worship

Worship is what I need

Josh Wallace is Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s interim church engagement minister.

During a Zoom call a month or so ago, a pastor friend mused, “Is worship all we have left?” Our virtual meet-up—all folks involved in congregational leadership—had been sharing various strategies we had tried to carry on with Sunday morning worship services.

Churches cautiously resume worship together

Members of Sherbrooke Mennonite in Vancouver met for an outdoor worship service on July 5. They followed provincial protocols by encouraging masks and discouraging strong singing, and with worship leaders behind plexiglass. The parking lot location allowed sensitive members to stay in cars. (Photo by Garry Janzen)

With most churches remaining closed four months into the pandemic, some in Mennonite Church British Columbia are finding innovative ways to worship together—with limitations.

On July 5, members of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver held an outdoor service in the church parking lot, their first physical gathering since March.

MC Canada congregations offering online worship services

‘This is an unexpected opportunity to work at rebuilding our sense of peoplehood nationwide,’ says Doug Klassen, executive minister for MC Canada. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Mennonite Church Canada, in collaboration with its regional churches and their local congregations, will share worship services each week for congregations across our nationwide community of faith. 

Worship apprentices provide a resource for the church

Students in the Worship Apprentice Program at Conrad Grebel University College, including Rowan Martin (left) and Eunice Femi-Gege (right), tested their skills by leading worship at St. Agatha (Ont.) Mennonite Church on Nov. 17. (Photo by Fred W. Martin)

Students in the Worship Apprentice Program at Conrad Grebel University College come from a wide range of academic programs and church denominations. Pictured from left to right: Chris Fischer, Professor Kate Steiner, Matthias Mostert, Eunice Femi-Gege, Mykayla Turner and Rowan Martin. (Photo by Margaret Gissing)

When students in Grebel’s Worship Apprentice Program led worship at St. Agatha (Ont.) Mennonite Church in November, Colin Friesen, left, a master of theological studies student, joined them and gave the message. Also pictured, from left to right: Rowan Martin, Matthias Mostert, Yeabsra Agonfer, Eunice Femi-Gege, and Mykayla Turner. (Photo by Fred W. Martin)

Every Tuesday, a diverse team of University of Waterloo students gathers for prayer, small group discussion, song teaching and worship-service planning. These students are part of the Worship Apprentice Program offered by Conrad Grebel University College’s Music Department as a skill-building opportunity within the Church Music and Worship Program. 

A farewell to the ‘blue hymnal’

Eighty people from different Mennonite churches, denominations and even provinces participated in Sargent Avenue Mennonite’s hymnal sing-a-thon weekend at the end of September. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Singers sang all 658 hymns from Hymnal: A Worship Book and raised $800 to help Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church purchase copies of the new Voices Together hymnal. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Over the span of a single weekend, Sean Goerzen sang or played every single hymn in the blue-backed Hymnal: A Worship Book. All 658 of them. “I feel like I know the hymnal in a very intimate way now,” he says with a laugh.

West Hills congregation tries ‘messy church’

Children prepare to go for a tractor and wagon ride at a local farm for one of the West Hills congregation's ‘out’ Sundays. (Photo courtesy of West Hills Fellowship)

The West Hills congregation gathers for worship in a home on their ‘in’ Sunday. (Photo courtesy of West Hills Fellowship)

Two years ago, West Hills Fellowship, in Baden, Ont., faced up to its small-church realities. It had lost some families for a variety of reasons, and found it challenging to run programs and Sunday morning worship services.

That’s when the congregation tried a “messy church” model. 

Singing, serving and studying

Members of North Star Mennonite in Drake pack relief kits for Mennonite Central Committee as part of Sunday worship devoted to service. (Photo by Heidi Martens)

Members of Regina’s Grace Mennonite Church spent the month of August studying a single Scripture text. Using Lectio Divina, they listened to the text, meditated on it and responded in table groups. (Photo by Rose Graber)

Members of North Star Mennonite in Drake build picnic tables for a nearby hospital and seniors residence as part of Sunday worship devoted to service. (Photo by Heidi Martens)

Three congregations sing together as Eigenheim Mennonite Church hosts its neighbours from the Tiefengrund and Zoar Mennonite congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Congregants from Tiefengrund and Zoar Mennonite churches enjoy a potluck lunch hosted by Eigenheim Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

When summer comes, many churches experience a drop in attendance. But being fewer in number can be an opportunity to try new forms of worship.

Singing together

This summer, several Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregations chose to worship in creative and perhaps less conventional ways.

Come to the table

Sarah Kathleen Johnson, far right, talks with participants, from right to left, Eva Cressman, Carl Bear and Carrie Martens, at the two-part Anabaptist Learning Workshop worship clinic she led on communion at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., in March. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

For two evenings in March, Sarah Kathleen Johnson led an Anabaptist Learning Workshop focused on the ritual of communion, at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Worship as an act of loving God

'When we come together to collectively recognize and respond to God’s presence in our midst, something happens that we don’t experience on our own,' Troy Watson writes. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

I’ve run into a number of people who are “spiritual but not religious,” who have recently started attending church. They told me they skip the opening worship and just show up to hear the message. When I asked why, one person said, “The music doesn’t resonate with me or the world I live in. It often hinders my ability to connect with God, to be honest.”

