We declare what we have heard and seen
This verse formed the theme of the Mennonite Church Canada gathering in Edmonton at the end of July. It has been three years since the nationwide church has been able to gather together like this so it was fitting that we would come together to declare what we have heard and seen.
At this gathering we heard stories of what has been happening in the church across the country and also beyond our borders through the International Witness program. Our time together included worship, sharing, workshops, and business sessions. Prior to the official gathering there was a day for Spiritual Leaders where we worshipped together and also heard from MC USA Executive Director, Glen Guyton as he spoke about activating congregations to spark lasting change.
During the Gathering 2022 worship times we heard “echo stories” - stories from the church that echoed God’s voice in the world. We heard from a congregation in Edmonton that includes some of the more vulnerable in society, ministering to them and being ministered by them. We also heard from an Indigenous person about how significant it was for her to have a song from her tradition (Cheyenne) included in the Voices Together hymnal.
In one workshop I heard how Anglicans and Mennonites are working together and breaking down barriers. Another workshop spoke about relationships between congregations in Canada and sisters and brothers in Burkina Faso, Benin, and elsewhere. Mennonite Church Canada is currently working with Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia as they seek to pair up congregations to develop mutual relationships.
On Sunday afternoon a group of us also went to worship at Edmonton South Sudanese Mennonite Church. Pastor Reuben spoke to us and encouraged us to “love God and love each other.” It was a wonderful time to share together with this small but enthusiastic group. The afternoon ended with a delicious meal of South Sudanese food prepared for us by the members of the congregation.
During the days of the gathering we spent much time in worship and it was good to hear the speakers, sing the songs, and celebrate what it means to be a part of the body of Christ, the church. I left the gathering confident that God is at work in the church and will continue to guide us and lead us. May we always be open to participate with God in this exciting “kingdom” work.