Janelle Braun has been working with MBCM for five years in the area of Leadership Development. She has been on maternity leave for the last year with her second son and will not be returning to work this fall.
We want to look back at the work Janelle has done and say thank you for the dedication and commitment she put into this organization and our churches.
Janelle was involved in a number of facets of the Mennonite Brethren world before she joined the MBCM team in 2017.
Janelle was highly involved with Multiply (then MB Mission) taking part in their Trek program in Germany, volunteering with Soar Heartland for 15 years, and going on a number of short-term missions trips to Congo, Lithuania, Mexico, and Turkey.
Janelle also attended the MB Seminary as a student, worked as an admissions counsellor at CMU and then took a position as Soar and Trek coordinator with Multiply before she was offered the position with MBCM.
“All this experience led me to want to work with our churches and our pastors and our leaders in some way,” Janelle shared. “When I started working with MBCM it felt like all my worlds kind of came together.”
Janelle was first hired as the Director of School Leadership where she focused on running a continuing education program. With the restructuring of the conference as well as program and staffing changes, Janelle’s job description changed several times. She gracefully adapted to the needs of the organization, at times taking over administration and communication duties alongside her leadership development focuses.
“Looking over it in retrospect, it served to be a blessing because I got to see all the different facets that the conference works in.” Janelle said.
Janelle had her first son in 2019 and returned from maternity leave at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. Once again her job adapted to meet the needs of the organization and our churches. Janelle helped churches navigate changes and restrictions, access government subsidies, and overall worked to build and strengthen relationships.
“I really just had to lay down my expectations and my hopes of what I wanted to do,” said Janelle. “I just asked myself, ‘how can I, at this point, in this space, with my gifts be of use to this place?’”
Although Janelle acknowledged there were challenges working through a number of organization and life changes, she is leaving with many great memories and accomplishments from her time with MBCM.
One of those being the development of Nuts + Bolts, a series of events aimed at equipping leaders and members of the MB community.
Nuts + Bolts was developed to be a space for people of the MB church to sit together and learn in a practical and engaging way. The MBCM team wasn’t sure what the response would be, but after the first event they knew it was something they would continue.
“I remember the first event we hosted, it felt like you have this sense of community and shared desire. A desire to be together, learn together, and share together, but you could also see the wonderful diversity in the church.” Janelle reflected. “It was very meaningful to see that. And to have an opportunity for me to engage as a team but also as a leader.”
Janelle also mentioned the Pastors and Spousal retreat as being something she remembered with fondness. As well as a trip the staff took to visit Simonhouse Bible Camp and our northern churches in Manitoba.
Something that really impacted Janelle throughout her time with MBCM was when she was invited to preach at our MB churches.
“It was something that I am taking away. Something I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it held a lot of weight for me,” said Janelle. “It was eye-opening for me to recognize that it was a unique opportunity and one that might have ripples. There was a lot of trust in me and I just so valued that opportunity. It was really humbling but also really empowering, being a woman and being invited to speak and not be treated any differently.”
Janelle shared her story but also pointed out that her experience is not the story for many women in the Mennonite Brethren community.
“My story is the exception, not the norm, but I pray and hope my story can be shared by more women,” Janelle said.
Janelle has been on maternity leave with her second son for the last year. She will not be returning to the office but staying home with her family and investing into their surrounding community.
“I am really feeling like now is a unique opportunity in my family’s life. I want to be invested in my children and my family,” Janelle shared openly. “My focus, energy, and attention is going toward raising my family and investing in our community.”
Janelle wrestled with the decision to return to work or transition to a new focus. Through Janelle’s husband’s work with Inner City Youth Alive, their family has felt a pull to invest more of their energy and resources into the community.
“It is bittersweet. I never expected to be in such a meaningful place of employment. It felt like it had a bigger purpose beyond myself,” Janelle said. “I hold a deep felt thankfulness and gratitude for my time with MBCM.”
We wish Janelle and her family all the best as they take on a new season of life. Her work here has left a lasting impact and we couldn’t be more grateful for her years of talent and ability to fill a variety of roles.
MBCM Provincial Director, Cam Priebe, shared a few words about Janelle as he reflected on the last few years as well as her next steps.
“Janelle is a gifted teacher, organizer, developer and leader, and she is most certainly missed by our MBCM team and churches. Janelle’s zest for life and love for Christ was experienced by those who had the privilege of getting work with Janelle. We certainly hope that Janelle will continue to connect with us as she seeks to be a blessing to her family and community.”