Annual congregational meetings are just around the corner, a time when budget lines designated for regional churches are often queried. I’m reminded that many people do not have the history or know the people who stand behind the dollar figures.
I’m immensely grateful for the foresight of our elders who founded and supported, both financially and spiritually, the many ministries that are bearing fruit today.
Because of them, along with the ongoing support for regional and nationwide ministry, we are lifted up by the smiling faces of children eager to gush about their experiences at one of our camps. Lodges and cabins built by hands now wrinkled or gone await congregations and groups who retreat to nature at these marvellous camps.
In addition to camps, pastors and church planters carry on their ministry with the support of regional church mentors who work quietly in the background. Sometimes that help comes in mundane but critical ways you’re unlikely to see, such as healthcare and pension benefits, or continuing education. While many of our pastors have been shaped by one or more of our higher-education schools, other graduates go on to integrate their learned faith values into careers as varied as the Canadian landscape.
There are Sunday school handouts your children and grandchildren take home, beloved hymn books, songs you sing, and Rejoice! devotional books that guide the daily prayers of many. Books, DVDs, podcasts and worship-arts materials are available from CommonWord, your congregation’s one-stop shop for church resources (shipping is free!). And there is one resource that offers something for everyone: it’s the magazine you’re reading right now. About one-third of Canadian Mennonite’s budget is funded by Mennonite Church Canada and its regional churches.
The Mennonite Heritage Archives keeps alive the stories of faith held in our spiritual ancestors’ diaries, photographs and recordings. In 2022, 95 students and scores of researchers from as far away as Amsterdam, Mexico City and Dnipro, Ukraine, visited to learn about our faith legacy.
MC Canada ministries funded by your congregation’s regional church budget line include support for International Witness workers in four countries and ministry partnerships in 11 more, a work that mutually transforms relationships in the global church. Here at home, we continue to walk toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the efforts of Indigenous Relations coordination. And brand new for this year is a Climate Action office that will invite you on an eco-mission journey.
I’m immensely grateful that we still manage to find ways of connecting with a diverse collection of fellow Christians. Our bi-annual nationwide gatherings, Mennonite World Conference, and our relationships with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches, bring together a wealth of insight and growth for leaders.
I’m grateful for your eyes on these words, for your attention to the stories of challenge and inspiration that are to come this year in these pages, in newsletters, websites, meetings, gatherings and via your own church bulletins. Blessings to you all as we walk the Jesus road in 2023.
Doug Klassen is executive minister of MC Canada.