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Say Hello to Liam!

Say Hello to Liam!

July 15, 2021

 

My name is Liam Bull. I’m a 23-year-old college student studying at Steinbach Bible College enrolled in the bachelor’s of Marketplace Ministry program. My home church is The Meeting Place, located in Winnipeg’s downtown core area. 

For the summer, I will be working with MBCM as a temporary hire, sorting through old files at the old office at 83 Henderson, moving said files to the current office at 1310 Taylor, and working with Jon Isaak to catalogue them and put them in the archives.

I have a big heart and passion for cross-cultural missions.  The majority of my missional experience was spent in Japan, serving with Multiply’s ACTION and TREK programs. I have an enormous passion for sharing the gospel with the Japanese people.  More recently, I have been experimenting with cross-cultural missions in the workplace at my part-time job at Superstore. I try to be intentional about showing and sharing the love of Christ to my colleagues, many of whom are or were newcomers to Canada.

Some of my other interests include reading and creative writing, studying the Japanese language and culture (as well as studying Mandarin and Punjabi languages), playing a board game or video game to relax, and spending time with friends and family as often as possible.

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MB GTE Affiliation Update

MB GTE Affiliation Update

July 15, 2021

We are very grateful to have established a new 3-year affiliation with MB Seminary, CCMBC and CMU to continue offering a Manitoba Mennonite Brethren pathway in graduate-level training. Andrew Dyck and Pierre Gilbert remain on faculty at CMU. As in the past, they will be involved in our Mennonite Brethren Conference Faith and Life Teams, preaching and teaching in our churches and mentoring graduate students.

For students, the course requirements are very similar to the previous years, with no significant changes to their graduation requirements. Students will continue to have a Mennonite Brethren faculty advisor and are still eligible for CMU GSTM scholarships and bursaries.

Our goal is to continue finding the best ways to train leaders and build on our Mennonite Brethren theological convictions. The plan includes greater involvement by MBCM and provides a 3-year window to discern the future of graduate-level theological training in Manitoba. We look forward to how this affiliation will continue to equip our MBCM churches and leaders! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this process. 

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We have found harmony!

We have found harmony!

July 13, 2021

Interview with Pastor Habtemicael Beraki (Philadaelpia Multicultural Church)

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Pastor Habtemicael. What are some of the ways you have seen God at work? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a church?

The name of our Church has been Philadelphia Eritrean church in Winnipeg under the MB Conference. We’ve carried this name for the last 15 years. The name Philadelphia comes from the seven churches of Revelation. We have liked this name until now! But! We are growing!

About three years ago, we started an English program – a new multi-cultural ministry. So when this ministry began, our English ministers of this multicultural ministry presented their vision and a new name to the church leadership. It was very exciting! Very exciting! We blessed them and trusted them to lead as they have for the last 12 years. 

But after we announced the vision and ministry to the congregation and the multicultural ministry printed its new logo – Life Giving Multicultural Ministries – some from the church asked, “Why do we need to have two names? Why don’t we just say Philadelphia Eritrean Church Youth Ministry?” 

The discussion was not easy. 

The Philadelphia Eritrean Church’s main service was mostly Eritrean and Ethiopian…99% Tigrinya speaking. But, the main focus of Life Giving Multicultural Ministries has been the big picture – multinational – Filipino, Canadians, other African Canadians, etc. So the name ‘Eritrean’ doesn’t include other nations, and we need to carry this. The church was almost divided into two. 

Almost. 

What happened – after the issue had grown – was the multi-cultural leaders took their stand. They had already presented and shown the church leaders their vision, so why were they being asked to change now? But that caused the church leadership to stand firmer as well, saying that the multi-cultural leaders weren’t submitting to the church!

The conflict grew into a big clash.

After a LOT of discussions, we agreed that it is not about the name; it is about the vision. In the end, we changed our name to Philadelphia Multicultural Church. 

It was not easy. Many MB Canadian churches have experienced this kind of challenge, and now we repeated it! (referring to early immigration German-speaking churches). But now everything is good. We have 7 – 8 Sunday school classes. Every Friday and a weekly young adults service in Tigrinya, we have a multinational English service because some young adults want to serve in their mother language – Tigrinya. And the main church service is still running. We have an evangelism group that goes out outside and evangelizes. Last year we baptized eight people. This year, we baptized 5. But more than anything, we have seen growth in our Sunday school programs. We have 11 Sunday school teachers, and as I’ve told you, we have very spiritually mature youth in our English programs. Many have been transformed. We have found harmony.

