Mennonite Church Canada

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)

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.

Learning as we go

Ministers talk during a Mennonite Church Canada conference in Saskatoon in 2016. "New things are happening," Virginia A. Hostetler writes. "We’re all learning as we go." (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Gathering 2019 starts next week. From June 28 to July 1, several hundred attendees from across Canada will meet in Abbotsford, B.C., for the first major event since the re-structuring of the Mennonite Church Canada. Thank you, MC British Columbia, for hosting this gang! 

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

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.

MC Canada primer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

Gathering 2019 is for the whole family

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.

The future is now

Mennonite places of worship across Canada.

I posed one question to the 186 Mennonite Church Canada congregations for which my search engine found email addresses. My question: “What changes has your congregation experienced as a result of the Future Directions decisions of October 2017?”

Mennonite Church Canada thanks Willard Metzger

At the farewell celebration on Oct 21, 2018, Ken Warkentin, the executive director of Mennonite Church Manitoba, presents outgoing executive director Willard Metzger with a gift from the Executive Staff Group of MC Canada. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

(Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

(Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

A farewell celebration was on the agenda for the Mennonite Church Canada Joint Council and Executive Staff Group, that were both meeting over the weekend of Oct 21, 2018. Along with other friends and well-wishers, they gathered at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg to thank Willard Metzger for his years of service as executive minister of MC Canada.  

Paetkau to serve as MC Canada interim executive minister

Henry Paetkau will serve as the interim executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada beginning on Oct. 16. He replaces Willard Metzger, the current executive minister whose term ends on Oct. 31, 2018. Paetkau brings with him a diversity of experience that Joint Council believes meets the current needs of MC Canada during this time of transition. Most recently, he served as area church minister for MC Eastern Canada. Previous to that, he was president of Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., for eight years, and denominational minister of MC Canada for three years.

MC Canada staffer sentenced to seven days in jail

Steve Heinrichs and supporters gather for prayer outside the courthouse in Vancouver during his two-day trial on Aug. 7 and 8, 2018. (Photo by Brad Leitch)

Steve Heinrichs works on a statement to the court explaining the motivations for his act of civil disobedience, and how, in his mind, it was not in contempt of court or ‘the rule of law,’ but in defence of fundamental Indigenous human rights. (Photo courtesy of Steve Heinrichs)

Steve Heinrichs was found guilty of criminal and civil contempt of court in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver on Aug. 8, 2018, and was sentenced to seven days in provincial jail. He was immediately taken into custody and transferred to the North Fraser Institute in Coquitlam to serve his sentence. (Aug.

A picture of gradual decline

Above: Donations from congregations and individuals to national and area/regional church bodies. (All dollar figures adjusted to 2018 dollars.)

Above: Dollar amounts to be forwarded to MC Canada in 2018. (Not included are contributions from regional churches to post-secondary schools or added budget lines for staff to take over some tasks previously performed by MC Canada staff.)

Often our society relies too much on numbers. In gravitating to quantification we tend to short-circuit the truth, which is nuanced and multilayered.

But when it comes to our denomination, I would like to see more numbers. Specifically, how has overall giving to area/regional churches and Mennonite Church Canada changed over time?

MC Canada Joint Council update 

Seven months after the creation of a new structure for Mennonite Church Canada, the Joint Council met for its third meeting on May 5 and 6, in Toronto. 
•  Members approved “in principle” a budget of $2.08 million for the nationwide church’s fiscal year ending in January 2019. This exceeds the target of $1.92 million originally proposed, but is seen to be more realistic at this point in the transition. (See more about financial trends at “A picture of gradual decline.”)

Willard Metzger to complete term with MC Canada

Willard Metzger has served as executive director of Mennonite Church Canada since 2010. He will be completing his service at the end of 2018. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

After careful consideration and prayer during meetings in Toronto on May 5 and 6, the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada discerned with executive director Willard Metzger that it was the time to seek new leadership for the nationwide church. The Joint Council has appointed a search committee, chaired by Geraldine Balzer, to determine leadership needs and to find Metzger’s successor.

We know who we are

 

Common knowledge helps to form our identity. It creates the basis from which to describe ourselves and helps us to understand others.

Change can create a crisis of identity. When what we thought to be fact changes, it can create a distressing cloud of confusion and uncertainty. We wonder if there is anything we can know. And we no longer trust what we think we know. 

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