by Emily Ralph Servant, Director of Communication
Members of Mosaic Conference will gather virtually for Conference Assembly this year. Celebrating the theme “On Earth As It Is In Heaven,” assembly will be held on November 7-8, 2020, on a combination of platforms including YouTube, Facebook, and Zoom.
“Over the last months, we have learned the significance of physical distancing and spiritual solidarity,” reflected Conference executive minister Steve Kriss. “We will still have important discernment and celebration work to do together in our first assembly as Mosaic Conference this fall. We’ll look forward to conversation about priorities for our reconciled conference as well as welcoming new congregations from Florida into membership.”
The move to an online assembly wasn’t taken lightly, but the decision became increasingly clear as the assembly planning committee worked through logistics like childcare, shared meals, and the space needed for table groups to safely converse. In light of social distancing guidelines, the number of delegates, and the geographic breadth of conference communities, in-person gathering just didn’t seem feasible during this time, said assembly coordinator Brooke Martin.
“While we do acknowledge the loss of not being able to gather in person, we are confident that, for the time being, meeting virtually will provide the best community experience and conversation,” observed Martin. “For the Saturday business sessions, meeting on Zoom will allow everyone to interact with their table groups and engage with the Mosaic community more fully.”
In order to adapt to the online format, Saturday’s business session will be shortened, running from 11am – 2pm Eastern/ 8am – 11pm Pacific, with a lunch/brunch break at 12noon/9am. The Friday evening worship time will be moved to Sunday morning at 11am Eastern/ 8am Pacific so that the entire conference can participate, either in individual homes or as congregational gatherings, depending on current stay-at-home orders.
“Our Pentecost time together online was well-attended and meaningful,” said Kriss. “I expect that our assembly worship will also be a time of inspiration and reflection while connecting us across geographies and distances in this critical time, as we look forward to seeing God’s dream for the world come true ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’”
This year’s theme will focus on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Members of the conference community are invited to participate in the worship service by sending in a video of individuals or families saying the Lord’s Prayer in the language or translation of their choice (more information here).
Worship will also include singing, prayer, scripture reading, a children’s time, and a message by César García, the general secretary of Mennonite World Conference.
Although worshiping together online brings disadvantages, it also offers a gift, suggested Hendy Matahelemual, pastor of Indonesian Light Church and co-leader of the assembly worship planning team. “When we meet online, we bring something that is personal for us to the meeting; we bring our home with us,” he said. “Even though we will be far apart physically, we will be close at heart.”