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Delegates approve biennial assemblies


July 15, 2011
-Dan Dyck

Waterloo, ONT. — The Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in 2012 will mark the start of a two year cycle of national church gatherings, followed by assembly 2014, 2016, and so on.

While the motion to make this change passed with a strong majority at Assembly 2011, some delegates were not enthused about meeting biennially. They did, however, understand the financial impact of annual assemblies and the related demands on staff. Diminished personal connections and fewer opportunities for Area Churches to host an assembly were noted concerns.

Joanne Moyer pointed out the environmental impact of meeting annually. “It costs a lot to the environment every year, so it is also a creation care issue,” she said.

Less clear to some would be the impact on youth assemblies, which already occur biennially. Delegates heard that there are no plans or resources to produce another youth assembly again next year, so the next youth assembly would not occur until 2014.

Lisa Carr-Pries, volunteer Chair of the Christian Formation Council, and Dave Bergen Executive Secretary of Christian Formation (staff) asked for further delegate discussion on this matter, observing that this decision means that one group of teens will likely miss out entirely on a national youth assembly experience during their high school years.

At the time the decision was made, it was not clear whether delegates grasped this implication. However, discussions later in the day and again on Friday have prompted the General Board to place discussions about the possibility of a youth assembly in 2012 on the agenda for fall Leadership Assembly meetings.