Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

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)

More Stories

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Support Your Home Team

Support Your Home Team

July 9, 2020

David Wiebe, Westwood Community Church

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers recently ended a Grey Cup drought of almost 30 years. Through that time, people stopped attending games or dropped season tickets. Not “Abby” my wife’s hair stylist! “Big Blue” was her team, no matter how they bungled things. She went to Calgary last fall and experienced the thrill of victory – finally – firsthand! She loved her team, thick and thin, and it spoke to me.

Our “home team” is MBCM, the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba. But far above the sports analogy, it’s an ecclesiological – churchly – thing. Your local church, mine, and the other 40-odd local churches make up the Manitoba MB “Church” collectively.

The idea of the church is so rich, the New Testament writers used multiple analogies: family of God, temple, house, body of Christ, and so on. After the Reformation of the 1500s the church splintered into some 25,000 denominations today. So, it’s hard to visualize a unified church beyond our own local body.

But we’re foolish not to. We yearn for fellowship to gain strength and ideas. Look at the thousands of churches that joined Willow Creek Association, even “independent” local churches. So then, consider the strength that comes from being one church under a common theological Confession and a historic path of shared ministry.

MBCM has accomplished a great deal in its history of shared ministry. MBCI High school, Square One World Media, and CMU would not exist without the historic work of MBCM. Alumni of Winkler Bible Institute still impact at local and conference levels. Simonhouse Bible Camp and the “northern Manitoba” churches would not exist without MBCM. Our common Confession and its application led MBCM to affirm women in ministry leadership at the turn of the Millennium. We challenged CCMBC to take it on, resulting in the 2006 decision to open all church positions of leadership to gifted, called and affirmed women and men. These and more witnesses to the gospel are the product of our shared path as Mennonite Brethren in Manitoba.

“Abby” wore her Bomber pride (and love) on her sleeve. Can we be as proud of and committed to our provincial church-family? Do you love and pray for MBCM – and its spiritual leaders Jason, Cam, and Janelle? It’s a spiritual calling and will require deliberate choice to prioritize MBCM.

It took me awhile to learn to do that. We can do more together than alone.

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Physical Reopening

Physical Reopening

July 9, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Manitoba, the physical shutdown of our MBCM churches was pretty uniform. While the church continued to function as the body of Christ, everyone paused all in-person gatherings. Some churches chose Livestream as the way through this unprecedented season. Others pre-packaged video and provided various ways to engage. Faces on a screen became the normal church experience for many. For all of the variety and creativity that we experienced in the early days of the pandemic, there was a togetherness in the shutdown of in-person church.

One of the best parts of my work is spending time with our pastors. A couple of weeks ago, a few groups of pastors took advantage of an opportunity to spend some time together over lunch. I know not every pastor was able to participate, if you’re a pastor reading this and you didn’t have the chance to connect with your peers, hear that we care about you and we look forward to the next opportunity to connect with you. These meetings were special times to come together, listen to each pastor share about their unique experiences and pray for each other. It was a privilege for me to be with our pastors. I am so grateful for them! They have forged new ways and experienced ministry during so much change. At the same time, I’m concerned about the impact the coming days might have on our pastors. Not just our pastors and leaders, but everyone in our congregations. Let me tell you why. As I listened to those pastors process together, there was a common thread. This next phase won’t be like the shutdown in March. It’s not going to be uniform. As in-person gatherings begin to unfold, they are going to look different. A church of 25 people has different questions to answer than a church of 700. It might not be easier, but it is different. Here are some of the ways our churches are beginning to reopen physically.

Many of our churches, in the 250 and smaller range, are starting to gather. Attendees pre-register and are screened at the door. As people enter buildings, spacing and hand sanitizer are necessary. There are new signs here and there. Families and individuals are ushered to a physically distant place to sit and participate in the service. Familiar faces are present, if a bit farther away. Worship may or may not include singing. Some will wear a mask, and some won’t. The parking lot after the service might include a chance to visit, while some churches have asked for people to head to their vehicles. Our larger churches have adopted small groups or house church concepts for the time being. There are logistical challenges to getting many groups of 50 together safely and responsibly. A few churches are simply waiting until fall to take the next step. Churches who began offering other ways of engaging, such as Livestream or video production and other creative solutions, continue to provide them for those who are unable or unwilling to gather physically. Hybrid solutions of in-person and digital offerings are being considered and delivered.

It’s not uniform. A pastor or parishioner only needs to look down the street at another church to see something different about how your neighbour church is reopening physically. Navigating the unique needs and circumstances of each church is a real challenge. I know that our pastors and leaders are up to this challenge, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some concern for them. Please be kind to your pastors. Go out of your way to express your appreciation for them. Let them know that you’re in this together.

