Volume 26 Issue 17

‘We Declare’ and beyond

Fanosie Legesse, part of Mennonite Church Canada’s Intercultural Church Steering Committee, leads a workshop at Gathering 2022 entitled ‘When evangelism meets interculturalism.’ (Photo by Jessica Evans)

In this issue you will find reports about Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2022. Recently over 300 of us met in person and virtually to explore the theme, “We declare.”

Gathering 2022

Members of MC Canada’s Joint Council, musicians and worship leader Tany Warkentin lead the gathering in words and actions of the ‘We declare’ affirmation. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

At the opening service of We Declare 2022, keynote speaker John Boopalan inspires, with a touch of humour, reminding listeners that they follow and proclaim an embodied God. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

Doug Klassen tells the story of ‘Safari,’ a Mennonite pastor and church planter, who lives in a large refugee camp in Malawi but refuses to leave because of his calling to serve the people there. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

Ontario pastor Kara Carter challenges the notion that, if congregations just work hard enough, people from the community will see the value of their message and join the church. ‘This, friends, is a stumbling block for the missional church.’ (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

MC Canada moderator Calvin Quan chairs Saturday’s delegate session. Quan, who attends Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church, completed six years in this role. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

Fanosie Legesse, part of Mennonite Church Canada’s Intercultural Church Steering Committee, leads a workshop entitled ‘When evangelism meets interculturalism.’ (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Through story and song, Cheryl Bear shares childhood memories of life on Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and the Indigenous connection to the land. Bear also spoke at the Saturday morning worship service. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Members of Gathering 2022 receive a warm welcome from Edmonton’s South Sudanese Mennonite Church during an organized tour. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Young Leaders Experience participants invited all young adults (under 30ish) to a campfire at First Mennonite Church on the evening of July 31. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Mariko Ogasawara, a participant from Baden, Ont., is excited to bring Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) school kit bags home to fill with her two grandchildren. The bags were crafted by women from First Mennonite Church in Edmonton and included a list of contents to fill and return to an MCC office or depot. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Attendees participate in the opening worship service of We Declare: Gathering 2022. (Photo by Buth Bergen Braun)

For the first time since 2019, members from across the five regions of Mennonite Church Canada gathered in person for learning, inspiration and decision-making. Meeting at a conference centre in Edmonton, from July 29 to Aug.1, approximately 215 people experienced the joy of being together again in a large gathering.

A season of Jubilee

Ontario pastor Kara Carter speaks at Gathering 2022. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

“Called to proclaim good news to the poor . . . release to the captives . . . sight to the blind . . . freedom for the oppressed . . . and the time of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19).

Practices of Jubilee are particularly relevant today when we consider this new season of being church.

J.J. Thiessen

(Photo: Heinrich M. Epp Fonds / Mennonite Heritage Archives)

“All beginnings are hard” said J.J. Thiessen. He began his public ministry in 1930 in Saskatoon, hired by the General Conference Mennonite Church to operate the Maedchenheim, helping young women find work and providing spiritual guidance, and to give leadership to the emerging congregation in Saskatoon.

Can we see it?

A woman plays traditional Javanese music at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Indonesia last month. (Meetinghouse photo by Kresna Kurniawan)

It’s a summer of church gatherings. It’s a summer of truth-telling about the devastating impact of colonization by the church. It’s a summer of reflection on what it means to be a post-colonial church.

Sharing across languages

Duang Champa, the name of the folk melody, is a translation of the name for the Lao national flower, the plumeria. (PixaHive photo by Prabhakiran (CC0 licence))

“Dear friends, we’re one in Jesus’ love, restored to hope, so trust him fully, he’s the Lord who calls us friends.” Voices Together’s No. 525, is a simple and lilting Laotian traditional melody, with lyrics that describe Jesus’ followers as friends.

A focus on rest and renewal

Glen Guyton, MC U.S.A.’s executive minister, was the guest speaker for the afternoon session. His session focused on key concepts from his book Reawaken: Activate Your Congregation to Spark Lasting Change. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)

Pastors and other leaders from across the five regional churches joined together at First Mennonite Church in Edmonton for Spiritual Leaders Day, part of the Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2022.

After breakfast together on July 29, attendees were invited to spend the morning in worship. The theme for the morning was “be at rest.”

‘Do you hear what I hear?’

Riley Koop and Rebecca Janzen take part in the panel discussion around young leaders in the church. (​​​​​​​Photo by Jessica Evans)

Who has ever been a young adult? Who has ever interacted with a young adult at church? Who has witnessed a young adult leaving church? Who has witnessed a young adult stepping into leadership?

These were the questions asked of the audience during the workshop entitled “Do you hear what I hear?” at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2022.

In This Together aims to widen the circle of inclusion

Attendees at the Gathering 2022 worship gathering on July 31 were encouraged to come forward to tie a coloured ribbon, representing their own self-expression, onto a tree branch. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Pictured from left to right are the In This Together steering committee: Matthew Froese, Leah Harder, Alissa Bender, Pieter Niemeyer and Mauricio Palacio. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Timothy Wenger, left, and Alissa Bender explain the origin and purpose of the Rainbow Christ Prayer. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Michele Rizoli, pastor of Toronto United Mennonite Church, reads scripture during the service. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Pieter Niemeyer shares his story at the service. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Timothy Wenger shares his story while Alissa Bender looks on. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

Steph Chandler Burns offers their own coming-out experience as a challenge to the church to love well. (Photo by Jessica Evans)

“In This Together [ITT] is one way to feel those prophetic nudgings of the Spirit,” said Alissa Bender, pastor of Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church, and a member of the ITT steering committee, as she led more than 75 people in a worship service that celebrated the gifts that LGBTQ+ people offer to the church, on July 31 in the evening.

Bethel Mennonite leaves MC B.C.

More than 80 years of ministry in B.C. as Bethel Mennonite Church came to a close this summer when the building was given to the MB conference to be replanted as a campus of North Langley Community Church. (Internet photo)

Bethel Mennonite Church of Langley, one of the oldest congregations in Mennonite Church British Columbia, held its last service on June 26. However, its doors are not closed; the church will continue to function under a new identity and a new affiliation.

‘Walking together, doing things together’

Norman Meade, the former director of MCC Manitoba’s Aboriginal Neighbours program, took his granddaughter Everlee to hear the Pope speak in Alberta last month. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Although the focus was on the Roman Catholic Church when the Pope visited Canada in late July, Mennonites also have a role to play in promoting reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in this country.

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