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A movement of people advancing Christ’s kingdom culture as we live, reach, gather, and teach.


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  • EMC Ministry Awareness Event Held at SBC

    October 01, 2015

    As you study at Bible college, stay connected with your home church—that was the counsel of Pastor Brian Reimer on Sept. 28 at Steinbach Bible College.

    Reimer addressed people gathered for the annual EMC Ministry Awareness Night, informally known as Pizza Night.

    Earlier, national staff members had introduced themselves and their roles within the national office and the conference’s five national boards: Gerald Reimer, conference youth minister and Missions Mobilizer (BCM, BOM) Tim Dyck, general secretary (BOM, GB, BOT); Ward Parkinson, conference pastor (BLO); Ken Zacharias, foreign secretary (BOM); Diana Peters, administrative assistant (BOM, BOT); and Terry Smith, executive secretary (BCM). 

    Gerald Reimer led in a four-corner game: people gathered at points in the room depending on how they answered questions about spiritual interests, influences, and aspirations.

    After the pizza time, Brian Reimer, pastor of Prairie Grove Fellowship Chapel (Lorette, Man.), counseled that staying connected with one’s home church and ministry preparation were both important. Years earlier, when Brian was anxious to serve in missions, his father had wisely steered him to a longer period of preparation at SBC. After that, Brian married, worked, studied at seminary, and matured—and then served with his wife Tricia in Lesotho, in southern Africa, for five years.

    Reimer cautioned young people against thinking that they know it all and return to their home church anxious to straighten it out. Rather, they need to return humbly, get involved with people, and then offer insights. As students at college compare home churches, they might also think that their church doesn’t compare well, yet Reimer reminded those present that God uses such churches.

    Those present were then asked to gather in two groups to discuss questions. One that generated some humour and yet led to a thoughtful discussion was, “I’m attracted to a guy/girl, but he/she doesn’t share my passion for ministry. What should I do?”  

    The meeting went from about 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. More events are planned to connect with EMC students on the campus of SBC, co-governed by the EMC.

    Efforts are made to also acknowledge and connect with EMC students within other fine Bible colleges within the five provinces where EMC churches reside. It helps if students, pastors, and churches let us know that they are there.

    - Terry M. Smith

  • Erna Plett, Benny and Esther Goertzen Honoured for Missions Service

    September 22, 2015

    How do we say thanks to long-serving, supposedly retiring missionaries? Alvira Friesen, Board of Missions member, welcomed the assembled guests to the Missionary Recognition Supper held on Sept. 10, 2015, at St. Vital EMC in Winnipeg, Man. She led in prayer.

    Supper was served. Conversation flowed easily. Kaylyn Holmes (Braeside) led in How Great Thou Art and then sang two of her compositions focused on blessing and following.

    Jerry Plett, pastor of St. Vital, focused on Jesus’ promise in Mark 10:29-31: those who leave family to follow the Lord will receive “one hundred times as much” in this present life, along with persecution. Missionaries incur personal costs, he said. “What was it like to say goodbye?”

    Fred Buhler, Board of Missions member and their former co-worker in Paraguay, read a tribute by Grace Church and the Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches (the Goertzens’ home conference).

    Benny was born in Colony Menno, in the Chaco of Paraguay, and moved with his family to Canada in 1967. Baptized in Steinbach, he attended Elim Bible School in Altona, Man., and Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Neb. Esther was born in Filadelphia, Paraguay, where she obtained a teaching degree. They both attended the EMB church there, were married in 1974, and began formal ministry in 1975.

    Benny directed the radio ministry and follow-up. Together they worked in leadership training and field administration; they led seminars, counseled, and evangelized. There are no plans for retirement. They hope to return to Paraguay in early 2016.

    “Benny is an evangelist at heart. Evangelists don’t see borders. Committees do. Evangelists don’t worry about keeping the budget realistic. Boards do,” they said. “Kingdom work is Benny and Esther’s passion,” said Ernie and Mary Ann Loewen, former coworkers, in another tribute.

    Leonard Plett, a brother to Erna, said she was born in Mexico, the eldest of eleven children. Her call to missions began in Mexico early. She was moved by the needs in Paraguay and wanted to serve there when she grew up.

    In 1972 she served briefly in a children’s home in Germany and then served there two years in a church-planting ministry. She studied at Steinbach Bible Institute (both college and high school), at Brandon University, graduated with a BRE from Briercrest, and then studied Spanish at RGBI. She is fluent in five languages—English, Low German, High German, Spanish, and Guarani—and is interested in learning another.

