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
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?”
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
“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
Guadalajara Missionary Team
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.”
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
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