I have one more area of concern to share with you. Each person will experience physical reopening differently. Some are very ready to get past the pandemic with all speed. They are finished with physical distancing, maybe because they see the low numbers in Manitoba or for any number of reasons. Others are doing their best to be a part of the ongoing health solution for all of us by adhering to the guidelines given by Manitoba Health. These are only two versions of what people are experiencing. These varieties of experience are prime landscape for judgement and resentment toward the people around us. I invite you to notice that these differences will exist among us. Be kind to one another, especially when you notice a person experiencing sensibilities that vary from yours. Be generous and gracious to the people around you. Consider what they need as more important than what you need. Recognize that this might not be easy.

Our pathway forward might not be uniform in terms of how physical reopening happens. But there will always be something uniform about the church, the Person on Whom we are built. Jesus is the same. We serve the same God. For all the differences, perhaps we can find togetherness around Jesus. I’m reminded of the great commandment, where Jesus is asked a big question.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:36-39

With love for God will come love for others. May this be our way forward together.

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

June 11, 2020

Excerpt from prayer by Joel Jolly during a service at The Meeting Place, Winnipeg

Father, as we live in a world that seems to be constantly filled with unrest we pray for peace. As we watch the protests taking place across the United States we ask that your peaceful presence would be known amongst all of the people involved. We also remember that Jesus in the sermon on the mount said “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” For the lack of peace in our world and for those times we have failed to be peacemakers in our homes, communities, and world we pray:

Lord have mercy.

In a world that seems to grow more divided along lines of race and ethnicity we pray for unity, for understanding, for love. As we learn in this series how to “love our neighbours as ourselves” we ask for opportunities and reminders in our daily lives to practice this central law in our faith. And for those times we have acted out of fear, spite, or anger; for the times we have failed to act out of love when love was needed we pray:

Christ have mercy.

As an aboriginal man with a mother, a sister, aunts, cousins, and nieces I was saddened to hear about a delay in the release of the national action plan on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Father I pray for those in government, that they would be motivated and inspired in finding and acting on ways to protect and empower indigenous women and girls. Most of all this morning I ask forgiveness for the times I have failed to use my voice and actions to advocate for the vulnerable, the marginalized, the oppressed, the forgotten and I pray that I would be reminded daily of the responsibilities included in my privilege. For the times my actions have made someone feel unsafe, for the times I have failed to stand up for the oppressed I pray:

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy,

Lord have mercy

Amen

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Staff Reflections [June 2020]

Staff Reflections [June 2020]

BOMBA

Last week during our MBCM staff meeting,

I invited our team into a conversation about racism and injustice. My heart was heavy. As a black man, the senseless and inhumane murder of George Floyd shook me to the core, and I was having trouble keeping up with my emotions. I was angry.

I recognize that this atrocity is not an isolated event but is, in fact, a display of the deeply racialized society we live in. I acknowledge that systemic racism is present here within Manitoba as well. I’m convicted for my silence and for not being a voice for the voiceless. I seek repentance for the ways in which I have not been a part of the solution. I have a choice. I can choose to cower away in fear and be overcome by helplessness, or I can press in.

To me, a big part of pressing in means having conversations. Lots of intentional conversation. I need to embrace having uncomfortable discussions. I need to welcome the opportunity to share my experience and learn from others. I need to understand what it looks like to make daily choices that reflect my desire to stand alongside the oppressed.  Could I invite you to initiate and join in conversations regarding this in your context?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those that are already engaging. I see you. Your courage inspires me. I realize that stepping into these conversations is not easy, yet its where we must start if genuinely desire to bring awareness and change. Thank you to each one of you for sacrificing comfortability for the sake of understanding. As you read some of the reflections from within the MBCM team, I pray that you feel brave enough to engage in conversation with humility, love and grace.

CAM

My prayer for us as MBCM,

is that we would be churches that are willing to have courageous conversations. To be open to discovering what it is that God may be inviting us to learn. How can we be genuinely curious in seeking to paying attention to the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.

I’m thankful for many friends that are extremely gracious to me, friends who encourage me to be genuinely curious, not to assume or to pre-judge, or to pretend to figure things out on my own – but rather to listen, to ask what feels at times like awkward or silly questions, and to seek to truly understand.

I have learning to do, and I believe we as the church have much to learn in regards to racism in our midst. My prayer is that we can be genuinely curious together, graciously exploring with those around us what it is to learn what we need to, and then to have the courage to change.

Janelle

In the past few weeks,

I have found myself surprised and saddened by what is happening in our world. As I sit with these emotions, I realize that my surprise perhaps speaks to my lack of understanding of a reality that exists daily for many. I have always been aware that our world was filled with injustice, but perhaps I could also say that I’ve allowed myself to sit at a “safe distance away.” The fact that I have had the choice speaks to my privilege, something I have also been thinking about.

In my sadness, I’ve grieved all that I’ve seen and heard. I’ve grieved that it has taken a social media explosion to awaken us of something that is not new. I grieve that humanity is so broken. This has, to some extent, kept me “frozen” unsure of what to say or how to respond. I am scared. In my vulnerability, I am afraid to be wrong or to say something that isn’t right. But I realize I must respond, and Christ calls us to “act justly” (Micah 6:8).

