by Garry Janzen
Published online in The Canadian Mennonite, March 13, 2019
Mennonite Church British Columbia is excited to welcome the nationwide Mennonite church to Gathering 2019 in Abbotsford, B.C.
The imagination of the church is still unfolding and becoming. We have said that the local congregation is the foundational unit of the church. We believe that the role of the regional and nationwide churches is to bring together, celebrate and provide resources for these local missional communities. To hear from each other about what ignites our imaginations is a great idea.
It is inspiring to see creative ways of being the church. Some of these catch the attention of many, who form new congregations. Others are good efforts but don’t last.
Community Table Church, an MC B.C. church plant, gathered and worshipped around a meal. But it seemed that this church plant was a bit ahead of its time. Church planting is a big commitment for the founding core group and, for Community Table Church, many of these people ended up finding church experiences elsewhere that didn’t demand as much of their time.
However, MC B.C. is seeing new currents of church planting, and so perhaps this model will be taken up again.
Gathering 2019 will feature “fire starter” stories and workshops, which will show us the many ways the church is being lived out in gathered communities across Canada. I am convinced that these stories will ignite the imagination among MC B.C. congregants who will be at Gathering 2019. I am also convinced that the MC B.C. stories will ignite the imagination of brothers and sisters from the rest of the country.
I am particularly excited about guest speaker Elaine Heath. I just finished reading her book God Unbound and I highly recommend reading it in preparation for Gathering 2019. I believe she will be a voice that will capture and ignite the hope of Mennonites who really care about the good news of Jesus Christ and about being engaged in God’s mission.
I want to point us all to the Gathering 2019 website as a place for information and inspiration, as well as registration. We picked the July long weekend so people can come without using up vacation time. Of course, coming to the West Coast may inspire people to add some vacation time beyond Gathering 2019.
Gathering 2019 will start with a bang on the afternoon of June 29 with dynamic worship, Heath’s first talk and the installation of the new MC Canada executive minister, Doug Klassen. We will be led into a weekend of engagement. On the morning of Canada Day our time together will come to a close with the celebration of communion.
Garry Janzen is executive minister of Mennonite Church British Columbia.