Sharing Our Story
A New Chapter for Anabaptist Learning Workshop
Joint Mennonite Church Eastern Canada | Conrad Grebel University College release
June 26, 2019
The creators of the Anabaptist Learning Workshop (ALW) are starting a new chapter for Anabaptist-Mennonite education in Eastern Canada. As a program offered by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) in cooperation with Conrad Grebel University College (Grebel), the ALW has been a strong champion of active, organized learning events at the intersection of Christian faith and contemporary life for laypeople, pastors, new Canadians, and others.
After four years of educational leadership, ALW will soon undergo a significant change. The partnership between MCEC and Grebel on this particular initiative will conclude in summer 2020. In the fall of 2019, ALW will offer a number of learning events as usual, including “Canoe Tripping as Spiritual Practice: Deepening the Waters of Faith” as well as several other workshops. The final ALW event will be the annual Pastors, Chaplains and Congregational Leaders event in January 2020.
“MCEC wants to thank Grebel for partnering on this endeavour and is grateful for the dedicated and creative leadership of Matthew Bailey-Dick, ALW Coordinator, and other ALW staff,” remarked David Martin, MCEC Executive Minister. “MCEC plans to carry the energy and momentum of ALW forward as it works toward planning a newly designed education and training program operated by MCEC, offering a variety of events for pastors, congregations, and laypeople.”
“Based on the many positive and enthusiastic responses of participants, ALW’s success lies in the experiences of each individual,” noted Grebel President Marcus Shantz. “We are grateful to have assisted MCEC in offering ALW over the past few years, and we trust that the experience gained here will inform future education programs. Grebel remains keenly interested in supporting pastoral and lay education programs offered by MCEC.”
During its four-year existence, ALW offered more than 50 events covering topics that included: “How to Lead a Dynamic Bible Study,” “Prayer and Preparedness for Local Tragedies,” “Laypeople Doing Spiritual Care,” “Shacking Up: Love, Sex, and Church Commitment,” “Following Jesus Together While Having Very Different Beliefs,” and “Exploring Anabaptist Theology.” Leaders connected with more than 1600 participants for interactive, practical, and engaging learning in more than eight regions within MCEC. Participants appreciated the experiential learning model and consistently evaluated ALW instructors as knowledgeable, engaging, and able to nurture a collaborative learning environment.
“Shaping and organizing the Anabaptist learning workshop has been a really neat project,” reflected ALW Coordinator Matthew Bailey-Dick. “Some of my best ALW memories are from events where it felt like we were making things in a well-equipped workshop. In a figurative sense, there was sawdust all over the floor, people were trying things out, and there was a sense of camaraderie. And I don’t think there always needed to be an ‘end product’ because it’s important enough that we cultivated the skill of wonder and the spirituality of learning.”
The ALW initiative was funded by a five-year grant from MCEC’s Legacy Initiative Funds (LIF) and implemented by Grebel. Following the expiry of the initial LIF grant in 2020, program administration will shift to MCEC. “We are excited about the new possibilities for resourcing MCEC congregations and supporting pastors and lay leaders,” commented Marilyn Rudy-Froese, MCEC Church Leadership Minister, who will give leadership to the future development of the ALW agenda.