Conference Assembly: Centered in Christ, embracing God’s mission

Lora Steiner

gilbertoflores2.jpgWhen Gilberto Flores first began working with the Mennonite Church in Guatemala, he didn’t imagine that he would one day be called to work with churches in the United States.

“Walking with God as a pilgrim is always the most unpredictable way to get what is predictable,” says Gilberto, who will be the keynote speaker at this fall’s Conference Assembly Gathered.

Gilberto, who presently serves as a denominational minister for Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA), first began pastoring in his native Guatemala and eventually became the president of the Guatemalan Mennonite Church. He also served as the dean at Semilla, an Anabaptist seminary located in Guatemala City, before moving to the United States to help start a Mennonite congregation in San Antonio, Texas, in 1993. It was his work with the Texas congregation that led him to become more involved in the United States on a denominational level.

In 1996, the Commission on Home Ministries of the General Conference Mennonite Church invited Gilberto to serve as director for two prog-
rams, Hispanic Resource Ministries and Anabaptist Biblical Institute. When MCUSA was formed, he continued on as a denominational minister.

Gilberto’s work with MCUSA is two-fold: he works as the director for missional church advancement, and helps to connect MCUSA with other Mennonite agencies.
“My work is to be a connector,” says Gilberto, “to promote, stimulate, and inspire congregations and conferences, leadership and staff to become more open, aware, and engaged with the missional church identity.”

Gilberto’s passion for a missional and multicultural church will be the focus of his meditation for Assembly Gathered, to be held at Franconia Mennonite Church on Nov. 9-10. Gilberto will speak from the text of Acts 11:19-26 on the theme for this year, “Embracing God’s Mission.”

“I hope that what I will share will move people to see the conference and congregations with more openness and awareness of the challenges and the conflicts with a missional perspective,” says Gilberto.

“Gilberto brings a depth of wisdom, insight, and experience to his work as denominational minister,” says Conference Executive Minister Noel Santiago. “From his journey in Guatemala establishing, growing, and pastoring an Anabaptist congregation of 800-plus members, to engaging the powers with a persistent, prophetic word, Gilberto has experienced the joys and struggles of God’s people seeking to be missional in a variety of contexts. Gilberto’s theological training and formation, allows him to also bring a message that challenges us to consider anew the power behind the Anabaptist movement and history as a transformative vehicle not only for the church, but for the world.”

When Gilberto isn’t working, he enjoys carpentry, reading and spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Gilberto and his wife, Rosa, are the parents of four adult children and the grandparents of three. They are members of First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas, and reside in nearby Hesston.