Mennonite Church Canada logo
News» Releases» What if?

What if?


St. Catharines 2003 Program Committee:

Front: (l to r) Karen Schellenberg, (pastor, Portage Mennonite, MB); Mildred Roth (ON); Dan Nighswander (general secretary); Frieda Hildebrand (local hosting chair), Dan Dyck (director of communications);

Back: (l to r) Pam Peters-Pries (executive secretary, Support Services); Anne Campion (youth ministry director); Craig Friesen (chair and pastor at Rosthern Mennonite); Karen Peters (administrative assistant)

Y_MAD (Youth Mennonite Assembly Designers) is 7 young people and 5 adults from across Mennonite Church Canada.

Kneeling: (l to r) Darryl Neustaedter-Barg, (director, media ministries, Mennonite Church Manitoba), Billy Chiew, (pastor Grace Mennonite, BC), Nelson Huang, BC, Herb Sawatzky (pastor at Niagara United Mennonite, ON)

Middle: (l to r) Lyndon Froese, MB, Jennifer Loewen, AB, Denise Valle, SK, Darren Kropf, ON, Eryn Smit, (pastor at Vineland United Mennonite, ON), Anne Campion, (youth ministry director at Mennonite Church Canada)

Back: (l to r) Jana Schachowskoj, ON, Arielle Campion, ON


October 21, 2002

Winnipeg, Man.—What if we really understood ourselves as partners with God?

This and other "what if" questions were explored, dissected, and reassembled as Mennonite Church Canada's program committee, prayed, worshipped, discerned scripture, and wrestled with a variety of theme ideas for next year's annual assembly in the St. Catharines, Ontario area (July 9-13, 2003).

The program committee, which met from Sept 19-21, also incorporated earlier counsel from over 100 individuals from across Canada, including conference ministers, board and council members, and staff. The theme later re-emerged as "What if all God's people…?" using a text from Philippians 1:1-11 to consider the characteristics of the church God calls us to be. Counsel from those surveyed repeatedly emphasized a desire to focus on the missional church.

"There is a desire on behalf of the wider church to explore more deeply missional church ideas, which invite Christians to dream about the possibilities of what can happen when we ask of ourselves, our congregations, and our communities, 'What if we saw our world through Jesus' eyes?'" said committee chair Craig Friesen.

"The 'what if' theme allows room for the delegate body to explore a wide variety of missional church characteristics, from diversity to hospitality, from healthcare in a Christian context to peace and justice, and many other sub-themes," said general secretary Dan Nighswander.

Assembly 2003 is anticipated to draw a huge contingent of youth. "We're hoping for 600-800 youth," said youth ministry director Anne Campion. "We've already assembled our youth team and have begun working on ideas and plans for next summer.

Organizers are hoping Assembly 2003 will draw a huge contingent of youth. "We're planning for 600-800 youth," said youth ministry director Anne Campion. "We've already assembled our youth team and have begun working on ideas and plans for next summer."

The youth planning team call themselves Y_MAD (Youth Mennonite Assembly Designers). Their goal for the Youth Assembly is that it would "be about and for God." Campion said, "I was thrilled at the sense of God's presence and the energy present as Y_MAD met for our first time together. The level was so high that Y_MAD felt there was no reason why we should not pray for 1,000 youth to join together in St. Catharines 2003!"

Frieda Hildebrand (Vineland Mennonite Church) has accepted the post of local hosting chair and has already been active in building assembly awareness in the local church cluster, connecting with local pastors, and soliciting for local volunteers. "I estimate we'll need 200 or more volunteers to show off our Southern Ontario hospitality here next year. It will be a great opportunity for community building among the hosting congregations," she said.

The program committee will meet again in February to finalize facility selection and meet with local hosting committees.