Assembly 2020 Reflection

Assembly 2020 Reflection

A Menno Minute

by Brenda Tiessen-Wiens

I clicked on the Zoom “join with video” button and was met by the familiar faces of Executive and staff members. Within seconds the doorbell was dinging and new faces were popping up on everyone’s computer screens. Zoom’s “waiting room” and “mute upon entry” settings hadn’t kicked in, which meant that with each new face, chatting multiplied. People who didn’t know each other started talking and introducing themselves, which quickly turned into, “Hey, we should say which church we’re from!” Within minutes people were re-naming themselves and adding that information.

I’ll remember this start to MCA’s 2020 delegate sessions for the spontaneous way that people engaged with each other and for the positive tone that it set from the moment each participant joined. This spirit of openness and willingness to explore a new format helped us to listen and see with new ears and eyes.

The cancellation of our gathering and change to an online meeting with an abbreviated agenda meant some losses – not hearing from keynotes speakers, not spending time in worship, not raising our voices together in song, and not engaging in the coffee conversations that spin our imaginations.

In spite of these losses, there were things to celebrate. Over 70 people joined the meeting, including guests, staff, and 53 delegates representing10 churches. Rebecca Janzen, our Global Youth Summit delegate, shared excitement about next year’s Mennonite World Conference. Doug Klassen (MC Canada) drew our attention to our nationwide community and the opportunity to dig deeper into who we are and what draws us together in this fall’s study conference. Jeanette Hansen (MC Canada) walked us through the “ABCs” of our international work and invited churches to join witness support networks. Through photos and words, June shared MCA’s “Year in Review.” Every time I see a year’s work condensed into a short presentation, I’m struck by the extent of what we’re able to do through our dedicated staff and committee members.

We weren’t able to launch “Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ” as fully as we’d hoped, but the Reference Group (Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Laura Wiebe, Deb Baergen, Werner DeJong, June Miller) will continue sharing ideas and connecting with congregations throughout the year.

While there were gaps in our nominations slate, I see the willingness of so many people to serve multiple terms as an indication of the meaning that committee members find in serving the church through MCA.

I appreciate the questions that were asked and suggestions offered as we worked through financial discussions. Already, my mind is turning to our first All Committee meeting, where we will map out the coming year and further digest the feedback that was received.

Our meeting closed in much the same way that it began. Hitting “un-mute” opened a showering of chatter, energy and appreciation. As I write this, I glanced at the bulletin board beside my desk that I put there as one of my E3 actions – a place to put inspiring words and prayer notes. The first thing I pinned on it was the phrase “Be prepared to be amazed!” On Saturday, this is what I experienced. Thank you for sharing a positive spirit as we work through the coming year together!