Once upon a time, Mennonite congregations in Canada could largely define themselves by German or Swiss Mennonite heritage, but no more. Mennonite Church Canada congregations now represent an increasing variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds; currently, 49 of them worship in 19 languages other than English or German, including Amharic (Ethiopian and Eritrean), Cantonese, Chin, Hmong, Japanese, Karan, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Spanish, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese.
As the tapestry of MC Canada grows more diverse, it has increased opportunities to learn about Christians from around the world, strengthening the denomination’s relationship with the global Mennonite church. Spanish-speaking congregations, including First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont.; First United Spanish Mennonite Church, Vancouver, B.C.; and Iglesia Nueva Vida in Toronto, Ont., relate to Iglesia Menonita Hispana, the North American conference of Spanish-speaking Mennonites. Lao, Vietnamese and Korean congregations also belong to North American bodies.
According to Samson Lo, director of Multicultural Ministry, Anabaptist Mennonite peace and justice theology attracts and stirs passion in newcomers to Canada. “Some of these people were refugees and had experienced persecution in their home countries. That’s why they fully appreciate and agree with the Anabaptist values,” Lo wrote in an update on multicultural ministry.
This year, several of MC Canada’s multicultural congregations celebrate anniversaries and special events:
• 30th anniversary of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church, Ont.
• 15th anniversary of First United Spanish Mennonite, Vancouver, B.C.
• Calgary Chinese Mennonite Church, Alta., celebrated the installation of lead pastor Joseph Liou.
• Western Hmong Mennonite Church, Maple Ridge, B.C., joined both MC British Columbia and MC Canada.
• Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church, Alta., held a Vietnamese Sunday service in Saskatoon, Sask.
• Korean Anabaptist Fellowship in Canada celebrated its annual gathering in Calgary during the MC Canada assembly there.
The “What makes a Mennonite” brochure has been translated into Spanish, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Chin, while other language translations, such as Hmong and Laotian, are planned. These resources are available from the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre, Winnipeg