Canadian Mennonite
Volume 12, No. 10
May 12, 2008


Our ongoing commission

Tim Miller Dyck


Tim Miller Dyck

Two things stood out for me as I attended the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual delegate sessions at the end of April in Leamington.

The first was how multilingual the church body is. We worshipped God together and heard Scripture in many tongues. More and more churches in MC Eastern Canada use Lao, Hmong, Spanish or Amharic, as well as English, as their working languages. Given that the theme verse of the gathering was Jesus’ command to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (from Matthew 28:19, called the Great Commission), this was quite fitting.

The second thing that really stood out was how many churches are being planted in this area church right now. A few issues ago, I shared the joy of pastor Thomas Pham at how God was multiplying the efforts of the Edmonton and Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite churches in Christian witness in Malaysia. I heard that same emotion a week ago in southern Ontario.

At the MC Eastern Canada sessions, mission minister Brian Bauman said that, in the past six years, four new member churches had been introduced in the Mission Council reporting time, although none were joining this year.

“But there is good news,” he stressed. “We have eight church planters and new churches with us this morning. Eight!

“There are church planters, [people] going to be church planters, as well as congregations that have already begun and they have discovered the Mennonite faith. They’ve discovered our emphasis on community, on justice, on peace, on service and say that is who we want to connect with, that’s who we want to be as a church.”

There is Kingsfield/Clinton, a new faith community emerging from Zurich Mennonite Church; Markham Christian Worship Centre, a Tamil church desiring to be the first Tamil Mennonite Church (and growing in relationship with Wideman Mennonite Church and Hagerman Mennonite Church); a French/English church plant starting soon in Ottawa (see story on page 25); an English church plant starting this fall in St. Catharines; an Ethiopian and Eritrean church growing in downtown Toronto; two Spanish-speaking Mennonite churches in Quebec, one in Sherbrooke and one in Montreal; and an English Christian community emerging in Stratford.

What’s also visible is the way churches in other parts of the world are sending workers to help us here. Lucy Roca, who is leading the two Hispanic Quebec churches, was commissioned and sent here by the Colombian Mennonite Church to plant churches in Canada.

Pastor Kassa Lemma, who started the Ethiopian and Eritrean church, was already a pastor for years in Ethiopia. Familiar with the Mennonite church there (after all, Meserete Kristos Church, the world’s largest Mennonite church group, is there), he contacted Mennonite Church Canada to find out how to join together with Mennonites here in Canada. I spoke with him at the meetings in Leamington to learn more. “I need some more help. I have vision and have more plans for these new immigrants,” he told me.

The story of the church he founded, Rehoboth Christian Fellowship, is quite astonishing and you’ll read about it in a future issue of Canadian Mennonite as we continue our series highlighting emerging church plants.

Jim Loepp Thiessen, pastor at the Gathering Church in Kitchener, one of four new churches that recently joined MC Eastern Canada, also spoke to the importance of following Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. He described how the church is God’s outpost of mission in the world. Mission, as well as fellowship and service, is God’s calling.

“When the church is engaged in its mission, it comes alive. If you are wondering, is this all there is to church, then I need to tell you one of the missing links is lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit: folks who don’t know about Jesus and find out the power of Jesus to transform their lives,” he said. “Trust me. If you aren’t seeing people transformed by the power of Jesus, your needs aren’t being met. The church doesn’t make sense. It’s a critical component of the church’s DNA to watch people transform . . . into disciples and followers of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus tells us to go, make disciples, baptize, teach and obey. The privilege to know and follow Jesus Christ is a gift intended for me, you and everyone around us.

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