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Small Community - Large World or The Rabbit Trail

posted 19 Dec 2019, 09:52 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 13 Jan 2020, 14:00 ]

A Menno Minute

with Ryan Dueck

Pastor, Lethbridge Mennonite Church



Small Community - Large World

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world…. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.

    G. K. Chesterton, Heretics

 

A few months ago, I followed a rabbit trail from a blog that I occasionally read to the website of the church where the blogger was a pastor. It had been a while since I had visited the website of an American evangelical mega-church, and after a few minutes of browsing I was beginning to experience a bit of sensory overload. There was a page for every conceivable ministry under the sun—addictions, young moms, men, young adults, sports enthusiasts. On and on the list went.

Everything about the megachurch’s website and staff bios was polished, well-produced, and professional looking. There was a whole section of the website that narrated what a typical “Weekend Experience” might look like. There were slick videos and creative graphics and a whole host of other media crammed full of imagination and inspiration.  

I thought about how I might describe a “weekend experience” in our little community. Well, we straggle together around 9:45 for Sunday School… Sometimes musicians are rehearsing… Nearly always the pastor is engaged with full-on hostilities with the printer as he tries to get the sermon he finished late last night out the door… Sometimes the kids make snacks downstairs… The service starts around 11:00… We sing, we smile, we pray, we listen to one another. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes there are outbursts in the service, whether from kids or from L’Arche members who regularly worship with us… As far as “weekend experiences” go, I suppose you might say it’s “mixed.”

It's easy to feel small when held up beside the mega-church and all it can offer. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I’m not anti-megachurch. I have dear friends who are part of churches far larger than my own, and I love and respect them greatly. But even though I admire some of what the big churches are able to do, I’m a small church kind of guy.

I like it that I know people’s names, that I know a bit of their stories. I like it that the kids just call me “Ryan” with no “pastor” prefixed to it. I like it that we can bring food to church and share it with one another after the service. I like it that we have a volunteer lawn-mowing sign-up sheet. I like it that we have people who are miles apart theologically and politically, yet we can still come to same table, the same Lord.

And, in my better moments, I’m glad that my companions are given to me rather than being the ones I might naturally choose, whether in the local church, in our MCA community, or beyond. I thank God for my small community and for the large world they invite me to live in.

For Your Consideration

posted 19 Dec 2019, 09:42 by June Miller, MCA Communications

For Your Consideration


Year-end donations: As you plan your year-end giving, please keep Mennonite Church Alberta in mind. We rely on individual donations and congregational giving to support. Please consider a donation to one of the following areas of need:
 
Camp Valaqua ($22K)
International Witness ($7K)
North Edmonton Ministry ($15K)
General MCA ministry & programming ($60K)

Pray for South Sudanese Mennonite Church in Gambella region, Ethiopia

posted 4 Dec 2019, 19:33 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Pray for South Sudanese Mennonite Church in Gambella region, Ethiopia


Riek Tut (left) of Edmonton South Sudanese Mennonite Church is visiting family, friends and the church in Gambella region in Ethiopia. Pictures below were taken on Sunday December 1, 2019.

Pastor Reuben Tut of Edmonton South Sudanese Mennonite Church has requested prayer for his country. Pray for peace in South Sudan. Pray for the restoration of houses, livestock, and communities that are displaced by flooding. The flooding has brought more disease. Pray for the healthcare system.




A Menno Minute with Arlyn Friesen Epp

posted 4 Dec 2019, 19:30 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 5 Dec 2019, 07:38 ]

A Menno Minute

with Arlyn Friesen Epp

Director CommonWord Bookstore & Resource Centre
Mennonite Church Canada Staff
Written by June Miller


 


What is the difference between CommonWord & MennoMedia?


In the Mennonite world we have a lot of terms and acronymns we throw around. Sometimes it is hard for those entrenched in the Menno world to sort out, much less those who are newer. In a recent email, a church admin asked "what is the difference between CommonWord & MennoMedia?" (To be honest, before I took this job as Communications Coordinator, I didn't know what CommonWord was.) I had an answer, but thought this would be a good opportunity to hear from Arlin Friesen Epp, Director of CommonWord and Mennonite Church Canada staff.

CommonWord is a physical store located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and serves both CMU and Mennonite Church Canada. CommonWord is also an online store, library, and resource centre.  Did you know that you can borrow a book from CommonWord for free? Postage is paid both ways.




Back to the question, what is the difference between CommonWord & MennoMedia? Here is how Arlin concisely and clearly explains.  

"Put simply: 
(1) MennoMedia is Mennonite Church Canada’s publisher and CommonWord is our retailer and resource centre.
(2) MennoMedia produces Anabaptist resources and CommonWord disseminates many of them to individuals and congregations within Canada. 
This is a close partnership between publisher and retailer and is in place to serve our common constituency after significant structural transitions.
 
