The European Mennonite Conference (EMC, CME 2018) will take place in Montbéliard, France, from 10 to 13 May 2018. Several weeks in advance, Max Wiedmer, president of the programming committee answers a few questions posed by the PERSPECTIVE, the Swiss Mennonite periodical.
Why should anyone consider attending this European Mennonite conference ?
This is a unique occasion to meet sisters and brothers coming from Mennonite churches all over Europe. This is the first time that nine church conferences prepared the conference together : AEEMF (France), ADS (Netherlands), CMS (Switzerland), AMBD, BTG and AMG (Germany), MFÖ (Austria), AIMP (Portugal), AMyHCE (Spain). This is also the first time that we have Russian German Mennonites (Russlandsdeutsche) participating in the organization. We are expecting people from Italy, the UK, Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Serbia, and Albania.
We hope to welcome 1’500 people to the conference, and 2’500 people are expected to attend the Sunday morning service. An exceptional opportunity to meet the large European Mennonite family ! We would like to encourage each other along a theme that is very dear to us : transmitting our faith and putting it into action.
What will be the highlights of this conference ?
Besides the teaching and testimonies, music will play an important part. An international team of worship leaders has formed. Several choirs from Germany, France and Switzerland will sing. A European choir is currently rehearsing separately in groups, in different countries ; all the groups will join to sing in the Sunday morning worship service. A French orchestra with members from numerous churches will be presenting a concert. Saturday evening, the Lightclubbers, a group of young people will be presenting a musical performance.
The youth will be given an important place in the plenary sessions, but they will also have their own programme. In the afternoons, they will have sports activities such as football (soccer), volleyball, basketball, and kinball tournaments, a flash mob … About 60 workshops and six excursions are being offered on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
What can we expect on the opening evening ?
Thursday evening, a programme under the heading “Far from Home” will focus on the transmission of a heritage « which we can’t keep to ourselves ». About one hundred actors and musicians from all over Europe will interpret this theatre piece, accompanied by multimedia elements. This unique presentation was developed by four international teams. The piece will start with four short sketches set in Palestine, in the years 30 and 33 AD. It continues in the 16th century in Switzerland, moving to multiple European countries. It addresses Mennonites’ migrant past of the last 500 years, and Mennonites welcoming the refugees of today. We can expect humorous moments as well as opportunities to reflect. The show is suitable for anyone 10 years and older. The presentation will be filmed, for later availability on DVD.
What else is new at this conference ?
This is the first time that we asked each conference to send us three individuals to help coordinate the event : one for the general planning committee, one for the youth committee, and one for the arts committee.
From Friday to Sunday we will hear many testimonies from numerous countries, on real-life experiences in missions work, social work, peace, and education, as well as eight brief sermons.
Will there be any interaction with the city of Montbéliard ?
Yes. Transmission means being present for an open/welcoming to others. For example, the presentation on Thursday evening will be open to the general public. Sale of tickets is planned.)
At the Roselière building, which the city of Montbéliard has put at our disposal, there will be several exhibitions (i.e., of refugee comforter work in progress, WWII quilts, and paintings; also, Mennonite historical societies and the Russian Mennonite museum from Detmold will be exhibiting) and a historical colloquium will take place. These activities will be free of charge and also open to the general public.