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Photo: Delegation members left notes of encouragement in Hong Kong. Photo provided by Mennonite World Conference.
A joint delegation from Mennonite World Conference’s Peace Commission and Deacons Commission from Dec. 1 to 8 visited three Mennonite churches in Hong Kong, other denominations and educational institutions to offer solidarity and to respond to the request for further perspectives on Anabaptist peacemaking.
Delegation members included Joji Pantoja, Peace Commission chair and Coffee for Peace founder; Wendy Kroeker, Peace Commission member and Canadian Mennonite University peace and conflict transformation instructor; Siaka Traoré, Deacons Commission chair; and Henk Stenvers, Deacons Commission secretary.
Hong Kong is experiencing one of its most tumultuous political situations in decades. Protests in Hong Kong, mostly involving young people, are continuing into a sixth month demanding withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, investigation into alleged police brutality during the protests, full amnesty for those arrested during the protest, declassification of protesters as “rioters,” and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Although the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the protesters are refusing to back down until all five demands are met.
During their time at Mennonite churches, the delegation listened to the experiences and hopes of church members and shared some of their experience of mediation and reconciliation through an Anabaptist lens.
“We were there to offer solidarity to our brothers and sisters, showing them they are not alone in this trying time,” says Stenvers. “Churches globally are not immune to conflicts and the political dynamics around them. By visiting them, we get to see what they are experiencing, listen to them and also encourage them by sharing our peacemaking experience.”
Political discussion has never quite existed in Hong Kong, a place that has long enjoyed stability and economic prosperity, at least overtly, says Jeremiah Choi, pastor of Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong.
“People here were focused on being productive, be it in their studies or at work. Now they have political aspiration, but politics are dividing the people, including in the church,” says Choi. “We ask that the global church support us in prayer. Pray for wisdom for the leaders, the protesters and the police; that there will be a peaceful resolution to this; and that churches can have unity and become peacemakers when some choose to be violent.”
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