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The MCA Communiqué
News & Notes for our Alberta family

April 29, 2020

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A Menno Minute

by Jeff Schellenberg

This winter felt long. I suppose by March or so they all tend to start feeling long. But this year that late winter bleakness was only reinforced by the sadness of Covid-19. It’s not often that something has the kind of reach across countries, races, religions, classes, and ideologies that Covid has had. If only it were a happier event that highlighted our commonality and reminded us that we really do all share this small planet and have a stake in each other’s welfare.

 So while there has been joy and stories of inspiration, this past month or so has had far too much worry, anxiety, and sadness for those who have lost so much. On top of that came the tragic news out of Nova Scotia, and it felt like winter truly might never end.
 
Read full article

Encountering, a reflection by Caleb Kowalko


Due to restrictions of Covid-19, our annual assembly and delegate session was held over zoom, reducing the meeting to business only. Pastor Caleb Kowalko of First Mennonite Church Calgary was one of three people scheduled to speak during our time together. This video is the sermon he had planned. Launching year one (2020) of our E3=MCA theme: Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ in Life, Pastor Caleb shares a reflection on Encountering Christ in Life.


Click for a list of personal action items.

Click to read reflections from Laura Wiebe, Debbie Baergen, and Werner De Jong on Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ.
 

Introducing our newest column


Not long ago, I commented that MCA committee members are passionate about the areas that they commit their time to. I need to amend that statement. MCA committee members are passionate about not only their areas, but about the entire ministry that our churches do together. This point was brought home at our recent All Committee meeting. I entered the meeting with a bit of trepidation, because we were getting deeper into COVID-19 restrictions and I’d asked committees to anticipate what adjustments we might need to make as we watch our budget and donations over the coming months. Instead of focusing on concerns, unknowns, and cancellations, our discussion was largely about how we can better share the excitement of what is still happening and the vision and dreams that continue even within current restrictions.
 
In the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing from our committees in this new “Y”MCA column. You’ll be hearing stories and reflections about how people in and outside of our congregations (including us!) have been impacted through MCA ministry and activities.

The Executive Committee

Issue #1



Executive Committee has the privilege of seeing the big picture and being in touch with each ministry area. In addition to our Executive roles, we sit on various MCA committees, the RJC Board (Paul), Joint Council (Brenda) and Executive Staff Group (Tim). Yes, we attend a lot of meetings - but we don’t mind! We don’t mind because MCA meetings are about people coming together to talk about how we participate in and further God’s kingdom, together. We get to know a wide range of people not only in our churches, but in other Regional Churches as well. One of my greatest blessings as Moderator has been getting to know people who broaden my perspective on what it means to be the church. Perhaps most importantly, Executive sees first-hand the dedication and enthusiasm of our staff in their calling to serve the church.
 
Here’s what other Executive members say about serving with MCA:
 
Elizabeth Wall (Edmonton First): “What I find exciting about being a part of MCA is working together with great people from all over Alberta. Coming from different contexts and bringing various gifts, we join together for the common good. I enjoy the meetings and the times when we get together for workshops, faith studies, women's retreat, and other events. MCA helps the churches by supporting pastoral leaders, building community, providing resources for spiritual growth, and supporting such ministries as new-to-Canada churches, the North Edmonton Ministry, and Camp Valaqua.”
 
Wayne Janz (Calgary First): “Doreen Neufeld approached me about five years ago to ask if I would serve on the Finance Committee. I wasn't looking to add anything to my already busy schedule, but I know how hard it is for the Nominating Committee to fill needed roles. Plus I felt I had some skills that would fit the role and perhaps a calling from God to use them to serve in this way. So I accepted and it has been rewarding! Dealing with different types of challenges has broadened my skillset. I've engaged with people I would not have met otherwise, extending my network of friends. And I've had the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile in God's service.”
 
