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on Urban Concerns, 1979
I. As a General Assembly
we want to affirm what happened at Estes 77 and in the ensuing
biennium regarding urban concerns. We acknowledge God's work
in calling us forth to greater involvement in urban mission to
the larger urban centers.
A. We are grateful for the Black Caucus and Latino Concilio for
their prophetic role in helping the church move forward in urban
mission and the growth of these churches. City pastors and workers
are in a unique position to contribute to the development of
Mennonite Church urban mission strategy.
B. We are grateful for the diligent leadership of Ivan Kauffmann
who carried these concerns to district conferences and agencies
throughout the church seeking to elicit a genuine brotherhood
C. We are grateful for the significant care and response that
has been evident in many sectors of the church. In this regard
we specifically identify.
-Scholarship money given for minority students at Mennonite colleges
in Region IV.
-The development of a Pastoral Leadership Education Program at
Goshen College and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries.
-Money given for leadership training for urban church leaders
in Region V.
-Money and consultation resources given by Ohio Mennonite Conference.
-Other conferences and churchwide agencies and boards who have
given special attention to urban concerns.
-We recognize persons who have
been called out in special assignments to give leadership to
II. As an Assembly we see the need for clarification before moving
forward constructively with all the items which have been identified
regarding urban concerns.
A. Our commitment to support the existing inner-city churches
which have already been established through Mennonite mission
efforts needs to be distinguished from our continued inspired
commitment to launch a new broad mission thrust into urban centers.
The support of our existing urban churches and the development
of strategies to provide good stewardship of investments already
made should receive our unswerving commitment.
B. The question of new urban mission efforts needs to be tied
into the larger view of a strong Mennonite commitment to be involved
in world mission. We believe efforts in world mission also include
urban mission at home as well as overseas. We need to commit
ourselves to the reality that the Mennonite Church can grow in
III. Regarding our support for existing inner-city churches,
we commit ourselves to:
A. Ask the district conferences to carry major responsibility
for identifying what needs to happen and seeing that it gets
done in consultation with Black and Latin Councils and all congregations.
We suggest that there be a linkage between older established
churches and new younger churches in urban areas. As conferences
need assistance in this effort we suggest that churchwide boards
and agencies resource and facilitate them. We ask that there
be urban congregational self-evaluations, goals set by the conferences,
and the April 1980 Home Missions Consultation.
B. We ask that both short-term and long-term efforts be given
to urban concerns.
1. Short-term efforts should include
(a) Pastoral leadership education such as one-year sabbaticals
for study, intensive and in-depth one week on campus seminars
followed by correspondence courses, and continuing education
efforts in the urban context.
(b) Resourcing inner-city congregations to enable them in evangelism,
church growth, and other aspects of their ministry.
2. Long-term efforts should include
(a) Developing and/or modifying Christian education literature
to meet the needs of persons in our urban churches.
(b) Developing Christian schools in urban centers to help educate
(c) Resourcing these congregations to enable them in evangelism,
church growth, and other aspects of their ministries.
(d) Developing new patterns of assistance which encourages full-time
workers and keeps up their purchasing power.
(e) We affirm the long-term Black-Hispanic Leadership Education
Programs at Goshen College and AMBS. We need to explore other
long-term leadership training efforts such as extension training
programs and scholarships for pastors and studies in schools
within the urban communities where our pastors are located.
The above examples are suggestive and we would trust the implementation
to be worked out by the General Board with broad consultation.
IV. Regarding new mission efforts, the larger review of Mennonite
mission strategy would include:
A. A clearer identification of Mennonite gifts and resources.
B. More active patterns for mobilizing and investing these gifts
and resources in world mission.
C. Education and exposure of our constituency and leadership
regarding various world needs including urban needs (developing
short-term grass-roots involvement such as MDS). We urge that
urban pastors do deputation work in conjunction with persons
carrying out responsibilities of III-A.
D. Strategic planning for the most fruitful investment of ourselves
in world mission.
E. Adequate consultation among various Mennonite mission groups
as well as consultation with other world mission leaders and
urban church leaders.
F. Developing the capacity to make strategic decisions about
the allocation of resources in a way that is responsive to priorities.
G. New guidelines for facilitating the maturation of mission
Adopted by Fifth Mennonite Church General Assembly, August 15,
1979, University of Waterloo and Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo,
Ontario, Canada, Proceedings, pp.71-72.
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