Learning as we go

June 19, 2019 | Editorial | Volume 23 Issue 13
Virginia A. Hostetler | Executive Editor
Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

While getting together to worship and be inspired, to enjoy mealtime conversations and to do the business of the larger church is not new, this gathering has some new elements. A smaller staff for the nationwide church means that responsibilities for the gathering have been distributed in new ways. There will be some new faces, and some familiar faces may not be there. Congregations are no longer sending delegates for the decision-making of MC Canada; the delegates are now representing their respective regional churches (formerly called area churches or conferences).

Earlier this year, delegates from individual congregations did meet for inspiration and business in their own geographical areas. In February, MC B.C. held its annual meeting; we reported on it in “B.C. delegates engage together in ‘God’s mission’ ” (March 18, 2019 issue). MC Manitoba met at the beginning of March. You will find the report also in the March 18 issue, entitled, “New structure brings challenges and opportunities.” Following that came MC Saskatchewan’s annual meeting, covered in “Considering bylaws and budgets,” in the April 1 issue. MC Alberta delegates gathered in mid-March; you can read about the event in “MC Alberta embraces new life, hope and possibilities,” in the April 1 issue. At the end of April, MC Eastern Canada gathered; that report is entitled “It’s all worship” and appears in the May 13 issue.

New things are happening at many levels of the church. This reality presents opportunities for courage and creativity, as well as an invitation to let go of some old patterns. We’re all learning as we go. 

Watch for reports on Gathering 2019 in the July 22 issue of Canadian Mennonite.

Hello and goodbye

A new name appears in the masthead on page 3. We welcome Joanne De Jong, the new Alberta correspondent, who began on June 1. Joanne lives in Edmonton, where she attends Holyrood Mennonite Church with her husband Werner, who serves as pastor there. In the fall and winter of 2018, they volunteered at the Meserete Kristos College in Debrezeit, Ethiopia, mentoring and tutoring students, visiting, counselling and speaking. Joanne attends many events within MC Alberta and likes connecting with people there and in her own community.

Joanne joins CM’s team of correspondents who, along with Ontario writers Joelle Kidd (Greater Toronto area), Zach Charbonneau (Leamington area) and Maria H. Klassen (Niagara area), are always on the lookout for news and “people stories” in their areas. Feel free to be in touch with the writer near you if you have suggestions for content that would interest CM’s readers.

And a time for goodbye. On page 12, columnist Melissa Miller says farewell after an almost-17-year stint with her Family Ties column. Through the years, she explored relationships—in our immediate families and within our communities and congregations. With a spirit of gentleness, she wrote about her own life in a way that was relevant to readers’ own experiences, both affirming and pushing them in how they live out their faith. 

In Melissa’s first column, published in the Sept. 9, 2002, issue, she put forth a challenge that remains relevant: “As people of faith, can we draw on the resources of God’s love and the Spirit’s wisdom to strengthen our relationships?” As we say goodbye and thank you, that invitation inspires us toward ongoing faithfulness. Thank you, Melissa.


The next issue of CM will be digital-only, sent out on July 3. If you are a digital subscriber, it will appear in your email inbox, not with the usual PDF but with links to online stories. It’s not too late to sign up to receive that issue and the other digital issues that will go out during the summer and at the end of the year. See details on page 28 or at canadianmennonite.org/subscribe/digital

This is a new direction for the magazine, so we welcome your feedback. While the commitment remains strong to the readers who prefer print, this new direction explores another way of communicating with readers, cuts down on the use of paper, and it saves on the costs of printing and mailing. The next print issue will be mailed on July 22.  
Read more editorials:
Between 'Pure' and Mennonite Heritage Week
Motivated by fear
Holding out the Christ-light
Costly perfume
First impressions

Further reading about Gathering 2019:
God's love will ignite the church's future
What to expect at MC Canada's annual general meeting?
Gathering 2019 events
Gathering 2019 is for the whole family
Meet the speaker for Gathering 2019
Welcome to Gathering 2019
Raspberry capital beckons Gathering 2019
Places to visit while at Gathering 2019
Prepare for something new and yet familiar
Come and let your imagination be ignited

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

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Are we "learning as we go?" I observe that we are seeking to learn from other failing communions and ignoring those Anabaptist cousins who seem to be holding their own (EMC, Hutterite, Holdeman) or modestly thriving in this age. If learning as we go is accommodating a secularizing Canadian culture more and more, and a biblical Anabaptism less and and less, the observation seems plausible. I am not convinced it is the way forward.

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