by Jonas Cornelsen
As our (extended) fall workshop tour nears its end, you may be wondering: what’s next? We’ve asked ourselves a number of times. Since we still have evening workshops coming up in Winkler and Calgary, plus a Sunday School hour in Lethbridge, it was too soon to compile a final report over the Christmas season.
Make no mistake—there will still be unheard voices after these events. But we have gathered a lot of feedback. Last month we agreed that after the tour, we should turn our attention to making sure that feedback has an impact on the transition process. I recall Anneli Loepp Thiessen saying the people who trusted us with their concerns need to know it’s not just EVI listening. We’re sincere, but we’re not drawing up the final plans.
Although the field work isn’t done yet, it’s time we said a bit about the information we’ve collected, where it’s being kept, and what will be done with it:
- At every workshop, we’ve asked participants to break into small groups and respond to three questions. Groups wrote down their responses to:
- What do we have to let go of to make room for new growth?
- What dreams do you have for the Mennonite Church in Canada?
- What do you want the leaders of the Mennonite Church Canada transition process to know?
- Each group was invited to share their responses with the room, and then the floor was opened for more questions and comments. Some questions were directed at EVI members, some at Keith Regehr (Transition Coordinator) or Willard Metzger (MC Canada Executive Director), who both attended every event. These segments were recorded.
- We collected the response sheets from each group, and office staff at MC Canada transcribed all of them (lots of work—thanks!). EVI and MC Canada both have access to these documents.
- Recordings are being summarized or transcribed by EVI members, so we don’t lose gems “that didn’t make the page” (as Madeleine Wichert put it).
As you can imagine, this is a lot of material. It is unlikely that we’ll present all of it at once (or that anyone would read it all if we tried). Some alternatives we’ve thought of so far:
- Publish a report that highlights common themes across regions, and differences between regions. One wish Anika Reynar expressed last month was that people who came to different workshops could have heard each other. It was a gift for us to learn firsthand how different Mennonite Church Canada looks from Abbotsford to Saskatoon to Leamington. We want to share that.
- Send each transition working group a shorter, targeted document that emphasizes ideas or concerns we heard that are relevant to their area. For example, if there were a working group on church music, we would include the 100% real comment that “all music has to be blues and jazz.”
- Have various EVI members write blog posts on major themes from the tour. These would be released progressively over a few months.
We are looking forward to wrapping up our tour, grateful for all the feedback and support we’ve received, and excited to make it count however we can.
As always, glad to be church with you!
Jonas continues to manage EVI’s online presence from Vancouver. Fun fact: responses to our contact form go straight to his personal e-mail. Say hi!
Don’t forget to attend our final workshops in Winkler, MB (Jan. 13, 7:30, Emmanuel MC), pre-church Lethbridge, AB (Lethbridge MC) or Calgary, AB (Jan. 15, 7:00, Foothills MC) if you’re in the area!