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

  • Grieving and Remembering Annette van Enns

    January 15, 2016

    We are saddened to learn of the passing of Annette van Enns on January 10, 2016, after a long battle with cancer. Arlyn and Annette van Enns have served under Northern Canada Evangelical Mission as Associate Missionaries with EMC for almost 30 years. They were based in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. Please be in prayer for Arlyn and the people in Fort Chipewyan, who will miss her deeply. The funeral is set for January 18 in Fort Chipewyan.

    - EMC

  • Euthanasia and Palliative Care

    January 08, 2016

    We are in the midst of a significant national conversation about the duty of care we owe one another at the end of life, the legalization of euthanasia and the protection of religious freedom and conscience.

    Last fall EMC signed a Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Thus far close to 2,000 other church leaders and lay people have signed the Declaration, a document drafted by the EFC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    We want to encourage more to sign, from all walks of life. The goal is to have 10,000 signatures by February 6, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that opened the door to physician-assisted suicide. 

    As the issue moves to Parliament Hill, we want to use the Declaration publically and in meetings with Parliamentarians as a statement of support for the protection of life, the promotion of palliative care and the defense of conscience.

    Please consider helping by encouraging your pastor and church members to sign the Declaration by going to www.euthanasiadeclaration.ca.

  • Where Do Youth Belong?

    January 04, 2016

    When I look back over my 20 years serving in the EMC—four years in Mexico and 16 years at the national office—I’m more in love with the Church now than ever before. Why? Because I’ve witnessed the Church do an amazing job of inviting, encouraging and discipling each successive generation to embrace a full identity as Christ followers, and as equal participants in the sacred beauty that is the church, the bride of Christ.

    Take youth ministry as an example—increasingly more of our churches run youth ministries with growing numbers of non-church-attending students participating in their weekly gatherings. They study God’s Word, do service projects, and shine the light of Christ from the basketball court to the Movie Theatre, right on down to the basement of a friend’s house playing video games. And yes, many are also involved on Sunday mornings serving on worship teams, teaching Sunday School, or running the PowerPoint.

    While lack of loyalty may be the accusation from many, what I see in this younger generation is a truckload of devotion when the “product” is genuine and marked with integrity. They are loyal to their friends, to their sports team, and to their favourite coffee shop. But if the customer service at a particular store is deemed inauthentic, they have no problems voting with their feet.

    The same goes for the Church. Contrary to a growing opinion, I think that many students do have a good understanding of how the Church is the bride of Christ and that it should uphold biblical moral standards, sincere love, and unapologetic integrity. However, when that trust is broken, they move on looking for a congregation that practices what it preaches.

    In response, I have sometimes thought about saying to them, “Of course the Church makes mistakes, so put your eyes on Jesus, not on sinful human beings.” And they may well respond by saying, “We need the Church to model Jesus to us so that we too know how to represent Christ in our world.”

    By all accounts Mary was just a teenager when she gave birth to the Christ child. The script from the Master included a remarkably young couple raising the Saviour of the world in their home. Do we trust Jesus in the hands of our youth? Our Heavenly Father did.

    Do we truly believe that they know the value of the treasure they have in Christ? Are we willing to let them experience the Lord, and, dare I say, be responsible enough to serve the Lord in their way, with their lives, in the Church, for His glory?

    I have seen from personal experience that the Spirit of God works in the lives of people of all ages, from the little pre-schoolers right on through to the seniors in our midst. Let’s continue to be the Church where all generations experience relevance and truth wrapped in the swaddling clothes of love.

    - Gerald Reimer, Conference Youth Minister/Missions Mobilizer

  • Good Reasons to Support EMC Ministries

    December 17, 2015

    Wondering about a good investment for your donation dollars? Here are five good reasons to support EMC ministries with your donations:

    1. Impact – EMC is committed to ministries that advance Christ’s kingdom and have eternal impact in the everyday lives of people. Whether planting churches in Canada, international missions, or compassion ministries, EMC ministries impact people with the gospel.
    2. Accountability – Conference ministries are accountable to EMC churches through the semi-annual Conference Council meetings. Delegates from all EMC Churches give overall direction and approve budgets for all Conference ministries.
    3. Spirit led and Prayer-filled – Our boards strive to listen to the Holy Spirit when giving direction to the work of our Conference. We invite participation in prayer through the monthly prayer calendar inserted in The Messenger.  Additional prayer resources are available for specific ministries that you support.
    4. EMC workers – Conference board members, staff, missionaries and church planters are from your church or your sister churches, and serve with the church’s blessing.
    5. Partnership – The work of EMC is the ministry that we do together as EMC churches. We partner together to accomplish more than any one church could do on its own. 

