It is said that change is inevitable. As true as that might be, it doesn’t have to leave us powerless, for we always have a choice of how we decide to respond to it.
In the four years I served as moderator of Mennonite Church Alberta and on the board of MC Canada, I observed considerable change and I see much more coming. The Future Directions Task Force’s report is being discussed and debated with an intensity I haven’t seen for some time, and to have the people in our church engaged in such a way is invigorating.
The Task Force asked for our ideas and reported its findings back to us. It suggests our strength begins in our congregations and area churches, and that covenants between them will create what isn’t possible alone.
This has been happening all along. A decade ago, MC Canada saved a substantial amount of resources by terminating its Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) program. There were a few who believed so strongly in the value of MVS that they brought it back to life. This program is run by volunteers and continues today.
Over the last two years I have felt a shift in how our area church moderators and pastors work together. These leaders have begun to detect a vision for our church that will only be limited by our imaginations. There is no doubt that these are exciting times for our church.
At our Alberta annual meeting in March, I was energized by the constructive way we reached decisions. The outcomes weren’t always exactly how I had wished, but the honesty, respect and reciprocity that our people showed to each other entrenched even deeper my desire to be a part of our church.
I am grateful for the unique opportunity I had to work with such remarkable and gifted people who are passionate about their faith and about their church. I am thankful for all who I have had the opportunity to work, laugh, agonize and empathize with. I can never be the same.
I have sometimes thought, “What is it that makes us different? Why would anyone choose to be a part of our church?” I believe it has less to do with our decisions and a lot to do with how we arrive at them. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:39).
Ernie Engbrecht is the outgoing moderator of Mennonite Church Alberta.