    A major ministry of Erna was to start and manage a bookstore; she then trained others to take it over. She taught in schools to help young people live a pure life and avoid the devastation of HIV/AIDS, he said. She was a spiritual guide, a counselor who was disciplined and focused on serving the Lord.

    She plans to retire in Paraguay and her family in Canada supports this, he said.

    Ken Zacharias, EMC foreign secretary, called Erna Plett and Esther and Benny Goertzen forward. They were presented flowers and a gift on behalf of EMC Missions and Ken led in a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing upon the trio. The three workers responded graciously.  They thanked co-workers, family, friends, and mentors.

    Tim Dyck, EMC general secretary, then led in a prayer time, drawing upon 2 Thess. 3:1-2. He requested prayer for the Board of Missions in its decisions (including choosing a new field) and for churches to send more workers. People prayed in small groups.

    Kaylyn Holmes then led in How Great the Father’s Love For Us. Gerald Reimer, BOM Missions Mobilizer, closed the evening with a word of benediction.

    - Terry M. Smith
  • Picture Butte Mennonite Church Celebrates 10 Years

    September 08, 2015

    The sun was bright and a hot bracing wind was sweeping across the rolling Southern Alberta landscape. This wind had the trees bowing and waving a welcome to visitors from far and near. The balloons on the church sign signaled that this was a very special day.

    The occasion was the 10th Anniversary celebration of Picture Butte Mennonite Church. Ten years may not seem very long in the wider scheme of things, but for this congregation there is so much to give thanks for and celebrate. In that brief time frame, the church has moved from being a dream and calling to become a lively congregation of over 200 believers.

    The day began with a worship service that focused on praising God for all he has done. Keeping with their current model of a hybrid service featuring both English and German, we ultimately worshiped in the universal language of praise. The young adult musicians capably led the worship, navigating both languages seamlessly. Henry and Caroline Krahn, long time leaders at PBMC and currently missionaries in Bolivia, shared both their memories of the church’s early days and the Word of God from Ephesians 3.

    The fellowship and celebrating spilled over into the lunch hour as the spacious dining area was filled with joyful conversations across long rows of tables, not to mention the scampering laughter of many, many children.

    The centerpiece of the day was a special anniversary service held in the afternoon. PMBC’s original church planters and former pastor couple, Abe and Anna Bueckert returned and shared their memories of the church’s early years and rapid growth. It was good to see Quentin and Christina Unger, another former pastoral couple, return to celebrate as well. Lay minister Ben Dyck, with his wife Maria, also led in singing. 

    Lots of memories were triggered by a pictorial slide show, and also shared publicly during an open mike time. EMC Church Planting Coordinator Charlie Koop encouraged the congregation to continue to look for and step into the opportunities for outreach, not only in Picture Butte but elsewhere in the area.

    Finally, how else to celebrate a milestone but with cake? Baking and decorating efforts were combined to create a massive cake that fed close to 300 folks.

    Thanks to the Picture Butte congregation for hosting such a great day! Through you we see the faithfulness of our God, and the growth of his Kingdom. And you’re just getting started!

    - Ward Parkinson, Conference Pastor

  • Menno Simons' Story

    August 19, 2015
    Menno Simons (1496-1561) was a Dutch Anabaptist leader who guided a shaky Anabaptist movement for a quarter century. As a former Roman Catholic priest who made a fateful decision to move away from some common beliefs, Menno, through his courageous example, has touched the EMC. For a short look at his life, see the video, produced by Kindred Productions, here.
  • MWC Assembly 2015

    July 31, 2015

    “What is the purpose of your visit?” the customs officer asked the young man from Africa. “I’m here to attend Mennonite World Conference,” he replied. The officer stopped, looked directly at the young man and asked incredulously, “Are YOU a Mennonite?”

    The global Mennonite Church shatters any preconceived ideas of the traditional race, language and practices of Mennonites. This was just one of the many stories I heard in connecting with hundreds of people throughout the week long gathering in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the Mennonite World Conference gathering.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect on arriving in Harrisburg, but the organizers did a wonderful job of directing us to the main session and then to our home stays in the evening. I was hosted by a delightful family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We became quick friends and discovered that we had much in common. It was obviously a God-ordained connection.

    Each morning we were bused from Lancaster to Harrisburg, making good friends with fellow riders along the way. In our morning and evening sessions we were challenged and encouraged by speakers from all five continents. The theme was “Walking with God” and each day focused on a different aspect of our walk with God.

    Each of the five days also featured music from one of the five continents. These musical expressions were truly international in scope. We were made aware of the fact that while we may sing in many different styles and languages, all of our worship is directed to the author of all languages, our Lord Jesus.

