From July 3 to 6, 2014, Mennonite Church Canada held its biennial assembly, in Winnipeg, Man. Focusing on the theme, “Wild Hope: faith for an unknown season,” the church delegates and their families, church-wide staff and volunteers, along with international guests, worshipped together, discussed issues, participated in seminars, and connected with friends and acquaintances.
A tornado warning was issued for southern Winnipeg just as Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director, was giving the final announcements at Assembly 2014 on July 5. Should delegates proceed to their seminars or should they stay in the Loewen Athletic Centre on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), where the assembly was held?
With the future of the church and issues of sexuality being prominent issues up for discussion at Assembly 2014, Karl Koop, a Canadian Mennonite University professor, asked César García, Mennonite World Conference’s general secretary who spoke about the global Anabaptist mosaic, how these topics could affect the global church.
1. As Mennonite Church Canada ponders the future, it recognizes that the church is changing. What changes have been happening in your congregation? What fears do you have about the future of your congregation and the denomination? Is maintaining the status quo an option?
At a corner of Ellice Avenue and Marilyn Street in Winnipeg, the neighbourhood association erected four sheets of plywood and painted them with chalkboard paint. The phrase, “Before I die I want to _________” invited passersby to fill in the blank with their own wishes. Many responses expressed deep desires for meaning and purpose.
“It only takes a scrap of time to turn to God.” April Yamasaki shared this anonymous piece of 14th-century wisdom in her “Cultivating spiritual disciplines” workshop at Assembly 14.
Sometimes it feels like a scrap of time is all people have, but that can be turned into a sacred pause, she told a roomful of participants.
What are the needs of women, and how are they working to meet those needs?
Rhoda Keener, co-director of Mennonite Women U.S.A., led a presentation and discussion surrounding these needs at the assembly.
Keener explained that Sister Care seminars, which are given all over the world, are made up of four units:
After seminar leader Chris Lenshyn began his post-Christian landscape session by reading chapter 1 of Daniel, he invited participants—48 adults and one baby—to gather in twos to converse about this story of young exiles living out their faith in a foreign land.
During the 2013-14 academic year, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) was engaged in intense conversations on and off campus regarding its hiring policy concerning individuals in covenanted same-sex relationships. Research professor Lisa Schirch sent the following letter to the university’s student newspaper, The Weather Vane, representing some of that conversation.
1. Does your church give equal status and rights to women and men? How did earlier generations explain their assumption that powerful roles were reserved for men? How much does our culture affect our attitudes when it comes to what is right or wrong in the church?
I came across an editorial by Dick Benner a few months ago and was distressed to read about the late—and highly regarded—John Howard Yoder having sexually violated 80 women “at last count” (“Healing sexual abuse,” Sept. 2, 2013, page 2). This was news to me, as I am relatively new to the Mennonite circle.
1. Why do some of us find it so difficult to talk about sexual abuse? What is it about sexual abuse and allegations of misconduct that makes them so hurtful? Is sexual misconduct an open subject in your congregation? How important is listening in the healing process?