Thanks for sharing! That’s an incredible journey. What are some of the best ways we can be praying for you as a church?

As an Eritrean church, our parents and families are often back home. We are here in Canada but our hearts are in Africa with our brothers and sisters and family. Eritrea is an unsettled country, so our families are always running away from Eritrea to Kenya and Sudan.  We, here in Canada, are constantly sending money back home to help our families. 

My prayer request is for peace in the whole of Africa so that our people can rest in their county and not run away. More than anything, pray for peace in Eritrea and Ethiopia. 

If there is peace, there will be no need to run. And if they rest, then we can rest too. 

Thanks again for your time. Any final words?

On behalf of my church, I would like to say thank you to the Mennonite Brethren Conference. For many years they have stood with our church and we are here now because of the MB Conference, I will never forget them. We are now a self-supported church, but for a few years, we relied quite a bit on the support of the MB Family. We are the fruit of the Conference and now we are also planning on planting other English churches, so thank you!

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Boats, Booths and the Body

Boats, Booths and the Body

June 10, 2021

Written by Robbie Friesen – Youth Pastor @ La Salle Community Fellowship

In the book of Leviticus, God introduced something called the festival of booths, a yearly festival that continues to this day. The festival begins with everyone building an outdoor tent and then living in it for seven days. It was instituted to remember the 40 years the Israelites lived in tents under God’s protection. Recently, it was stated that this festival was also a great equalizer of the people. No matter your occupation, income or age, you were to live outside in a tent with all of God’s people. It would seem as though this festival may be an excellent lens through which to view our pandemic. No matter one’s occupation, income, age, or anything else, everyone has been faced with living in the midst of this together.

We start to see the differences in the different ways people react today, to this great equalizer. Some choose to ignore this festival and go on living as if nothing in the world has changed. Others take great caution to make sure their tents are precisely in accordance with the law. Finally, the third and largest camp accepts the reality of this time and looks for ways to acknowledge the festival and find unique ways of continuing their lives.

Our church has found itself living in the third camp for the past 15 months. There is an acceptance that COVID is among us and a desire to find ways to live well through it. A recent example of this was the SOAR program run by Multiply at the end of March. SOAR is a regular on the church’s calendar year and a time of unparalleled growth for many young people. As SOAR approached, our church had two main questions to wrestle through. What does success look like this year, and how might God use our circumstances to reveal himself to us?

The first question was tough to work through. In a typical year, it is easy to see what a successful SOAR looks like. Large gatherings of countless youth on fire for Jesus, people choosing to give up vacations and holidays to serve the inner city of Winnipeg and finally, the sights of Jesus overtaking their lives as they surrender their hearts to God. This was a hard vision to give up. However, with our numbers dwindling and restrictions making it impossible for churches to gather together, we needed a new vision of success. Our church decided to make the event open to all ages and encouraged church members to attend sessions over the five days. 

It was in this place that God met our church. Not in a room bustling with young energy as the songs of praise rose to God, but in a small circle with one youth and nine devoted pillars of the church. 

Along with members from the Multiply team, we sat in silence and listened for the voice of God together. It did not take long for a particular image to rise to the forefront of our time together. A simple image of a shipwrecked boat with a broken mast filled with sailors trying to get the ship to work again. For those unfamiliar with the church in La Salle, this boat represented an accurate depiction of the state of our church family. Shipwrecked, a broken mast, and a group of people looking to make it go again.

As we continued listening, God placed our members on the boat itself. We laughed, cried and rejoiced as we understood the vital role that each person in the circle had in repairing, organizing and encouraging the restoration of our church body. At the end of our time together, it was evident that God used our circumstances to show up to our larger church body in a way we were not expecting.

But this is not where the story ends for our church. A few weeks later, the Leadership Team met and wrestled with this same image. As we spoke together, we once again noticed new things, we reshaped our idea of what God wanted from our church, and we prayed for guidance and discernment as we moved after God’s heart.

Finally, this image emerged one final time in the course of our church life. In a conversation with a pastoral candidate, the Leadership Team asked Kevin Dyck where he saw himself in this image. His answer was a true testament to God’s direction to our church. It would seem as if his role filled the very gap that would aid our church in unifying itself once again. This is just one reason why our church is so excited to welcome him onto our Pastoral Staff this summer!

