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What if.?: Theme for 2003 assembly makes surprise appearances
February 10, 2003
Winnipeg, Man.—The “What if…?” theme for the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in St. Catharines this summer appears to be a question on the minds of many.
The theme, discerned by Mennonite Church Canada’s program committee during meetings last September, has coincidentally appeared in a Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) advertisement (see Canadian Mennonite, January 27, back cover) and The Marketplace [the magazine of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), January/February 2003, back cover]. It was also an early January topic of discussion during Prayer Week in the Essex cluster of churches in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC).
The CMU ad asks, “What if war can’t stop terror?” CMU communications director Kevin Heinrichs says, “The whole idea is that we want to talk about our distinctives rather than trying to appeal to everyone. What do students really talk about in the classroom? What if war can’t prevent terror? Then what do we do?”
The MEDA piece, written by Art DeFehr, poses a series of “What if…?” questions starting with “What if God was serious about creating everyone equal…” (see sidebar).
Dave Brubacher, minister to conference of MCEC led prayer week in the Essex cluster. He explored three “What If…?” questions: What if we lived as we prayed? What if we embraced the mystery of Christ? What if we lived to reveal Jesus?
The theme was inspired by Philippians 1:1-11. MC Canada youth ministry director Anne Campion presented the passage to the Y_MAD (Young Mennonite Assembly Designers) team of planners; their study of the passage led them to complete the question by asking, “What if love prevailed?” – an overarching theme in the Philippians text.
MC Canada program committee chair Craig Friesen comments that the theme is a big one, both in terms of theological exploration and challenge. “Christendom is crumbling — the church and state are growing apart. The commitment and energy we invest in shaping the church and our call from God is perhaps more important now than at any other time in our history. What if all God’s people showed God’s love all the time?” said Friesen.
“Asking the challenging questions can invigorate us and help put the church on God’s trajectory.”
Sidebar: Assembly logos
This year’s assembly logos were designed by Lyndon Froese (Youthful Mennonite Assembly Designers team) and staff member Lynette Schroeder Wiebe (adult logo).
Of his inspiration for the youth assembly logo, Froese comments: The heart represents both God’s love and the core of a human’s being. The heart in the logo does not come to a pointed end, rather, it continues on like the infinity sign. This communicates that God’s love is infinite and eternal. The flames inside the heart symbolize both the intensity of God’s love and what might happen to a person when they come to the assembly, that the ashes in their inner being, their heart, will be re-kindled."
Of the adult logo, Schroeder Wiebe comments, “What if...?
Like ripples from a pebble skipping across the water, the effects of this question are far-reaching. The pebbles, (our ideas, inspirations and Biblical understandings), enter the water and affect the surface tension of our world. All God’s people — individuals, congregations, conferences, and the world-wide gathered church, cast their vision and create ripples as they connect with each other and as each seeks to explore the question, ‘What if…’”