Mennonite Church Canada

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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. 

Cluster meetings outline changes for B.C. congregations

Informing Mennonite Church B.C. congregations how they will fit into the new structure while MC Canada reorganizes was the focus of two cluster meetings in November. Meetings in Richmond on Nov. 21 and in Abbotsford on Nov. 23, 2017, drew about 20 people each, with participants from Black Creek and Kelowna joining in online for the Abbotsford meeting. “This was especially an effort to bring clarity to how donations should be given in the new structure,” said Garry Janzen, the regional church’s executive minister.

What is the Spirit writing on our hearts?

Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Johise Namwira and Vernelle Enns Penner lead delegates in singing at Sunday morning’s worship service. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

“We don’t all see things through the same lenses. We don’t all agree on every little or big thing, but we are loved by you, and we love.”

That prayerful acknowledgement of diversity and unity as God’s community by Vernelle Enns Penner opened Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 on the evening of Oct. 13 at the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg. 

Serving Mennonite Church Canada

While some delegates at Special Assembly 2017 looked forward to the nationwide church restructuring process, others mourned the loss of what has been an important part of their church life.

At this juncture in Mennonite Church Canada’s history, it seems appropriate to reflect on the church’s work and the impact that work has had on the lives of MC Canada’s people across the country:

It’s all about trust

“What are the dreams that have been placed in us? What has God whispered in our ears? How has God invaded our thoughts?” asked Willard Metzger, Mennonite Canada’s executive minister (formerly executive director). Thus began his final address on Oct. 15 to those who gathered for Special Assembly 2017.

Hope through lament and loss

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.

Laments and hopes for MC Canada

EVI members Laura Carr-Pries and Peter Epp speak to delegates during a seminar at Assembly 2016. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

From left to right: EVI members Alex Tiessen, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Jonas Cornelsen, Laura Carr-Pries and Tim Wenger stand in front of an art piece featuring the laments and hopes of MC Canada Assembly 2016 delegates. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

When Laura Carr-Pries got together with fellow students at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg last year to discuss the challenges facing Mennonite Church Canada, she wasn’t sure how things would go.

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