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Mennonites in Montreal

Jean-Jacques Goulet

February 11, 2003
- By Allison Peters

Winnipeg, Man.—Montreal would not be the first place one would go looking for Mennonites.

But Mennonites have found a home and a ministry in Montreal, Quebec and like anywhere else, they have used their gifts to spread the love of God and message of Christ.

Jean-Jacques Goulet is one Mennonite you will find in Montreal. He is the Director of Outreach and Church Planting for Mennonite Church Canada, as well as co-pastor (alongside wife Lucille Marr) of Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal.

How Goulet became a Mennonite is actually part of a larger story that began with a desire to become a Roman Catholic priest. Goulet was raised a devout Roman Catholic in a bilingual French-Canadian family. However, his one-time desire to pursue the priesthood was diverted when Goulet, like many of his generation, left the church in his teens in search of meaning and answers.

While searching, Goulet was returned to faith through the witness of a friend who was living in an intentional community of believers. The embodiment of the New Testament church he found in community was part of “God leading me back,” says Goulet.

Through his own experience of living in a Christian community at Plow Creek Fellowship, Goulet began to work in more traditional Mennonite settings. He and his wife worked for a couple of years as co-directors of SALT (Serving & Learning Together, a Mennonite Central Committee program) in Kitchener-Waterloo. Twenty years later, they moved to Montreal to begin once again a team ministry.

Balancing the roles of pastor and his Mennonite Church Canada work is challenging, says Goulet, but a joyful spirit and daily devotional routine keep him centred and motivated for ministry.

Goulet’s energy is evident to those around him. Karen Amos, who works with the Montreal MVS unit (supported by Montreal Mennonite Fellowship), has observed the welcoming spirit that Goulet and Marr bring to those around them, making “their place feel like a home away from home.”

Although now practicing a faith quite different from the one he was raised in, Goulet’s family has respected his choices. His siblings have made their own faith journeys leading them to Pentecostal and Roman Catholic congregations. Goulet says his family has been accepting of his faith journey, “My father who is deceased, respected my denominational home. My mother, although still devoutly practicing her Roman Catholic faith, feels comfortable worshipping in each one of her children’s church.”

Goulet is now focusing on the denominational part of his job on congregations at the national level, helping them to think of how their own local outreach and might include church planting, and how the church can continue its role in bringing “healing and hope for those who look for meaning.”

A recent example of Goulet’s initiative was a recently held event entitled “Seeking the Peace of the City,” which offered participants a chance to consider how urban churches can become centres of relevance and outreach for the culture around them.

“It was especially exciting to see several young adults participate in this event, as well as the diversity of folks that came from across Canada,” said Goulet. “Watching how participants creatively grappled with tough issues of being church in the city was inspiring.”

The author, Allison Peters, is a student at Canadian Mennonite University. This article is part of her practicum experience and a pursuit of her interests in writing, editing, and publishing.