by Laura Carr-Pries
The time spent at the MCEC gathering (April 29-30) was framed by hearing Stuart Murray (author, The Naked Anabaptist) and Alex Ellish speak, both integral members of the Anabaptist network in the UK. They shared stories and hopes for the church with us; to me, this provided an entry into the Future Directions discussions for the weekend. Their dreams for the church struck me as similar to the work EVI is doing, in thinking about what our hopes for the church are. Their sharing moved us into a time of considering mission and the role of church congregations in the local context.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone is praying for a church that can be active in their neighbourhoods, as vibrant, hopeful peoples that move beyond their church buildings.
These topics fed into the discussion of the Future Directions Task Force, as people questioned whether or not the recommendation would empower and enable churches to be these vibrant communities. The floor conversations brought to light many questions and concerns about the recommendation. There was a key moment of reflection on the role of trust in the FDTF process, and wondering how we trust the leaders of our church in processes of discernment. I am left wondering how, as a broader church, do we build trust in congregations and in our leaders, and how do we maintain a sense of agency?
During the floor time, an amendment to the proposal was brought forth by Tom Yoder-Neufeld, and it was affirmed. A final paragraph was added, which states that “the MCEC Executive will provide congregations with opportunities for ongoing consultation and review and an opportunity to vote on a more fully developed proposal no later than July 2018.” These modifications call for greater consultation and discussion in the many conversations that are yet to come.
The question remains: What does this mean for MC Canada Assembly if MCEC voted on an amended motion, which was different from the others? I hope that as Assembly draws nearer, people will continue to share their hopes for what the church can be, and how to place our trust in God in whatever the future holds.
Laura, a member of EVI, studies Theology and Peace and Conflict Transformation at Canadian Mennonite University. This summer she is completing a pastoral internship at Toronto United Mennonite Church. Laura will be part of presenting a workshop with EVI at MC Canada Assembly in Saskatoon, July 6-10.