Many Peoples Becoming God's People (General Conference Mennonite Church, 1986)

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Many Peoples Becoming God's People (GCMC, 1986)

Many Peoples Becoming God's People: Building up the General Conference as a rainbow of churches

I. The biblical vision

In the Bible God calls many peoples to become God's people (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 2:1-4; Ephesians 2:13-22; Revelation 5:10).

We believe God is challenging the General Conference Mennonite Church to respond to this call with clearer commitment.

We see the call as a call to confess with a sense of grief that our mission work in the past has not always given priority to inclusive ministries, intending from the beginning that "we" and "they" together become "us."

We see the call as a call to recognize that every cultural heritage--European as well as Native North American, Hispanic as well as African or Asian--is incomplete alone, and inadequate to convey the biblical vision without the others.

The glory of God is reflected in the mosaic of many peoples becoming God's people. The recent immigrants from Asia and Latin America, the native North Americans and people from African and European heritage give us an opportunity to anticipate another Pentecost (Acts 2) and to experience more deeply the prayer of our Lord, "that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23).

II. A way station for our journey: toward the year 2000

One way station on our journey to be One People may be represented. by the year 2000. By that year the Commission on Home Ministries proposes that in implementing the General Board's four objectives (evangelize, develop leadership, seek Christian unity, teach biblical principles) we make

  1. evangelism and cross-cultural subsidies available resulting in a mosaic of ethnic and language churches more closely representing the proportion of these people in Canadian and U.S. populations;
  2. leadership development training opportunities more accessible to minority groups, and scholarships available for current leaders to become bilingual;
  3. the decision-making boards of our conferences, institutions and programs represent all ethnic and language groups in ways that help achieve Christian unity;
  4. our periodicals and curriculum publications teach the "many peoples" biblical principles and reflect our multiethnic membership.

III. Commitment

  1. Planning specific steps We propose that during 1986-1989 the Commission on Home Ministries consult with ethnic and language minority groups, church schools, camps, congregations, district and provincial conferences, boards and commissions about specific programs to help our conference be "many peoples becoming God's people." The findings and the cost would be presented at the 1989 triennial conference session.
  2. Implementation by the year 2000 If the development plan funds are granted we commit ourselves in the 1990s to implement these programs that enable full participation by all peoples in God's family.
  3. Already beginning While this consultation is going on we call ourselves to find ways to be a more inclusive conference without waiting for 1989 or financial support from the development plan.

It "seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28) to issue this call as a venture of faith for all of us as individuals, families, congregations, district conferences and the General Conference.

Context of the Resolution

The resolution was an attempt by the General Conference Mennonite Church to increase the General Conference's outreach to, and inclusion of, persons from a non-European cultural background living in North America. It needs to be viewed in the context of the Call to Kingdom Commitments resolution passed at the same convention (the "development plan" mentioned near the end of the resolution. The initiative for the Many Peoples resolution came from the Commission on Home Ministries.