Mennonite Church Canada logo
News » Releases » Reading the Bible with the damned

Reading the Bible with the damned


Gareth Brandt (centre), a professor at Columbia Bible College, read from the Bible at Victory Square in Vancouver. He was accompanied by 9 participants in roving workshop for Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2012 entitled “Word on the Street,” July 13, 2012.

View or download full sized image.


July 14, 2012
-Rachel Bergen

Vancouver, B.C. — The Bible was primarily written for the damned, says Gareth Brandt. Brandt offered this provocative proclamation in a roving workshop called “Word on the Street” on Friday afternoon.

The 9 participants went on an urban hiking and public transportation adventure around Vancouver, B.C. to read Bible verses and tour around the city visiting various locales.

Brandt chose verses from Genesis to Revelation and took the sightseers to Vancouver’s City Hall, Victory Square—a war memorial—to the edge of West Hastings Street, to Mountain View Cemetery, and to Global Community Church.

According to Brandt, a professor at Columbia Bible College, “We too often read the Bible from the perspective of the privileged and so we concern ourselves with the formulation of cute doctrines and dogmas rather than allowing the Bible to facilitate God’s transformation in
our lives.”

Brandt also took the group to East Hastings, the poorest area of Vancouver, known for prostitution, drug addiction, and social injustice. The people who live in the area tend to be those who are judged to be “damned” or “sinners.”

“Jesus concerned himself primarily with social outcasts, reserving his barbs for the conservative religious establishment,” Brandt said in his blog about the workshop.

According to Kyle Berg, who is a delegate from Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, Manitoba, God was visible in the various settings they visited.

“I really liked seeing God in places you don’t expect to see Him. I saw Him during the walk from the waterfront to Hastings because you could see God at work in one of the richest areas of the city but also the poorest.”

Another participant, Corey Hildebrand, also a delegate from Emmanuel Mennonite Church appreciated the contextual nature of the day.

“I felt that God’s word came alive. It was very contextual - the text matched the setting. God appeared in so many different neighbourhoods, not just in the poor area. God was present in so many different areas and situations and settings.”

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012