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North Edmonton Ministries Update

posted 22 Dec 2017, 16:09 by June Miller, MCA Communications

        I thank God for the rich experiences through North Edmonton Ministry.  Twenty seventeen started with a trip to Israel/Palestine and I now see life in two layers. The shepherds at Jesus birth remind me of the Bedouin shepherds and their displacement from traditional lands today.   “He will feed his flock like a shepherd... gather the lambs.. and carry them in his bosom.” Isaiah 40:11.  I returned home to find deeper connection to the Palestinian community, now struggling with the Jerusalem decision.  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I longed to gather your children together... as a hen gathers her brood.   Matt 23:37

            Our main goals as “A Common Word Alberta”(ACWAB) are to create spaces of trust for dialogue and to nourish faith in the younger generation.  But regular attendees are often seniors.  In September, Michelle, a  young Christian woman, joined me as intern to get credit at Regent College.  At the same time a young Muslim woman joined our Scriptural Reasoning Group. This young woman was so excited the first evening, she had to apologize for asking so many questions, questions she had never had  a chance to ask.  A highlight of that group was a discussion about ethics

"Michelle told of the people in Rwanda who God protected with angels when they refused to take arms in the genocide."

and non-violence that ended when Michelle told of the people in Rwanda who God protected with angels when they refused to take arms in the genocide. Their lives are an inspiration in spiritual friendships.

            ACWAB planning committee this year was strengthened by new energy from two evangelical pastors and more Shia Muslims.   At the October “Two Friends, Two Faiths” week of Dialogue, many Shia Muslim and Anglican participants were engaging the “other” for the first time.  Our Shia Muslim and Mennonite speakers challenged us to think in new ways about our relationships:

  • We don’t need to defend, convince or find a common denominator.
  • When differences surface, and  people listen respectfully,  friendship goes to a deeper level.
  • Living faithfully is not talking about our religion, as much as it is living differently than others.
  • We are too possessive of God and instead need to be possessed by God.   As our spiritual lives go deeper, we have more and more strength to engage and accept the “other”  with respect.
  • Mission is saying to the other “I want you to find your way to God” and this we have in common because both of our faiths expect us to share our faith beyond our circles. 
  • In our secular contexts of UK and Canada, instead of competition between our faiths, it is better that we work together inviting people to come and experience a life of faith.  

            In November, as part of my Southern Alberta “tour”, a third "Under-wraps" event was held in Lethbridge.   Old Colony Mennonites and Muslims  shared on the meaning of their head coverings.   The event was simply superb because it  built on relationships that are already strong with the women who shared.   The Muslim speaker begged afterwards that they all find ways to stay more connected.   That day was rich in the power of hospitality, spiritual friendships, and witness.  This is a good example of where Mennonite Church Alberta has already grown into their new structure.  

            We are most grateful for the support of various sorts that we receive during the year.  We see the fruits of that concretely in the events mentioned above and in numerous other ways.  If others would like to participate in sustaining this important peace-building ministry, please contact Donna Entz.  We would be thrilled."

                 Merry Christmas / Blessings in 2018             

                                    Donna Entz