The official ministry of Fernando and Rebeca in Mountain States Mennonite Conference has concluded with their early departure due to the physical separation required in this time of COVID-19. Anyone who knows their personalities know that their ministry continues in unofficial ways; it is part of who they are. I have appreciated their passion for interculturality, their warm personalities, and their strong faith. Their involvement with Beloved Community, speaking and relating to several other congregations, interculturality workshop at last summer’s assembly, series of articles on interculturality in our Zing!, developing the Iglesia de Paz en Movimiento group, teaching conflict transformation classes, and much more demonstrated the depth of their experience. They also demonstrated patience and grace as we all experienced both the richness and challenge of various aspects of interculturality at many levels. Thank you Rebeca and Fernando!! Now, in addition to the uncertainty caused by the global crisis, they enter a time of transition and welcome your prayerful support.
Many people in Mountain States contributed to and supported the ministry of Fernando and Rebeca. Initial conversations began in 2013 with Herm Weaver and Jaime Lazaro, followed by their visit to Mexico in 2014 and a delegation from MSMC visiting Mexico City in 2015. Fernando and Rebeca visited Mountain States, and ultimately joined Vern Rempel’s dream of an intercultural church. Vern, Ken Gingerich, and attorney Delo Blough worked at logistics and obtained a visa for their ministry here. Linda Shelly of MMN helped in the transition time. Upon their arrival in Colorado, Ken stepped up in a big way as new conference Moderator to provide overall coordination, both in terms of vision and in terms of logistics; Vern and Marilyn Rempel and the Beloved Community group welcomed and supported Fernando and Rebeca; Sarah Jackson integrated them at Casa de Paz; and Gayla Stowe hosted and supported them in countless ways. Jen Dudenhefer and Rita Balzer provided logistical support. Beloved Community and Casa de Paz provided financial support, as did a number of individuals and congregations, and an anonymous group donated a vehicle. Thank you all!!
Mauricio Chenlo of MMN was instrumental in helping us organize a Ministry Support Team. That team consisted of Mauricio, along with Ken Gingerich, Annaken Mendoza-Toews, and Deb Shaffer. It was my privilege to coordinate the group. Kaylanne Chandler and others at Beloved Community also contributed. Charlene Epp and Merv Birky helped connect Fernando and Rebeca with congregations, and many pastors and others throughout the conference welcomed, hosted, and supported them in various ways. Thank you all!!
As a conference we have learned along the way what it means to support this type of ministry, balancing between being led by the Spirit and careful planning. Fernando and Rebeca also stayed connected with roles with Mennonite World Conference, coordination of the Community of Anabaptist Theological Institutions (CITA), and developed connections with the MC USA Iglesa Menonite Hispana. We here in Mountain States have been blessed and changed by the ministry of Fernando and Rebeca. As their video message proclaimed, they have planted seeds of interculturality and now they trust that God will make them grow.
Again, thank you Rebeca and Fernando, and thank you all!!