Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission to celebrate 100 years
Posted: 09/15/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Ariel Ropp
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The Mille Voix choir led by Mobutu Bongela celebrates the Mennonite Church of Congo Centennial.
Centennial book author Vincent Ndandula (left) looks on as Pastor Komuesa dedicates the Congo Centennial book. This recently published book is a collection of stories gathered from members of the Congo Mennonite churches. (Photo Supplied)
Trisha Handrich (second from left) and her father, Rollin Handrich (second from right), from the Silverwood congregation in Goshen participate in the centennial celebrations in Congo in July.
“I remember being invited into their churches and homes, feeling their acceptance and affirmation as we shared bowls of manioc mush,” Bertsche said.
On Sunday, the 91-year-old former executive director of Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission will join other former missionaries to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary at Silverwood Mennonite Church in Goshen.
The celebration will begin at 9:15 a.m. with a focus on stories from the mission agency’s 100-year history. A 10:30 worship service will feature Benjamin Mubenga, president of the Evangelical Mennonite Church in DR Congo; and Siaka Traore, president of the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso.
“We’re looking forward to this opportunity to connect to our brothers and sisters in Africa, to hear their perspective and stories,” said Jeremy Shue, a pastor at Silverwood and planner of the event.
Organized as the Congo Inland Mission in 1912, Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission works to plant and nurture churches through mission partnerships in DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Botswana and South Africa. AIMM, which has an office at The Depot in Goshen, restructured in 2004 to enable African Mennonite conferences with connections to AIMM to become full partners.
DR Congo is home to three autonomous Mennonite conferences with more than 220,000 members.
“That openness, that willingness to move and change with the spirit of God, I believe has allowed AIMM to survive 100 years,” Shue said.
As one of the original supporting congregations, Silverwood has a special connection to the organization. Many Silverwood members served as career missionaries in Africa through AIMM.
The Silverwood celebration is one of eight in North America during September. Centennial celebrations were also held in the DR Congo in July. Shue was one of about 20 international guests at the Congolese celebrations.
“Coming from such different backgrounds and joining as brothers and sisters in Christ, that was powerful,” Shue said of the experience.
The Sunday service will be followed by a potluck meal and reflections from the African pastors and former AIMM missionaries. The event will also feature video footage of the July celebrations in DR Congo and the release of a centennial collection of stories about African Mennonite evangelists.