Leader on the Hot Seat

Youth get a chance to pose tough questions about the future of the church to the General Secretary

July 28, 2011 | Young Voices
Emily Loewen | Young Voices Editor

If you thought the weather in Waterloo was hot during assembly, it was definitely warmer where Willard Metzger was sitting during Tuesday afternoon’s “On the Hot Seat” seminar. The meeting gave youth a chance to ask questions of MC Canada leadership, though they didn’t get the clear answers they hoped for. Youth spent significant time considering how the Mennonite Church can deal with major conflict using discussion instead of division, but they also raised questions of increasing youth participation in worship, and the financial position of the national church.

Several of the 17 youth present said they wish the church was more open about conflict, including the current hot buttons of same-sex marriage and abortion. Emma Bartel said if the church isn’t willing to work out these tough questions youth will turn to non-church culture for discussion, and congregations will miss out on a chance to engage her generation. She also suggested that continued silence would discourage new people from joining the church.

When youth asked if MC Canada has a defined stance on the question of same-sex marriage or abortion, Metzger pointed to the “Being a Faithful Church” process and suggested that churches need to find a way to knowingly disagree and still be in the same conference. Katrina Plenert wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and felt the session involved a lot of time talking about talking about issues.

While she didn’t disagree with including differing opinions within congregations, Bartel wondered what would keep the church Mennonite. Metzger suggested that the common “desire to express God’s love in tangible ways,” was the underlying current in the denomination.

Several teens also posed the question of how they can be more involved in worship services. Metzger recognized that as an area for improvement, but then turned the question to the youth who supplied a multitude of suggestions including: starting service an hour later, adding a band, adding more hymns, or intergenerational discussion and Sunday school.

Plenert also reminded youth that they need to accept what seniors in the congregation want out of worship just as much as they want the seniors to accept new ideas.

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