Canadian Mennonite
Volume 11, No. 06
March 19, 2007


Church snapshots

One of the joys of working in the church is the welcome I receive when I visit our congregations across the country. I want to share some moments from three of the congregations I’ve been to in the past month.

I’m always interested in how our congregations worship together. At Winkler (Man.) Bergthaler Mennonite, one thing that struck me was the use of a display projector. It was used throughout the service to display Scripture as well as hymn lyrics, both for choruses and Hymnal hymns.

The part that was unusual was that the visuals also included a variety of photos to match words from the hymns. While we sang “Thy justice like mountains high soaring above, Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love” from “Immortal, Invisible, God,” a picture of a soaring mountain was the backdrop to the words. When singing, “Praise, I Will Praise You Lord,” a picture of a young man with his arms outstretched in praise accompanied the text.

Darlene Derksen, who operated the computer, told me that this later picture was actually of one of the church’s youths, and had been taken by Karl Enns, the youth pastor. She told me that a number of their photos used for worship backdrops were of their own members or of areas around Winkler. This is a creative and worship-enhancing choice, and much more engaging than photos from, say, a clipart file or a computer download.

I also joined Covenant Mennonite, also in Winkler, for Sunday school. They were currently in a six-part adult Sunday school series studying and reflecting on the connection between Christianity and caring for the environment. (Their source material was the Second Mile adult Sunday school material sponsored by MC Canada and Mennonite Central Committee.) I’m finding this subject shows up as a topic of interest and concern in many churches across the country.

A week later, I was at Sargent Avenue Mennonite in Winnipeg, worshipping with the church there and learning about Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Just in January, we published an article promoting the use of worship music written by those in our own church. We are “happy to sing the best of everyone else’s worship music, but we aren’t singing enough of our own,” said Phil Campbell-Enns, a youth pastor at Grace Mennonite in Steinbach, Man.

We’ve made a bit of progress on this front as one of his compositions, “Fill Us With Your Feast,” was sung that Sunday at Sargent. (It was distributed as a resource for the Lenten worship series published in our church’s Leader magazine.) If your congregation has written some of its own music or would like to see and listen to what others in our churches have written, visit and follow the “Resources” link to “Worship.”

Sargent has also collected children’s Sunday school offering in a way I had never seen before. During the offering time, the children go around and collect coins in their cupped hands. They then bring them to the front and give them to God. It’s something the church has started doing recently to involve children in worship.

“It gets them out of the pew and gives them permission to run around,” said Michelle Stoesz, a mother of two young children. “It’s such a joyful thing. They just love it.” Andrew, their young son, confirmed that “it’s fun.”

Every one of our churches is beloved by God and I am privileged to briefly be a part of them as often as I can.

—Tim Miller Dyck

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