“I have never heard the editor’s vision for the magazine,” said a reader when asked what she thought of Canadian Mennonite. The observation caught me up short. Assuming my vision was implicit in the biweekly conversation I engender, being explicit with my goals and aspirations didn’t seem necessary.
To do so might even be redundant, I reasoned. Apparently, I am wrong. With each change of editors, some readers would like to know what roadmap or blueprint they are following. Here goes:
Canadian Mennonite should, first and foremost, serve the interests of its readers—members of, and those attending, the 220 congregations making up Mennonite Church Canada, totalling, at this point, some 32,000. These persons, by definition, have made a faith commitment to follow Jesus Christ and find themselves, in large part, historically linked to an Anabaptist-Mennonite expression of that faith in word and deed.
That expression is not fixed in time, however, but is dynamic and a primal force as the culture changes. This not to say that we are “tossed about with every wind of doctrine,” but rather that the gospel—or the unchanging Word (good news)—adapts itself to its surroundings, finding new ways to express itself, applying itself anew in the prevailing culture.
To that end, Canadian Mennonite will carry stories and features that help us apply our faith in an increasingly consumer-driven, nationalistic, multicultural and, yes, secular, society. Our faith, though grounded in the biblical narrative, needs to be relevant to our time and place, adaptive to changing societal norms and life-giving to persons at all stages of the life cycle—from the young in their formative stage, to parents and middle-agers as they implant spiritual values in the next generation, and to the seniors in their wisdom and generosity.
To do this, we will draw on all of the resources, all of the abundant gifts of our body politic. We have been gifted by God with the prophetic voices and clear thinking of our academic communities, the compassion and inspiration of our many pastors, the expertise of many dedicated persons in the varied professions and business, the down-to-earth but often unnoticed contributions of special lay persons, the vision of our young persons seeking faith applications in a very different environment than that in which their parents and grandparents grew up.
And speaking of young persons, we are quite aware, through our own studies, that we have an aging readership, one that is appreciative and loyal and generous to a fault. For that, we are most grateful. Many of you are enthusiastic with your comments, dollars and constructive suggestions.
Since our young, aged 18 to 35 let’s say, live largely in a technologically driven world, the printed word has less appeal than the electronic venue. Canadian Mennonite, perceived by them as one of the church’s institutions, does not command their loyalty or inspire them to the same degree as their elders.
In a discussion by our board, we are making specific plans to address the young audience. A student intern, to be hired this summer, will develop a youth section of the magazine, which will reference a special youth-oriented space on our website—an interactive place where young persons will be free to discuss their issues and hopefully discover a fellowship of the like-minded as they openly and honestly ask their questions. We will use the tools of social networking to draw readers to this site.
Part of my vision, too, is to have readers take more ownership and responsibility for what appears on our pages and on our website. From preliminary returns of our readership survey (the deadline for which just ended), there is still too much regionalism among us. Such complaints as “too much news/views from the west,” or vice-versa, “too much from the east,” or “too much from the Russian Mennonites,” or, “too much from Swiss Mennonites,” are parochial and can be divisive.
While ethnic self-identities die hard, let’s make a special effort to look at MC Canada as a faith community united, as a national church with a mission to strengthen “all” of the saints, and to spread the good news regardless of local preferences. What happens in a small congregation in British Columbia should be of vital interest to congregants in Waterloo, Ont. We are one body in Christ.