So here are three words I’ve chosen to embrace in my response, listenlearn and lament. I want to press into the pain and the emotion, engage in the conversation by listening to the stories of those who are willing to share when I reach out and intentionally ask. I will commit to learning, reading more, and not staying at “a safe distance away.”

Finally, I will lament humbly. I lament how I have perpetuated this issue, I lament the brokenness that exists in our world, and I lament because at the very core, racism grieves the heart of our Creator, who created every living thing and saw that it was good.

jason

We’re in this together.

It’s a line that I’ve heard a lot in the early stages of the pandemic of 2020. And we have been. We’ve taken care of the vulnerable by staying at home when possible. We’ve cared for those who might suffer more acutely from COVID-19 by keeping our distance. Here in Manitoba, it seems we’ve done well.

In the last week, our attention has been drawn to another place of vulnerability. Specifically, the systemic racism that exists around us. We haven’t done particularly well. We may not have noticed it, but more likely, we didn’t look. Systemic racism is here, and it might be closer than we thought. It’s time to learn. It’s time to get it. You don’t need to have the answers; I know I don’t. But I do know we’re in this together. Some good news? I’m pretty sure Jesus showed us the way.

Amanda

I have found myself,

once again, confronted by my privilege, specifically the privilege of having choices. As the voices of people who have been silenced rise, I can choose to listen – to turn my ears and my heart towards their suffering – or I can bury my head into my everyday life and wait until it blows over. But Jesus tended to the suffering, the disregarded, the weak and the voiceless and since I choose to follow Him, I am trying to do the same. Sometimes with courage and strength, sometimes with reluctance and fear. My prayer sounds like the word ‘selah’ feels. Selah – stop and listen.

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Status of MB Seminary

Status of MB Seminary

Date

As you may have seen, MB Seminary has recently released a statement (http://www.mbseminary.ca/restructuring-2020-05/) in regards to decisions they have made. This communication is to further process the implications of the place we Manitoba MB churches find ourselves as a result of the status of MB Seminary.

MB Seminary and Canadian Mennonite University have a long history of partnering with each other to provide graduate level training in service to our churches and leaders. In 2012, MB Seminary and CMU entered a formal affiliation agreement to further that purpose in Manitoba. This relationship has included Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba funding 50% of one faculty member, namely Andrew Dyck. Both MB Seminary faculty in Manitoba, Andrew and Pierre Gilbert have served our MBCM family by preaching, teaching, and engaging with our churches. 

Due to the financial exigency of MB Seminary, there will be significant changes in June of 2021 that will impact this current reality. MBCM board and staff have been in dialogue about what this means for graduate level pastoral training in Manitoba. 

We are writing to you today to inform you about the ongoing discernment process. We will need your perspective and insight to find the best future in the midst of complex realities. We are planning to have a formal conversation with you in the fall of 2020. 

Thank you for your time and we look forward to continuing in this discernment together.

More Stories

Categories
Blog Covid-19 News Stories

Share the wealth

Share the wealth

Date

A lot of creativity has been coming out of our churches discovering ways we can connect in a season of physical distancing. Much of it revolves around things like Zoom, Facebook, FaceTime and other online platforms that bring us together. But as you may have seen in the media lately, many people in our province do not have the same access as you and I.

River East Church has a ministry called CareLinks, which has been organizing food drives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read this snapshot from Pastor Mary Anne:

These used clean towels and groceries were collected and delivered to Siloam Mission by the CareLinks (think deacons) of River East Church. 

Charles Enns of Siloam Mission writes that with “Siloam Mission not having volunteers to sort clothing, we have not been able to restock our towel supply. With limited staff and no volunteers it has been next to impossible to try and find towels in our unsorted clothes. With this donation of towels, we will be able to get rid of our tattered/small towels for showering in our shelter. Trust me when I say that our shelter guests will be over the moon when they get to use these towels!” 

The food donations are used by Siloam Mission to help support people living in their own apartment. Their transition service program helps individuals transition from living in the shelter to living on their own. With COVID-19 Siloam has been handing out food hampers much more often to help these individuals stay home. 

This is the second contactless collection organized by River East Church after learning of the needs of Winnipeg’s homeless. The opportunity to give dovetails well with the extra spring cleaning that’s happening in many households. 

People email their address to CareLinks, then, on the designated day, place their donations outside their door for pick up. Collection volunteers stay outdoors. Apartment residents, however, are determined to participate as well. Some contacted neighbours for donations, collected them in a cart and did a careful hand-off when collectors arrived.

Mary Anne Isaak

River East Church

Other churches are finding similar ways to gather up their collective wealth and help those who have less. If you are looking for ways to serve and places to give, we have three churches who are in relationship with people who would be deeply blessed by your donations.  

Click here to view COVID-19 Information page