Joint Council Report back

posted 29 Jan 2020, 17:56 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Joint Council Report back

Joint Council meetings were held January 25-27, 2020 at Conrad Grebel University in Ontario. Calvin Quan, moderator of Mennonite Church Canada, led discussions on key topics including Communications, International Witness, Finances, Sustainability and Global Youth Summit delegates.

Katie Doke-Sawatsky, Communications Officer for MC Canada, supplied Joint Council with a brief on the status of current nationwide projects. An area of attention is the role that Canadian Mennonite magazine will continue to have as a critical part of MC Canada's communications strategy.

International Witness has struggled with the original model of relationship funding, Witness Support Teams, which relies heavily on individual involvement and support. A new model is being proposed in which congregations are the primary support framework for Witness Workers. Congregations will be connected to the Witness Worker and to each other through Witness Support Networks. Jeanette Hanson will introduce Witness Support Networks at our March delegate sessions in Edmonton.

Joint Council recognizes declining trends in giving and has been adapting to this by changing meeting locations and utilizing MC Canada office space. Savings in accommodation costs have also been found. For this meeting, Conrad Grebel graciously offered meeting rooms free of charge.

The Executive Staff Group (ESG) submitted a summary on Sustainability, identifying three-areas of impact: Economic, Environmental, and Social. Joint Council approved exploring ways in which we can live more sustainably and will develop tools for congregations, Regional Churches, and MC Canada to better understand the impact we have in our world.

Global Youth Summit delegates have been selected and approved. Look for a press release soon to introduce our Regional Church and MC Canada delegates!

A Menno Minute - Our Human Vulnerability

posted 29 Jan 2020, 17:44 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 29 Jan 2020, 18:22 ]

A Menno Minute

by Caleb Kowalko, Pastor at Calgary First Mennonite Church

Our Human Vulnerability

I was just about to collect my things from my office after church when I overheard the very sad news.  One of our church youth, following close behind me on the stairs, informed their mom, “Kobe Bryant just died in a helicopter crash.”  Like many who first heard the news,  I thought it must be some kind of joke or prank.  But when I went to my phone, sure enough, officials were reporting about the very real tragedy in Southern California.

Most people who know me recognize that I am a very big basketball fan - more-so than the average Canadian, I suppose.  Although I usually thought of Kobe Bryant as a villain (he always beat my favourite teams), I found myself on Sunday in complete shock.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.  The sad news didn’t stop with Kobe, as it was later reported that his daughter and seven others died in the crash.

Kobe Bryant was a legend, someone that a whole generation of basketball fans looked up to - they wanted to be just like him.  He was world renown.  He made history.  So how could he die so young (at only 41 years of age)?!  How could he die like this?!  He was supposed to be beyond these kinds of seemingly random and meaningless tragedies that afflict us human beings.  It would have been less surprising to so many if Kobe Bryant stood up from the wreckage without a scratch.  Because he was more than human.  In the words of sports writer Tommy Ross, Kobe was a “basketball god.”

Far be it from me to try to make sense of this, or any other seemingly random tragedy that has taken lives.  In moments like this, I do my best to resist that ever-so tempting, yet dead-end question, “why?”  But like so many other tragedies that I have witnessed in my life or in the news, it does cause me to reflect on that quintessential feature of our humanity: our vulnerability. 

Among so many other things, humans are vulnerable.  We trip, we get hurt, we fall ill, we get into accidents, we age, and so on.  Much of what we have tried to do in the modern west has been to overcome that vulnerability because for the most part, we hate our vulnerability.  Or at least, we are taught to hate our vulnerability.  So we try to overcome it.  We try to not be vulnerable.  We try to escape our humanity.  And for the most part, we assume that what it takes to escape this very human vulnerability is to reach a status not unlike that of Kobe Bryant.

But it turns out that Kobe was still human - a creature.  Despite his status near the pinnacle of Olympus,  he was still human.  Despite the glory of his fame, championships, records and awards, Kobe was still human.  And if there is a particularly Christian way to reflect on this tragedy of that helicopter crash on Sunday, it might be as a reminder that our human vulnerability cannot be escaped. 

