By Heidi Epp
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.
Now we have restructured, and many of us are wondering what this means for our gatherings, and our relationships with each other. What can you expect at this gathering?
Gathering 2019 in Abbotsford, B.C., is for everyone in the family. We want to gather to connect with each other, to hear each other’s celebrations, griefs, struggles, hopes, doubts and creativity. We want to hold each other in prayer, but also physically, by shaking hands and embracing over coffee. We want to hear the dreams that God inspires in each of our generations. This gathering is being planned intentionally to bring everyone in the family together, of every age and in every stage of their spiritual journey. We want to celebrate the family that God has called us to be.
This includes activities like an intergenerational crokinole tournament on the evening of June 28, at which participants will be paired with someone from another province. There will be special trophy awards for this tournament. Families who play together hear each other better.
There is a children’s program planned to complement the adult sessions, including teaching, worship and music, and creative indoor and outdoor activities. The children will share some of their experiences in the combined worship time on the morning of Canada Day, July 1.
Youth will bus to Camp Squeah near Hope, B.C., on June 29 and stay overnight. This is an opportunity for them to have their own time to connect, go hiking and swimming, and to engage in conversation about their thoughts on what it means to be “the church.”
On the evening of June 29 and the following afternoon, workshops for adults will be offered, as well as several field trips for adults, families, youth and young adults to local sites and ministries. On the evening of June 30, there will be a coffeehouse geared for young adults but open to all those young at heart!
Finally, July 1 will conclude with a worship time for everyone to celebrate all that God is calling Mennonite Church Canada to be. We will bless each other in and continue to grow in our faith, and in our relationship with each other and the world.
To do “church” is really to do “family.” Family is an inclusive, sustaining gift from God. So let’s open the windows and doors of our imagination and let the Spirit breathe into us as a family. That means we need everyone at the table!
Registration is now open for Gathering 2019! Go to www.ignitegathering2019.ca/registration.
Heidi Epp is the event planner for Gathering 2019. She is an active member of Yarrow United Mennonite Church and conductor of The Fraser Valley Children’s Chorus and Yarrow Community Choir.