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Tribute for Dan Jack By Tim Wiebe-Neufeld

posted 11 Oct 2017, 15:20 by June Miller, MCA Communications

As Area Church Minister it is my privilege to share a few words on behalf of the Mennonite Church Alberta family.  The news that our Moderator Dan Jack had passed away was met with shock and sorrow.  Knowing that many within our church community would have reflections and prayers they might wish to pass on, I invited churches, pastors, and MCA committee members to contribute to my sharing. The words I share reflect sentiments included in the multitude of response, providing a snapshot of the many thoughts and feelings. 

Dan Jack

                Along with the various offerings of condolences to Marguerite, the rest of Dan’s family, and to First Mennonite Church here in Calgary, there was a common deep lament for having lost such a special leader and resource for the ministry of the wider Mennonite church.  Although he had been Moderator for only a year and a half, Dan had already made a significant impact on the people who served the church with him.  In peoples’ comments adjectives like gentle, thoughtful, positive, and joyful stood alongside words like visionary, attentive, Spirit-led, and wise. Dan was an accessible leader, with a way of relating that expressed care and inclusion.  He wouldn’t dominate a conversation, but engaged deeply, responding with incite, knowledge, and passion.

                I get the impression that “passion” is a good word to describe Dan’s involvement with whatever he became involved in.  He certainly brought zeal and excitement to his involvement with the church.  Shortly before a recent General Council meeting, Camp Valaqua learned that the land next to the camp was for sale. By the time we met a few days later, Dan had already spoken to numerous people, talked to a realtor, and called the county office to check about zoning issues. 

Although he did not grow up in the Mennonite faith, Dan embraced it with enthusiasm.  He took a keen interest in Mennonite history, developing knowledge of events and details of Alberta’s Mennonite churches and people.  His observations of the past helped guide his response to challenges of the present.  We’d be sitting around the table at a General Council Meeting, grappling with some issue or other, and Dan would offer some story or happening that would reveal some thought or guidance for how to respond.  

                Dan’s passion for the church was lived out in the present, demonstrated through commitment and love for the church family, both here in Dan’s home congregation and in the larger church beyond.  You could see this in his approach to meetings and decision-making, through participation in MCA programs and MCC sales, and in one-on-one conversations.  At the end of June, Dan and Marguerite travelled to Pincher Creek to take part in Springridge’s Sunday School picnic service, a visit that was deeply appreciated for it’s personal touch.

                Dan’s passion for the church was also expressed in excitement and vision for the future.  He had a profound sense of the challenges facing the church in today’s world, and eager to live into new ways of being church together.  I value the opportunity I had to serve with Dan as we considered new structures for the Mennonite church and what would be important from an Alberta perspective.  We attended several national meetings together, engaging in conversations to enhance covenantal relationships and congregational ministries.  His commitment and optimism for the future was inspiring. It is a faith witness I will always cherish.

As I reflect on Dan’s enthusiasm and commitment to the church, I am reminded of these words from Philippians 4:8: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  May it be so, Amen.