Tomorrow I head to the national convention of Mennonite Church USA! I will spend my 4th of July in mediation training, and will serve as an on-call mediator for the rest of the week during the convention. This opportunity is part of my mediation certification through Bluffton, and it could not be a more perfect opportunity for me! Much of my motivation for being certified in mediation has grown out of experiences of church conflict. As I have studied mediation and peacebuilding at Bluffton, I have focused on church conflict transformation in many papers and projects; this week, I will have the chance to put the theory I have learned into practice, which will in turn shape my theory as I move forward. This week continues the cycle of action and reflection that has come to shape my life as I learn to live peace, little by little, day by day.
In addition to serving as a mediator, I will get to take advantage of all that Menno Convention has to offer—worship, speakers, seminars, concerts, times of open dialogue, and all the inner workings of Mennonite Church USA. I am especially eager to get a glimpse into the “political” life of a denomination besides the UMC. I have great respect for MCUSA, so I come to Pittsburgh with much curiosity and many questions—does a peace commitment have any bearing on church politics? Does a commitment to nonviolence create space for dialogue? Or are these values forgotten or abandoned in the midst of controversy? Is this body of believers called MCUSA walking (even crawling, limping) the talk, earnestly striving to embody the radical theology they teach? I think all of my questions can be summed up like this: is the grass any greener on the other side?
Maybe. Or maybe not. Ask me in a week or so.
Till then, I’ll be in Pittsburgh—partying like a Mennonite!