But rather than this recognition drawing us towards a paralyzing fear, or perhaps looking to the latest technology that will surely save us from our human vulnerability, a Christian response has been to direct that vulnerability in a life-giving direction: in turning our dependence upon our Creator.   In fact, our God did not seem to think that this vulnerability was something that needed to be escaped but actually chose to enter into it joyfully.  

Our vulnerability is not a sin - something that needs to be escaped.  We claim that God created our vulnerability and intended that it be one of the things that would draw us towards God.  This doesn’t mean we are not to be careful in our lives.  It doesn’t mean we are to be reckless.  But we acknowledge our vulnerability is an important and beautiful part of what makes us human.

God did not want Kobe Bryant or any of the other eight individuals to die in that crash.  Those nine people were God’s beloved creatures.  And our God desires life not death.  So it is right to grieve and mourn when tragedy strikes anywhere, and especially close to home.  But it is my hope that our own human vulnerability is never the thing that causes us to lose faith.  God’s work in our world is never to eliminate our vulnerability - to save us from our own humanity.  Rather, God’s work is to be the completion of that vulnerability in communion with us  -  the Creator and the creature together again.


2019 Annual Report

posted 23 Jan 2020, 09:43 by June Miller, MCA Communications

n our northern climate, the changing of the seasons is a natural part of life. The season of waiting for “God with us” is followed by
 an exploration of Jesus’ manifestation and purpose, drawing us to a deeper sense of our own calling. The nudges and urges that arise in this season of new beginnings invite us to live out our call together with others, in community. “Community” is what MCA is about!

In community, our twelve congregations build a foundation for their identity and find a place of belonging. We draw on each other’s strengths and gifts to explore faith, pray, celebrate and mourn, become enlivened, practice generosity, and share resources. Community is a place to receive and to give. It’s a place to ask the question, “And who is my neighbour?” and then explore the nature and breadth of our neighbourhoods. The richness and fellowship that we experience as members of a regional, nationwide, and global church is a taste of the Kingdom of God.

Staff & Ministries

No where are seasons more evident than at Camp Valaqua! Jon Olfert (Director) and Jeff Schellenberg (Manager) provide year-round leadership to Camp, which invited over 2000 people for exploration, renewal, peace, and inspiration in 2019. Camp provides service and leadership opportunities for a wide range of people. Children of all ages plug into God's creation and develop life-long connections with one another.

hrough her work with North Edmonton Ministries (NEM), Donna Entz (Mission Worker) provides opportunities to engage with people from a variety of faith backgrounds. NEM is about building: building relationships, building community, and building bridges of understanding. Dialogues, English classes, book clubs, gardening and countless cups of tea provide places of centring, belonging and exploration. We celebrated with Donna this year as she was honoured with Canadian Mennonite University’s Distinguished Alumni Award!

Much of our administrative team's work is behind the scenes to support congregations and to bridge our local, nationwide and global ministries. In 2019, Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (Executive Minister) worked with congregations in support of church leadership, including the credentialing of ministry leaders, walking alongside during times of pastoral transition, and providing resources and guidance during challenges that come with living in community. Tim also liaises with the many ministry arms of the Mennonite Church and works together with the Executive Staff Group (ESG) to shape the work and vision of MC Canada.

MCA congregations have expressed a desire to connect more deeply with one another. We do this when we share about God’s presence and leading. You can find MCA, nationwide and international stories by subscribing to The MCA Communiqué ( June Miller (Communications) works at these connections and is involved in the roll-out of new websites for MC Canada, Regional Churches and participating congregations, rolling out early February 2020.

The third member of our administrative team is Tany Warkentin (Treasurer). While Tany’s tasks largely centre around keeping track of numerical details, her broad perspective provides a bridge between MCA staff, committees and programs, and also keeps us connected in our relationships and commitments with the nationwide church.



See attachment below for the entire report.

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 or 1-800-245-7894. 
(3) CommonWord retails (and provides for loan) all Herald Press titles at 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).
(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.

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