Thanks to all of you who took time to complete the demographics survey and follow-up interview with a member of the Missional Leadership Team. The MLT is reading and re-reading, listening and reflecting. There is more here than we can process quickly. We hope to create some graphs from this data that will help give us a clearer picture of who we are. Here’s some of what I notice:
- Our congregations and conference reflect our neighborhoods and also include people from all over the world! Many of you affirmed the conference priority on intercultural competence, noting the cultural diversity in our conference and the racial tensions in our country.
- About 60% of our congregations have fewer than 50 people participating regularly.
- Congregations are grateful for help with pastoral searches, conflict resolution, and ways that Dan and others have reached out to connect and keep relationships strong. Pastors appreciate the area councils and are glad to belong to a supportive network.
- These are some barriers to conference participation: travel distance, bi-vocational pastors, aging of conference supporters, busy lives, suspicion over differences in theological understandings, worship style and social connections oriented toward European Mennonites.
- There are a few congregations in our conference that have years of experience of being racially intercultural in their make-up and leadership. Other congregations are working to educate themselves about white privilege and racism.
- Even congregations without much racial diversity have interesting diversity in age, education levels, and (one we forgot to ask about) denominational and religious backgrounds. Some have been creative and intentional about welcoming this diversity.
We as an MLT are grateful for this glimpse of who we are and what the Spirit is doing among us. We are excited about ways that congregations may be resources and support for each other in the the process of intercultural learning, and hope we can help facilitate that. Along with you we will keep looking and listening for the Spirit’s nudges as we plan next steps.