Almost 13 years ago my family said our final goodbye to my mother. Grace Magdalene Bender Schwartzentruber lived a full life on two continents, always actively participating in her extended family, church and larger community. I once observed that she and my dad “collected” friends everywhere they went. Our family’s dining room table always had room for guests, planned for or unexpected.
Advent, according to one definition, is “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” Yet along the way, we’ve come to associate Advent not with arrival, but with waiting.
Although it is only November, my community is starting to put up festive decorations and the blank spaces on my calendar are filling up quickly. A list of gifts for family and friends will soon land me in checkout lines where I will almost certainly be asked perfunctorily, “How are you today?” Most customers will respond innocuously and some will be too preoccupied to respond at all.
Pondering on the dock at Camp Moose Lake. After years of soul searching, Mennonite Church Manitoba has sold its Camp Moose Lake property located in the southeastern corner of the province. Since 1957, the camp has been an integral part of the regional (formerly area) church, congregations, young people and children. For decades, the camp enjoyed vigorous support from many rural congregations.
Born into a Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (WOM)—formerly the Amish Mennonite Conference of Ontario—family, Ralph Lebold grew up with strong leaders in a congregational polity. Each congregation had a bishop, minister and deacon working together, although with separate roles.
How the new structure of Mennonite Church Canada will affect congregations in B.C. was the topic for focus groups in Richmond and Abbotsford late last month. Donors who have been supporting both MC Canada and MC B.C. were invited to attend the meetings with Willard Metzger, the nationwide church’s executive minister, along with the regional church’s leadership and financial personnel.
In October, congregants from across Canada gathered for Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg, where they voted to implement a new structure, ushering in a new era for the new nationwide church and regional churches. Less than a month later, Manitobans met to discuss the implications of this change for them.
Norm Dyck, the newly appointed Mennonite Church Eastern Canada mission engagement minister, says, “The face of the church is rapidly changing! What appears to be emerging is the possibility of living into an intercultural witness as the church. In a time when racial tensions and violence often dominate the news, God has provided the church with an opportunity to model another way.”
On Oct. 15, 2017, more than 300 excited and exuberant members and guests gathered at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship to celebrate the congregation’s 50th anniversary. Many had already enjoyed a delightful coffee house and artisan display the night before, celebrating the artistic gifts within the community.
A group of young adults who formed in response to proposed changes to Mennonite Church Canada (now dubbed the nationwide church) has disbanded.
The Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) announced its closing in a statement posted to its website on Oct. 31, two-and-a-half weeks after MC Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg.