Canadian Mennonite
Volume 11, No. 03
February 5, 2007


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Mennonite Church Canada
Mennonite Church British Columbia
Mennonite Church Alberta
Mennonite Church Saskatchewan
Mennonite Church Manitoba
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada
From our leaders

Mennonite Church Canada

Equipping highlights Lenten resources

The February Equipping, now available in church offices, highlights many Lenten resources and other reflection/study/work opportunities, including:

• A volunteer coordinator assistant for Habitat for Humanity in Toronto is sought by Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS). The successful candidate will live in an MVS unit house and worship at Danforth Mennonite Church.

• A celebration story by Dan Nighswander and Yvonne Snider Nighswander entitled “South Africa: Missional-mindedness in the midst of poverty.”

• Challenging letters from MC Canada leaders, including “Faithfulness that provokes” by Robert J. Suderman, and a reflection on the need for Sabbath rest by Sven Eriksson, who suggests that without this pastors can become “compulsive religious functionaries.”

• A three-session study and reflection guide on the MC Canada Statement of Identity and Purpose.

• A Resource Centre update which notes many Lenten books and resources, including the “At Home” family worship booklet, “Blessed hunger, holy feast,” prepared by Elsie Rempel to supplement 2007 Lenten worship materials.

• Information on Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, including the “Easter to Pentecost Worship Planner” workshop on March 10; a “Pastoring those who face financial crises” seminar on May 24; and application forms for the !Explore 2007 Summer Program.

Mennonite Church British Columbia

Conference to explore ‘covenants’

“Call to covenant: Deepening our understanding of God’s call to covenant” will be the theme of the LEAD conference on Feb. 23, just prior to the annual delegate sessions of Mennonite Church B.C. at Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack.

Artur Bergen, pastor of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church of Abbotsford, will speak from the perspective of the book Work of Heart by Reggie McNeal. Sven Eriksson, MC Canada denominational minister, will speak on what “receiving the call means in circles beyond our own congregation.”

Although intended primarily for leaders, elders and deacons, the LEAD conference is open to anyone involved in the work of the church. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., with the LEAD sessions beginning at 1 p.m. following a noon lunch. To register, or for more information, contact Janette Thiessen at 604-850-6658 or by Feb. 13.

Registration for the Mennonite Church B.C. annual delegate sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, with sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Eden Mennonite. The main focus for the day will be passage of the priority actions discussed at a Nov. 4 meeting, and approval of the covenant statement.

Mennonite Church Alberta

Men’s retreat planned for June

Plans are underway for the second annual Mennonite men’s retreat at Camp Valaqua, June 8 to 10. This year, Mike Perschon, associate pastor at Holyrood Mennonite Church, will facilitate sessions on the topic of the use of wealth and influence.

A key question for the weekend will be how to make the shift from an understanding of the world’s ideas of success to an idea of those things that have eternal significance.

Men of all ages are encouraged to come to the retreat for a time of fellowship and discussion of issues important to men in the church. Participants are encouraged to pack their hiking boots and to be ready to enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting at the camp.

For more information or to register, call Marvin Baergen at 403-256-2894 or e-mail him at

Mennonite Church Saskatchewan

Delegate sessions to discuss P2P proposal

A six-page draft proposal—prepared for the consideration of delegates at the upcoming MC Saskatchewan delegate sessions—is opening up some exciting possibilities for the Person to Person program in Saskatchewan.

The draft, which includes a proposal for MC Saskatchewan, was written by Eric Olfert on behalf of the P2P Transition Committee. Meeting over the last six months has led the Transition Committee to suggest a solution to better coordinate provincial efforts for P2P and offer a vision for a base of support that encompasses all Christian churches in the province.

Committee members represented five different denominations plus one para-church organization.

In the report, Olfert stresses the importance of maintaining the basic biblical teaching behind P2P and insists that the original vision is “non-negotiable.” “We strongly affirm that this must remain an organization that…is Christian and is rooted in the life and ministry of the church,” writes Olfert in the draft.

The report also hints at a name change for the new inter-church organization which will emerge if this proposal is accepted by delegates. The impact of P2P will also be larger, said Olfert. Instead of mainly prison visitation and Circles of Support, there will also be a focus on victims of crime and a community chaplaincy.

The draft proposal comes after a decade of self-evaluations and outside assessment.

