God moving in the intersection

Focus on Education

October 12, 2022 | Focus On Education | Volume 26 Issue 21
Submitted by Chani Wiens | UMEI
Leamington, Ont.
Delaney Dault, Meghan Recker, Vivienne Fittler, Emma Brown and Elyse Couto are pictured at UMEI’s all-school retreat. (UMEI photo)

UMEI seeks to educate the whole person in order to make young people “doers of the Word.” We believe deeply in our mission and see the wonderful things that our graduates are doing around the world as servant leaders. So, in periods of low enrolment, we ask ourselves, “Why is this happening?”

UMEI is a community of belonging that strives to find God’s calling. Around us, however, there is division among Christians on many topics and a desire to find the “right” way to live. How do we navigate this division?

As we seek to increase enrolment, we see evidence of this division. We hear from “opposing” sides, demanding the school take their viewpoint in order to earn the name Christian or Mennonite.

As a math teacher, I picture a Venn diagram. Imagine two overlapping circles as both containing Christians, but on any number of issues we get pulled into separate circles. Where the circles overlap, that is the intersection—the things on which we agree. This example is overly simplistic, but I invite you into the interpretation that God’s kingdom thrives in that intersection.

I’ve thought for many years that living in this intersection is cowardly, that taking a stand and earning a whole circle and losing the other is what is better in the long run. But what if God is moving in this intersection?

In the past few years, the circles have been pulled apart. The intersection feels smaller, and we feel that pinch at UMEI. Maybe if we gave up being Christian and focused on being “good people,” more students would enrol. Maybe if we aligned with more conservative Christian views and had hard stances on controversial topics, more students would enrol. We are living in this sliver.

UMEI wants to increase the intersection. Scripture calls us not to conformity, but to unity. We look to the example of Jesus and try to live that out, even while admitting that we don’t always know what that means. Mennonite education isn’t one-size-fits-all; it challenges and inspires, raises more questions than it gives answers, and creates thinkers and doers.

Mennonite schools are places where all belong, not because we agree but because we decide to love one another as Christ loved us. We know that God’s love is beyond our understanding, and that God’s love is enough to hold all of us. We hope you join us in the vision that God’s love is for everyone. 

Delaney Dault, Meghan Recker, Vivienne Fittler, Emma Brown and Elyse Couto are pictured at UMEI’s all-school retreat. (UMEI photo)

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