Mexican churches strengthen relations with CanadiansBy Deborah Froese Mennonite Church Canada
WINNIPEG, Man. — Four churches in Mexico that once received financial support from Mennonite Church Canada are now contributing back to the denomination’s bottom line.
They also send delegates to MC Canada assemblies and use Canadian assembly themes to shape their own gatherings.
“These brothers and sisters want to be part of a bigger identity and involved in wider mission. This is admirable,” said Robert J. Suderman, MC Canada general secretary.
“We are no longer parent and child. We are partners together reaching out in mission to God’s needy world. And we are grateful that this is possible.”
The Mexican church previously received funds from the General Conference Mennonite Church’s Commission on Overseas Mission, which in Canada has become known as Mennonite Church Canada Witness.
The Conference of Mennonites in Mexico, or CMM, was formed in 1963 and grew to include four churches — Blumenau, Steinreich, Burwalde and La Salada. All are in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Earlier this year, Tim Froese, MC Canada’s mission partnership facilitator for Latin America, and Suderman traveled to Mexico to meet with the churches and leaders of CMM. In a report after the trip, Suderman wrote, “They expressed deep levels of appreciation that we had come to look, to listen, to learn, and to understand them better.”
Roots in division
CMM began long before its official formation in 1963. After Mennonites first migrated to Mexico from Russia in the 1870s, some members were banished from the colony for engaging in activities that contradicted its conservative understanding of social and economic development — such as driving automobiles or pickup trucks, or using rubber tires.
The businesses and produce of excommunicated families were boycotted. Families were prohibited from attending worship and praying together. Children were not allowed to attend the existing schools.
In the 1920s, more Mennonites arrived from southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, followed by a second group of Russian Mennonites. Eventually, these less conservative Mennonites joined with those who had been excommunicated and invited North American GCs to provide them with educational and spiritual support. The Commission on Overseas Mission responded by helping them to open new schools and a German-language church with Sunday school and singing.
Today, CMM congregations are immersed in a sea of Old Colony, Kleinegemeinde and Gemeinde Gottes churches. But together all of these Mennonite congrega-tions operate 10 schools from kindergarten through grade 12, with a combined enrollment of 854 students. They also manage a home for seniors and a home for mentally challenged men and women.
Comment on the article Mexican churches strengthen relations with Canadians
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.