Gathering 2019

Crokinole boards sold for China mission

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Sales of custom-made crokinole boards from Yarrow (B.C.) United Mennonite Church are helping support Mennonite Partners in China. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Wooden game boards made in Yarrow, B.C., and a crokinole tournament at this summer’s Mennonite Church Canada Gathering 2019 have made a connection with modern-day Chinese Christians and a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist martyr.

The Spirit is moving our body

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Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada.

I knew everything would be okay as soon as the singing started. As I sat at a table positioned behind a small tower of crates half covered in cloth—a makeshift platform for the room’s main projector—I looked up from my detailed program schedule and smiled. Right, this is why we’re here.

Holy Spirit fire and imagination

Pictured from left to right: Darryl Neustaedter Barg; Bruno Cavalca; John Briner, hidden behind the music stand; and Anneli Loepp Thiessen lead the congregation in songs new and old. The other Gathering 2019 worship team members were Moses Falco, Sarah Johnson, Kathy Lumsden and Glenn Sawatzky. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

Many hands were needed to display a 10-metre banner with the theme of Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019. Witness worker Bock Ki Kim presented it to the assembly as a gift from their Mennonite sisters and brothers in South Korea. Throughout the gathering, attendees wrote their blessings and prayers on the banner. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Many hands were needed to display a 10-metre banner with the theme of Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019. Witness worker Bock Ki Kim presented it to the assembly as a gift from their Mennonite sisters and brothers in South Korea. Throughout the gathering, attendees wrote their blessings and prayers on the banner. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

During the worship service on July 1, newly installed executive minister Doug Klassen, left, serves communion to Calvin Quan, moderator of MC Canada, and Lee Dyck, moderator of MC British Columbia. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

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At the Xáy:tem Longhouse Interpretive Centre in Mission (Hatzic), B.C., tour members enter the replica of a pit house, a traditional dwelling of local Indigenous people. The bus excursion took visitors along the Fraser River, where Indigenous tour guide Sonny McHalsie (Naxaxalhts’i) identified traditional territories of the Stó:lō Nation. Visitors also had a brief visit at the former St. Mary’s Residential School. (Photo by Virginia A. Hostetler)

Four youths and an equal number of leaders went on retreat at Camp Squeah in Hope, B.C., during Mennonite Church Canada’s nationwide Gathering 2019. Pictured in front: Rachel Onsorge, a young adult leader from B.C.; and back row from left to right: Liam Kachkar, a young adult leader from Alberta; Sara Ehling and Christine Lee, youth from B.C.; Mike Wiebe, a Canadian Mennonite University representative from Manitoba; Mykayla Turner, a Conrad Grebel University College representative from Ontario; Aidan Morton Ninomiya, a youth from Ontario; and Caleb Friesen Epp, a youth from Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Liam Kachkar)

Mike Wiebe, left, a youth leader at the Gathering 2019 youth retreat, and youth participant Aidan Morton Ninomiya of Ontario make a fire for the others to enjoy at Camp Squeah. (Photo courtesy of Liam Kachkar)

An intergenerational crokinole tournament on the evening of June 28 pitted 48 participants against each other for a time of fun. Teams played on 10 boards custom-made by Christopher Epp, Andrew Kornelson and Darnell Barkman of Yarrow (B.C.) Mennonite Church. Three boards, embellished with the MC Canada logo, were sold in a silent auction and raised $700 towards the work of Mennonite Partners in China. (Photo by June Miller)

“Sing a new church into being,” sang the 300-plus people gathered for the first nationwide meeting of Mennonite Church Canada since its restructuring in 2017. Behind the blended voices was the vision, “Igniting the imagination of the church,” the theme of Gathering 2019, held in Abbotsford, B.C., from June 28 to July 1.

Things I noticed at Gathering 2019

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Members of the worship team lead the singing at Gathering 2019. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

I didn’t used to get nervous leading singing. There were times before leading at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019 when I was nervous. I was less nervous leading 6,500 youth and sponsors at the St. Louis ’99 Youth Convention than some points before leading a few hundred in Abbotsford, B.C., last month.

Good news of Jesus in a traumatized world

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At Gathering 2019's Leadership Day, Elaine Heath encourages Mennonite Church Canada leaders to be good neighbours in a traumatized world. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

The way of the missional God is that the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood, Elaine Heath told church leaders on June 28 at Gathering 2019’s Leadership Day. Heath is a former dean of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

Mennonite Women dissolve national ministry

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Mennonite Women Canada executive members met for one last time at Gathering 2019 in Abbotsford, B.C. Pictured from left: Shirley Redekop, president; Elsie Rempel, secretary; and Liz Koop, past president. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With tears, hugs and 67 years of memories, participants at the Mennonite Women Canada annual luncheon meeting, held on June 30, said goodbye to each other and to their national organization.

Kids make friends at Gathering 2019

Children at Gathering 2019, enjoys fresh bubblegum ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

Maeve Goertzen, one of eight children at Gathering 2019, enjoys fresh bubblegum ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

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Children at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019, held in Abbotsford, B.C., roast marshmallows over an open fire. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

Elliot Siemens, Isaiah Siemens, Leo Doke-Sawatzky and Ian Fehrmoore paint Canadian flags—one to give to Menno Place, a seniors residence in Abbotsford, and one to keep—during Gathering 2019. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

“Our God is a God who makes friends,” sang children from three provinces while playing a clapping game with a partner, laughing as the refrain and the clapping got faster. The words of this song by Bryan Moyer Suderman were ignited into action at Gathering 2019 as they participated in a weekend packed with relationship-building activities, excursions and service.

What to expect at MC Canada’s annual general meeting?

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Q. What is the purpose of the delegate session at Gathering 2019?
A.
 Delegates will review and ratify Joint Council actions; receive and review reports from our programs—International Witness, Indigenous-Settler Relations and CommonWord—as well as the regional churches; and act on any recommendations coming from Joint Council or regional churches.

Gathering 2019 is for the whole family

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Among the tour options at Mennonite Church Canada’s assembly in 2016 in Saskatoon was a bus trip to the Shekinah Retreat Centre. (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

I have many fond memories of attending our annual national events over my lifetime, beginning in my youth at Great Treks and then as a young adult at assemblies. I remember creative and inspiring worship; animated, even heated, business meetings; and, most significantly, making personal connections with my faith community from across the country.

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