Put more completely:
(1) MennoMedia publishes periodicals and curriculum (under its name, MennoMedia) and trade books (under its imprint, Herald Press). 
(2) MennoMedia offers Canadians its periodicals and curriculum via its new website www.mennomedia.ca or 1-800-245-7894. 
(3) CommonWord retails (and provides for loan) all Herald Press titles at www.commonword.ca or 1-877-846-1593.    
(4) Pre-orders of special publications, like Voices Together hymnal, are handled by MennoMedia.  After its publication next fall, CommonWord will have copies for sale (and loan).
 
So:
(1) Renewing your Leader subscription?  Contact MennoMedia.
(2) Ordering Shine curriculum?  Contact MennoMedia.
(3) Pre-ordering Voices Together?  Contact MennoMedia.
(4) Buying a book to read or study from Herald Press?  Contact CommonWord.
(5) Borrowing a Herald Press book to preview?  Contact CommonWord.
 
Of course, you are always free to contact either partner.  We are both prepared to answer your questions or direct you to the right source of information.  We are here to link you to Anabaptist resources that will help nurture faith."

A Menno Minute by Werner DeJong

posted 27 Nov 2019, 21:40 by June Miller, MCA Communications


A Menno Minute

by Werner DeJong, pastor Holyrood Mennonite Church


Technology and Discipleship


After preaching a sermon on technology and discipleship in early September,I invited the young adult and adult members of the congregation to attend a new Sunday School class on the same theme.

The members of the class have been considering one central question: How should followers of Jesus relate to the technology that is both rapidly developing and ever-present in our world today? Based on strong attendance, the theme is resonating with people--the class has averaged between 15-20 attendees a week.

Discussions have ranged from the development of the wheel to the rise of social media, from the use of technology in the worship service to the place of medical intervention in end-of-life issues. Many questions have been raised: How does technology impact our community life? How does it influence our identity? How might technology diminish or enhance our discipleship? Consensus seems to be developing that we should not fear technology, while at the same time being careful to discern the implications of how and when we use it.

Doing Church @ Trinity Mennonite

posted 19 Nov 2019, 11:04 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Doing Church

Trinity Mennonite "Together"
by Laura Wiebe

Trinity Mennonite Church is an active church.  We’re not a big church, but we have much to be thankful for and have members engaged in a variety of activities.  I am constantly encouraged by the faithfulness of our people.
Presently, with the leadership of our pastor, Will Loewen, we have been exploring different avenues of prayer.  When asked if he thought this was because of our own interest or because of the encouragement we received through the MCA 2020 visioning process, he replied “yes”.  That is, yes to both:  MCA sparked a joint effort in us to go deeper into this spiritual discipline, but it was also our interest as MCA participants that moved MCA to see that we desired to engage more in prayer.  However it has come about, it has stretched us and added a new dimension to the faith journey of those participating.

And it draws us together.  In fact, our focus for this year is “TOGETHER’.  We want this word to influence all we do this year.  Pastor Will has been incorporating this into his fall sermon series “Keepers” where God asks Cain, and us, “are we are brother’s keeper?”   Our theme for our retreat weekend was “together” with those present definitely feeling the togetherness.  It can be difficult to make the effort to get away for the weekend, but we are always richly rewarded by doing so.  We’ve also been asking ourselves some questions about our direction and purpose (as MCA 2020 asked us to) and feel that we can discern these answers better together.

We face many of the same challenges as other smaller churches do, yet we see many in our congregation continue to live out their faith energetically, and not always just internally.  We have people who volunteer tirelessly in organizations like food banks and community associations.  We pack MCC relief kits and help at the thrift store.  We support Mennonite Disaster Service, with people helping in Grand Forks, BC and Puerto Rico, etc.  On other fronts, we meet challenges together:  families are organizing youth events, worship leaders creatively accommodate busy schedules, Sunday morning education looks a little differently than it did 10 years ago, potlucks and coffee times continue to feed our souls, and council and committee members continue to be deeply dedicated to the work of the church!

In all this, we ask your prayers for us:  for the Holy Spirit to move in and among and through us as we are God’s church in this world and in this time.

A number of us look forward to the conclusion of MCA’s 2020 coming up at the beginning of November.  We hope to see you there and reconnect!

Laura Wiebe, on behalf of TMC

A Menno Minute with Tany Warkentin

posted 19 Nov 2019, 10:56 by June Miller, MCA Communications

A Menno Minute

by Tany Warkentin, MCA Treasurer and Pastoral Leader for Springridge Mennonite Church in Pincher Creek.

Deeper Talk
How many times have you asked someone about their relationship with God, in the past week? In the past month?

Since our latest MCA Vision 20/20 meetings, this question has been on my mind. Our Alberta churches are invited to step into a year of personal renewal, deepening our faith through prayer and other spiritual practices. At those recent meetings, my discussion group talked about our need to talk more openly about our faith and prayer life. In my life, I am thankful for certain routines such as daily family devotions that draw my children and I into these types of conversations. Talking about faith with others inspires and encourages me in my own relationship with God, and is also important in nurturing faith in our young people. It opens up opportunities to ask questions and allows God to speak to us through the wisdom and insight of those around us. So then why doesn’t faith come up more often in conversations at family gatherings, in chatting with friends or around the potluck table at church?

