After seminar leader Chris Lenshyn began his post-Christian landscape session by reading chapter 1 of Daniel, he invited participants—48 adults and one baby—to gather in twos to converse about this story of young exiles living out their faith in a foreign land. It is the story, he said, of a group of people expressing their unique values, of “not aligning with society.” The seminar was held at Mennonite Church Canada's Assembly 2014.
Lenshyn, associate pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C., and a member of MennoNerds, an association of Anabaptists who share their insights through an online presence, challenged participants to consider how they live out and express their faith in a post-Christian context. In order to do this, he said, “there is a spirituality that we need to facilitate and embrace,” he said, adding that people can no longer be the “quiet in the land.”
He told the story of Maeyken deCourt, an Anabaptist woman who was martyred for her faith during Reformation times, after persistent attempts to get her to recant failed. While modern North American Mennonites may not be able to grasp the reality of keeping faith in the face of death, Lenshyn called for the same kind of “integrity in Anabaptist presence” as they follow Jesus in their own context.
Confessing that he would make his Grade 2 Sunday school teacher proud, Lenshyn reminded participants: “It begins with Jesus!” People must follow Jesus in order to know him, and be ready to tell their faith story boldly to those around them.
The seminar blurb promised that it would explore “the gift the Anabaptist community can be to our currently diverse Canadian landscape and why we must not be quiet about it.” Although time was short, there was plenty there to challenge and provoke further thought, and the 21th-century Mennonites in the room didn’t struggle to make connections to that reality.
To see links to more Assembly content, go to Stories and images of Assembly 2014.