Prepare for something new and yet familiar

By Katie Doke Sawatzky

Published in The Canadian Mennonite for March 4, Volume 23, No. 5

Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for MC Canada.

Over the past three months, in my role as communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada, I have been busy preparing for the first nationwide event of the “new” Mennonite Church Canada “Gathering 2019.” This work is challenging because, much like trying to envision summer in the dead of winter (Regina is under an extreme cold warning as I write), this event is different than past assemblies. It will be something new, and yet familiar, like spring after winter’s cold, or summer after spring rain.

Gathering 2019 will be a reunion of our nationwide MC Canada family in Abbotsford, B.C., from June 28 to July 1. The theme of the event is Igniting the Imagination of the Church.” The flame and church in the Gathering logo are a reminder of how the Spirit ignited a movement and formed a faithful community to embody God’s love for the world. It continues to do so still. Gathering 2019 is an opportunity to hear what the Holy Spirit is doing in our congregations today so that the hearts and minds of those who gather will be inspired and equipped to imagine what God might be inviting us all to be and do in our various places of life and ministry.

What will happen during these four days in Canada’s Raspberry Capital?

Each day will be full and meaningful. Friday is Leadership Day, a chance for pastors and lay leaders to gather and fellowship with each other and guest speaker, Dr. Elaine Heath. A former Dean of Duke Divinity School, Dr. Heath is from the United Methodist tradition. She is passionate about community as a means of healing trauma, emergent forms of Christianity and alternative forms of theological education for the church in rapidly changing contexts.

MC Canada’s AGM is Saturday morning for delegates selected by the Regional Churches. Delegates will hear reports from the three nationwide programs, Indigenous-Settler Relations, International Witness and CommonWord. They will also adopt a budget and elect officers.

Saturday through Monday everyone gathers for inspirational worship, workshops and plenary sessions with Dr. Heath. Youth ages 13 to 18 are invited to spend Saturday night at Camp Squeah. There will be programming and excursions planned for children ages 5 to 12. Childcare for those 4 and under will also be available. Field trips on Sunday afternoon will create opportunities for everyone to explore the area and discover how God is at work in MCBC.

This Gathering is something new. It is a collaboration of MC Canada, MCBC and a committee of Regional Church representatives, planned for our nationwide community of faith. It is the inaugural Gathering under the new MC Canada structure, which sees more regionally led planning and initiatives. It is a chance to get to know our MCBC family and communities more fully.

Registration and a detailed program schedule will be available online in the coming months. For now, a helpful Q and A page and more details about Gathering 2019 can be found at our special website for the event: www.ignitegathering2019.ca.

You can reach Katie at kdsawatzky@mennonitechurch.ca.