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Art gallery launches MWC book: In God’s Image


November 4, 2003
- Dan Dyck

Book Cover

Ray Dirks

Winnipeg, Man.— A project that was conceived in 1998 has come to fruition as a result of hard work, global travel, dedicated donors, tireless volunteers and the cooperation of Mennonite World Conference.

So said Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Art Gallery here at the first of several planned book launches for In God's Image: A Global Anabaptist Family.

The project is clearly a labour of love for Dirks, who served as writer, photographer and designer for the book. It was edited by long-time church worker Larry Kehler, also of Winnipeg.

The book offers poignant insight into the time Dirks spent collecting art and curating an exhibit at this year's MWC assembly in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, visiting 17 countries on five continents in the process - an effort that alone took two years.

The pictures and stories between the covers are revealing - not only of the global Anabaptist family, but also of Dirks' passion for affirming all God's people, regardless of ethnic origin. They were recorded during the time Dirks traveled, meeting with Mennonite and Brethren in Christ families and artists around the world, photographing daily life, collecting stories and commissioning art. The exhibition is about to resume its tour, beginning a year in Europe in the Netherlands in late January.

"I always made a point of staying with my host families wherever I went. I wanted to get a glimpse of their lives, not their country's hotels and hostels," said Dirks. In the book, those glimpses turn into revelations of faith and modern day martyrdom.

The work also contains a helpful foreword by MWC president Larry Miller, and meaningful statistics that set the stage for the personal stories in the book: a world map shows the 2003 population distribution of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches; each country section is prefaced with a statistical profile, helping place the personal reflections in context.

The book will be an eye-opener for anyone whose image of Mennonites struggles to get beyond shoofly pie and borsht. The book is a 'must-have' for any Mennonite serious about their faith in today's global village.