By Josh Friesen
Writing this article makes me torn. I can certainly agree with some of the things Mr. Brandt mentioned in his article [March 2019] about his joy of being an EMCer—the diversity of culture and language represented both at a congregational level and now more recently at a pastoral level. I do have a few thorns in my side that I’m trying to decide if they’re a good thing or a bad thing.
The things I cherish about my membership in the EM Conference are the commitment to interpreting scripture as a community; the theory that Christ, specifically Jesus, should be the lens that we interpret the rest of Scripture through; and the social concerns that weigh heavy on our hearts as evidenced by our support of MCC.
The reason I’m also ambivalent about my EMC background is the fact that I feel some of the things I am most proud of are also the things we’re doing least well. We seemed to have strayed from the M and headed toward the E. In our women in leadership issue we seem to be less concerned about keeping community together to challenge each other and more concerned about being “theologically correct.”
When I read Jesus, he really cared about how we treated our neighbour and how we treated the least of these. He didn’t seem too motivated in ensuring we had the correct theology on the pressing issues of his day. In fact, he spent most of his days criticizing the organized religion, and rather choosing to live life, interact, and love with “the least of these.”
I realize that being ambivalent or proud are poor indicators of how accurately we’re following God. I realize that women in leadership, divorce, and other things are tricky conversations. I realize that it’s hard to know what love demands of you when you disagree with someone’s beliefs or lifestyles. I realize that life as a community is messy, especially as it gets larger. We can’t all agree, we can’t all get our way, and we can’t all get our doctrine enshrined in a handbook somewhere. But here’s a few things we can do.
We can recognize our diverse and bold heritage of being bigger than our own churches. We can agree to do church together with those who think different than us, whether they are more concerned with ensuring tradition is honoured, or are more concerned with adapting tradition to fit an evolving understanding of truth.
I write this because I truly do love the heritage that we’ve been passed. I hope we’re able to pass it along to our kids. A faith that is living, loving and growing. One that transforms even as it anchors. And I hope it changes, because if you’re not changing, you’re dead. Here’s to many more years of following Jesus as a community of doubters, believers, Evangelicals, Mennonites, and every other kind of person in our diverse conference.
Josh Friesen is a home builder in Winnipeg who attends Fort Garry EMC “with my wonderful wife Gina and two sons, Henry and Jaxon. I get the privilege of playing guitar on one of the worship bands, as well as coordinating adult Sunday School with another volunteer. I’m passionate about creating societies where people can thrive. I attended SBC for one year in 2009-2010.”