On Saturday 2 October 2010, 50+ representatives of the new Anabaptist network of communities and Anabaptist network of organisations gathered for the first of what we anticipate will be annual events. This was an opportunity for members of participating communities (churches, emerging churches, study groups, etc.) to meet each other and think about how they can encourage and resource each other. It was an opportunity also for participating organisations to bring literature and other resources and to explain how they could serve these communities.
Our guests were Dennis and Connie Byler, long-term American Mennonite mission workers in Spain, who shared the story of the Anabaptist communities in that country and reflected with us on the distinctive marks of an Anabaptist community or organisation. Ali Phelps (who chairs the network of communities) and Noel Moules (who chairs the network of organisations) presented the final session, exploring the theme of ‘shalom’ and its implications for organisations and communities that draw on the Anabaptist tradition.
This was an energising and encouraging event, superbly hosted by the London Mennonite Centre. As well as the more formal plenary sessions, a period of 'speed networking' and two shared meals enabled many one-to-one conversations, renewing friendships and making new connections. And the day began and ended with prayer, using the Anabaptist Prayer Book.
Our hope now is that the connections made and friendships forged will lead to lots of interaction among the communities and organisations, and we look forward to another gathering in 2011.