Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont. marks 75 years of mission in 2020.
Sarah Johnson, a 2003 alumna, will be the guest speaker at a special Founders’ Day chapel at the school on Feb. 9, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. She will explore the question, “What does it mean to be a Mennonite school in a diverse and evolving global environment?”
Her personal story brings context to this question. She is Mennonite neither by ethnic heritage nor by personal conversion from another tradition. She was born and raised in the Mennonite tradition although her family does not trace their heritage to the Swiss, Russian and Latin American Mennonite migrations that shape much of the Mennonite community in Canada.
Her parents joined a local Mennonite congregation when they moved to Waterloo around the time she was born.
“It always seemed assumed that I would attend Rockway,” she says.
Johnson says her time at Rockway cultivated her deep connection to the Mennonite tradition: “Having connections through friendships and institutions like Rockway is especially important for me. I felt supported by a strong group of friends. I have many fond memories of Christmas banquets [including Rockway's first official dance], campfires, themed parties, secret Santa, lunch outdoors or in the assembly area.”
She says she found Rockway to be a safe place to explore her emerging “fascination with religion” and “commitment to connecting with the church as an inspiring yet broken community that is united in diversity.”
This interest in religion led to post-secondary studies that continue at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She is a PhD candidate focusing on the ongoing roles of Christian worship in increasingly non-religious and religiously diverse contexts like Canada.
At the same time, her musical formation at Rockway, especially in the choir, is important for her current work with the new Voices Together hymnal and worship.
Johnson’s time at Rockway was foundational. It helped shape her vocation and her faith community, which will always include, but also go far beyond, the Mennonite tradition.
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