God at work in the Church
“Mennonite World Conference is in good shape. There are no crisis areas. What we agreed to do, we have been able to do.”
With those words, general secretary Larry Miller, who will leave his post in 2012 after more than two decades of service, summarized the work of MWC to the Executive Committee when it gathered in Addis Ababa this summer for its annual meeting.
In the town of Aberdeen, Sask., population 600, a small but committed group of Mennonites that call this place home gathered together in early June to celebrate 100 years of witness to the community.
A century-and-a-half after the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church and General Conference (GC) Mennonite Church divided, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) held a “Celebrating 150 Years” event on June 5, in an effort to listen to the stories of each denomination and learn from them.
As delegates begin to register for Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010, planners for Youth Assembly 2011 are remembering the future—a reference to the assembly’s theme text which calls on Christians to envision God’s future of a city where all people will live in harmony.
Willard Metzger has been appointed to the post of general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada. He will succeed outgoing general secretary Robert J. Suderman, who has served in the post since 2005 and who will retire this summer. The leadership transition will begin this fall.
Moderator Andrew Reesor-McDowell made the announcement to staff on behalf of the general board on May 20.
Moderator Aldred Neufeld summed up Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s 23rd annual delegate sessions last month by saying, “Even the wrong decisions can get us to the right place through God’s Spirit.” And wrong decisions—or questions—came up a number of times over the day-and-a-half of meetings.
Calling for more involvement of children in worship by re-naming the traditional Sunday school hour “formation hour,” Lisa Carr-Pries told Mennonite Church Eastern Canada delegates, in their opening session on April 23, that children in Canadian culture are more segregated and isolated from adults than ever before.
I write these thoughts only a few days after returning to Winnipeg, Man., and life at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, but the Middle East already seems so far away.
Twenty-four students and four chaperones (of which I was one) spent our last night on the roof of the Ecce Homo Convent in the Old City of Jerusalem reflecting on our time together. Each of us shared our highlights:
Ernst Hamm, left, this year’s Bechtel Lecturer at Conrad Grebel University College, discusses his presentation on “Science and Mennonites in the Dutch Enlightenment” with Michael Driedger, centre, professor of history and liberal arts at Brock University, and Conrad Grebel academic dean Jim Pankratz
During his 2010 Bechtel Lecture presentations at Conrad Grebel University College, Ernst Hamm held that as 17th and 18th century Dutch Mennonites were involved in commerce, industry, trade and society in general, they were also involved in the explosion of creativity of the “Dutch Golden Age” and the beginning of the Enlightenment.
It was standing room only at the 46th annual general meeting of the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) last month in Kitchener.
Being the church in the 21st century is no easy task, Robert J. Suderman told the delegates and pastors gathered at Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack early last month for the annual gathering of Mennonite Church British Columbia. It was a sort of Pauline farewell for the retiring general secretary of MC Canada.
Beginnings, endings and growth marked the Mennonite Church B.C. annual meetings at Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack, on April 10, under the banner of “The hope of the reconciling gospel of Jesus.” Delegates welcomed one congregation while saying goodbye to another, witnessed the passing of the leadership torch from one moderator to another, and heard about new ministries in the province.
After stories went national earlier this year announcing that Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, B.C., had fallen afoul of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) over issues of academic freedom, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg now finds itself implicated in the same controversy.
CAUT vs. TWU
In his welcoming comments to the 2010 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate sessions, Erwin Wiens, pastor of the host Trinity Mennonite Church, described the area church, made up of 16 congregations spread across the province, as a “patient on life support.”
It’s been six months since Whitewater Mennonite Church in Boissevain, Man., laid aside its committee work, to rest, read Scripture, and engage in prayer and fellowship with one another as part of the congregation’s year-long “Sabbath rest.”
Tom Seals, Mennonite Church Manitoba treasurer, reported that donations from congregations in 2009 were down by 3.4 percent, or $23,442. Although the congregational giving budget had been decreased from the year before, it still meant giving was 2.8 percent less than budgeted.
Although much of last month’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegates sessions was concerned with the area church’s camping ministries (see “Camping issues top MC Manitoba delegate session,” March 8, page 31), the event ended with an ambitious challenge from Glenlea Mennonite Church to the other 49 congregations.
Saskatchewan delegates took a step into the future during their annual delegate sessions at the end of February, when they accepted a new congregation into their midst and moved to take action on an MC Canada proposal passed last summer.
Freed from some of the Mennonite ethnic restraints of the past, some 50 pastors from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan attending the annual delegate sessions last month conversed with Alan Kreider about how they could move from “exhortation to incarnation” in helping their members give testimony to their Christian experience in a postmodern world.