Voices Together visual art chosen

‘Alive,’ a pen and ink drawing by Anne H. Berry, chosen for the theme of ‘the death and resurrection of Jesus.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

‘Nine patch No. 8,’ a monotype by Brenton Good, chosen for the theme of ‘praying.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

Visual art for the Voices Together hymnal has been chosen by the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee. The 12 visual art pieces selected will appear in the forthcoming hymnal—including the pew, worship leader, digital app and projection editions.

In spirit and in truth

The heartfelt songs of praise raised by the Meheret Evangelical Ethiopian Church filled the Kitchener First Mennonite Church sanctuary with adoration of God. With eyes closed and hands raised, and even a few tears, Meheret led the gathering in worship. (Photo by Arli Klassen)

The beautiful colours of the Salvadoran dancers from First Mennonite Church began the intercultural worship service. Each tap of their feet or swoop of the dancers’ dresses was done in praise to God and was a magnificent offering of worship. (Photo by Mike Strathdee)

It was a rich night of worship as a diverse group of people gathered at the third annual intercultural worship service at Kitchener First Mennonite Church on Oct. 20, 2018.

Voices Together committee seeks input

The Central Practices Committee, a part of the Voices Together hymnal project, includes, from left to right: Irma Fast Dueck, Isaac Villegas, Heidi Miller, Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Adam Tice and Allan Rudy-Froese. (MennoMedia photo)

Six people who have been meeting virtually for the last two years via videoconference gathered together in person for the first and only time this summer to speak through and listen to the worship resources that will be part of Voices Together, a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in 2020 for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church U.S.A.

Singing off the wall

Photo courtesy of the United Church Publishing House / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

The phrase “singing off the wall,” referring to singing from projected words rather than a hymn book, first appeared in Canadian Mennonite in 2010. This image shows that the practice went back much further. Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., recently donated a collection of glass “lantern slides” probably in use circa 1924-45.

World Fellowship Sunday resources now available

The annual Mennonite World Conference (MWC) World Fellowship Sunday—normally held on the last Sunday in January—is an opportunity to help congregants around the world become aware of what it means to belong to a global Anabaptist faith community. Churches in the Global South are especially attentive to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. World Fellowship Sunday 2018 worship resources have been prepared by regional representatives from Africa.

On harmony

I’ll be honest right from the beginning: when it comes to music in worship, I’m a hymn-person. Always have been. Especially as a youth, when everyone assumed that because of my age I must be a fan of praise-and-worship music! It’s one of the things that I love about worshipping in a Mennonite congregation: the sense of echoing the faith of those who have gone before us in Christian history, the evocative, poetic theologies of several verses of carefully crafted lyrics, and, of course, the rich, four-part harmonies, blending many distinct voices into a communal act of praise.

Singing with the Spirit

Song leaders from a number of MC Saskatchewan churches participated in ‘Singing with the Spirit,’ a weekend music and worship event hosted by Nutana Park Mennonite from Oct. 2 to 4, 2015. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Marilyn Houser Hamm led workshops in song leading and accompaniment in addition to plenary sessions on congregational worship at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Marilyn Houser Hamm led workshops in song leading and accompaniment in addition to plenary sessions on congregational worship at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Practising their conducting techniques at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church are, from left to right: Gwen Ens, Russ Regier, Val Regier, Shelley Bueckert and Monica Dalke. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Practising their conducting techniques at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church are, from left to right: Gwen Ens, Russ Regier, Val Regier, Shelley Bueckert and Monica Dalke. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Participants in Darrell Bueckert’s percussion workshop at the ‘Singing in the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church include, from left to right: Bob Neufeldt, John Elias and Lynn Driedger. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Percussionist Darrell Bueckert, demonstrates the use of a shaker at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“I will sing with the Spirit, but I will sing with understanding.” These words, from I Corinthians 14:15, formed the basis of Marilyn Houser Hamm’s recent music workshop at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

Unforgettable days in Chile and Uruguay

A typical Latin American welcome or parting kiss. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Young pastors are responding to the call to ministry. Boris and his wife are in a poor mining town in Chile. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

In each country I was treated to fellowship meals featuring local foods. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Church planters hold hands in support of each other after a workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

A lot has happened since I last wrote. The ten days in Chile were especially unforgettable!

Chile, with seven climate sub-types, is 4,300 km (2,670 miles) long and 350 km (220 miles) wide.  I was almost down to Antarctica! Chile leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, income per capita, globalization, transparency, and state of peace. The country has a female president.

"You lost me"? Young adults in/and/of the church

A 17th-century Dutch church. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this month, I was one of many who gathered in the new Marpeck Commons building at Canadian Mennonite University to hear from a panel of “young adults” on their age group and the church. [1] Judging by the size of the audience (they had to go get extra chairs!), and a feature article on a similar topic in the Feb. 16, 2015 issue of Canadian Mennonite, [2] this is an issue that many churches are currently profoundly concerned and anxious about.

Changing the language of worship a test of love

Faith Mennonite Church, Leamington, Ont., grew out of a painful split from Leamington United Mennonite Church in the late 1950s over whether to continue holding services in German or switch to English. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Archives of Ontario, The Canadian Mennonite Collection)

Altona Mennonite Church, Man., began meeting in 1962 as an English-language congregation following a split from Altona Bergthaler Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Archives of Ontario, The Canadian Mennonite Collection)

Faith Mennonite Church, Leamington, Ont., is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but its memories are tinged with sorrow as the new congregation grew out of a painful church split.

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