seminars, recreation, delegate sessions, a hymn sing, joint activities for children, youth and adults and separate and joint sessions for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA delegates.

“I’ve seen many miracles, holy moments, in the midst of our planning,” Vallejos said. “People who come to conventions can have no idea how many thousands of details we have to hammer out. These planning sessions are balancing acts in helping all people strengthen their commitment to Christ. … I compare the process to the biblical account of Jesus searching for the lost sheep. We need to care about the needs of that one, while stilling being hospitable to the 99.”

An aspect of this assembly that shapes many details but brings with it advantages is the fact that Charlotte is a mid-sized city (population 540,000), about the size of Winnipeg. The last MC USA assembly in Atlanta was held in a much larger venue.

“In Atlanta, it was easier to go do your own thing and not bump into others to talk with them – it was just so big and there was so much space that you could lose each other,” Miller said. “Here, adults, youth and children will probably rub shoulders a lot more, as they share more spaces and have closer proximity to one another.”

Surf the Web, register early

Even as some details are not set in stone yet, the staff and committee planners have begun to finalize aspects of Charlotte, including the all-new idea of staging a continuous reading-through-the-Bible event during all days of the joint assembly.

Other aspects of the assembly will include an intergenerational festival-type event, joint worship with adults and youth and a joint adult delegate session with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. New this year will also be youth delegate sessions within the youth convention, where high school teenagers will dialogue around their own table groups about issues they face.

Canadian Adult Registration

Paper registration forms for Canadian adults, junior youth, and children will be sent to churches early in 2005. Beginning Dec 6, 2004, Canadians can also register online at http://www.charlotte2005.org/. Early Canadian adult registration fees are $80/person; Junior high: $125; Children: $105; Preschool: $10/session; Infants/Toddlers: $6/session. Online registrations will have these fees converted to US dollars when charged on your credit card. For more information contact: Karen Peters, Mennonite Church Canada, 600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Wpg., MB R3P 0M4, 1-866-888-6785 (local: 204-888-6781) or email

Canadian Youth and Youth Sponsor Registration

Canadian youth, Canadian youth sponsors, and sponsor’s children can register online at http://www.charlotte2005.org/ beginning Dec 6, 2004. For more information on the Youth Assembly, contact Anna Rehan, Youth Ministries Facilitator, 116 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 8E5; T: 306-249-4844; arehan@mennonitechurch.ca or email CharlotteInfo@MennoniteUSA.org.

Meals

A full meal plan (13 meals) will cost $233 CDN. Other meal packages will be available, with rates depending on options chosen. Meal plans are listed at http://www.charlotte2005.org/.

Register Early

The deadline for registration without a late fee will be April 29, 2005. Assembly planners add that pre-registration is an absolute requirement for Charlotte 2005. They will be unable to accommodate anyone who is not pre-registered. Registrants will receive a registration confirmation number, which will be required to reserve a hotel room. Early registrations are encouraged to maximize hotel selection.


Sidebar: Charlotte 2005 logo helps Mennonites to move into new season

Charlotte, N.C. – Ken Gingerich (congregation name and city/state), designer for the Charlotte 2005 logo, believes that Mennonites are moving into a new season. He hopes the logo shows the transition from being the “quiet in the land” to not being able to keep quiet.

Gingerich created the logo to convey the Charlotte theme, Acts 4:20: “We can’t stop telling about the wonderful things that we have seen and heard.” Gingerich first created the image of a trumpet to signify the theme. But as he and others added more elements, it turned into a human form.

“We discovered a more human form that replicated the joy and enthusiasm of the healed lame man [found in the Acts passage] who was there to testify about Jesus in the temple court,” he said.

“It’s important to realize that we are not trumpeting our own horn. We are giving witness to the healing and transforming power of God. As we move from becoming the quiet in the land to the bold – let’s stay focused on praising, worshipping and giving testimony to the healing love of our creator.”

During his own process in creating the logo, Gingerich said it was important that he connect with the past as well as the present and the future. “Our history has taught us that speaking out can be costly,” he said. “[Historically] we withdrew into the relative safety of small towns and farms, becoming more comfortable with simply living out our faith than with explaining why we lived a certain way.

“In some ways our witness has experienced the crippling effects of being too quiet for too long. Our ‘quietness’ has also been a sort of prison – although it has given us a perspective on some of the ways the message and power of Jesus’ reconciling love should be shared.”

Gingerich believes the logo can help set Mennonites free to be bold in Christ-like ways, he said. “As we Mennonites emerge from a long period of introspection, we may be surprised by the energy we receive as our words and actions increasingly contribute healing to the brokenness in our world,” he said.

“We are being filled with boldness – not harshness. We are being filled with the power and love of God, not our own power. We are being filled with the love and power of God, not with our own power. We are messengers, ambassadors for Christ. We are no longer motivated by fear, pride or a need to preserve the established order of our lives.

“We are ready to proclaim Christ with louder voices, and we ‘can’t keep quiet!’” Logo available.

– Ken Gingerich with Laurie L. Oswald