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.
From our leaders
It is difficult to know what the future holds for youth ministry within Mennonite churches in Canada. Change is happening fast for some churches as they experience more immediate declines in the number of youth and children in their congregations.
CommonWord is just over four years old. In that short time we have doubled our sales (reaching more than 10,000 retail customers last year), more than doubled the number of website users, and have continued to circulate half of our loan materials outside Manitoba—and increasingly to people outside our immediate Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University communities.
You are what you eat, or can it be said you are who you work with? There’s also the phrase, “two peas in a pod,” but this time there’s three of us.
On the surface, it could be said that Kevin Barkowsky, Garry Janzen and I are nothing alike, but, as Mennonite Church British Columbia staffers, we certainly can relate to each other in our personal lives.
This year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has been “deepening our walk with one another” as part of a three-year initiative to call us to deeper life with Christ, ourselves and our neighbours.
So I’m out walking in the beautiful spring sunshine and I pass a church that has a large empty parking lot with a sign that says “No Parking.” As I turn the corner, I see the official church sign that states “Everyone is Welcome.”
“It isn’t the authority which is given to me, but the authority under whose I am,” was the answer of a friend when I asked, “So what is it like to wear a clerical collar?” In other words, it isn’t so much who I am, but whose I am, to whom I belong and under whose authority I reach out and speak from.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV).
Most likely, you have heard these words during a wedding ceremony. Although they are fitting for the marriage context, I would suggest that this verse also speaks to our need for each other.
As we explore new possibilities in our journey with a new church structure, the Mission and Service Committee of Mennonite Church Alberta has been dreaming about possibilities in a variety of areas. Some of these dreams will remain dreams, while others, hopefully, will come to fruition.
During this past year, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has focused on the theme of “Deepening our walk with Christ,” in the hope of increasing our openness to encounters with God’s presence in our lives. This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of great turmoil and uncertainty, we need to come back to the One who calms the storm and brings us peace.
This past week I attended a cluster meeting with a small group of pastors from southern Manitoba to talk about mission and church engagement in their communities. The pastors talked about the work that their congregations are doing locally and many voiced the need for more resources and support for their mission committees and the members who serve on them.
I often have the same thought when visiting a first-generation Canadian congregation: I wish my home congregation of Rockway Mennonite could see this!
“Igniting the imagination of the church.” That’s the theme of Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019, to be held from June 28 to July 1 in Abbotsford, B.C. Powerful words, those! What might they mean for us as congregations comprising five regional churches and the nationwide church?
We are uniquely created in God’s image. The key phrase for me is that we are unique, and with the uniqueness comes a journey that is all our own. Our journey may look vaguely similar to that of those around us but could also look vastly different to the journey of others.
Creating space for important cross-cultural discussion is crucial work for the church today. Our paths for the coming year have merged at Foothills Mennonite Church, where Lindo is serving with Mennonite Central Committee’s International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) for a term as a pastoral assistant, and Brenda is a part of Lindo’s mentoring group.
Recently, I heard a story about a young prince named Hullabaloo. He lived in a land where everyone and everything was noisy. When people talked, they shouted at each other. When they ate their soup, they inhaled it with a loud air-over-tongue sound. When they worked, they clanked and bumped until the air was filled with noise.
Aug. 15 marked the end of my three-month sabbatical and my return to the office at Mennonite Church Manitoba. Time took on a special meaning during this leave as I took the opportunity to live into the prairie experience afforded to me by our little farm: raising chickens, gardening, repairing dilapidated buildings and building new ones, caring for grandchildren and golfing.
What do you do when you’re not sure what to do? This was the topic of conversation as a friend and I met around his table this summer. He was talking about his children who were starting out in life. They were facing the usual challenges of children, mortgage and jobs.
The church in North America is shrinking. We see signs of it everywhere. God is pruning back his church. We have a choice to frantically hold on to all that is dying or to pay attention to what Jesus is doing and join in with his new growth initiatives.
When my youngest son “graduated” from Grade 5 in June 2000, his class took a special year-end trip to Toronto. I was working as a school bus driver at the time—we lived in Ontario then—and I drove the bus. The highlight of the trip was attending The Lion King live at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
I’m more and more dismayed by the regionalizing trajectory we seem to be on. From national and international politics to neighbourhoods and churches, it feels like we are contracting our boundaries rather than expanding.