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One of the largest religious conferences in the world comes to Harrisburg

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Harrisburg Farm Show Complex is hosting the Mennonite World Conference. The event is one of the largest conferences in the world, and it's happening this week.

The conference is bringing 7,000 people to the Farm Show every day. Held every six years, the last one was held in Paraguay and includes Mennonites from 80 nations. Conference leaders chose Harrisburg to host the event because of its large regional Mennonite population, and the Farm Show itself gave the committee a family friendly feel.

"The farm show complex is a facility perfect for our cases," Mennonite Conference Chief Officer Liesa Unger said. "For example, our children can bring live animals in the children's program. You can`t do that at a convention center."

Mennonite World Conference Activities

In the mornings and evenings, participants  build community by sharing in music, storytelling, and small groups for discussion and relationship-building with new friends from around the world. In the afternoons and in the days leading up to and following Assembly, participants will take tours throughout the Harrisburg region and beyond to learn more about communities different from their own. In the Global Church Village expo hall, churches from all the world’s continents will share their music, art, and dancing while also giving glimpses into everyday life in their home communities. And for those who are ready to relax and have fun, international sports will be offered, including an Anabaptist World Cup for the conference’s many soccer enthusiasts.

Each afternoon, participants will attend workshops to learn about techniques in peacemaking, building relationships with people of other religions, creatively engaging government or current issues, and developing fresh expressions of church. Throughout Assembly, Mennonite World Conference will also be practicing peacemaking with the earth, partnering with the Farm Show Complex to carry out a ground-breaking environmental strategy that reduces waste, compost leftover food and used table settings, uses compostable communion cups and replaces disposable water bottles with reusable bottles and water filling stations.

Throughout the week, participants will support the local and global community through service projects: canning green beans for area food pantries, building houses in the Farm Show Complex parking lot for families in Maryland and Nebraska, creating comforters for refugees around the world, and supporting local nonprofits through cleanup and repair work in the Harrisburg area.

The conference ends on Saturday.