    We encourage everyone to make their church support a first priority. Your local church relies on each person to fund its ministries. The church, in turn, supports efforts of the EMC nationally and internationally.

    Many people also make donations beyond their home church. We invite you to make a donation in support of EMC’s national and international ministries. Choose a method of donation: call our office to make a payment over the phone, donate through our website, or mail a cheque to our office, to the order of EMC. Your contribution makes a difference.

    The combined effort of EMC churches, individuals, and estates makes it possible to carry out our ministries. As of the end of November we still need to raise $550,000 before the end of the calendar year. Thank you for your support!

    - EMC

  • Ministerial Ponders Gospel of Reconciliation

    December 07, 2015
    The gospel is a message of reconciliation to be reflected in our local church life and wider Church unity, yet we sometimes burden ourselves with unbiblical views of what forgiveness means—so said Dr. David Guretzki at the EMC ministerial retreat held on Nov. 28-30, 2015, at Wilderness Edge Retreat and Conference Centre in Pinawa, Man.

    The retreat started with a welcome and an outline of events. Beyond the worship sessions, there were periods planned for relaxation, friendly competition (table tennis, crokinole, Scrabble), a talent show, and to watch the Grey Cup.

    Vern Knutson, who with his wife Lana was on the planning committee, hoped retreaters would fix their eyes on the one who redeemed us.

    To say Jesus died for our sins is only a halfway gospel, said David Guretzki, professor of theology, church, and public life at Briercrest Seminary. The goal is reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:14). God’s primary business is reconciliation and we are to be involved, with our motive being that Christ’s love for us compels us. Guretzki also cautioned against cheapening reconciliation by confusing it with other concepts. Forgiveness and reconciliation are related, but not the same. The Bible never says to forgive your enemies, but to love them and pray for their repentance. Forgiveness has today become an umbrella term, yet biblically has a narrower focus.

    Forgiveness is an intentional act of the will to remove obstacles between people, a refusal to let barriers inhibit reconciliation. Our forgiveness reflects God’s forgiveness of us (Matt. 18:24-35), and part of the reason we don’ t forgive is that we don’t realize how much we’ve been forgiven, he said.

    The professor cautioned against unilateral forgiveness. Forgiveness in Scripture is dependent upon the conditions of confession and repentance. When asked about Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness on the cross, Guretzki said that Jesus did not speak a word of forgiveness directly to the soldiers and crowd, but prayed to the Father on their behalf. A hidden one-way forgiveness is worthless for reconciliation, he said.

    In Matt. 18:15-17 the instruction is for disciples, peer-level relationships. The principles can be applied more widely, but the original context matters. Where “power differential relationships” exist (abuser/abused, employer/employee), they must be dealt with differently. The passage isn’t dealing with a major abuser; nor is it about “how to win your case,” but “how to heal a relationship.”

    Guretzki cautioned against sending people back into the situations where they are likely to sin. An abused person is to be removed from the home; an offer of counselling can be given to the abuser.

    People enjoyed visiting over meals, while solving puzzles, playing pool, being involved in minor sports tournaments, or watching the Grey Cup game. Late on Sunday night was a talent show.

    On Monday morning David Guretzki said that the sad history of the Church is the creative ways it finds to divide itself. Paul in Eph. 4:1-13 reminds us that we do not create the Church’s unity; Christ has done that. What we can do is to seek to maintain the unity of the Church through humility, patience, and forbearance.

    There also was a time to bear each other’s burdens. A communion service followed.

    The ministerial retreat is held every second year. It’s open to all EMC ministerial individuals and couples. If you attended this year, you’ll want to come back. If you missed out, the deer and the Board of Leadership and Outreach will welcome you in 2017.

    - Terry M. Smith

  • SBC Pastoral Students Visit EMC National Office

    December 03, 2015

    Photo Credit: Gord Penner

    On Dec. 2, 2015, pastoral students from SBC visited the EMC’s national office. It allowed them to familiarize themselves with the office, meet national staff persons, enjoy some pizza, ask questions about ministry and church-conference relationships—and even snag some free pens and books. Gord Penner, a professor and an EMC minister, is the bridge personality for this event.

