Resolution on Urban Concerns, 1979

  1. 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.In particular:
    1. 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.
    2. 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 response.
    3. 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 urban concerns.
  1. As an Assembly we see the need for clarification before moving forward constructively with all the items which have been identified regarding urban concerns.
    1. 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.
    2. 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 the city.
  2. Regarding our support for existing inner-city churches, we commit ourselves to:
    1. 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.
    2. We ask that both short-term and long-term efforts be given to urban concerns.
      1. Short-term efforts should include
        1. 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.
        2. Resourcing inner-city congregations to enable them in evangelism, church growth, and other aspects of their ministry.
      2. Long-term efforts should include
        1. Developing and/or modifying Christian education literature to meet the needs of persons in our urban churches
        2. Developing Christian schools in urban centers to help educate urban persons.
        3. Resourcing these congregations to enable them in evangelism, church growth, and other aspects of their ministries
        4. Developing new patterns of assistance which encourages full-time workers and keeps up their purchasing power.
        5. 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.

  1. Regarding new mission efforts, the larger review of Mennonite mission strategy would include:
    1. A clearer identification of Mennonite gifts and resources.
    2. More active patterns for mobilizing and investing these gifts and resources in world mission.
    3. 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.
    4. Strategic planning for the most fruitful investment of ourselves in world mission.
    5. Adequate consultation among various Mennonite mission groups as well as consultation with other world mission leaders and urban church leaders.
    6. Developing the capacity to make strategic decisions about the allocation of resources in a way that is responsive to priorities.
    7. New guidelines for facilitating the maturation of mission churches.

Adopted by Fifth Mennonite Church General Assembly, August 15, 1979, University of Waterloo and Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Proceedings, pp.71-72.