Professor Benjamin Bergey (left) and Leah Wenger '20 pose for a photo at a Mennonite World Conference Assembly session. Bergey, who teaches in EMU's music department, was the music coordinator for MWC Assembly, and Wenger sang with the international choir. (Courtesy photos)

Mennonite World Conference Assembly draws EMU community

Several EMU alumni, faculty and staff participated in the 2022 Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Assembly that took place from July 5-10 in Indonesia. MWC Assemblies are reunions of the Anabaptist-Mennonite family worldwide and take place every six years — the next assembly will be in Ethiopia in 2028.

Benjamin Bergey, assistant professor of music, was the music coordinator. He has been involved since 2019 on the event’s Program Committee. 

Bergey’s responsibilities included choosing the worship leader as well as members of the international choir, then putting together the committee to select the international songbook, and worked on that project as the general editor. He also led two workshops, one on music and peacebuilding, and one on Voices Together, the newest hymnal for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada for which he was the music editor. 

The experience was amazing from start to finish, Bergey said. “I have always been interested in being more involved in our global community of MWC, and this was such a powerful learning experience,” he said. “From working with members from each continent on the planning committee to musicians from all around the world, I was able to hear and experience different perspectives on worship and theology, all within our global Anabaptist perspective.” 

Andrew Suderman, assistant professor in EMU’s Bible, Religion and Theology program, has served as the secretary of MWC’s Peace Commission since 2015. 

Andrew Suderman speaks at the Assembly.

The Peace Commission is one of four commissions within MWC: the Mission Commission, the Faith & Life Commission, the Deacons Commission, and the Peace Commission. Suderman also helped with the development of the Global Anabaptist Peace Network, housed within the Peace Commission. 

Suderman spoke at the Global Youth Summit (GYS) and offered or was a part of six different workshops, including, he said, “some fun ones, like ‘Exploring the nature of peace contextually,’ ‘Peace, Reconciliation, and Decolonialism,’ and a three-part series on MWC’s Declaration of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.’” 

Several alumni were in attendance, including Leah Wenger ‘20, who spent two weeks working with the international choir, a team of musicians from across the world. They arrived a week early to rehearse, then spent the Assembly week leading multiple worship services a day. “The exchange of music, stories, and dances from our different cultures with each other, both during rehearsals and breaks, created such a strong bond that will stay with me forever,” Wenger said. 

Bergey had a similarly impactful experience with worship at MWC. “Our shared passion for praising God quickly brought us together in ways that other language barriers made more challenging,” said Bergey. “It was a true honor and privilege to help facilitate corporate worship at an MWC Assembly.”

More on Mennonite World Conference

Mennonite World Conference exists to be a global community of faith in the Anabaptist tradition, facilitate relationships between Anabaptist-related churches worldwide, and relate to other Christian world communions and organizations. MWC membership in 2022 included one international association and 109 Mennonite and Brethren in Christ national churches from 59 countries, with around 1.47 million baptized believers in close to 10,300 congregations. About 84% of baptized believers in MWC member churches are African, Asian or Latin American, and 16% are located in Europe and North America.