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Many Anabaptists, one global body

MWC PA 2015 draws believers from all over the world

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NLT).

Pounding nails may be the last activity one might expect at an international church convention, but for many at the Mennonite World Conference PA 2015 (MWC), it was a perfect fit.

Every afternoon, just outside the air-conditioned halls of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Farm Show Complex, two prefabricated houses were built by participants looking for a way to use their muscles that would connect meaningfully to their faith.

Participants included people of all ages, many of them inexperienced in construction. Darwin Villacis, part of a mission church in Ecuador, contributed two afternoons to the project in order to observe how North Americans built their houses.

“I have talent in my hands; I don’t have talent with my words and my tongue,” said the 47-year-old mechanic.

Darwin joined more than 7,500 Anabaptists from 65 countries for a week of worship, fellowship, and vision at MWC in Harrisburg, Pa., in late July. The assembly convenes once every six years and encompasses a wide variety of components, including global worship, teaching, workshops, and service projects.

As part of the Anabaptist tradition, the Brethren in Christ share strong ties with MWC. The former president of MWC, Danisa Ndlovu, recently completed his six-year term. Ndlovu, long-time bishop of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, served as MWC vice president from 2003–2009 under president Nancy Heisey, who also identifies as BIC. Along with Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor of The Meeting House (BIC Canada), Ndlovu and Heisey were featured speakers for this year’s conference, representing 550 registered BIC attendees from across 12 countries.

MWC paints a vibrant picture of the verse in 1 Corinthians: Though we are many parts scattered around the globe in diverse ministry contexts, we are still part of the same whole. So whether gathering together under the hot July sun to build houses for those in need or receiving training in Biblical conflict resolution, we all work for the same goal: to become and make disciples of Jesus.

Adapted from a 2015 MWC story by Byron Rempel-Burkholder pa2015.mwc-cmm.org/doing-something-about-faith

This article originally appeared in the fall/winter 2015 issue of In Part magazine.

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