How many books would you need to read to get a handle on the Mennonite Brethren family in Canada?
The answer is one: the 115-page Revised Canadian Edition of Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren, released in December 2017 by Kindred Productions.
“I believe that this story of people’s faithful and flawed responses to the Spirit can inspire Mennonite Brethren – and others – to follow Jesus in many different contexts,” says Board of Faith and Life member Andrew Dyck.
Because the Canadian MB family has undergone significant restructuring since Family Matters first appeared in 2002, the BFL saw the need for a revised edition that focuses on Canadian realities.
Preserving the historical overview in Lynn Jost and Connie Faber’s original book, this edition features current statistics and stories from Canadian MB and inter-Mennonite partners. “We are grateful to Lynn and Connie for their great work and for permission to revise their text,” says Dyck.
Family Matters has become a living book: small, on-demand print runs allow for regular changes to the text. In particular, a newly added chapter outlining the ministry model of the Canadian MB conference will be updated every year or two as the conference structures – and faces – change.
A committee, made up of Dyck, Jon Isaak from the Centre for MB Studies, and Elenore Doerksen and Angeline Schellenberg from CCMBC’s Communications team, oversaw the project that spanned 14 months and drew in contributors from across the country.
“Newcomers to the Mennonite Brethren and long-standing Mennonite Brethren will both benefit from this book,” says Dyck.
Required reading for all pastors being credentialed in the Canadian MB church, Family Matters “highlights the faith convictions and historical roots of the Mennonite Brethren, our current ministries in Canada, and our relationships with Mennonite Brethren and other Mennonites around the world,” says Dyck. “Stories in every chapter bring the content to life.”
A rewritten chapter on the international MB family by ICOMB executive director David Wiebe outlines the strengths and challenges of MB conferences in every region around the globe.
MB Mission staff Vic Wiens (editor of The Church in Mission), Al Stobbe, Connie Peters, and Viv Johnstone updated the chapter on global mission to include new examples of mission “from everywhere, to everywhere,” such as Panamanians partnering with Colombians to evangelize, disciple, and plant churches among the unreached Wounaan people in Chocó, Colombia.
MCC and Mennonite World Conference staff helped revise the “Inter-Mennonite Connections” chapter, which also highlights stories from recent Mennonite Disaster Service projects and the latest research on the conscientious objector experience by Conrad Stoesz of the Mennonite Heritage Archives (Winnipeg).
Anecdotes from American cities in the 1990s were replaced with testimonies from Canadians like South Langley pastor Dave Navarro and ETEQ staff member Véronique Beaudin, and church planting stories from Vancouver. Provincial MB conferences and MB colleges submitted their current numbers and latest programs.
The BFL has a dream of translating Family Matters into French and Chinese, if the financial resources permit. “We would like to ensure as many Mennonite Brethren in Canada as possible can read this book,” says Dyck.
Family Matters is available for $15 at www.kindredproductions.com/product/family-matters/.