Leaders and planners want participants to bring their wildest hopes and dreams for the future of the church to Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2014, from July 3 to 6 in Winnipeg.
The theme, “Wild hope: Faith for an unknown season,” will explore how Mennonites can live out their Christian faith in a world in which attitudes and ideals are continually shifting. Mark 4: 35-41, the story of Jesus calming stormy seas, will help provide scriptural focus.
Executive minister Dave Bergen says he’s excited about the theme. “It stirs my imagination. Being engaged with God means we’d better hold on for a wild ride. Not everything is predictable and tame, and that’s the ‘wildness’ of Wild Hope,” he says. “The other end of this is an assurance. Our God is a God who offers hope for a world so much in need of it.”
“The challenges facing the church are enormous,” says Vic Thiessen, chief administrative officer, “but they are brimming with opportunity.”
For Ken Warkentin, MC Manitoba executive director, the theme captures the energy of the times. “The God in whom we hope will not be controlled, but God has been, and will continue to be, good,” he says.
Wild Hope takes place on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University. Lodging and meals are offered on campus. A children’s and junior youth assembly will also be held on site for children up to age 14, and special events are being planned for young adults in attendance.
Executive assistant Coreena von Kampen is managing logistics. She says planners are encouraging participation from all demographics. “We have special rates for students and young adults, and we’re offering subsidies for under-resourced participants,” she says, adding, “We welcome donations to help offset those costs.”
Plenary sessions feature updates from, and discussions with, the Being a Faithful Church and Future Directions task forces. Seminars offer a wide array of topics, from introducing MennoMedia’s new Sunday School curriculum, “Shine,” and exploring the covenants between Canadians and their host peoples, to reimagining congregations and the wider church.
Keynote speakers for Assembly 2014 are:
- Brian Quan, minister of English ministries at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church.
- Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist with Associates Resourcing the Church.
- David Driedger, associate minister at First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.
Delegates will have the opportunity to meet international workers Christina and Darnell Barkman (Philippines); George and Tobia Veith (Macau); and Nhien Pham (Vietnam). The Veiths and Pham have seminars scheduled during the assembly.
On July 5, MC Manitoba is hosting an evening of dinner and fun at Camp Assiniboia, just outside of Winnipeg. Bus service will be provided.
A ministers conference is scheduled prior to the assembly opening on July 3. Led by Karl and Charlotte Lehman, a psychiatrist and pastor, respectively, “Prayer that heals the heart” will equip leaders to stay healthy in times of great change.
Denominational minister Karen Martens Zimmerly says she’s looking forward to delegate discernment and reflection about the future of the church—especially face-to face conversations with many people across MC Canada’s culturally diverse family. “We extend a special invitation to our new Canadian churches and leaders,” she says. “Please join us. As we speak and learn about ‘wild hope,’ we need your voice!”
Early registration closes on May 15. The final cut-off date for registering is June 15, 2014. To register online, visit home.mennonitechurch.ca/Wpg14.
More about Assembly 2014:
Calling all ‘wildly hopeful’ artists (art exhibit, deadline May 31)