Talking about faith is not easy for many of us. It means jumping into conversations beyond the safe topics of sports, weather, or the latest story on CBC radio. It takes a lot of courage to step outside our comfort zones to ask someone about their prayer life, or how they have felt God’s spirit in the past week. It leaves us feeling vulnerable when we share our own doubts and struggles in our faith journey.

As I commit to deepening my personal faith practices in this coming year, I commit to being braver in my conversations. Let’s engage in deeper talk around our tables and see how this can, in turn, deepen our faith.

Doing Church: Springridge MC hosts Lethbridge MC

posted 7 Nov 2019, 11:03 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Doing Church

Springridge Mennonite host joint service with Lethbridge Mennonite
by Tany Warkentin, Pastoral Leader, Springridge Mennonite Church

On October 20, Springridge MC hosted a joint worship service with Lethbridge MC. The worship included a lot of participation from both churches - from candle-lighting to readings, music, and teachings. The focus was on how, within community, we need to "carry" each other to Jesus as the four friends did with the paralytic man (Mark 2:1-12).  It was a powerful time of celebrating community within our broader Mennonite church, building relationship, inter-generational worship and of course, eating together.  Plans are being made for a similar joint service in spring, hosted by the Lethbridge Mennonite Church.


Top photo: Beth Moyer, Jason Marten, Claire Marten
Bottom photo: Finley Anjo (right) Irvin Martens, Adele Short, Marg Braun, Anne Martens (left)
Photos by Asher Warkentin

A Menno Minute: People like you

posted 7 Nov 2019, 11:00 by June Miller, MCA Communications

A Menno Minute
by Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, MCA Moderator

People like you

One of the common phrases I read in thank-you cards and letters is “people like you.”

     “It's because of people like you that we are able to meet our needs.”
     “People like you really do exist!”
     “The world would be a better place if there were more people like you.
     “The support of people like you makes all the difference!”


Although cliché, I'm going to heavily borrow that phrase because I've been bumping into “people like you” a lot these last few weeks at Healthy Boundaries, at Vision 20/20 sessions, and in meetings with church leaders. And the more I bump into you, the more the clichés start to take on deeper meaning.

I'm learning that people like you are compassionate – you care about providing bursaries to future church leaders, even if there are no guarantees that they'll serve in MCA. You're compassionate about kids who encounter God at Camp, even though you may never meet these kids. You see Christ in one another and extend grace along spectrums – whether the ways that we understand our boundaries, or spirituality, or leadership roles.

People like you are connected – you're involved in your congregations and in your communities. You want to make the world a better place and you seek like-minded people in our common callings. We love to see your faces in our committee meetings and gatherings!

People like you are trusting – we don't take this for granted. You give to MCA because you trust us to be efficient and effective in how your donations are used. You trust us to explore options and to seek God's guidance in our decisions and discernment. Trust is holy ground.

People like you believe in the Church that exists through time and space – you believe that we have a purpose, that our beliefs are worth sharing, and that people in this world are longing for meaning that only Christ can give. You believe that the world hungers to hear God's message of peace. You believe that God's reconciling work in the world happens through the local and the global Church.

Thank you for being who you are and for being Church together! The gifts that you entrust to MCA help us to equip congregations and are shared far beyond our local fellowships. I invite you to pray for each other, for congregational, MCA and MC Canada leadership, and for God's Spirit to be poured out in our world.


Doing Church

posted 1 Nov 2019, 21:25 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Doing Church

Foothills Mennonite Hosts Senior's Exercise Group

with Erwin Strempler, Visitation Pastor at Foothills Mennonite

In the fall of 2015 members of the neighbourhood community association asked if they could use our lower auditorium for a group of seniors for an exercise program. Kate Janzen was the Outreach Trustee at the time helped facilitate the request. Two University of Calgary students volunteered to be in the instructors. Rudy Wiens and I (left), Foothills members, volunteered to set up the chairs, make coffee and clean up for the weekly morning session.

In the meantime, this early group effort has become an important time for a church to connect in a great way with our wonderful community. Various instructors have made the hour of exercise a healthy preoccupation for seniors in our neighbourhood community.

Several people have reported that the exercises have helped in a number of ways. In my case, when we started I usually had to sit down for part of the exercises when we did not use the chairs to hold on. With my age and mild diabetes, I had a balance problem when we started. Now after getting four years older, I can do those exercises when we do not use chairs, and the question of balance is nearly gone, at least significantly reduced.

Looking over the many name tags we have used since 2015, there must have been over 80 people from the community who have joined us at one time or another. The average weekly attendance is 20-30.
 
I think the relationship to people in the community is very important. They find out that we are a Christian congregation and just normal people. During the coffee time, we sit around the tables, and frequently the conversation takes on personal comments, faith concerns, church-related questions. We inform them of our special programs, and invite them. More and more of the community people join us at our Christmas Choir Program. Last week our jr. youth raked leaves for seniors in our neighbourhood. Routinely they contribute items for our MCC bins. This is a very meaningful relationship between the church and our neighbourhood community.

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