The first annual assembly of Mosaic Mennonite Conference on November 7-8, 2020 was not what any of us had imagined last fall or even earlier this year. Nearly 200 persons met together on Saturday by Zoom from their homes, offices, and vehicles and on location at Iglesia Menonita Luz y Vida in Orlando, Florida, for a condensed business session.
While it was the first time for the reconciled Eastern District and Franconia conferences to meet under the banner of Mosaic, one of the most significant parts of business included the affirmation of eight new member congregations that were formerly part of Southeast Mennonite Conference. These congregations had been working toward membership with Franconia Conference previous to the reconciliation with Eastern District. In many ways, the Mosaic name was imagined anticipating this day of welcome to the Floridian communities.
Also in follow up to the Conference reconciliation documents from 2019, the conference board presented a vision and mission statement for conversation among delegates. The proposed vision statement, “Embody the reconciling love of Jesus in our broken and beautiful world,” along with a mission statement highlighting the Conference’s working missional, intercultural, and formational priorities, received delegate feedback for further board processing and consideration.
While Zoom allowed us to gather efficiently, we missed the hugs, handshakes, and time of fellowship together over Longacre’s ice cream and food that represents the cultural diversity of the Conference. We missed singing together and stumbling over each other’s languages. At the same time, the work of the church continued, and I believe the kingdom of God was glimpsed and extended through our two-hour session.
Sunday’s worship included multilingual music led from coast to coast, a children’s story, a “virtual choir” recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and a time of honoring newly credentialed leaders. General Secretary of Mennonite World Conference César Garcia offered an important message for our time, challenging our mutual care and witness to glimpse the reign of God “on earth as it is in heaven” (the assembly’s theme) both in the midst of our Conference’s diversity and the turbulence of the time and context.
In a time when so much seems so tumultuous, the work of God continues. Even in the imperfections and less-than idealness of online meeting, the beauty and possibility of the Spirit’s work with us came through. Mosaic Conference is emerging in the midst of pandemic and social and political unrest. The deep love of Christ grounds us, the Spirit empowers us, and the principalities and powers will not prevail.
We will continue to trust the Spirit’s guidance, continue to work and hope, continue to use technology as best we can to connect us in these days of disconnection. Even in challenging times, and maybe even more so in challenging times, the message of Christ’s peace sustains us so that we can bear witness of the love of God in our broken and beautiful world.
Special thanks to all of the delegates who navigated the technology to be present on Saturday as well as guests who were present to bear witness to our time together. I’m grateful for the hospitality of the Luz y Vida congregation in Orlando and their work to make sure the technicalities of connecting would be possible. Also, much appreciation to the representatives of each of the Florida congregations who made their way to Orlando so we could be present together for this time.
And to our assembly planning team who worked hard, carefully, thoroughly to make the virtual meeting and worship possible—Brooke, Cindy, Tami, Emily, Kristine, Hendy, and Scott—thanks for working, believing, navigating, and imagining so that our time together could be meaningful and fruitful.
Grace and peace to each of you from Florida to Vermont, New Jersey to California. May we continue to live together as witnesses of Jesus, “on earth as it is in heaven.”