Mennonites – MEET – Moving together

by Lydia Funck last modified 15 September 2015 11:46 AM
Mennonites – MEET – Moving together

MEET pilgrimage stop at a cross garden. Photo: Judith Königsdörfer

15 September 2015

The first time I got in contact with the word “pilgrimage” was in religion class in primary school when our teacher introduced us to places in our area where Catholic pilgrims walk to. I did not understand why one would want to walk to reach a sacred place. Wasn’t every place sacred where God is present?

20 years later, the idea of a pilgrimage has become topical again after I took part in the 10th Assembly of the WCC as a delegate for the German Mennonite Church. Since then, I have come to see my life not only as a journey but as a spiritual pilgrimage. But am I travelling alone? Am I going somewhere to reach a sacred place?

What will I do when I am there? What is my luggage? Will I come back afterwards, and do I have room for souvenirs?

The experiences in the ecumenical movement have brought me to (re-)discover fascinating facets of my Mennonite background. And realizing that these roots have also shaped the WCC in the past years, challenged me to get more involved.

This I did within a network of young Germans interested in ecumenical topics called MEET (More Ecumenical Empowerment Together). We organize events and study days, stay informed and connected to the global ecumenical movement. I joined the network’s journey from Porto Allegre to Busan and we are still moving together; everyone can contribute, and we enrich and encourage each other with our gifts.

Shortly after Busan, MEET decided to put the invitation to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace into action in our context with issues that are relevant us. We wanted to share our gifts (via positiva), visit points of pain and hardship (via negativa) and reflect on the pilgrimage and its transforming role for us and the church (via transformativa).

For over a year, MEET prepared a one-day pilgrimage event in the northern part of Germany which was loosely connected to the European pilgrimage to the climate conference in Paris.

Last weekend, the moment had finally arrived. I was excited about the idea of actually walking together, doing this pilgrimage by foot, similar to how I imagined it from primary school on.

We journeyed together in the beautiful landscape around the lake in Plön. We walked together, each one in a different pace, with thoughts on different topics, spiritual backgrounds, faith traditions and experiences until we reached our first point of reflection at a military base.

At this place representing violence and static hierarchy, I was able to share thoughts on peace and non-violence, which are central to Mennonite theology and practice.

We are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps and thereby are challenged to struggle for a costly just peace. We have to be creative in dealing with injustices.

In conversation about how we are gifted and equipped to search for this creative peace, we continued our path.

We spent a day outside, being exposed to weather conditions that are not ideal for a nice walk around a lake. But rain pouring down on us on the first meters and right at that time when we wanted to have a relaxed break in the sun, gave us a glimpse of what it means to be on the road with no place to rest and no shelter. You learn to adjust and get a deeper understanding of creation and the Creator.

We stopped for a reflection on climate justice and refugees in Myanmar/ Burma who have lost everything and are asking for prayer and support. We are also gifted and called to walk with the marginalized and victims of catastrophes.

After walking in silence, we reached the cross garden of a church. We left some of our luggage there, prayers for transformation, to fill the bag with souvenirs of hope and actually having been on a pilgrimage.

Now, we are back where we started, in our daily life. But we are not the same as before, neither have we reached the goal.

We are just one step closer to realizing that the path is the goal and that peace and justice are processes that need our creative engagement. We are not alone but on a journey with each other and with God. On our continuing path we will realize that we are “not there yet” and will again and again return to the forgiving and reconciling power of Christ.

More info on MEET:

MEET Facebook page with more impressions from the pilgrimage event

Read more on young German Mennonites at the Mennonite World Conference (in German)


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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