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Enthusiasm for  MPN, Third Way merger


November 15, 2010
-Deborah Froese

Saskatoon, SASK. — The merger between Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) and Third Way Media (TWM) has been met with enthusiasm by Mennonite Church Canada’s Christian Formation Council and General Board.

The board approved the merger on Nov. 12, 2010 during Mennonite Church Canada’s Fall Leadership Assembly at First Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

The decision followed a series of discussions at various board levels, including those with Christian Formation Council and Mennonite Church Canada staff  at Hidden Acres Campground in New Hamburg Ont. on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Dave Bergen, Executive Secretary of Christian Formation, said that during those meetings, Council focused on how a newly merged publishing entity could best serve the Mennonite Church Canada constituency.

However, Bergen pointed out; concern was not their primary response.

“They expressed a lot of excitement at the new synergies and creativity that will come from the coalescence of  MPN’s print-based communication with the range of existing multi-media gifts TWM brings to the merger, not to mention the new possibilities that  are likely to emerge in what is increasingly becoming an ‘e-world,” he said. “The merger will generate fitting resources for a church that is called to live and serve in a fast-paced digital environment.”  

Lisa Carr-Pries, chair of Formation Council, pointed to new opportunities for Sunday School teacher training as an example of synergies created by the merger.

“I'm excited about the possibilities of using video media to support our print media as we train, support and produce faith formation pieces for our teachers, children and families. I also think that TWM’s strong historical connection with mission will enhance our focus on what it means to be a missional church,” she wrote in an email exchange. “It brings with it space to dream and envision a new way forward. This is an exciting time for the North American Mennonite church!”

Bergen noted that the recommendation presented to the General Board summarized concerns raised by Formation Council. It establishes the foundation for “an ongoing, equitable Canadian voice” at all levels of operation, and for monitoring its health and effectiveness as a bi-national entity.

The merger between MPN and TWM was prompted by significant changes in the publishing industry, financial challenges facing both organizations, and recognition of a growing need to publish material through a variety of media to engage younger audiences.

The current business plan seeks a new name for the merged entity to signal a new direction and fittingly address its new and more diversified role. It calls for initial leadership from the current board of MPN and allows for the possibility of additional members to represent the broader perspectives of the new entity. These directives do not preclude further discussion.

A studio and warehouse currently owned by Mennonite Mission Network in Harrisonburg, VA will house the organization, with ownership of the building transferred to it. Some staff are expected to reside in Canada.

“The coming together of two Anabaptist communication ministries is a fitting and timely move in an era when the message of Christian faith shared through an Anabaptist lens is being eagerly sought and warmly welcomed in many quarters around the world,” Bergen said.