A Glimpse of the Kingdom: Reflections from the Mennonite World Conference’s Global Youth Summit

By Lani Prunés 8-25-2015
Image via Lani Prunés.

It is with great pride and gratitude that we share the following reflection from Lani Prunés, one of our Cycle 31 interns, who had the chance of a lifetime to attend the 2015 MWC’s Global Youth Summit as the North American representative — a position she has served in throughout the year. Our interns are exemplary leaders in their communities and in the future of the church, and we’re so grateful for their service and your support in their leadership development.

Over 400 participants from all continents (barring Antarctica) gathered on Messiah College’s campus in Harrisburg, Pa., to further their understanding of Anabaptist teachings while exploring what it means to be a part of the global church during the 2015 Global Youth Summit, under the theme, “Called to Share: My Gifts, Our Gifts.” Participants engaged in deep learning through workshops led by professors and historians, connected to their history through historical Mennonite tours all over Pennsylvania where they visited museums and Mennonite churches and met Amish families, and tapped into their musical side with globally-infused worship.   

My role as the North America representative for the summit (which coincided with the 2015 Mennonite World Conference) meant meeting with delegates on an individual basis — the delegates being representatives from global conferences. It meant hearing stories about home churches and struggles with governments, and discussions about theologically Anabaptist responses to violence and change in all four corners of the earth.

And, of course, it meant witnessing people randomly break out in song and dance. Both a boisterous drum circle and competitive games of Dutch Blitz lasted well into the night.

Internationally, youth are considered people ages 18 to 34. Therefore, besides being racially and economically diverse, attendance was also incredibly diverse in age and education level, creating spaces rich with varying experiences. Delegates with youthful optimism and energy were connected to those with the wisdom of time in ministry, and all discussed together the future of the Anabaptist church.

Each continent led a time of worship, filled with exuberance and fun, where cultures could be fully expressed and shared. Leaders wore clothing and used instruments representative of their traditions, and all were welcome to share in worship.

The Mennonite Doxology was sung our last night together, with the North American participants encircling the groups as they harmonized, before the entire collection joined the circle to recite the Lord’s Prayer in their own tongues and dialects.

GYS was truly a space full of wonder and humility. It held a glimpse of the kingdom on earth. 

Lani Prunés was an editorial assistant with Sojourners magazine in 2014-2015. 

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