by Tim Wenger
I wear a number of hats. I am Faith Development Pastor at North Kildonan Mennonite Church, I am a student at Canadian Mennonite University, I am a member of the Emerging Voices Initiative, and I also co-authored an upcoming curriculum for youth groups attending the MC Canada Assembly at Saskatoon, which helps explain what BFC and FDTF are and hopefully allows for youth to enter into the discussion.
On May 3, I led North Kildonan Mennonite Church’s Young Adults in a discussion about the Future Directions Task Force using the questions provided by EVI. The following points summarize what I’ve learned from the experience.
- I discovered that there currently is not a quick summary of the FDTF report readily available. Luckily I had a rough draft of “What Is the Future of the Mennonite Church?” and used it for my own notes. However, the FDTF Report is 24 pages long, it is embedded in a 36-page PDF file with two other documents which might be considered a summary, but it is unclear where one document begins and another ends.
- If the participants in the conversation had heard about the FDTF, it was only through my shameless promotion of EVI on my Facebook page. These are active members of our church community. This raises questions of how widespread church engagement on the issue is.
- A major point of discussion was the need for vision. There was a sense that the FDTF report itself did not seem to be visionary, and a concern that leaders within the broader church have not been given sufficient space to be visionary within their roles without fear of reprisal.
- Within our group there was both recognition of the importance of the wider church, as well as ambivalence for the specific church structures that make up MC Canada. We appreciated assemblies, and the existence of a national school that allowed us to connect with fellow Mennonites across Canada, but realized that we need to hold specific structures loosely as we face uncertain times.
- Mission and Outreach were important themes in our conversation. We realized that of the group present, only three out of eight grew up in NKMC. Friends had reached out to us and invited us to participate in the community. We also recognized that many formal forms of outreach had fallen along the side of the road in recent years as NKMC faced its own problems. This worry connected to FDTF; as we in MC Canada focus inwardly and rearrange ourselves to deal with the struggles we are facing, we are trimming back programming that enables growth. While the expectation is that programming and resources will develop naturally in this new structure, there is a sense that we will lose the outward drive as we focus inwardly.
Tim Wenger wears many hats as pastor, MA student, EVI member, etc. We’re grateful for all the NKMC Young Adults who took some time to tackle our discussion questions. If a group you’re part of would like to share a response, don’t hesitate to contact us!