“I have never heard the editor’s vision for the magazine,” said a reader when asked what she thought of Canadian Mennonite. The observation caught me up short. Assuming my vision was implicit in the biweekly conversation I engender, being explicit with my goals and aspirations didn’t seem necessary.
The church, or congregation, as a “royal priesthood” was announced as one of our core beliefs by the Anabaptist Reformers nearly 500 years ago, setting us apart from our Catholic-Protestant counterparts who, in that time and place, were perceived to have corrupted the faith with their vertical view of a believer’s relationship to God.
We do have a website, dear readers, a recently re-designed one, in fact.
And we know many of you are reading Canadian Mennonite online. Our Google Analytics tell us that as many as 2,400 unique visitors a month are coming to the website for some 16,000 page views and staying an average of three minutes to read something of interest.
As a people of hope, what should we, as a Mennonite faith community, expect on the road ahead in 2011?
If the past is prelude, as the adage goes, there are road signs, some of them giving helpful direction, others giving us warnings. At the risk of oversimplifying, we will deal with only three: cultural shifts, ecumenism and a new mission/service focus.
In a letter to Canadian Mennonite on June 28, Angelika Dawson of Abbotsford, B.C., charged that when we challenged Mennonite Central Committee and congregations to be more environmentally responsible in a previous issue, we “failed to point the finger back at [ourselves].”
Here’s an attempt to answer her specific questions:
“One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable,” was one of the more endearing lines coming out of Assembly 2010 in Calgary, Alta.
Because we are a priesthood and not a hierarchy, this space is sparing in calling special attention to any one of its “priests.” But the occasion of the closing session of Mennonite Church Canada’s assembly, held in Calgary, begs for an indulgence in marking the event of the retirement of Robert J. Suderman.
In our presumed sophistication as First World residents, we often consider ourselves a gift to the rest of the planet. By comparison, aren’t we far more educated, resourceful, wealthy and technologically advanced?
Not only is the younger generation, labelled “natives” in my last editorial, holding authority and institutions in less regard, the modality of leadership has also changed in the last half-century. This, too, represents a seismic shift in the perception of our mission and identity as a Mennonite culture.