    - Terry M. Smith

  • Ben Eidse Shares a Lifetime of Insights in New Publication

    November 23, 2015

    Chancellor Ben Eidse and missions Professor Carl Loewen pose during the launch of Eidse’s book at SBC on Sept. 15.

    Ben Eidse, a long-time EMC missionary on the continent of Africa, has produced a new book, The Disciple and Sorcery: The Lunda-ChokweView (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2015, $81.99 USD), sharing a lifetime of insights into worldviews and spiritual warfare. The book was launched at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg on Sept. 12 and at SBC on Sept. 15.

    Eidse encountered the problem of sorcery in 1953, his first year in Congo. He discovered many Christians who “continue to fear sorcery and are tempted to use it to harm others.”

    After three decades in Congo and three terms as SBC president, Eidse was offered a sabbatical. He enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to examine the Lunda-Chokwe view of sorcery more deeply. His study presents the meaning of sorcery within its cultural context and spells out its implications for a biblical, culturally relevant, Christ-centred discipleship.

    Eidse, SBC’s chancellor, drew on decades immersed with the mixed tribe on the Congo-Angola border, where he also taped oral histories, mentored doctoral students from Stanford University, and taught an anthropology course for Fuller University.

    Eidse learned the myths, proverbs, and heart language while helping build the Kamayala mission and planting 80 churches. In 1969 he was asked by the American Bible Society to translate the Bible into modern Chokwe. This he did over 13 years with two folklorist-pastors, often discussing sorcery-related words and concepts.

    In 1975 the administrative committee of the Congo Mennonite Church asked them to develop a lesson book on the sorcery problem. The lessons were so well-received, “evidently meeting a strongly-felt need,” he wrote, “that the Presbyterian church requested permission to translate it into Tshiluba” and use illustrations from that ethnic group.

    Key concepts of the Lunda-Chokwe tribes were “well-being” and “interconnectedness.” Yet one chief lamented that sorcery tore the clan apart, as first one member and then another acquired sorcery powers to kill others.

    Ben and Helen Eidse were the first missionaries sent overseas by the EMC, under (now) Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, to a new, receptive area in southwestern Congo. They, with their African partners, established 80 churches, ran 24 clinics, delivered the leprosy cure, and joined in spiritual battle against sorcery and corruption. Eidse and two pastors went on to translate the Bible into a modern, dynamic Chokwe despite revolution, disease, and disability.

    He and Helen, who died in 2010, won a Lifetime Service Award from the Association of Anabaptist-Mennonite Missiologists for their cultural sensitivity and service.

    -Adapted from Faith Eidse and SBC
  • Responding to Terrorism in Paris

    November 17, 2015

    How do we respond to the violent acts of terrorism that occurred in Paris this past week? Do we secretly feel that a violent response is justified? 

    We, like many other Christians, are shocked by the violence and we grieve with the mourning families and the country of France. As EMCers, we believe that Jesus calls us to respond with love, to pray for wisdom for national leaders, and not give in to an escalated cycle of violence. Let us pray for those who grieve and let us pray for those who perpetrate further violence.  

    An EMC missionary family living in Paris reports that they are safe, but that the mood of people in Paris is somber—they are in mourning. Our hope and prayer is that despite this violence, God’s love and grace will overshadow these despicable acts and the light of Jesus will shine even brighter.

    - Tim Dyck, General Secretary, on behalf of the EMC General Board  

  • Release of Statement on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

    October 29, 2015
    OTTAWA – At a news conference today on Parliament Hill, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) released a joint statement on euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide has been endorsed by over 30 Christian denominations together with over 20 Jewish and Muslim leaders from across Canada. In light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v. Carter, the joint statement advocates for palliative care, respect for the dignity of the human person, human solidarity and psychological, spiritual and emotional support as the ethical and moral response in end-of-life care.

    The Declaration states that “The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision has brought this issue to the forefront of public discussion and compels each of us as Canadians to reflect upon our personal and societal response to those who need our compassion and care.” Addressing the underlying importance of human dignity, the signatories affirm that “the sanctity of all human life, and the equal and inviolable dignity of every human being … is not exclusively a religious belief, although for us it has a significant religious meaning.” The signatories emphasize that “reverence for human life must be “the basis and reason for our compassion, responsibility and commitment in caring for all humans, our brothers and sisters, when they are suffering and in pain… to work to alleviate human suffering in every form but never by intentionally eliminating those who suffer.”

