Hold conventions in central locationby Karla C. Morton, Meridian, Idaho
As a Westerner, I was extremely disappointed to see the Executive Board’s reasoning for holding the 2011 convention in Pittsburgh rather than Phoenix. It would appear that in Mennonite Church USA, if you do not live near the major Mennonite centers, then you are not worth coming to.
Gordon Houser’s Feb. 19 report of the Executive Board meeting said, “Phoenix, Ariz., was the best option. However, given the low attendance at San José 2007, the likelihood of a larger attendance, given proximity to the largest number of constituents, made Pittsburgh the best value.”
We here in the West were greatly appreciative of the 2007 convention being held in San José and encouraged as many in our congregation who could to attend. We had a high representation. As a delegate, I was seated at a table that had a majority of Westerners (Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California and Texas were represented). There were a few from Pennsylvania and Ohio also.
Having lived in the greater Philadelphia area and participated in Franconia Mennonite Conference congregations, I am familiar with the fact that there are cultural differences between those who live in different parts of the country.
When we said it was difficult to have Mennonite theologians come to our part of the world, it was so interesting to hear one of the Eastern participants warning us [Westerners] about using theologians from “theologically liberal institutions,” such as Berkeley, for our theological formation. I felt angry about that assumption, because I am not aware of anyone from that institution instructing our congregations here in the West. What was wonderful, however, was the representation at our table of Westerners, giving us the opportunity to speak of the challenges we face in ministry here.
For me, choosing Pittsburgh over Phoenix denies the members of Mennonite Church USA in the West the opportunity to participate in conventions. We then are forced continually to pay the high price of travel to conventions. It saddens me that we had a low turnout at San José 2007 and that this is the reason given to not meet in the West.
I propose that conventions be held more centrally—even Ohio is a long, expensive trip for those of us from the West.
Another possibility is to alternate which coast or region conventions are held. A rotation schedule would mean that all must take turns traveling to conventions and give non-Mennonites the opportunity to find out who we are. This may lead to new congregations springing up in places where there is not a strong Mennonite presence. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Associated Issue: Congregations with spirtual roots - Feb. 19, 2008
Associated Article: Executive Board to strengthen vision
- Agnus Dei: Lamb of God
- 606: When, why and how do Mennonites use the anthem?
- 606 stories: from Sea World to Cuba
- It isn’t over until ...
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