A joint delegation from the Peace and Deacons commissions of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) visited three Mennonite churches in Hong Kong, other denominations and some educational institutions, to offer solidarity and to respond to the request for further perspectives on Anabaptist peacemaking.
The delegation members included Joji Pantoja, the Peace Commission chair and Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker; Wendy Kroeker, a Peace Commission member and Canadian Mennonite University’s peace and conflict transformation instructor; Siaka Traoré, Deacons Commission chair; and Henk Stenvers, secretary of the Deacons Commission.
During their time with church members, the MWC delegates listened to the experiences and hopes, and shared some of their own experiences of mediation and reconciliation through an Anabaptist lens.
“We were there to offer solidarity to our brothers and sisters, showing them they are not alone in this trying time,” Stenvers said. “Churches globally are not immune to conflicts and the political dynamics around them. By visiting them, we get to see what they are experiencing, listen to them, and also encourage them by sharing our peacemaking experience.”
Political discussion never quite existed in Hong Kong, a place that has long enjoyed stability and economic prosperity, at least overtly.
“People here were focused on being productive, be it in their studies or at work,” said Jeremiah Choi, pastor of Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong. “Now they have political aspiration, but politics are dividing the people, including in the church.”
Hong Kong is currently experiencing its most tumultuous political situation in decades. Protests in Hong Kong, mostly involving young people, are continuing into a sixth month, demanding withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, investigation into alleged police brutality during the protests, full amnesty for those arrested during the protest, declassification of protesters as “rioters,” and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Although the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the protesters are refusing to back down until all five demands are met.
“We ask that the global church support us in prayer,” Choi said. “Pray for wisdom for the leaders, the protesters and the police, that there will be a peaceful resolution to this, and that churches can have unity and become peacemakers when some choose to be violent.”