This will be my 21st Mennonite Educators Conference and already I am looking forward to it. It has moved from Laurelville Mennonite Church Center to the Hilton in Pittsburgh, then to the 4-H Center in Washington DC, and now the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia. In the early years at Laurelville some of us were in cabins of perhaps ten people who shared a bathroom and now everyone has a private room. But the meaning, learning, celebration and connections built at the conferences has remained the same during the years.

There are five reasons I look forward to the event:

    1. Inspiration: This conference has always inspired me that our Anabaptist schools are a gift to the world and that what we do makes a real difference.

    2. Learning: The themes vary and sometimes challenging messages are shared that I need to ponder, but I have always learned something that could be used to help make my class or Lancaster Mennonite a better school.

    3. Community: It is a wonderful time to connect with friends and colleagues from sister schools that share similar values and teach to help students live life with meaning. Some persons will be attending for the first time and will not know faculty from other schools. Let’s reach out and welcome them as important persons in our community of schools.

    4. Retreat: The conference provides a retreat for rejuvenation and reflection, whether alone in the guest room, walking the conference center grounds, or wonderful times of worship together.

    5. Challenge to grow in a Christ-centered faith:  Mennonite Educators Conferences are grounded in Jesus Christ who is the center of our faith. It helps us understand that as Christ-followers we are sisters and brothers who are involved in God’s reconciling work in the world through the mission of Anabaptist/Christian education.

This conference promises to be different than any other and yet to continue in the grand tradition of the reasons I look forward to it. Join me and other members of the planning committee in praying that all who attend will grow in some way to more fully help our schools be all that God is calling us to be so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.

Contributed by J. Richard Thomas  –  11/9/2015

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