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Attendance at conference events increasing

Re “Make a wish” (Editorial, January). After reading Laura Kalmar’s statement that “fewer people [are coming] to study conferences or Gathering,” I thought, as event planner for the Canadian conference, I should find out if this were true.

God has been very good to the events of the Canadian conference! Pastors Credentialing Orientation attendance has grown by 75 percent since 2006. Study conference attendance has grown by 42 percent since 2001.

Gathering is harder to measure because, to some degree, the region where the event is held dictates numbers. But when I compared Gathering 2004 in Toronto to Gathering 2008 in Montreal, we experienced 10 percent growth in attendance. We have reason to celebrate!

Michelle Penner
Winnipeg, Man.


Flag not intended to offend

Re “Why this symbolism?” (Letters, December). I’m responding to a recent letter in which a writer criticized MCC’s use of a red flag for our Peace Sunday materials and Peaceful Revolution campaign because of the red flag’s association with Soviet Russia.

A flag is usually associated with a political entity or state, but it also often symbolizes a group people marching together for a common goal. It’s this second meaning that we at MCC wished to convey. Our Peaceful Revolution campaign is all about inviting people to join Jesus’ revolutionary way of peace by living and acting for peace today. The campaign is also geared toward youth and young adults. We wanted to use some edgier language and graphics to engage this group of people. A red flag seemed an appropriate way to do this.

We regret that our use of the red flag has been interpreted as support for Soviet Russia.

Esther Epp-Tiessen
Peace program coordinator,
MCC Canada


Be still and know

Re “Rich content, too little time mark study conference on Christology” (P&E, December). Having been unable to attend the study conference, I was intrigued by Dora Dueck’s account of it. Of interest was the controversial discussion about the role the crucifixion had in appeasing the wrath of God. There was a challenge to make a collective statement regarding the controversy, and a response of “What’s the big deal?” by a Bethany College class.

Perhaps the big deal is that attempting to frame Jesus doctrinally often detracts from his essence as one who reveals himself to millions of sojourners relative to each one’s circumstances. That doesn’t mean he is different for everyone, it just means no one fully knows him and everyone beholds him from a different angle. Sharing perceptions of who he is can be edifying, but trying to define him so exclusively raises debates within religiosity that haven’t been won in many ages past.

“Be still and know that I am God” is available to anyone. When, by faith, we know God, we can also know who Jesus is. On our hearts will be written the doctrine of “for God so loved the world.” The eyes of our souls will behold his glory and we will reflect a greater likeness of him to a pluralistic world – in a pluralistic language.

Jake Janzen
Abbotsford, B.C.


Don’t neglect preaching

Re “The Word in worship” (Crosscurrents, January). I appreciated Christine Longhurst’s article, but was left wondering if “preaching” is considered part of the delivery of the Word in worship when Christine quoted Justin Martyr’s first apology, saying “the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.” She seemed to suggest that Justin was talking about reading Scripture, but the full quote talks about preaching. It reads “and on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.”

I agree with Christine on her nine points, but I would suggest that a tenth point was neglected: our churches need biblical, expositional preaching. Proclamation of the Word must be accompanied by explanation, implication, and exhortation. Perhaps preaching is a valid way to “strengthen the reading and hearing of Scripture in worship”?

Lyndon Unger
Granada Hills, Cal.

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