    Meal time was another opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new friends from places like Korea, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Brazil, and many more. Questions to new friends usually began with “Where are you from?”

    One highlight of the week was the gathering of church leaders from EMC connected churches in Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua and Burkina Faso. We shared our joys and challenges in ministry; prayed for one another; and then shared a meal together.

    About 20 members from the EMC churches were among the many thousands who attended Mennonite World Conference. I was privileged to attend and participate on behalf of EMC and found the experience rich and rewarding.

    The next gathering will be in Indonesia in 2021. Will you be there?

    - Tim Dyck

  • EMC Convention 2015

    July 10, 2015

    Were you at Convention 2015 in Brandon? Those who attended were certainly not disappointed with the event. The main sessions were hosted at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium by the University of Brandon.

    Convention weekend began on Friday with the Ministerial gathering at the Ebenezer Christian Church in Brandon, focused on the theme of caregiving. Many people expressed appreciation for the practical and wise advice offered by presenters David Thiessen, Charleen Barkman, and Irma Janzen. Each of the presenters was able to draw on their experience in giving care in specific situations. Video of the Ministerial event will be available soon.

    The Conference Council meeting on Saturday had a different format - one which provided for much more feedback from delegates. The delegates seemed to enjoy this more interactive format, and there were plenty of helpful comments to the questions that boards had presented to the churches ahead of time. In the later afternoon, speaker Nik Ripken and his wife Ruth were on hand to answer questions about the persecuted church in an informal question and answer workshop.

    Those who were not delegates took advantage of tours around Brandon and the famous Souris Swinging Bridge. Youth spent Saturday afternoon floating down the Little Saskatchewan River on inner tubes. They managed to get back to dry land just prior to the big storm that came through Brandon in the later afternoon.

    The storm caused a power outage throughout the city of Brandon, so the Saturday evening session began with only auxiliary lighting available. The inspirational session went ahead as planned, and power was restored just prior to the evening message.

    Nik challenged us with his stories of how the church has responded to persecution in many different places around the world. He reminded us that according to Scripture, persecution is normal and should be expected. He also indicated that persecution increases when the church is faithfully witnessing to Jesus, and people are responding. As long as we keep silent, there is no need for persecution. He encouraged us to align ourselves with the persecuted church by being faithful in our witness to Christ.

    Our vision is that we will encounter God in life-changing experiences when we gather, as God challenges us, renews us, and fills us with his Spirit. Convention 2015 certainly accomplished this and much more. Check out the highlights, sessions and other media by going to the Convention 2015 Media page.

    - Tim Dyck
  • BFL Pamphlet Series Deals with Common Beliefs and Issues

    June 24, 2015
    EMC pastors and members often deal with questions about beliefs and responses to Canadian social issues. What sort of resources are available? One source of help comes from our Mennonite Brethren.

    The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) has a series of pamphlets on Christian beliefs and issues within Church and society. Copies are 40 cents each (plus mailing) from CCMBC. They can be viewed free online here.

    Topics include Anabaptism, baptism and membership, children and communion, war,
 Christian witness, the Bible, 
marriage, weddings, when marriages fail, living together, death and dying, euthanasia, retirement, homosexuality, lotteries, viewing choices, materialism, suicide, AIDS, and gambling.

    A historical note: the Kleine Gemeinde started in 1812 and the Mennonite Brethren in 1860, both in Russia. At one point, the KG intervened with the Russian government on behalf of the MBs. Part of the KG later developed into the EMC.

    For many reasons—including this series of pamphlets—aren’t you glad the KG helped the MBs? Now their materials help us!

    - Terry M. Smith
  • Advancing Ministry Through Prayer

    June 19, 2015

    Guadalajara Missionary Team

    EMC Missions invites you to come and discover the power of prayer and worship in a cross-cultural setting from November 6–16, 2015. Pray with our EMC missionaries and local believers as together we seek to build Christ’s Kingdom in Guadalajara.  

    If your heart is beating for intercession and you are ready to explore new places and ways of praying, this is definitely something for you. Experience is not as important as a heart to learn and serve. And, yes, a healthy heart and good health is required as prayer walks at 5,000 ft. elevation can be a bit tiring.

    You will spend time praying one-on-one for missionaries, national believers and non-believers. Picture yourself entering into the presence of the Lord in prayer walks among strategic parts of the city, enjoying worship and fellowship together with your Mexican brothers and sisters. You will pray for strongholds to be broken and the gates of heaven to open, flooding the light and love of Christ into the hearts of the beautiful people of Mexico, all while enjoying the rich culture and beauty of God’s creation.

