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A theology for life


Gareth Brandt

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book cover with a strange assemblage of objects, arranged to look like a humanoid robot
Under Construction book cover

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April 30, 2010
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba —Gareth Brandt, the Professor of Practical Theology at Columbia Bible College says that the courses he teaches, from Faith Formation and Spirituality to Psalms, are all about the human relationship with God. He also says that he is troubled by his participation in a selfish consumer-based system in which it is difficult to integrate the theology he teaches into all aspects of his own life.

“I fail most of the time but my quest is that it becomes part of family life at home, how I go about my life on my way to work, at work, my relationships with people, even shopping.”

Brandt will share that message with delegates to Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010 which takes place in Calgary, Alta. June 30-July 3. He is one of three keynote speakers including Lucy Roca, a Quebec church planter and former Colombian refugee, and Doug Klassen, senior pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary.

The text for Assembly 2010, Colossians 3:16, 17, is familiar to Brandt; he had the opportunity to explore it at Mennonite Church Alberta’s Annual Meeting in 2009.

“Words that are personally meaningful to me are the word ‘dwell’ in verse 16 and ‘in all you do’ verse 17,” Brandt notes. The Colossians text expresses “the everydayness in all I do. The dwelling of the word of Christ is deep, not esoteric but ordinary.” He likens it to the clothing – or spirituality – that he wears every day.

With four children ranging from age 9 to 20, the Brandt family has only one car, an effort to reflect the conscious decision to slow down and simplify that Brandt and his wife made when they were first married. “The exterior pace affects interior pace,” he says.

The decision has had financial, physical, environmental and spiritual benefits. “I think of it every rainy day when I get on my bike. My first thought; I’m going to get wet. My next thought; it’s part of all I do as I attempt to live responsibly and to do small things in my commitment to faith.”

Brandt did not grow up in a Mennonite Church Canada congregation, yet feels a deep connection with members of his chosen faith family and says he views the Annual Assembly as a family reunion. “To be asked to speak [at Assembly 2010] is just a great excuse to have to go,” he says. “When I’m there I realize it’s not just about me or my congregation but the bigger family of God.”

He is no stranger to Assembly participation. At Assembly 2007 in Abbotsford, B.C., Brandt facilitated workshops on “identity” and “simple lifestyle.”

Brandt has written extensively on life and theology for a number of Anabaptist/Mennonite publications including Canadian Mennonite, Rhubarb: A Magazine of New Mennonite Writing, and Geez Magazine. His book, Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality, was published in 2009 by Herald Press, the book imprint of Mennonite Publishing Network, the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.