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What does Mennonite worship look like across borders?
Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network joint release
WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa.— What does worship look like in Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA congregations? What makes it different from worship in non-denominational, Baptist or Lutheran churches? Those are the kinds of questions that Bi-national Worship Council members wrestled with at their October 3-5 meeting in Elkhart, Ind.
In preparation for the meeting, Council members did extensive reading about the nature of worship, and each came with a list of statements about who God is and what God is doing in worship in their own churches.
“Council members come from a variety of different kinds of congregations. Yet our statements about our core beliefs for worship—about who God is and what God is doing in worship—had such uniformity, even when we used slightly different words,” says Amy Gingerich, editorial director at Mennonite Publishing Network and co-chair of the Council.
“For example, we all affirmed the central role of Scripture in worship, but we all phrased that affirmation in our own way.”
Some of the other core beliefs about worship that emerged from the Council include that Jesus is the center of worship; that worship is a central act in Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA congregations; that worship is about the gathered community and relationships; and that worship happens when the body of Christ gathers.
“In naming our core beliefs about worship, we named our ideals,” says Gingerich. “Yet we also recognized that we aren’t always living up to those ideals in our churches Sunday after Sunday.”
The list of core beliefs and key theological themes will be further refined in December, when the Council gathers again to write a four-part study guide about worship in Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA congregations.
“The guide will be a way for churches of all worship styles to think about their worship, and how it reflects key Anabaptist/Mennonite ways of worshipping,” says Gingerich.
In addition to the study guide, the Council is preparing a survey that asks basic demographic questions about MC USA and MC Canada congregations, as well as what songs they sing. Information collected through the survey will be used by the Council to determine whether a new hymnal is needed and, if it is needed, what songs it should include.
The Worship Council consists of Gingerich; co-chair Dave Bergen, Mennonite Church Canada; co-chair Marlene Kropf , Mennonite Church USA; Irma Fast Dueck, professor of worship at Canadian Mennonite University; Sara Wenger Shenk, president of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary; Mark Diller Harder, pastor of St. Jacobs, Ont. Mennonite Church; and Randy Spaulding, pastor of Covenant Mennonite Fellowship, Sarasota, Fla
Mennonite Publishing Network is the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.