This download includes all three talks plus a question and response time from the third plenary session at our Once & Future Mission event focused on the Anabaptist tradition.
For a very long time, Christianity has occupied a privileged place in our North American context. As this reality wanes however, we are being afforded a new opportunity to reconsider the effects of this cultural arrangement upon our understanding of and approach to mission. Inasmuch as Anabaptists have existed as a minority and marginalized group, many are finding helpful resources within this tradition on this issue. This plenary session will identify those forces which have co-opted mission in our context and explore perspectives and practices for “subversive mission” from an Anabaptist perspective that can aid the church in our Post-Christian context.
Presentation 1: Anton Flores-Maisonet
What does it mean to be a Christian witness in the way of Jesus in 21st Century North America How does a fresh encounter with Jesus and a radical approach to community lead us on a subversive journey in mission? Isn’t it enough to simply love God and love our neighbors who think and act and look like us or to, at least, love the other from the comforts of our ascribed privilege? Using the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), Anton Flores-Maisonet will describe why missional solidarity is an imperative and the outgrowth of a deep love for God and community. Intersecting theological reflections with stories from his life and ministry, particularly with undocumented immigrants, Anton will invite us on a journey with Jesus, one marked by intentionality, contemplation, vulnerability, and reconciliation.
Presentation 2: Nelson Okanya
I am an Anabaptist Christian! This introduction is rather interesting because, while Anabaptism dates back to European Church Reformation of the 16th Century, I am an African who was born and raised on African soil. I speak Luo, Swahili and English but not the German or Dutch of early Anabaptists. So, how is it possible for me to be an Anabaptist? Such a question of course assumes a particular definition of Anabaptism, which is associated with a specific period of time, geographical location, or even a particular ethnicity. I understand Anabaptism not as something bound to these categories, but rather as a way of reading Scripture as a community that is being formed and transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit and empowered to live as disciples of Jesus in whose life, teaching, crucifixion and resurrection, God’s new life springs forth. As a society in North America that is continually being formed and shaped by powerful narratives, Anabaptism offers a subversive counter-narrative aimed at creating a community of kingdom disciples capable of transforming our society, a community that witnesses to the world not from the center but rather from the margins.
Presentation 3: David Fitch
To an alarming degree, America is built on a culture of violence. More disturbing is the extent to which the Church unwittingly capitulates to this cultural reality. This violence infests our cultural ways of inclusion and overcoming racial divides. Sadly, in many quarters, the Church has simply failed to embody, in its life and witness, the way of Jesus as a peace-FULL counter-cultural reality. The various cultural, racial, and gendered histories of the diverse Body of Christ provide unique obstacles and opportunities in all this. Under the Lordship of Christ, and resourced by the rich history of Anabaptism, we can explore how the practices of reconciliation, mutual submission, and local presence lead and form us into God’s subversive mission in the world where a “politic of fullness,” in which these histories are engaged and transformed, is made possible.