Three guest speakers will engage the theme of witness at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2022, to be held in Edmonton, Alta., from July 29 to August 1.
The theme of the event is “We Declare: What We Have Seen and Heard,” and is based on 1 John 1:1: “We declare to you...what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”
John Boopalan will speak at the opening worship session on July 29. He is assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at Canadian Mennonite University, in Winnipeg, Man. He is the author of the book Memory, Grief, and Agency and the series editor of the Politics of Scripture that offers commentary on texts from the Revised Common Lectionary on the website politicaltheology.com.
Boopalan has lived in India, the Middle East, and the United States and says he loves cooking and believes in the wonder-working power of God, food and laughter.
He says, “I focus a lot on bodies in my research—how they move for or against others, what makes them act and react, how bodily movements can be transformed towards the ends of healing and justice. . . . Embodiment is the crux of the Christian message. The gathering’s theme of seeing, hearing, and bearing bodily witness, therefore, are quite exciting to address and unpack.”
At the morning session on July 30, Cheryl Bear will address the plenary. Bear is from Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and is a respected voice on behalf of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. She is a founding board member of NAIITS, an Indigenous learning community, and is an associate professor at Regent College. She currently serves as director of community ministry at First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Bear is an award-winning singer/songwriter who shares stories of Indigenous life through story and song. She has released three albums, which have received three Indigenous People’s Choice music awards, two Covenant Awards and a Native American Music Award.
On Saturday evening, she will also lead in a time of story and song.
Kara Carter will address the gathering in the final session on August 1. She is the lead pastor of Wellesley Mennonite Church in Wellesley, Ont. She is a PhD candidate at Martin Luther University College, Waterloo, Ont., researching pastors’ lived experiences with barriers and facilitators as they lead cultural, organizational change. Kara is examining how God’s people are being invited to “go local,” to join with God in their neighbourhoods to further God’s mission.
“The church that many pastors were trained to lead no longer exists,” says Kara. “Structures that once served the church well are not serving the church effectively and yet a replacement organizational structure is not clear. . . . Gone are the days of ‘build it and they will come.’ ” She continues, “The church needs a new story. I believe, as we journey together, a new story will become evident.”
Gathering 2022 will provide the opportunity for members of the nationwide church to re-examine what it means to tell the Good News and to share and hear stories of bearing witness to the gospel of peace.
Registrations are still open for attendance both in person and online. Visit mennonitechurch.ca/gathering2022.
With files from Mennonite Church Canada