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Seminar slate an exciting complement to annual assembly


Winnipeg, Man.— At this year’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon (July 3-7), there will be up to thirty-seven seminars to choose from—the biggest offering of seminars staff ever recall having at an assembly.

While the discernment sessions remain the focus, says general secretary Dan Nighswander, "we want to broaden the appeal of assembly by offering personal development and spiritual fulfillment in a variety of venues. I hope we can make assemblies a vibrant, community building event for individuals and congregations from across Canada."

In addition to seminars, there will be a pre-assembly conference called Making Peace with the Land (Osler Mennonite Church, July 2-3) focusing on the agricultural crisis in Canada. The dialogue on food, faith, and farming is more important than ever since recent news reports suggest the US government will take on a stronger protectionist stance in agricultural policy by offering subsidies and incentives to its farmers. Making Peace with the Land participants will join the traditional minister’s conference on July 3 to continue the dialogue in that context. Several seminars also use the agricultural theme to explore food politics, food safety, and the urban/rural relationship.

Participants in a post assembly Diversity Consultation hosted by Mount Royal Mennonite Church on July 7 will consider how best to include and encourage the forty non-Swiss/Russian Mennonite Church Canada congregations who worship in twelve different languages. Leaders of the consultation will explore minority/majority partnerships with the goal of promoting church planting and development, church growth, and evangelism within our diverse cultures, languages, and traditions.

Complete details will be included in the May issue of Equipping Canada, a ten-times yearly mailing from MC Canada. A preliminary seminar sampler follows:

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  1. The Global Banquet: Politics of Food*
    Participants in this seminar will dine on an acclaimed video (25 minutes) which presents a first-hand look at the global food table and the challenges facing it in today’s world. Discussion to follow. (*produced by the Maryknoll Institute, a U.S. based Catholic mission movement founded in 1911). Led by Making Peace with the Land Organizers
  2. Is Food Safe?
    Food safety and food security are on the minds of many consumers, and a daily reality for producers. What are some of the latest findings, and where do we want to move as a society? Come to listen, learn, and discuss. Led by Gary & Ed Cornelsen (speaker to be confirmed).
  3. Country Mouse/City Mouse
    Urbanites and rural dwellers often seem a world apart. How can these two become ‘closer cousins’? Discover places and networks offering rural/urban connections, church-initiated farm support projects, and ways to build faith-based sustainable community development that witnesses to God’s vision of healing and hope for the world. Led by Greg Bowman (representing Mennonite Food, Faith and Farming)
  4. Take Care – It’s the Only World We’ve Got
    Earthcare and keeping the faith are the mandate of the Mennonite Environmental Task Force. Learn what METF is doing, and how you can get involved. Led by David Neufeld, representing Mennonite Environmental task Force (speaker to be confirmed).
  5. Churches Planting Churches
    How can churches plant churches? Is the Spirit calling your congregation to look at options for church planting? Come hear the stories of several congregations that have reached out across the street/city. Led by Jean Jacques Goulet, director of outreach and church planting for MC Canada.
  6. Prayer: A Spiritual Resource for the Missional Church
    Someone has said, "we do not pray for the work, prayer is the work." Prayer was critical in Jesus’ ministry. We too want to align our efforts in mission with God’s purposes in the world. Come and explore prayer and ways we can pray that nourish and energize us to do what God calls us to. Led by Steve Plenert, constituency connections coordinator, MC Canada
  7. When Cultures Come Together
    How can we appreciate and accept other cultures when we find them strange, weird and hard to understand? Participants in this seminar will look at critical characteristics of cross-cultural experiences, such as how to learn from each other, how to avoid patronizing, subservient, and stereotyping attitudes, what level of interaction can be expected, and suggestions for cross-cultural icebreakers. Led by Samson Lo, director of multi-cultural ministries, MC Canada
  8. Peace Circles of Faith: Native Aboriginal Leadership
    This workshop will explore and discuss many of the issues involved in native education, learning style, world view, offer a philosophy of education, as well as many practical teaching methodologies for those wishing to be involved in creating a native discipleship program. Join others interested in strengthening and equipping native leadership so that they can foster leadership in their local communities. Led by Donovan Jacobs (constituency education facilitator, MC Canada) and Walter Franz (director, native ministries, MC Canada).
  9. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
    Join this group for biblical journey and Bible study time on the theme text for the assembly. Led by Dan Nighswander, general secretary, MC Canada.
  10. Are short term mission trips racist?
    Floradale Church has sent many short-term mission groups to both national and international communities, including Labrador, Guatemala, and Brownsville, TX. Using the film "Free Indeed", representatives of this congregation will share their experience in other cultures, how they prepared themselves to go and discuss issues around "why we want to serve." Led by Fred Redekop, pastor, Floradale MC.
  11. Internet and Community: The New Reality
    The Internet is a real and changing force on the social landscape. There are addictive computer games, chat rooms, virtual relationships, role playing, and pornography. Email communication changes how we relate to one another and removes the face-to-face component. How is technology changing the values, ethics, and accountability of community we hold dear in the church? Join this provocative and informative discussion on the borderless Internet. Led by Stuart Williams, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Canadian Mennonite University.
  12. Get a Grip
    Get an understanding of your congregation’s missional potential. We will share 7 ways that your congregation can become more intentional in developing its missional purpose. Led by Jack Suderman, executive secretary, MC Canada Witness.
  13. Get Connected
    Is your congregation closely connected to mission opportunities across the street and around the world? Mission partnerships are energizing and dynamic, but they are not necessarily easy. We will share resources that your congregation will want to consider in thinking about mission partnership connections. Led by Jack Suderman, executive secretary, MC Canada Witness.
  14. Is your congregation breaking the law? We will explore the legalities and dynamics of designated giving, and the legal restrictions on a congregation’s rights to transfer money to people or charities in other countries. This workshop will be an eye-opener. Don’t miss it. Led by Pam Peters-Pries, executive secretary, Support Services, MC Canada.
  15. I just do the bulletin "Talking to members of my own congregation can be a bit frustrating since many of them have no idea what I do (beyond printing the bulletin)", wrote one MC Canada church secretary. Church secretaries lead a frequently lonely work existence and often feel undervalued in the life of the church. Join this group to meet your counterparts from other MC Canada congregations and talk about how to support each other in these roles. Dedicated to the office administrators who make things happen at the congregational level. Leader - TBA.
  16. Should Your Church have a Web Site?
    How do you decide whether or not to have a web site? Why have one and how do you make it a reality? Can a church web site be a form of congregational outreach, or is it just ‘technology’? How can it serve the congregation and the surrounding community? What are some of the pitfalls of a congregational website? What kinds of gifts/expertise are required to build a web site? How might a web site change relationships with others or create new relationships/new ways of creating new relationships? Join this group for an interactive panel discussion. Moderated by Stuart Williams, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Canadian Mennonite University. Panelists (to be confirmed) are Daniel Rempel (webmaster, MC Canada), Les Klassen Hamm (information technology contractor and former pastor), Don Friesen (pastor, Ottawa Mennonite Church).
  17. Lay Leaders – God’s gift to the Church
    What is the role of "laity" in our understanding of church? What do concepts such as "ministry of the laity," "priesthood of all believers," and "Ministers – each member of the congregation" mean? And what is the role of pastoral leaders in the calling and formation of ministry gifts among the people? Why do we distinguish leaders with titles such as "pastor" or "lay leader"? Explore these and other questions in a seminar led by Maurice Martin, director of congregational leadership, MC Canada.