MC Manitoba churches urged to get their youths ‘Outtatown’

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Although much of last month’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegates sessions was concerned with the area church’s camping ministries (see “Camping issues top MC Manitoba delegate session,” March 8, page 31), the event ended with an ambitious challenge from Glenlea Mennonite Church to the other 49 congregations.

“At this time of budget restraints, wouldn’t it be nice if MC Manitoba would increase their budget to the tune of $600,000?” Eric Unger proclaimed. “We have a tremendously valuable resource in the form of CMU [Canadian Mennonite University] and for many young people CMU is the only avenue through which Christian discipleship from an Anabaptist perspective will reach their ears.”

Unger noted that few young people today consider a year of voluntary service, suggesting that it has lost its prominence among post-secondary options.

Unger, who did not claim ownership of the idea, but embraced it with passion, suggested that the 50 MC Manitoba congregations each raise $12,000 annually to sponsor 50 young people in the CMU Outtatown program of discipleship and service training.

“Do we think there is any value in supporting a young person in a year of Anabaptist education?” he asked.

In return for the one-year gift, the sponsored student would agree to use the following summer months to serve under the umbrella of MC Manitoba as summer camp staff, in inner city ministry, or with a Vacation Bible School program.

“Imagine doing this for 10 years and energizing 500 young people for service and church involvement,” he enthused. “They might even take ownership of our conference.”

Glenlea, a congregation of 85 members, agreed that it would raise $12,000 (at the cost of one Tim Horton’s coffee per week per member) this year and send a student “Outtatown.”

While not actually agreeing to follow Glenlea’s lead, delegates did pass a resolution commending the church’s example and encouraging other congregations to develop plans and strategies for engaging youths and young adults in service opportunities.

Delegates frequently called for times of prayer as they discerned new directions for the future of MC Manitoba at the annual delegate sessions in Winnipeg in February.

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