The creators of the Anabaptist Learning Workshop (ALW) are starting a new chapter for Anabaptist-Mennonite education in Eastern Canada. As a program offered by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada in cooperation with Conrad Grebel University College , the Workshop has organized learning events at the intersection of Christian faith and contemporary life for laypeople, pastors, new Canadians and others.
After four years of educational leadership, Workshop will undergo a significant change next summer, when the partnership between the regional church and Grebel on this particular initiative will conclude. This fall, the Workshop will offer a number of learning events as usual, including “Canoe tripping as spiritual practice: Deepening the waters of faith.” The final Workshop event will be the annual “Pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders” event in January.
MC Eastern Canada “wants to thank Grebel for partnering on this endeavour and is grateful for the dedicated and creative leadership of [ALW coordinator] Matthew Bailey-Dick and other ALW staff,” remarked David Martin, the regional church’s executive minister, adding, MC Eastern Canada plans to carry the energy and momentum of the Workshop forward as it works toward planning a newly designed education and training program operated by the regional church, offering a variety of events for pastors, congregations and laypeople.
Said Grebel president Marcus Shantz, “We are grateful to have assisted [MC Eastern Canada] in offering ALW over the past few years, and we trust that the experience gained here will inform future education programs. Grebel remains keenly interested in supporting pastoral and lay education programs offered by [MC Eastern Canada].”
During its four-year existence, the Workshop offered more than 50 events covering topics that included: “How to lead a dynamic Bible study,” “Prayer and preparedness for local tragedies,” “Shacking up: Love, sex and church commitment,” and “Following Jesus together while having very different beliefs.” Leaders connected with more than 1,600 participants for interactive, practical learning in more than eight regions within the regional church.
“Shaping and organizing the Anabaptist learning workshop has been a really neat project,” reflected Bailey-Dick. “Some of my best ALW memories are from events where it felt like we were making things in a well-equipped workshop. In a figurative sense, there was sawdust all over the floor, people were trying things out, and there was a sense of camaraderie. And I don’t think there always needed to be an ‘end product,’ because it’s important enough that we cultivated the skill of wonder and the spirituality of learning.”
The Workshop was funded by a five-year grant from MC Eastern Canada’s Legacy Initiative Funds and was implemented by Grebel. Following the expiry of the grant next year, program administration will shift to the regional church.
“We are excited about the new possibilities for resourcing [MC Eastern Canada] congregations and supporting pastors and lay leaders,” commented Marilyn Rudy-Froese, the regional church’s church leadership minister, who will give leadership to the future development of the ALW agenda.