    Through worship, fellowship and intercession, the prayer team will seek to soften the soil for the Gospel to go forward as God envisions.

    John Reimer, EMC Missionary in Guadalajara, says, “We feel strongly about the importance of prayer and of having people join us annually to pray for the church plant and Mexico. There is a sense that our Canadian constituency takes on a sense of identity and teamwork with us in this endeavour. We would like to encourage annual prayer teams to continue to come and join us in praying for Christ’s Kingdom coming to Guadalajara, Mexico, as God envisions it.”

    To be a part of this powerful ministry contact Gerald Reimer or Diana Peters.

    - EMC

  • EMC Video Resource Library to Close by Summer

    June 05, 2015

    STEINBACH, Man.—Times change. Resources are found on the Internet. It’s cheaper to buy a DVD than to rent one and pay for shipping both ways. There is little demand. Office space is used and administrative efforts take time.

    For these reasons, the Board of Church Ministries (BCM) decided on May 28 to close the national office EMC Video Resource Library, with materials to be dispersed this summer.

    For many years the BCM has provided a resource library to assist churches in various ways. Throughout changes in the EMC and in technology, it responded to needs. But now the library’s use has dwindled to perhaps once a month from outside of Region Eight and only slightly more within it.

    The library’s resource materials have been paid for by the donations of EMCers through the national/international budget or, in some cases, by direct donations of DVD materials. In light of this, the materials will be dispersed free to interested churches. Each church can take up to, say, five items.

    The BCM is grateful for the giving of EMCers that allowed the library to develop over the years to assist us together, and now it is grateful for understanding as a decision was made.

    The BCM, through the national office, will continue to store and provide some materials of Evangelical Anabaptist concern, particularly EMC-specific resources.

    - Terry M. Smith, Executive Secretary, Board of Church Ministries

  • A Heart's Cry

    May 29, 2015

    If Arlyn and Annette van Enns of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, have a heart’s cry related to their ministry, it is that more evangelical Christians would be willing to serve in Canada’s north in First Nations communities.

    Arlyn has been involved in ministry with First Nations people for more than 30 years, first in Fort Vermillion, Alta., and then at Fort Chipewyan. Annette became involved about 20 years ago.

    Through their local work and wider field involvement with Northern Canada Evangelical Mission (NCEM), Arlyn and Annette are aware of many communities in need. In some communities there is perhaps an Anglican or a Roman Catholic presence, but these major denominations are, too, short of workers and services can be sporadic. Beyond that, Arlyn and Annette’s passion is for people to follow Christ in life with a rich understanding of grace as held in Scripture and taught by evangelicals.

    The EMC has many members who are First Nations people or who are involved in ministry with them. Fred Evans, with his wife Charlotte, serves as an evangelist out of Swan River, Man. Fred and Stella Neff serve with Mid-Way Christian Leadership in Grand Rapids, Man., while Kyla Plett serves as a youth worker in three northern Manitoba communities with Mid-Way. Albert Martens, with Athletes in Action, holds sports camps in northern Manitoba and Ontario.

    And it isn’t only the north that ministry occurs. Walter and Helen Hamm hold services at Pine Dock and Matheson Island. Stan and Norma Millar serve on the Dakota reserve of Sioux Valley, while Portage Evangelical Church has a ministry on Dakota Tipi. Elvira Cote serves in inner city Winnipeg and Venus Cote serves with NCEM in reserve ministry in New Brunswick. Inner City Youth Alive, in Winnipeg, Man., has a powerful presence.

    When it comes to Bible camp or VBS ministry, Region Three churches have a ministry at Steeprock Bay, Man.; Blumenort EMC ministers at White Dog, Ont.; churches in Region One assist Eagle’s Nest near High Level, Alta.; and the list goes on.

    In 2003 the EMC Social Concerns Committee (SCC) led a panel discussion on First Nations and Church relations at conference council. To guide congregations, in 2012 the SCC produced a booklet Becoming Neighbours: Three Conversations on Bridges Between Aboriginals and EMC Churches (free download from the EMC website). The discussion and the booklet remind EMCers that effective ministry today cannot overlook a painful past.

    Ministry by EMCers with First Nations peoples began in the 1940s. Since that time both the EMC and First Nations have changed much. Church history and current relationships are complicated and so is the way ahead.

    Meanwhile, Arlyn and Annette van Enns and other EMCers continue in their ministries—and more communities await needed workers.

    -Terry M. Smith