Six people who have been meeting virtually for the last two years via videoconference gathered together in person for the first and only time this summer to speak through and listen to the worship resources that will be part of Voices Together, a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in 2020 for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church U.S.A.
The phrase “singing off the wall,” referring to singing from projected words rather than a hymn book, first appeared in Canadian Mennonite in 2010. This image shows that the practice went back much further. Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., recently donated a collection of glass “lantern slides” probably in use circa 1924-45.
The annual Mennonite World Conference (MWC) World Fellowship Sunday—normally held on the last Sunday in January—is an opportunity to help congregants around the world become aware of what it means to belong to a global Anabaptist faith community. Churches in the Global South are especially attentive to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. World Fellowship Sunday 2018 worship resources have been prepared by regional representatives from Africa.
I’ll be honest right from the beginning: when it comes to music in worship, I’m a hymn-person. Always have been. Especially as a youth, when everyone assumed that because of my age I must be a fan of praise-and-worship music! It’s one of the things that I love about worshipping in a Mennonite congregation: the sense of echoing the faith of those who have gone before us in Christian history, the evocative, poetic theologies of several verses of carefully crafted lyrics, and, of course, the rich, four-part harmonies, blending many distinct voices into a communal act of praise.
A typical Latin American welcome or parting kiss. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)
Young pastors are responding to the call to ministry. Boris and his wife are in a poor mining town in Chile. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)
In each country I was treated to fellowship meals featuring local foods. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)
Church planters hold hands in support of each other after a workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)
A lot has happened since I last wrote. The ten days in Chile were especially unforgettable!
Chile, with seven climate sub-types, is 4,300 km (2,670 miles) long and 350 km (220 miles) wide. I was almost down to Antarctica! Chile leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, income per capita, globalization, transparency, and state of peace. The country has a female president.
A 17th-century Dutch church. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Earlier this month, I was one of many who gathered in the new Marpeck Commons building at Canadian Mennonite University to hear from a panel of “young adults” on their age group and the church.  Judging by the size of the audience (they had to go get extra chairs!), and a feature article on a similar topic in the Feb. 16, 2015 issue of Canadian Mennonite,  this is an issue that many churches are currently profoundly concerned and anxious about.
After the summer of people coming and going, holidays, and uncertain schedules, we finally returned to worship. Although it felt strange coming back up the hill after so many weeks away, entering the space of worship and exciting greetings of old friends and a few new faces, I sensed familiarity, warmth, and rejoicing in community.The theme of worship through the summer had connected with gardening. From preparing the garden soil, to sowing seeds, to nurturing plants, to the harvest, we journeyed through the metaphor of our lives and spirit.