    The joint statement insists that Canada’s “health care systems must maintain a life-affirming ethos. Medical professionals are trained to restore and enhance life,” as “any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong.” The signatories to the Declaration urge “federal, provincial and territorial legislators to enact and uphold laws that enhance human solidarity by promoting the rights to life and security for all people; to make good-quality home care and palliative care accessible in all jurisdictions; and to implement regulations and policies that ensure respect for the freedom of conscience of all health-care workers and administrators who will not and cannot accept suicide or euthanasia as a medical solution to pain and suffering.”

    The speakers at the news conference included the following representatives: Ms. Julia Beazley, Policy Analyst, EFC; Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, C.M., Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa; Dr. Aileen Van Ginkel, Vice President, Ministry Services, EFC; Sister Nuala Kenny, SC, OC, MD, FRCP, a pediatrician and former Deputy Minister of Health in the province of Nova Scotia, also speaking on behalf of the CCCB; Imam Samy Metwally Ottawa Main Mosque/Ottawa Muslim Association; and the Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa and CCCB representative. The Declaration and its list of signatories can be viewed at the following website: www.euthanasiadeclaration.ca.

    - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

    Note: The Evangelical Mennonite Conference signed this declaration.
  • Jesus Freaks and the Quiet in the Land

    October 23, 2015

    The Church has always had two types of Christians and they might as well be good to each other. On the one hand, we have the hot ’n readys, the Spirit-fired chasers of Jesus who are ready to turn their lives and their village upside down.

    These are the apostles, the St. Francises, the George Blaurocks, the John Wesleys and the Shane Claibournes. Most revivals, revolutions, or reforms have come from these people. Their sins tend to be impatience, spiritual arrogance, emotionalism, and heresy.

    On the other hand, we have the slow ’n steadys. These are disciples too, but they mostly want to live decent lives and then go to church on Sunday. They have their careers, families, and routines that they pray are pleasing to God, but have little interest in selling everything and giving to the poor. They are more interested in the long-term stability of the Church than in electrifying the town tonight.

    They do not make rash promises about what they will conquer for Jesus, but they do show up. Because of these people the Church has lasted 2,000 years and is still inching forward. The sins of the slow ’n steady tend to be compromise, lethargy, and “Nicodemism,” which is avoiding persecution by blending in.

    Different churches have leaned one way or the other. In the Early Church the apostles left everything to ply the seas and put the boots to the devil. But not many other people did. Most heard the Message, were baptized, and then went home to do the milking. Jesus honoured them both.

    The Medieval Church had “the religious” who were the monks and nuns, and “the secular” who were the common lay people. Anabaptism began in Switzerland when some hot ’n readys got fed up with Zwingli’s slow, incremental reform. Anabaptists tried to be a church of only hot ’n readys, but eventually you ended up with Mennonites.

    Eighteenth century Evangelicalism and 20th century Pentecostalism tried the same. All of these resulted in genuine renewal of the Church, but in no case a Church of only Apostle Peters.

    These two groups have their unique ways of afflicting each other. The hot ’n readys harangue the “luke-warm” who do not “really” believe, hoping to set them on fire. They are often willing to split the Church to make their point. The slow ’n steadys will simply institutionalize the “freaks” out the church door, consigning them to the monastery or a parachurch organization. The slow ’n steadys generally hold the power and money of the Church, while the hot ’n readys claim the moral high ground.

    The Church needs both the fire of sold-out passion and the steady hand of people whose faith is submerged in daily routines. We should stop trying to convert each other.   Churches can provide places within the congregation for people called to live extreme faith. Perhaps we need monastic-type communities within the congregation with people committed in an extraordinary way to prayer or service. They should not need to leave or split the Church to live super-charged lives.

    We also need to stop implying that all slow ’n steadys are compromised slackers. It’s okay that some people don’t want to talk about their faith all the time, or attend all-night prayer meetings, or move to Calcutta to live on love. There are steady disciples and there are radical disciples. It’s all good.

    For more, read Ivan J. Kaufman’s book Follow Me: A History of Christian Intentionality (Cascade, 2009).

    - Layton Friesen