So what have we learned from all of this? It seems as though there was something divine about the origins of this year’s SOAR program. God challenged our church to leave our comfort and predictable models of success for something new. To live outdoors as an equalized people to make space for God to work. He brought together a group of devoted parishioners to share a vision of where the church was now; as well as where the church is going. We are moving after this mission with the help of everyone in the room and the future help that he would send.

I’m not sure what the context of your church’s ship is. It could be broken. It could be a well-oiled machine. It could be that you’re overflowing and ready to put another ship in the water! In any event, God is calling you to find yourself on the waters with a gift and a task. Will you choose to enter into this to bring about God’s glory here on earth?

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A Call to Reconciliation

A Call to Reconciliation

June 4, 2021

Image Source: MB Herald

MBCM Statement

The MBCM family is deeply saddened by the bodies of 215 children found on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school. This is a tangible and heartbreaking reminder of the thousands of children who were killed while attending residential schools and the thousands more who suffered physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse at the hands of those claiming to be the church. As Christians, and more specifically as Anabaptists we acknowledge our complicity in the residential school system and offer our apology and our commitment to do better, to be better in our pursuit of reconciliation with indigenous brothers and sisters in our congregations, in our province, and in our country.This discovery is a reminder that the pain caused by the residential school system is not a thing of the past, nor is it something that we can ignore; it is the responsibility of every Canadian and especially every follower of Christ to be active seekers of reconciliation, to listen to the stories of indigenous people, to hold our government accountable to their promises of action. As we serve our Creator in these ways we claim God’s promise in Matthew chapter 5 “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 NLT).**(Special thanks to The Meeting Place leadership team for preparing this statement)

 

Next Steps & Resources

The TRC Anabaptist/Mennonite apology.
This apology was in response to the TRC and includes commitments to the ongoing work of reconciliation.

Indigenous peoples of Mantioba (A guide for newcomers)
A helpful pamphlet to help increase our awareness and knowledge of the indigenous peoples of Manitoba.

Ways to engage and learn about the history of the residential schools
Thanks to Kathy Riedner Heppner (Fort Garry MB Church) she has compiled some very tangible ways to be involved including action steps for further involvement.

A Call to Prayer
We invite all members of the MBCM congregations to listen and learn. We invite you to take time to pray for the many that are grieving and re-living trauma at this time. As we pray for grace and for healing, let us also be active in working towards justice

 

Blanket Exercise (Learning Activity)

An opportunity to understand a little more clearly what our Indigenous brothers and sisters experienced as a result of colonization. This is a role play experiential learning activity that tells the story of this land and its people from an indigenous perspective. An experience for your congregation Please contact Lloyd Letkeman (Multiply Central Canada) for more information.
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Ways to engage and learn about the history of the residential schools in Canada.

Ways to engage and learn about the history of the residential schools in Canada.

June 4, 2021

Our thanks to Kathy Rieder Heppner(Fort Gary MB) for providing this list of ways to engage and learn about the history of the residential schools in Canada. We share these with Kathy’s permission.

1. Remember – your voice is your power. Don’t just post on social media, we need to reach out to government representatives. Email/write/call your MP, the Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Minister for Indigenous Services, and the Office of the Prime Minister. Their contact information is easily found online. Respectfully demand action on all the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls to Action. Call on the government to stop fighting First Nations kids and residential school survivors in court and to stop blocking the creation of statistical reports on residential school abuse claims and the direct transfer of other records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. We need these truths.

2. Familiarise yourself with the TRC Calls to Action 71-76, which specifically address Indian Residential Schools

3. Watch this 8 minute documentary on why so many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children died from preventable disease, abuse, and neglect:

4. Talk to your kids about Indian Residential Schools. A great resource is the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s “Spirit Bear” who has published 3 children’s books that address residential schools.

5. Check out these informative resources to learn more:

6. (added May 31) Donate to the Indian Residential School (IRS) Survivors Society (www.irsss.ca). They are a B.C. organization providing important services to IRS survivors.

7. Take a moment to remember these kids. Do what you need to do to honour them: pray, light a candle, cry, plant a flower in their memory, hug your own kids extra tight.

