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Photo: Youth groups will have the opportunity to discuss proposals at Mennonite Church Canada’s 2016 Assembly before joining sessions and having the chance to speak up and vote. Photo by Dan Dyck/Mennonite Church Canada.
For the first time ever, Mennonite Church Canada youth are preparing to actively participate in organized discussions and votes taking place during the national assembly: Assembly 2016, God~Faith~People, July 6-10, 2016 in Saskatoon, Sask.
On the agenda: the future of the church as envisioned by the Future Directions Task Force (FDTF) and recommendations conveyed by Being a Faithful Church (BFC).
To help prepare youth, FDTF and BFC curriculums were developed by three Winnipeg pastors: Andrea De Avila, Associate Pastor, Sargent Avenue MC; Moses Falco, Pastor, Sterling Mennonite Fellowship (Coordinator); and Tim Wenger, Pastor of Faith Development, North Kildonan MC. Youth sponsors are encouraged to work through each curriculum with their youth groups before Assembly. At Assembly, a few short presentations will provide them with further information about the ongoing conversations.
All youth and sponsors are invited to participate in the FDTF and BFC discussions and in addition, congregations are encouraged to register a voting Youth Delegate. Each congregation is allowed one youth vote. For Assembly 2016, groups are encouraged to discuss the issues ahead of time and use the youth vote collectively as a group.
The curriculum development team faced a considerable challenge in determining how to condense years of discussion into a format accessible for youth. While they admit it isn’t perfect, youth and sponsors who’ve reviewed the curriculum see its benefits.
Anna Epp, a first-year Canadian Mennonite University student from Wildwood MC in Saskatoon reported that the BFC curriculum “provides a positive outlook and insight on the importance of learning to live in disagreement.” She noted that it shared overlapping elements with the FDTF curriculum encouraging “all” people to be involved, and to love and care for one another. “I find it interesting that the document that discusses the future for the church and the community we are all a part of is rooted in inclusivity.”
“I’m excited to hear what my youth say about what they want the future of the church to look like and to provide them an opportunity to help shape the future of the Mennonite Church,” wrote Krista Loewen, a youth sponsor and an Associate Pastor at Wildwood MC in Saskatoon.
Although parts of the curriculum didn’t feel accessible, the upside for Loewen is youth inclusion and the invitation for youth groups to share their opinions with the wider church.
Moses Falco agrees. “It’s the kind of thing that encourages engagement. It’s a life-giving project.”
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