In reflecting on Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon, one thing is certain: We are entering a period of uncertainty in the life of Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches. The most hopeful sign in this state of affairs is that the delegates had enough faith in our leaders to begin a new process with few specifics.
We expect a lot from our pastors, especially the part-time ones who are forced to be bi-vocational. They speak candidly about their roles and their congregation’s expectations in this issue beginning on page 4, as interviewed by our Saskatchewan correspondent, Donna Schulz.
Come with us as we look into the future ten years from now (2026), if the recommendations of the Future Directions Task Force are followed in their present form. Regional clusters of congregations have been asked to pick up the functions of Mennonite Church Canada which was disbanded in 2018.
With the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, congregations across Canada were wisely and prudently given seven years to discern the important issues confronting them in an increasingly post-Christendom era of the 21st century: multiculturalism, the state of our peace and justice beliefs and practices, and sexuality, to name the high-profile ones.
“We know that the North American context and culture, and Christianity within it, is in the midst of immense change. Conversations with and feedback from hundreds of our constituents across Canada these past two years shows broad understanding that old assumptions about the place of church in society have changed.”
The year was 587 BC. Our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites, were deported to Babylon, where they felt like refugees in a foreign land. Their place of worship, the temple, had been destroyed. They sat by the rivers of Babylon. . .and wept. (Psalm 137:1). They were dispirited and tempted to think Yahweh had deserted them.
Next to the Toronto Blue Jays, nothing more has gotten our attention as Anabaptist Mennonites than the greatest refugee crisis in the modern age, with more than 50 million displaced persons—the greatest number since the Second World War. With our own history of resettlement during the past century, this has become our defining spiritual moment.
Canadian Mennonite received a copy of a letter sent to David Martin, executive minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, as a response to its releasing the story on the alleged sexual misconduct of the late Vernon Leis (Sept. 14, 2014, page 16).
It’s been 14 years since Canadian Mennonite conducted an independent readership survey. In the next edition (Sept. 28), print and digital readers will find a list of questions that invite your feedback, solicit your opinion on content and attempt to ascertain your reading habits in both venues—print and digital.
The irony couldn’t have been more self-evident. Here were 7,500 modern-day Anabaptists celebrating the beliefs and convictions that hold them together in 65 countries around the world, following on the heels of a troubled assembly of Mennonite Church USA which appeared to be coming apart at the seams over sexuality.