MC Canada study conference goes virtual

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Mennonite Church Canada is moving ahead with its first study conference in October 2020.

Titled “Table Talk: Does the Church Still Have Legs?”, the conference will examine what it means to be the church and the role of worship. It will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, through Zoom, a virtual-meeting platform. 

“Our separation as churches at this time is difficult, but it also presents an opportunity to take a step back and think critically about what it means to be the church,” says Kim Penner, who sits on the conference planning committee.

Originally scheduled to be held at Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden, Ont., Oct. 22-24, the conference will now be an online event due to COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions that are not expected to lift for months. 

The conference is intended for pastors, lay leaders and anyone interested in an academic-oriented approach to discerning the purpose and nature of the church. 

“Our lack of in-person worship due to this pandemic has made questions about the nature, identity and essence of the church even more relevant,” says Doug Klassen, executive minister for MC Canada. “Going ahead with this conference in an online format ensures we still connect as a nationwide community in the fall to discern what church looks like moving forward.”

The conference will consist of four sessions featuring plenary speakers from MC Canada-affiliated universities and colleges:

  • Sara Wenger Shenk, former president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, will give the first plenary exploring the nature and identity of the church;
  • Irma Fast Dueck, Jeremy Bergen, Gerald Gerbrandt and Jesse Nickel will examine the role of worship in the Bible and in the church in the Western context;
  • Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, a New Testament professor at Canadian Mennonite University, will lead a Bible study on the parable of the great banquet in Luke 14;
  • Bryan Born from Columbia Bible College will share what it means to be missional in this time.

Pre-released and pre-recorded plenaries are planned to allow more time for questions and engagement between speakers and participants. A recommended readings list will be released to registered participants leading up to the conference.

More information about the conference and registration will be posted in the coming weeks on MC Canada's website at

A promotional video announcing the virtual conference is also available to view below.


Related stories:
MC Canada congregations offering online worship services
MC Canada offers pandemic preparedness web resources for congregations

‘Our separation as churches at this time is difficult, but it also presents an opportunity to take a step back and think critically about what it means to be the church,’ says Kim Penner, who sits on the planning committee for Mennonite Church Canada's upcoming study conference. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

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Great promo Kim, and I'm looking forward to this conference! It's a year when we are all thinking about what it means to be the church...

query. will this conference have place for historical reflection? mc canada is at a place where it must consider if it is viable going forward. our programs are literally 'dead in the water.' that is the question that stands in the background. before we can begin to ask that question, can we at least look at where we were 30 years, 20, years, 10 years ago and ask.... what decisions have led us to the brink of this irrelevance? what assumptions about our life and mission are 'true...' and what assumptions have not stood the test of time? Is Stephen's testimony to the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem in Acts a backdrop to the stirring words of identity found in Peter 2?

where you start will deeply influence where you go. starting with truth telling will assist the Spirit in guiding us.

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