Since I was a young boy, I’ve been fascinated by words, stories and ideas.
So when I heard that I had an opportunity to be a regional representative for Alberta on the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board of directors, which acts in an advisory capacity for the direction of the Canadian Mennonite periodical, I took them up on it.
As it happened, the annual meeting for the CMPS board was taking place in Calgary during my first year. That meant that my responsibilities included helping to arrange accommodation, venues, meals and a fundraising event. Although I am capable of being organized, my natural way of thinking is pretty random, so it was a challenge. But ultimately everything worked out.
Canadian Mennonite is about journalism. It reports on events and ideas concerning Mennonite churches and items of interest to Mennonites in Canada. Mennonite congregations and regional churches that wish to have their events or important discussions covered by CM do well to provide information about their events well ahead of time.
CM sometimes covers uncomfortable topics. Representing authenticity and fact can be uncomfortable, but it builds trust in the long run. Also, for Anabaptists who have a history of theology that includes the idea of a “priesthood of all believers,” it’s challenging to imagine a single medium that could represent the whole diversity of ideas in discussion as our community grapples with what it means to be “church” in the 21st century. There is no Mennonite pope to hand down truth from on high. To be honest, that’s part of what keeps me in the Mennonite church.
There are economic advantages to having a national journalistic publication, too. Being a journalistic publication makes CM eligible for grants from other sources. Additionally, the economy of scale provided by having one national publication means that the cost per unit per household is much lower than it otherwise would be.
The CMPS board is a dynamic group; it’s not just a matter of “plugging people in” to fill positions. The board itself develops, as Mennonites in Canada do, in interaction with the “priesthood of all believers.”
Maybe people are intimidated by the idea of being a board member, feel insecure about their ability to contribute, or wonder if they will have an opportunity to contribute. I felt all of those things, but there was a welcome for me, and I’ve learned a lot in the process.
Art Koop is Mennonite Church Alberta’s representative on Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service board of directors, which oversees Canadian Mennonite’s operations.
Originally published in the Aug. 5 “MCA Communiqué” e-newsletter.