For Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers and national office staff, preparations for restructuring have created challenges over the past few years. Reality hit home as beloved colleagues and friends were released from their jobs and others left voluntarily for new employment, leaving those who remained with a sense of loss and additional responsibilities.
We’ve lived with and juggled the uncertainty of impending change for a long time: What does it mean for the church and for those we serve? What comes next?
These struggles are a direct result of societal challenges facing congregations across the country. That’s scary when we don’t know what lies ahead.
As our annual September staff retreat approached this year, each of us were invited to submit an anchor word that would sustain us in the weeks leading up to Special Assembly 2017 and decisions about the future. That word was emblazoned on a T-shirt that we wore at least once each week from that time forward.
I chose “metamorphosis.” It’s a big word. So big, in fact, that it had to be split in two to fit across the width of my T-shirt! But more important than its literal size is the depth of its meaning: “a striking alteration in appearance, character or circumstances” (Webster’s online dictionary). I’ll carry “metamorphosis” with me beyond Special Assembly 2017 because I choose to embrace the daunting prospect of change as an opportunity to become something more: To learn new things, to travel new roads, to see where God leads me. Only by releasing what I cling to, can I have room to receive the fullness of what God has in store.
Accepting change doesn’t mean the journey will be easy, and it sure doesn’t mean that I know where I’m going! I haven’t worked long enough to financially sustain retirement, but I don’t yet feel ready for another job. My particular skills are specialized and not easy to market for equitable returns. I’m exhausted from the process of living through uncertainty and lament, and thinking too far ahead provokes further weariness.
But that’s not what I’m focussing on. I choose to view my circumstances through the lens of hope. Eleven years with MC Canada have blessed me with immeasurable growth in faith, relationships and personal development. Somewhere over the past two years, profound gratitude for those blessings made bittersweet the sorrow of impending loss. Appreciation propels me toward the future with faith and optimism, believing that God will open new doors for me and my colleagues.
Adopting a hopeful viewpoint has “morphed” change into something new and exciting, a transformation that is rich with possibility.
Possibility is alive and well for the church too. Even as we face uncertainty, can we celebrate our blessings? What might our congregations each choose as anchor words in the face of uncertainty?
God is still at work among us, and where God is at work, the metamorphosing power of change is inevitable.
Deborah Froese is MC Canada’s director of news services.