8. Check in on your Indigenous friends/family. Across the country, they are grieving.

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Turn the next corner

Turn the next corner

April 13, 2021

Amanda Leighton

April brings with it a season of change. The snow melts away, giving space for what was hidden beneath it to wake up. Spring can signify new beginnings and can be energizing! But this spring feels a bit mixed to me. I still feel the energy of new life and the opportunities it brings, but I am also feeling some apprehension…a small but tempering tug. I suppose this is the result of living through a pandemic – every time we turn a familiar corner, there will also be something we can’t predict. I suppose that’s true about life in general.

Some months ago (has it been years?), four of us were sitting around Cam’s table before our weekly staff meeting in prayer.  One of us brought the image of God on God’s throne, looking down on everything below.  At first, this picture brought to my mind a weeping God witnessing all of the brokenness and grief of this world. But this was followed by a picture of how God also sees goodness, mercy, compassion and kindness. I was reminded once again of how God’s perspective is not mine.

In light of this, I imagine God present with us as we turn the next corner together…God with us as we kneel in our gardens, encourage our congregations and teach our students. God in us as we meet online or go for a quiet walk with a friend. There’s something wonderfully mysterious about how our caring presence reflects God’s. Wherever you find yourself– be it farming, pastoring, folding laundry, and so on – may we be people who find ways to be reminded of God’s ever-present care & compassion with us and through us.

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God at work at Westside Community Church

God at work at Westside Community Church

April 13, 2021

Written by Gerald Dyck – Lead Pastor @Westide Community Church (WCC)

How we’ve seen God at work at WCC this past year? Wow, what a question! It’s been a year of “survival.” We’ve attempted to learn as much as possible by viewing  The challenge as an opportunity. 

It’s been a year of continual adjusting and maneuvering. When gatherings restrictions were put in place, we faced challenges such as, how do we stay connected, how do we provide content, how do we as staff justify getting paid? (Just kidding, of course) But more importantly, how do we carry out the mission of the Church in a time when the church is needed more than ever.

Right from the beginning, it seemed as though God was saying, “Who are you or what are you about when you don’t have Sunday morning available to you?” We can’t say we had a great plan or strategy. We simply wanted to love and care for our community with a posture of humility and an eye on the hope of Jesus Christ. Here are some of the things we’ve done and how the Kingdom has been revealed to and through the church.

Going Remote

We decided early on that we wouldn’t record and post a typical-for-us worship service. We didn’t have much online presence in March 2020, but we did have some people from our church who are skilled in film production –Golden Hour Creative Agency, who now had some time available. They had the passion and vision for producing content that would be engaging and of high production value. This allowed us to film weekly messages from remote locations around our community. For eight months, we recorded in greenhouses, cemeteries, bars, museums, city jail, chicken coops, a baseball dugout, sunflower fields, cow pastures, woods, etc. 

We hoped to promote our community spaces while we fed the people of Westside. We also hoped this would appeal to our community to discover where we were filming each week. As a result, we’ve had many Kingdom conversations with our community business owners, grocery stores and other workplaces.

It’s been great to receive online interaction with many who appreciate our attempts at connection. One individual shared, “You won’t see me in a church, but I have cancer, and someone told me to watch what your church is doing. I did, and now I would like to talk about life and death, you know, a light conversation or two.” We’ve been able to connect and share the gospel message in a very real way. 

Christmas Tree

We have a large oak tree at the front of our church, which is off the main highway through the middle of Morden, and we decided to light it up for Christmas. After purchasing lights and renting scissor lifts, the tree was lit for the entire city to see. We hoped it would be a symbol of joy and hope. We were surprised at how many appreciative comments we received from those who did not have any pre-existing connection to the church. Comments such as “I smile every time I pass that tree” and “I feel hope, and I know this COVID season won’t last forever when I drive by,” or “Please keep that tree lit when Christmas is over.” (The tree remains lit, and the plan is to keep it that way.) It’s just a tree with lights, but it’s actually so much more. The tree serves as a nightly reminder that we are to be a light to the world, not to be hidden but to be bold and in the world. 

Co-op Grocery Store Shrink

“Shrink” is the soon-to-be postdated or damaged packaged goods that grocery stores usually discard. For the past year, we have entered into a partnership that has us picking up food and distributing hampers on Mondays to various families and stocking other food cupboards. Past its prime, produce and bread can go to feed livestock. This has opened the doors to relationships with so many who wouldn’t usually come through our church doors. We were also given the opportunity to be the community food bank for a month over Christmas. 

