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Urban leaders and ministry experts will meet in Philadelphia Oct. 2-4, 2014, for the Urban Anabaptist Ministry Symposium.

Beyond Ideas: Practical Ministry That Works will be the theme of the event, which will take place at The Berean Institute. Sponsors are Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) East Coast.

Beyond Ideas will bring together community ministry professionals from Philadelphia; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Hampton, Va., and the surrounding areas.

“This is not just classroom theory,” explains event co-planner Glen Alexander Guyton, chief operating officer for Mennonite Church USA, “This gathering will highlight the years of experience and the best practices of practical ministry application of people who are in the heart of urban communities.”

“This is a grassroots gathering,” adds event co-planner Chantelle Todman Moore, Philadelphia Program Coordinator for MCC East Coast.  “When asked how Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Church USA could be a resource to and strengthen the local Anabaptist community, people named a desire for spaces where urban Anabaptist leaders could hear from each other and learn about the work that was happening in other neighborhoods or cities.” 

Each day of the symposium will begin with worship. Large group sessions will cover ministry in the diverse church, violence and conflict resolution, and community development. On Friday, specific learning blocks will focus on homelessness and housing, anti-racism and anti-oppression, immigration, developing community partnerships, education for urban leaders, and youth and young adult ministry.  There will also be dedicated times for networking and reflection.

Seminar facilitators and speakers include Bishop Leonard Dow, pastor of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, Pa.; Rev. James Ellis III, senior pastor of Peace Fellowship Church, Washington, D.C.; and Bishop L.W. Francisco III, senior pastor of Calvary Community Church, Hampton, Va. (representing the African American Mennonite Association).

Of the participants the event is designed for, Guyton says, “These are great men and women of God who are sometimes underrepresented on denominational boards and staffs and who often feel like they’re working in isolation. We want to bring together these communities of leaders in an authentic and meaningful way so that they can network with and encourage one other.”

Other seminar facilitators include Tammy Alexander, senior legislative associate for the MCC Washington Office, Washington, D.C.; Pastor Moisés Angustia, associate and youth pastor for Iglesia Menonita Unida de Avivamiento (United Revival Mennonite Church), New York, N.Y.; Addie Banks, executive director at The Groundswell Group in the Bronx, N.Y.; Calenthia Dowdy, director of faith initiatives at Philadelphia FIGHT and associate professor of youth ministry at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa.; Minister Lesley Francisco of C3, Hampton, Va.; Glen Alexander Guyton of San Antonio, Texas; Ewuare Osayande, anti-oppression coordinator for MCC U.S., Philadelphia, Pa.; Rev. Al Taylor, pastor of Infinity Mennonite Church of Harlem, New York, N.Y.; and Chantelle Todman Moore of Philadelphia.

“This event is different in that we are not bringing in outside experts to tell the attendees how to improve their ministry,” Moore adds. “Instead, we are recognizing attendees as experts in their context and in their ministry, and creating space for them to share their ingenuity, creativity and passion. At this gathering, participants will be co-learners and will find ways to strengthen our ministries, within and across our cities.”

This event builds upon the work of prior consultations among urban leaders that took place in 2010 and 2012 and were sponsored by Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Mission Network.

Additional sponsors of this event include Goshen (Ind.) College, Philadelphia FIGHT, Mennonite Mission Network, Kingdom Builders Anabaptist Network of Greater Philadelphia, Emerging Ministries Corporation and the African American Mennonite Association.

Registration costs $50 (includes breakfast and lunch). See the symposium schedule, and register online.

Questions? Contact the event organizers:

Glen Guyton: gleng@mennoniteusa.org, 574-524-5282
Chantelle Todman Moore: ChantelleTodmanMoore@mcc.org, 215-535-3624