Reflections from our Canadian Mennonite Rep

Reflections from our Canadian Mennonite Rep

"Since I was a young boy, I’ve been fascinated by words, stories, and ideas. So when I heard that I had an opportunity to be a regional representative for Alberta on the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Society board of directors, which acts in an advisory capacity for the direction of the periodical Canadian Mennonite, I took them up on it.

As it happened, the annual meeting for the CMPS was taking place in Calgary in my first year. That meant that my responsibilities included helping to arrange accommodation, venues, meals, and a fundraising event. Although I am capable of being organized, my natural way of thinking is pretty random, so it was a challenge – but ultimately everything worked out.

The Canadian Mennonite is about journalism. Canadian Mennonite reports on events and ideas concerning Mennonite Churches and items of interest to Mennonites in Canada. Mennonite Churches and regional conferences that wish to have their events or important discussions covered by Canadian Mennonite do well to provide information about their events well ahead of time.

Canadian Mennonite sometimes covers uncomfortable topics. Representing authenticity and fact can be uncomfortable, but it builds trust in the long run. Also, for anabaptists who have a history of theology that includes the idea of a “priesthood of all believers”, it’s challenging to imagine a single medium that could represent the whole diversity of ideas in discussion as our community grapples with what it means to be “church” in the twenty-first century. There is no Mennonite pope to hand down truth from on high. To be honest, that’s part of what keeps me in the Mennonite Church.

There are economic advantages to having a national journalistic publication, too. Being a journalistic publication makes Canadian Mennonite eligible for grants from other sources. These grants make up a considerable portion of the periodical’s budget. Additionally, the economy of scale provided by having one national publication means that the cost per unit per household is much lower than it otherwise would be.

Now, one of my roles is being part of the Nominating Committee. The CMPS board is a dynamic group – it’s not just a matter of “plugging people in” to fill positions. The board itself develops, as Mennonites in Canada do, in interaction with the whole “priesthood of all believers”. Most of the people I know have a lot in common with me, which doesn’t necessarily make the board more representative of the community as a whole. I’d love to ultimately even find a replacement for myself - someone who can bring new perspectives and ideas to the Canadian Mennonite board.

Maybe people are intimidated by the idea of being a board member, or feel insecure about their ability to contribute, or wonder if they will have an opportunity to contribute. I felt all those things, but there was a welcome for me, and I’ve learned a lot in the process."