The Mennonite Church Canada assembly this summer in Waterloo, Ont., and delegates’ engagement with the Being a Faithful Church process have provided me with many reasons to be grateful:
- Clearly, people love the church. Even though society questions the value of church structure, Mennonites across Canada claim their corporate identity as a Canadian Anabaptist community. From youths to seniors, assembly participants displayed a yearning for strong Christian community. Despite the hard work of discernment that lies ahead, delegates recognized that with the Holy Spirit’s promise to be present, we can proceed in our work with confidence. The church is worth the effort.
- Clearly, people love God. A commitment to discern what it means to be a faithful church in this time in history is evidence of a deep love for God. To work at seeking faithfulness is a response of commitment to that love.
- Clearly, people have faith. An early examination of written responses from assembly small-group discussions reveals strong confidence in God. Although uncertainty, caution and concern are expressed, there is an unmistakable positioning of faith around them. God is with us. A more detailed report of these responses will be provided later this fall, but what we have learned so far has been gratifying. God is praised through the faithfulness of God’s people.
- Clearly, people are committed to being the church together. Area churches and congregations have asked for a tool to help them engage with the important work of discernment. This eagerness indicates not only willingness, but also commitment. In addition, individuals have responded with thoughtful papers and letters. Such respectful engagement is a testimony of people committed to discerning together. The Being a Faithful Church Task Force met earlier this fall and will release a tool to assist congregations in their engagement with discernment as soon as possible.
This is a church that we can be proud of. This is a church that is confident in the presence of God. This is a church that tenderly holds fear, treats discernment with care, and does not avoid challenges, but boldly believes in the mystery of God’s transforming grace.
Discerning how to be a faithful church in our current context at this time in history is not for the fainthearted. Only those who possess a stubborn love for God and the church, and who have faith that God will work through this process would dare to stay engaged.
Clearly, people—our church—reflect the passion of our restoring God.
Willard Metzger is general secretary of MC Canada.