One of the highlights of Mennonite Church Canada’s assemblies are the times of worship and spiritual enrichment. The theme of Assembly 2016 (July 6-9), God~Faith-People, is paraphrased from the Old Testament text Jeremiah 31:33: “This is the covenant . . . I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
The plenary sessions will focus on how God is creating a community of covenant that bears God’s compassion in making peace and in doing justice within the faith community, with the world beyond the faith community, and with creation.
Keynote speaker Safwat Marzouk will share his passion for the Old Testament in the plenary sessions on Thursday, July 7, and Friday, July 8. Marzouk is assistant professor of Old Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, Ind.
Marzouk comes from Egypt, where he grew up with the daily influence of interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews and Muslims. As a Christian, he focused on study of the Old Testament to better understand God’s vision of shalom. He is an ordained member of the Synod of the Nile, a counterpart to the Presbyterian Church, and was a pastor in Egypt while completing doctoral studies. His love of teaching, pastoral heart, and scholarly curiosity foster learning and discussions that bring compelling insights to ancient texts.
Marzouk says, “Although the story of the Old Testament centres on God’s relation with the people of Israel, the story also involves Israel’s neighbouring nations. The way God deals with these nations and the way Israel relates to them is more diverse than what is usually assumed. Through studying the biblical witness to the complex relation of inclusion and exclusion, mercy and judgment, conflict and reconciliation; understanding the historical and cultural circumstances; and analyzing how these traditions have influenced our theology, the church will better understand its identity, ministry, mission, and relation with those who are seen as outsiders.”
Cindy Wallace will address the assembly in the worship service on Wednesday evening, July 5. Wallace is assistant professor of English at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, where she teaches religion and literature as well as postcolonial and women writers. She is passionate about equipping the church with practices of imagination, attention, and hope that will nurture the Beloved Community. Cindy is a member of Warman Mennonite Church, in Warman, Sask.
Willard Metzger will be the speaker in the closing worship service on Sunday, July 10. Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. On his blog, “Church Guy,” he writes, “I get to meet a lot of fantastic, faithful, committed, very cool people across Canada. This blog is one way in which I share my experiences, reflections and what I'm learning about what it means to be a church at the congregational, regional and national level.”
To learn more about Assembly 2016, see:
What you need to know about the Assembly 2016 discussions
Assembly 2016 bits and pieces