Tremendous change rocked the western church 500 years ago, as successive groups discovered new things about God through Scripture and separated themselves from the Roman Catholic church.
Renewal 2027 is a framework for a 10-year series of events within the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) global family, commemorating Anabaptism’s role in that period of culture and religious change called the Reformation.
“Renewal 2027 will be a celebration of a historical tradition that has now found expression in many different cultural settings around the world,” says John Roth, secretary of the MWC Faith and Life Commission and a Renewal 2027 organizer.
“We hope that the events will strengthen our identity by engaging conversations—especially with young people, lay church members and ecumenical friends—that reflect on what it means to be Anabaptist today in the global church, while also being in fellowship with the broader Christian church.”
Each year, an event will take place in a different region, following the locations of executive committee and general council meetings and Assemblies. A theme for worship, singing and discussion will be chosen in conversation with global partners. Local planning committees will infuse each event with the nuances of their own culture, tradition and history. Speakers from all five regions, along with ecumenical guests, will represent the global nature of Anabaptist belief and Christian witness in the world today.
The first event, “Transformed by the Word: Reading the Bible in Anabaptist perspectives,” is slated for Feb. 12, 2017, in Augsburg, Germany, coinciding with the year and country of the start of the Reformation.
The next year’s Renewal 2027 event, focussed on the Holy Spirit, will take place in Kenya alongside the 2018 General Council meeting.
Renewal 2027 occurs in the context of worldwide recognition of the Reformation. Ecumenical events like “Together in hope” held last October and attended by MWC general secretary César García, celebrate fellowship between formerly divided groups like Lutheran and Catholic communions.
Renewal 2027 commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Schleitheim Confession and the first Anabaptist mission conference (the Martyrs’ Synod in Augsburg) and celebrates the globalization of Anabaptist-Mennonite churches by culminating with the 2027 MWC assembly.
See also “Remembering the Reformation.”