As we launch into 2022, it’s helpful to reflect on the year that has passed. It’s also a time to consider what’s ahead.
With a presence both in print and online, Canadian Mennonite reaches readers within the Mennonite Church Canada family and readers who observe us from outside. I spent time looking at the 2021 content that resonated for both sets of readers.
One widely read section is Readers Write. Last year 118 items appeared there, written by a total of 100 individuals. Predictably, the most commented topic had to do with health—COVID-19 and vaccines—but letters also dealt with questions around more general health care and medical assistance in dying. Writers were interested in theological subjects such as Jesus, evangelism, freedom and forgiveness. Social justice was a popular topic, with letters about indigenous rights, victims’ right and policing. Some letter writers addressed matters concerning the abuse of power: sexual abuse and the survivors of abuse. A portion of letters were about the care of the environment and the climate crisis.
Online readers continue to be interested in Mennonites and their more traditional Anabaptist cousins. “Do Mennonites believe in vaccines?” was a popular question readers searched for. The most-read 2021 articles had to do with Mennonite attitudes toward the coronavirus vaccination. Like the contributors to Readers Write, online readers were attracted to articles about sexual misconduct and social justice. An article about defunding the police got many views as did one on the historical connections between Mennonite Central Committee and national socialism.
These were some things that concerned many of us in 2021 and will likely continue in 2022. What will the world look like as it emerges, God willing, from the weight of COVID-19 in the coming year?
Congregations will undoubtedly be evaluating their life together and asking questions about identity and future activities. There will be some grieving, both corporate and individual. Some relationships might need mending and forgiveness. We might let go of some old practices, but we might also find that habits acquired in pandemic times have value for the “next normal.” All these will be potential stories CM can tell.
The magazine will continue reporting on the activities of the global, nationwide and regional churches, including their major gatherings in 2022. At the beginning of July, Mennonite World Conference will hold the Global Youth Summit and the 17th Assembly. At the end of that month and into August, MC Canada adults and youth will take part in Gathering 2022 and the youth gathering Amplify!
The CM staff consider it a privilege to help tell these stories of our faith family and to be a venue in which its varied voices are heard. Thank you for trusting us to tell and share your stories with all the readers. Thank you also for sharing your opinions—the challenges, the concerns and the affirmations.
This is also a time for expressing gratitude to the correspondents and writers, as well as the columnists, who help fill CM’s pages with meaningful content. They are watching, learning, reporting and reflecting on what is happening in your community and throughout the country. Their regular contributions have been—and will continue to be—vital for this publication.
In this issue, you will read the last of the articles submitted by Janet Bauman. For the past three years, she served as CM’s main correspondent for Eastern Canada. With roots in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Janet brought her curiosity, teaching experience and theological training to her reporting. She writes, “In this role, I have been privileged to experience many stimulating events and meet so many inspiring people. Thank you for that opportunity.” And we thank her in return, for helping in the storytelling.
The search continues for an Alberta correspondent, to help tell the stories of Mennonites in Alberta. The ideal person for both this role and the now-vacant role of Eastern Canada correspondent has writing experience, an interest in the church and a willingness to learn more. In these two part-time positions, correspondents gather news about the people, churches, and organizations in their respective areas, as well as illustrating the news photographically. If you are interested, or know of someone who might be, please let us know.
In the year ahead, we envision you as part of this storytelling effort. Consider this your invitation to suggest ideas for future content. Feel free to contact the regional correspondent in your area, or me at email@example.com.