A particular joy this year has been the restarting of events cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At my local Mennonite Central Committee relief sale in New Hamburg, Ont., a few months ago, the excitement was thrumming in the air as we all thronged together along the dirt paths and in the arena building: “So good to see you again!” “Tell me how things are with you.” and “How have you being coping?” Even more than for the spring rolls (oh, the long line!) or the pork-on-a-bun, we were hungry for reconnection with each other.
This publication—in print and online—has a unique role in our church body as that place where we can cross paths and share of our lives with each other across this vast land. Often the updates are happy and joyful. Sometimes they are raw and grief-filled. They show us stumbling towards the light, seeking to be the body of Christ together and helping us to see more clearly God’s work in the world.
It was a great privilege to be part of this up close when I was editor and publisher of the magazine from 2004 to 2009. When I was at church gatherings or visiting congregations, camps, schools, and being billeted in homes across the country, I was welcomed not because of me specifically, but because of the good will towards, and appreciation for, this shared project that we create together.
Thinking of things that changed at the publication during my tenure, one of these is visible every time you receive the printed magazine or visit the web site. At Canadian Mennonite’s 10th anniversary in Sept. 2007, we launched a full redesign of the publication, including the new logo with its distinctive sturdy handwritten feel. (For typography fans, this font is named in honour of the 12th-century Saint Sava, who was famous as a peacemaker in his time.) Like the logo, that overall design, with its fonts, visual language and design cues (including the subtle small box that ends articles) has also proven itself sturdy and long-lasting.
During these years, we also made a switch to a new printer and a new printing process—finally, the ability to print many more photos in colour! We adopted new desktop publishing and website management software, significantly automated the layout process, launched the digital delivery of each issue in full via e-mail and the website, and developed new subscriber administration, donor receipting and article/author/topic databases.
My thanks to the dedicated head office staff, regional correspondents, columnists and contributors across this country helping us tell our stories, especially those long-serving staff members that have been part of the publication, in several cases, for a decade or more. I’m very grateful to CM board members, with whom I worked so closely, and to the members of the Canada-wide advisory group I formed that helped me work through the thorny problems that come with this role.
The opening verses of I John were a lodestone for me as editor and publisher. If I had the good fortune to visit your congregation, I very likely mentioned these verses: “We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (I John 1:3-4).
The longevity of this publication (and its predecessors Mennonite Reporter and The Canadian Mennonite) is ultimately due to the many, many Canadian Mennonites who have declared through it what they have seen and heard. In this, we all grow in our relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ, and with each other so that our joy is made complete.
Read more stories from CM's 25th anniversary issue:
Feature: A defining moment revisited
Editorial: Giving thanks for 25 years
Donita Wiebe-Neufeld: Still happening
Angelika Dawson: Two stories about my son
Dave Rogalsky: Visiting congregations