MCM Fall Update - Michael Pahl (Video)

MCM Fall Update - Michael Pahl (Video)

Greetings, Mennonite Church Manitoba! As our congregations step into fall programs with a strange mix of “normal” and “not normal,” we’re also at the six-month mark since our last MCM Gathering—a good chance to reflect on how things are going across our regional community of faith.

We are experiencing some challenges, there is no doubt.

Every congregation among us continues to feel the effects of the past two-and-a-half years of pandemic. We have all seen a decline in in-person attendance at our weekly worship services. There’s a common recognition that it’s more difficult to get volunteers to serve in our programs. It’s harder to find pastors for our churches. Many churches are also seeing a decline in giving, this year without government subsidies to help us out.

Our pastors continue to feel the lingering weight of responsibility, caring for a diverse and scattered congregation in this strange, “late-stage pandemic” period. Some of our congregations are feeling the lingering effects of political and social division related in part to COVID protocols, which also adds an even greater burden on our pastors. Congregations and pastors alike are questioning their calling, purpose, vision, and mission. Some are even questioning whether they can continue.

At the same time, there are signs that God is very much at work among us.

There’s a renewed emphasis on community-focused ministry, evidenced by the terrific response to our Local Mission Grant initiative. (Read the article here.) This summer we had 50 youth and sponsors from MCM participate in Amplify, our nationwide church youth gathering in Alberta. We also had youth and young adult participation in the Young Leaders Experience at MC Canada Gathering and the Global Youth Summit at Mennonite World Conference Assembly. And those difficult conversations about pastoral calling and congregational mission? They are generating some innovative ideas for how we can faithfully follow Jesus and be the church together in our time.

We as MCM staff are ready to walk with you as you walk through these challenges and consider these opportunities. Our new Co-Directors of Leadership Ministries, Karen Schellenberg and Jeff Friesen, are here to support our pastors and spiritual leaders through these challenging days. Kathy Giesbrecht is here to support you in your internal congregational life: your worship, your faith formation, your care for each other. Melanie Neufeld is here to support you in your outward mission in your community, in our region, or around the world. Dorothy Fontaine and our Camp staff are here to support you through our camping and retreat ministries. (Link to MCM Staff page.) Please contact us, let us know how you are doing, let us know how we can help.

God is very much at work among us—even if church may look different than what we have known in the past. Here are key questions for us in this time: Are we able to see what God is doing in our congregation and in our community? And then, are we willing to step out in courageous faith to align ourselves with this work of God, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zones and doing church differently?

Let’s be encouraged, let’s be bold to take risks and try new things, and let’s keep walking in hope!

Michael Pahl, MCM Executive Minister
September 14, 2022