A Bridge Building Network

A Bridge Building Network

Bridge Building Network
Did you know that MCA has a Bridge Building Network? 
We have only just begun, and anyone with an interest in Bridge Building can join.

Bridge Building is for our local communities beginning right in our churches. We have met every two months to become acquainted – something about each other’s communities, and each other’s stories of intercultural and interfaith relationship building.  So three meetings so far, each with rich discussion as we explored experiences in our different settings. Below are some of the emerging nuggets of theme and wisdom from the network.

Hospitality is a foundational experience we have with each other. Holy meetings require it. Here are a few ways our MCA church members have experiencing and offered hospitality:

  • Ecumenical Scripture Reading Exchange (Lethbridge) during the season of Epiphany: Eight congregations from different denominations have participated in this exchange stepping into each others’ worship spaces.
  • Twice-monthly Soup and Bannock lunch at Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society (Edmonton).
  • Celebrating two Easters – joining Eritrean refugee family who are Orthodox Christians.
  • A memorable Good Friday service with music contributed by an African cohort – “Hallelujah” with drums!

Dialogue and Witness: Conversations have emerged on theme of sharing the source of our hope, In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15). 

  • We are ‘carving out’ our theology in a colonialist history context, reminding ourselves that God is larger than any of our nations or denominations.  Can we think about this authentically?
  • Scriptural Reasoning brings together different faith perspectives on one theme, through facilitated sharing and curiosity.  Both Calgary and Edmonton have these Interfaith virtual gatherings.

Peacebuilding: The humble equalizer of listening. 
One participant shared a story of a group gathered at a restaurant talking about the impending arrival of sponsored refugees to the community.  At the table were Mennonites and other community folks including indigenous neighbours. Some indigenous neighbours shared their fear that such immigration is a continuation of the taking of land and resources.  When asked how this perspective was acknowledged, the answer was, “we listened.”
Inter-culturalism: We have also spent quite a bit of time discussing experiences and models of inter-culturalism, even wondering whether creating inter-cultural communities at congregational level is always helpful.  And yet we are being invited to imagine expanding our mono-cultural approaches to church.  Below are a few thoughts and observations that emerged:

  • Having a common language, given our cultural Mennonite focus on words, in both sermon and song is an important consideration in an intercultural church community.    
  • Several existing MCA church models on the spectrum of mono-inter cultural:
    • Mono-lingual and mono-cultural (English/Germanic; Chin; South Sudanese; Oromo; Chinese)
    • Inter-Mennonite multi-cultural space-sharing and periodic get-togethers
    • Intentionally intercultural using majority English with some translation during worship, multicultural and intergenerational musical styles and hymns; shared inter-cultural leadership and planning
    • “Taste of MCA” (April 22) was an occasion to enjoy intercultural food and friendships
    • Intentional Inter-Mennonite pulpit exchanges [Deeper Life services?] as a way to experience gospel preaching even in our diversity.

And, finally, here are several books that have recently come to our attention:
Indigenous New Testament
Charleston, Steven, The Four Vision Quests of Jesus
Perkins, John M., Dream with Me:  Race, Love and the Struggle we must Win

One of these books may well turn into a fall book study!  Stay tuned.

Join in these conversations. Please reach out to bridgebuilding@mcab.ca