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Mennonite Church Canada marks numerous "firsts"

   
 
Mennonite Church Canada staff take in an address by general secretary Dan Nighswander. Front row from left to right: Edith von Gunten, Neill von Gunten, Walter Franz, Donovan Jacobs.
   

Feb 21, 2002

Winnipeg, Man.—With the appointments of new staff nearly complete and the reassignment of some former bi-national and national staff, Mennonite Church Canada is well on the way to achieving a number of "firsts" in the way programs and ministries will take shape in the future.

This is reportedly the first time:

  • The country-wide church will have devoted offices for multicultural ministry, pastoral care for mission workers, youth and young adult ministries, congregational partnerships, human resources, and Christian education and nurture.
  • The Canadian church takes full ownership of international ministries, Christian service ministries (such as Mennonite Voluntary Service Canada) and others.
  • Mennonite Church Canada shares positions with area conferences. Mission Partnership and Education (Norm Voth) is shared with Mennonite Church Manitoba. Resource Development is shared with Mennonite Church Manitoba (Al Rempel), Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Conference of Mennonites in Alberta (Gerd Bartel), and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (yet to be appointed).
  • There are dispersed staff working from locations in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

In addition, the predominantly Russian Mennonite make-up of MC Canada staff is bcoming seasoned with surnames like Robinson, Goulet, Bogoya, Lo, Jacobs, Campion, and Nighswander. At a recent retreat, staff lined up according to when their ancestors arrived in Canada; the time line spanned from 8000 BC to the 1970s. Aboriginal staff member Donovan Jacobs pointed out, "The 8000 BC time frame depends on whether you subscribe to the Asian land bridge theory," referring to anthropological speculation of aboriginal ancestry.

A few other notable facts help to flesh out the make-up of MC Canada workers:

  • Forty-eight per cent of staff are female; Three out of five executive leadership staff are women.
  • The average age of mission workers: 43; Staff: 45.3; Combined age distribution of mission workers and staff: age 20-30: 6%; 30-40: 22%; 40-50: 43%; 50+: 29%
  • Spoken languages now encompass Spanish, German, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, and English. One can even get around in Arabic and Hindi.

In an address to gathered staff, general secretary Dan Nighswander said that "we want to remember that Mennonite Church Canada is not staff; it is every member of every MC Canada congregation and area conference across Canada."