Mennonite Church Manitoba

Engaging culture with the gospel

The annual MC Manitoba leadership conference will be held Feb. 23 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Sterling Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Len Hjalmarson, keynote speaker at this year’s annual delegate sessions, will speak to church leaders about “engaging the culture with the gospel,” said Harold Peters-Fransen, director of Leadership Ministries. This will be followed by a panel discussion. “The panel will consist of persons who represent a number of different denominations and are actively involved in ministry in Winnipeg,” said Peters-Fransen. “They will discuss new models of being the church.”

The annual delegate sessions follow immediately at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Pastoral transitions

• On Sept. 24, Albert Cheang, pastor of Winnipeg Chinese Mennonite Church, was ordained. Cheang was one of the founding members of the church. He served as deacon for many years, assisting each of the previous pastors. He responded to God’s call to equip himself for ministry at seminary a few years ago and then began serving as full-time pastor a year ago.

• Lynne Martin resigned as pastor of Arnaud Mennonite Church as of Dec. 31. She pastored there for seven-and-a-half years. Martin is remarried and relocating in eastern Manitoba. A farewell service was held on Jan. 7. Canadian Mennonite “Family ties” columnist Melissa Miller began as interim pastor on Jan. 15.

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

Bible quizzing deadline approaches

Your hand rests lightly on the button. The smell and feel of sweat pervades the room as the questioner begins to read the next question: “The paralytic whom Peter and John healed was sitting at which temple gate in Jerusalem?” A hand twitches and the other team buzzes and answers, “The Beautiful Gate.” Darn, you knew that one. “Follow up question,” announces the questioner. “What is the significance of this healing for the early church?”

If you have answers to these questions, then perhaps you and your youth group would like to be at Floradale Mennonite Church on April 14 for the first round of Bible quizzing. The finals are April 28 at the MC Eastern Canada annual church gathering at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener.

The deadline for team registration is Feb. 19. To register, or to find out about teaming up with other churches if your congregation doesn’t have enough youths to make up a team itself, contact Bev Raimbault (

Bible quizzing has long been a winter activity for youths in MC Eastern Canada. It promotes biblical literacy, builds group cohesion, and gets youths in contact with others of like-mind across the area church. Year after year youth groups study the passages, practise their skills in answering and learn how to apply Scripture in their own lives.

From Our Leaders

—Janet Plenert

Measuring the success of investment

“What value will this have for us?” “How do we benefit from this investment?’ “How can I sell this idea to those who pay the bills?”

We are rightly concerned with using our resources in wise ways—ways that give us a good return on investment. But that isn’t the only measure of good stewardship.

We are charter members of Global Mission Fellowship (GMF), an Anabaptist network whose purpose is to encourage all parts of the church—north and south, east and west, rich and poor, new and old—to collaborate in God’s mission so that together we might function effectively and efficiently for the sake of the reign of God.

This affects our strategies for mission in important ways. It means we don’t forge ahead without first checking how the rest of the global body is engaged. It means our gifts are discerned within the global body. It means that together we must find ways of empowering the newer churches to release their gifts. It means we must see that our efforts are not complete in and of ourselves.

Mennonite Church Canada is seriously committed to participating in the GMF, and has contributed to it with resources and staff. It is one key way in which we are becoming a global church, which is one of our three priorities.

In calculating a fair share of expenses needed for a global effort such as a GMF gathering, we come face-to-face with stark inequalities in the global church. There are 13 North American churches and agencies that belong to the GMF and 65 members globally. When the calculations are complete, North American members jointly need to contribute about 94 percent of the total budget in order to bring parity among global members.

Herein lies the rub. We must begin to understand that becoming a global church means reframing many of our questions. Instead of asking what value we get out of our contribution, we need to ask, “How will this benefit the global church?” We need to look beyond ourselves and realize that investing in the global church allows gifts and resources to be released that otherwise would not be. We need to realize that when the global church works together, the synergy and strength that result are greater than the sum of its parts. We need to realize that we are generating efficiencies that benefit us all and allow us to accomplish more than we would by working on our own.

In other words, how we benefit is only one dimension of becoming a global church. The other dimension is how our participation and contributions benefit others. Partnership in mission at a global level is a very good financial and spiritual investment. And that is good value, no matter how you add it up.

Janet Plenert is executive secretary of MC Canada Witness. She has been the North American GMF representative since August 2003, and the GMF chair since September 2006.

Unless otherwise credited, the articles in TheChurches pages were written by Canadian Mennonite’s regional correspondents.

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