Greetings “from” the Mennonite Church USA Convention. This week, I’m participating in seminars and worship alongside people from around the country (and a few around the world), but I’m doing so from my home. The sound quality might be better for the in-person convention, but I find the lodging accommodations for the online option to be quite comfortable. :-)
We are nearing halfway through the convention, so I wanted to give a brief check-in about what I’ve been hearing and learning. The theme for the week is “Bring the Peace,” and the main worship and bible study sessions have each explored different angles on peacemaking.
One underlying theme I’ve heard explored in different ways during multiple sessions is the tension that can exist in peacemaking between personal transformation and systemic change. This was explored most directly in a seminar by Osheta Moore titled “Dear White Peacemakers.” In this session she talked about the strengths and weaknesses of approaching racial peacemaking through the lenses of racial reconciliation (focus on personal transformation) or anti-racism (focus on system change). By pointing out the gifts and limitations of each she hoped to spark our imaginations toward peacemaking that is “defined by the grit of antiracism and the grace of racial reconciliation.”
Grit and grace.
I love alliteration, so that’s probably why this way of putting it has stuck with me the most, but she was not the only one to explore this tension. There are no easy answers to these kinds of questions, so one of the gifts of these national Mennonite conventions is that they keep the conversation going with new voices adding new stories and wisdom to the mix.
I’ll be exploring these themes from the convention further on July 18th during worship. As I hear more from those at the convention, I also welcome your thoughts: Which do you find harder as a peacemaker, grit or grace? How does our peacemaking hold together personal transformation and systemic change?