The local Co-op recently created a Facebook promo of partnership with a local church and how they appreciate the relationship and look to expand the partnership in the future. 

Weekly Soup

We collaborated with a chef in our congregation to make approximately 275 bowls of soup a week. The soup was then distributed to our front-line workers such as hospital staff, clinics, teachers, daycares, city administration, seniors,  city workers, police, etc. To date, we have provided approximately 4 thousand bowls of soup to our community. 

These simple acts have generated goodwill with our community. They have been a way for us to be the Church in ways we probably wouldn’t have taken on without the reality of society in isolation and times of desperation.  As we have begun to resume Sunday services, we have some new faces in the building and new ways to engage with others. 

I’ve been impressed by how other Mennonite Brethren churches have been reaching out to serve others. We indeed followed some great examples. Just to name a few, Winkler MB Church has been doing work like this for years, and we steal as many ideas from them as we can. Jubilee Church in Winnipeg and 188 Princess have modelled what it looks like to be deeply involved with the people in their neighbourhoods. 

It’s a challenge to be engaged directly in community work which automatically makes us a messier place. But through our interactions with our community, we have been invited into more and more opportunities to serve others.

We’ve also noticed that the more we know, the less we know. We’ve been humbled by our ignorance and are daunted by the opportunities. We know that only God can pull off what’s next. Our reliance on Him is paramount. It’s only through prayer and availability can we be who God has called us to be. God has been teaching us to love our community. Our Sunday morning gatherings should be about equipping all those in attendance or watching online to embrace the gospel message and extend it to others each day of the week.

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Words from Janelle Braun…

Words from Janelle Braun…

January 19, 2021

Janelle Braun

Could it really be 2021 already? For most of us, 2020 was a strange year. One filled with new realities, new obstacles, new blessings and an ever-changing “new normal.” Although each of us carried our own unique experience this past year, we all carried a shared reality. Things had to be done differently.

Often, I embrace change with a very optimistic perspective, that this newness will shape me and bring forth growth opportunities. But to be honest, this past year, I’ve struggled to maintain this optimistic attitude. Upon returning from my maternity leave in March of 2020, little did I know I’d be leaving again in January 2021 without having had the chance to reconnect with many of you in the meaningful ways I had imagined. 

One of the aspects of my role with MBCM that I have enjoyed the most is growing and learning together with and from you, the greater MB family here in Manitoba and beyond. However, in reflecting over this past year, I can honestly say, amidst the grief, sadness, confusion and exhaustion, I do have much to be thankful for.

Although we have been restricted by the type of gatherings we’ve been able to have, I am thankful that we’ve been able to walk through this together. Reminding one another of truth, the power of community & togetherness and the gracious sustaining nature of our God. God’s presence has not changed, nor has God’s promise of redemption and restoration for our hurting world. The message of hope that we as the church hold is needed more than ever. Of this, I remain confident.

And now, as I look forward to yet more change, adding another little human to our family and stepping away from the MBCM team, I want to leave you with a word of encouragement in your work and service. Wherever you find yourself in this season, I pray that you would be given fresh wind beneath your wings, to know that every little thing you do, when you do it unto the Lord, can and will be used in mighty ways! May you continue the good work that God has already begun and will continue to accomplish in and through you. I love you, my brothers and sisters, and am thankful to be a part of this family.

Philippians 1:6 (The Voice) – a newer translation that was introduced to me this past year: “ I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world.”

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Pastoral Transitions (June – August, 2020)

Pastoral Transitions (June – August, 2020)

July 9, 2020

Join us in welcoming the following into their new positions:

  • Shannon Wiebe – Youth Pastor @ Boissevain MB Church(Summer 2020)
  • Joe Welty – (Transitional) Lead pastor @ Crossroads MB (Summer 2020)
  • Greg Wiens – Lead pastor @ Westwood Community Church (June, 2020)

We are grateful the following individuals who have served well within our MBCM Churches and we honour their impact within our community as they move on:

  • Delbert Ens, Eastview Community Church (Retired, June)
  • Marvin Dyck Retired (Retired, June)
  • Hugh Froese, Manitou Christian Fellowship – (Resigned, August)
  • Greg Armstrong – One88 (Retiring, Summer of 2020)