Introduction: A growing number of Mennonites are finding fellowship and mutual support through an informal network called MennoNeighbors. As others express interest in learning about this group, we have compiled the following statements to help to describe why we find this network helpful in our faith journeys. These are evolving articulations of who we want to be, not formal creedal statements.
Statement of purpose
We believe that the identity and mission of the Mennonite Church is to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that the central tenet of that gospel calls. We are interested in joining hands with others who are committed to making this calling more of a priority for ourselves and our denomination.
As individuals and as congregations, we provide mutual support and counsel to other individuals, congregations, church employees, and others who are working to proactively foster truth, love, justice, and peace. We find encouragement through relationships with each other; we support ministries of peace, and work to expand the voices of inclusion and compassion within programs of the Mennonite Church USA, and in the wider community -- locally, nationally and globally.
Common interests and concerns among us have evolved around the centrality of justice (compassion for the marginalized) and peace (nonviolence, holistic shalom) in the Gospel and example of Christ, and therefore in the Anabaptist vision. Issues we see as important to justice and peace include urban ministry, church polity (congregational vs. central authority), biblical authority and interpretation, women in leadership, and the welcome of persons regardless of differences in gender, culture, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or other characteristics. Beyond our local congregations and conferences, MennoNeighbors has become, for many of us, an important locus for conversation about and discernment on these issues.
Our vision is of a Church that exemplifies the following:
Founded upon unconditional love
Conflict resolution/mediation, nonviolence
Acknowledgment that we are all strangers searching
Mission understanding as neighbors sharing with one another
Ministry and solidarity with the poor and otherwise outcast
Community: welcoming, giving and receiving counsel
Instruments of God's blessing; blessed to bless
Liberty, peace, and justice for all
MennoNeighbors is an informal network of individuals and congregations who correspond frequently and meet occasionally to provide mutual support and shared discernment related to issues pertaining to the Mennonite Church. Previously called "Urban Ministers", some of us have experienced fellowship and mutual support since 1989 as we have shared in the hosting of semi-annual meetings. The joy of our gatherings has been to gain strength from each other's presence.
MennoNeighbors is not an official body. We encourage congregations and individuals in our number to maintain relationships with and/or continue their membership in Mennonite Church USA insofar as that can be accomplished with integrity.
We come together around a common way of listening to each other and caring for each other whether or not we're in complete agreement with each other. We wish such “holy listening” would be practiced throughout the broader MC USA denomination.
We are connected in various ways to Anabaptist Mennonite churches and understandings; we listen to each other's cares, joys, questions, cutting edges -- offering support, challenge, fellowship, strength.
We are Mennonite Christians who support one another as we grapple with issues that shape our congregational lives in the context of our various settings and the body of Christ. We seek a safe space for conversations with and among congregations who:
1. are comfortable asking and struggling with questions in our faith journeys;
2. seek the fellowship and counsel of others in the wider church;
3. believe that personal faith formation and discernment takes place primarily on the congregational level;
4. value differences as opportunities to discover our oneness in Christ;
5. value the role of listening and conversation in building up the body of Christ.
The evolution of mutual interests and needs over these years led to the following covenant of understanding:
1. Our intention is to support each other through regular attendance at annual plenary meetings (usually in the fall).
2. As a body, we are committed to respond to an individual's or other congregation's request for counsel or discernment.
3. We commit ourselves to give financial assistance to MennoNeighbors for purposes of communication, facilitation of annual gatherings, and sharing in travel expenses.
For further information about MennoNeighbors, contact Lin Garber at firstname.lastname@example.org