Quebec leaders share their impressions of Gathering 2008
After more than 15 years, Gathering 2008 was back in la belle province. So, what did our Quebec hosts have to say about this year’s biennial convention held in Montreal? Jean Biéri, editor of Le Lien, asked leaders of the Quebec Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (AEFMQ) to share their impressions. Here’s what some of them had to say.
Gathering 2008 helped leaders reflect on how the church can relate to its surrounding culture. In Quebec’s postmodern, secular context, it’s agonizing for a young pastor like me to know how to invite people to talk about God in a relevant way. What do you say? And how do you say it? The reference points are no longer the same.
I realized how essential it is for this type of reflection to happen in the midst of community worship. Without the numerous praise and worship sessions led by Dan Loewen and his team – giving us time to contemplate God – it would’ve been easy for us to become discouraged in the face of such an enormous challenge.
— Martin Lanthier, pastoral assistant
One of my memorable moments at Gathering was our time of worship on the summit of Mount Royal on Friday evening. One-hundred fifty SOAR participants joined us during the celebration. Can you imagine nearly 500 people singing to the sound of guitars and drums? It was like the drum beat of Montreal – with prayers directed to the Lord for the people of Quebec. It was divine!
—Gilles Dextraze, provincial conference administrative director
When my son Andrew was asked to play on the praise team, composed of members from western Canada, Montreal’s English-speaking community, and Montreal’s French-speaking community, I saw it as an expression of how God brings us together – where the contribution of every member is valued. People joined their voices to proclaim the reality of the living God in different languages: English, French, Spanish… Gathering Montreal was a true moment of coming together in Jesus’ name.
—David Miller, pastor
What a joyous celebration! Gathering offered an extraordinary opportunity to welcome brothers and sisters from across Canada to our home. We sang together, prayed together, and made decisions together – all with an attitude of recognition to God. It was also an occasion for participants to better understand the context of Quebec and its secular nature. Horizon Quebec will allow our conference to create partnerships with other churches across Canada in the near future. Already, some people have shown interest in coming to live and serve in Quebec. We were touched by this willingness to be uprooted.
—Ginette Rolland, provincial conference secretary
I’ll never forget our time of worship on Mount Royal. For the first time in my life, I found myself on my knees to pray – in my city and for my city – in the company of two brothers from Saskatchewan. Without them, I would never have dared make such a gesture. Thank you!
—Alain Després, provincial conference board member
During Experience Montreal, 250 of the 300 delegates came to visit École de Théologie Évangélique de Montréal (ETEM). We gave them each a lunch bag sporting the ETEM logo, which contained a light meal. During the tour, we were a little concerned about the sturdiness of our floors (because delegates arrived in groups of 100 to visit the school). But, thankfully, there wasn’t an impromptu visit to our lower level.
—Eric Wingender, president of ETEM
Gathering 2008 was an occasion to meet many new people from our family of churches who showed interest in Horizon Quebec. Their love and fidelity were tangible and without equal. I’d like to recognize all English-speaking MBs in Canada for their support and charitable contributions.
—Charles Martin, provincial conference moderator
Gathering was a time of rich blessing for me. I’d like to thank the Canadian conference for choosing Montreal for this event. I’d also like to thank all the delegates for coming and showing their support for the work that’s being done in Quebec. I was really encouraged to see the love our brothers and our sisters outside Quebec have for us. More than a business meeting, Gathering 2008 was a rich and constructive experience. I sincerely believe our Canadian conference can build a solid foundation through events like this.
—Patrice Nagant, evangelism and church planting director for Quebec