diversity

Discussing the future of an inclusive church

Participants gathered at Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church on Feb. 29 for an initial meeting of In This Together: Anabaptist Network of Canada, to further the conversation about the safety and inclusion of people who are LGBTQ+ in Anabaptist congregations. (Photo courtesy of In This Together Committee)

Twenty-three people gathered in the basement of Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church, together with remote groups in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary, to discuss the future of In This Together (ITT): LGBTQ+ Anabaptist Network of Canada. The idea for ITT came about after an event put on by Pastors in Exile last April called “Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church.”

‘Queer and quirky and profoundly worthy of wonder’

Tamara Shantz, left, and Thea Andres lead the ‘Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church’ event at Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. (PiE photo)

The gathering hymn, “God Welcomes All,” called some 120 people to worship at the opening of the “Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church” event hosted by Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. 

Extending the table

Mesfin Woldearegay, pastor of Bethel Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Kitchener, Ont., leads his congregation in worship at Central Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons. The congregation worships in Amharic, a Semitic language from East Africa. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

English is still the dominant language in Mennonite Church Canada as a whole, but worship also happens every Sunday in Cantonese, Lao, Tigrinya, Oromo and 14 other languages. Unfortunately, links between Euro-Canadian Mennonites and Mennonites of other backgrounds remain limited.

Industrial or Ecclesiastical?

It took two weeks and some intense times together, but by the second "cultural night" of NARPI (Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute), groups were no longer isolated by country or regional cultures. A Mongolian and Japanese team did a dance, Korean and Japanese women led a song, and Chinese and Mongolian participants were the emcees. Yet the richness of each person's identity was clearly present.

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