Twelve leaders who work with emerging Intercultural and Indigenous Churches in Manitoba gathered in Winnipeg on October 4th for a half day of passionate discussion. Some of the topics addressed were “What are some compelling reasons to make the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba (MBCM) a more welcoming place for Emerging Intercultural and Indigenous Churches?” and “How can Mennonite Brethren leaders help create belonging as equal partners with all our differences?”
Pastor Andaza Hezekiah, Nigerian born pastor of a multicultural church in Winnipeg, said that “The church of tomorrow is going to look more intercultural then we think.” Paul Kroeker with C2C Church Planting Network said that “Canada represents this diversity already – we are a land full of opportunity. The Mennonite Brethren are called by God to this reality.”
With this sense of passion for the church as a multicultural reality, the participants agreed that because the Gospel of Jesus Christ unites First Canadians, New Canadians and all Generations of Canadians, this discussion is essential. We are called to embrace the church on earth as it is in heaven! Participants acknowledged the challenges of mutual racism, misunderstandings due to cultural differences and institutional practices that keep us divided.
Mennonite Brethren are uniquely equipped to build bridges and extend hospitality to people of different cultures here in Manitoba. MBs have immigrant roots and many MB churches in Manitoba are involved in refugee resettlement programs. The MB denomination is local, national and global with many ministry partnerships which have allowed for international experience. Learning opportunities like the TRC’s “Blanket Exercise” and church partnerships with Indigenous and Intercultural churches are already happening! Participants believed that the dream of an MB Church in Manitoba that includes all the diverse peoples within Canada is worth pursuing. If we continue to make room in our lives for hospitality, it was agreed that, with hard work, the MB Church in Manitoba could provide a place of belonging for Indigenous and Intercultural churches.
Even though there is a sense of urgency to respond to current opportunities, participants urged each other to take the time required for solid relationships to develop. Wisdom dictates that church partners need to create a solid common theological foundation. Time is required for the clarity of shared convictions to emerge. Welcoming Intercultural and Indigenous churches into the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba and credentialing their pastors must take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect with full understanding of each other’s theological center. Safe Place Policy practices and compliance with Canadian laws governing churches will require training and support.
Why would we want to make the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba more hospitable to Intercultural and Indigenous churches? Through C2C, MBCM and Multiply, there are at least eight churches and their pastors asking to belong to the MB denomination. This question is a live one for MBCM! Here is how this group of 12 MB leaders answered the question:
“Why make a MBCM a welcoming place for Emerging Intercultural and Indigenous Churches?”
- Because every culture has unique insights we can learn from
- Because the Church on earth should look the same as it is in heaven
- Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ unites us
- Because this is who we already are