In October, congregants from across Canada gathered for Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg, where they voted to implement a new structure, ushering in a new era for the new nationwide church and regional churches. Less than a month later, Manitobans met to discuss the implications of this change for them.
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).
These words of John from the Island of Patmos are as relevant for us today as they were to the seven churches in the province of Asia who were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing realities of living under the rule of Roman emperors.
Randell Neudorf, pastor of the Commons church in Hamilton, Ont., speaks in favour of the resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. Neudorf spoke of wanting his son, who has an Ojibway background, to grow up in a land that sees him and his people as full members of the human family. The Doctrine of Discovery is a historical belief that lands without Christian inhabitants were empty and open to the predation of Christian princes. The Doctrine continues to influence the law about Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Mennonite Church B.C. moderator Lee Dyck, left, and executive minister Gary Janzen suggest changes to the Being a Faithful Church recommendation on July 9 at MC Canada’s Assembly 2016, before discussion and the vote to approve the amended recommendation. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Harry Lafond of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, left, chats with Ben Pauls during a tour of the Saskatchewan first nation on July 9, during Assembly 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Larry Redpath of Trinity Mennonite Church in Mather, Man., takes part in a smudging ceremony in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation on July 9. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
“A season of change,” lament, fear, anxiety, confession, uncertainty, safe space, brave space . . . hope.
I have always been part of the Mennonite world, having been called to Jesus Christ in my early years; active in the fellowship of the church throughout my youth; and trained by the church through Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, N.Y.
Photo by Marcello Gambetti from freeimages.com
As I’ve continued to follow the process set in motion by the Future Directions Task Force (FDTF), I’ve come to a different place with my thoughts on this major restructuring of our denominational body, Mennonite Church Canada. It seems clear that, with the exception of Mennonite Church Alberta, the recommendations of the Task Force have been approved to some degree by the area churches, and that the restructuring will most likely go ahead.
The following is an abridged version of a letter sent to the Future Directions Task Force and Mennonite Church Canada leaders that was signed by all 24 Witness workers in light of the Task Force’s concluding report (commonword.ca/go/469).