Paul Neufeldt (Lethbridge): Paul credits (or blames) Camp Valaqua with his church involvement. At Camp, he learned resilience, where and how to find healing and support to sustain him in difficult times, and discovered that he has the capacity to help others. Through Paul’s committee involvement, he keeps connected with Camp and participates in setting direction for the church. As a parent of young children, it’s important that the church and Camp provide children with experiences that teach values and create connections. What we do now will make a difference in our children’s lives and in the future church.
 
Over the next few weeks, as you read stories and discover more about the behind-the-scenes work of MCA, we ask you to commit to praying for each writer, for our six staff and over 25 volunteers. Our wide-ranging ministry is possible because of financial contributions from congregations and individuals who see the benefits of a solid foundation. We will be missing opportunities to invite individual donations this year, so ask that you keep this in mind each time you hear about a cancelled event or a re-envisioned gathering. We can still be church together, even while physically distancing!
 
Brenda Tiessen-Wiens (Foothills)
Moderator
 

Student Bursary Application


Anyone making plans to attend an Anabaptist post-secondary institution in the fall? AMBS, CMU, CBC to name a few.

Check out mcab.ca/bursary for more information. The application process has changed, please read the instructions carefully. Before you apply, follow steps 1-4 listed on the website.

The application is live.  Submission Deadline is July 31, 2020.
This bursary qualifies for church-matching grants offered by many schools. Contact your school for more information. 
Read More
To donate toward the bursary fund. Visit mcab.ca/giving


Mennonite Church Canada live-stream service for Sunday, May 3, 2020 

Live-streaming opens at 9:30am (EDT), service starts at 9:45am (EDT). 
Video will be posted after live-streaming. 

Join Niagara area pastors as we reflect on Acts 2:42-47 – “All Things in Common in Uncommon Times.” Louise Wideman (Vineland United Mennonite Church), Alissa Bender (Hamilton Mennonite Church) and Renate Klassen (Niagara United Mennonite Church) will guide us as we gather as a nationwide community of faith.

May 3 Live Stream

Women's Retreat cancelled


As with many events due to Covid-19 restrictions, the annual MCA Women's Retreat has been cancelled for 2020.  We'll see you next year, Lord willing.

(Anne Martens responds to the news.)

a message from Jon Olfert

It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that Valaqua has recognized the need to cancel our summer camp program for 2020.  For over sixty years Camp Valaqua has been a place of connection and growth and we are deeply saddened that we will not be able to share this summer with you and your children.
Read full message

Mennonite Church Canada Study conference goes virtual on October 24, 2020 

Table Talk: Does the church still have legs?

During this global COVID-19 pandemic, the Holy Spirit calls us to re-examine what it means to be the church. While technology allows us to join each other on Sunday mornings, without gathering together how can we be Christ’s Body? What does this crisis reveal about our current practices of being the church? Join our nationwide community of faith as we gather virtually for a time of discernment on the nature and identity of the church and the role of worship. Sara Wenger Shenk, former president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and several other scholars from our Mennonite schools will reflect on themes related to 1 Peter 2:9-10. Mark your calendars!


International Witness

Financial strains for small schools in Thailand 

Pray for Witness workers Tom and Christine Poovong as they, together with many around the world, homeschool their children Joseph and Phim. The children’s school is small and the COVID-19 lockdown puts it under severe financial strain. Pray that this place that has been life-giving for their family will re-open in the fall so that the Poovongs can continue ministry in this location.    

Uncertain futures for young adults 

As borders are closed and travel is restricted, pray for young adult children of Witness workers who are separated from parents at a time of uncertainty and anxiety.  Pray for those dealing with job losses and uncertain futures.  Pray that God will be near to them and that our family of faith will come be near to them.   

Rural healthcare and job loss in Vietnam 

Mennonites in Vietnam have asked us to pray for them during this pandemic. They ask for prayers for good health and safety especially for those in rural areas where the health care system is inadequate for this challenge.  Pray for those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic in a system with no employment insurance.  The churches continue to minister in this difficult time. Pray for wisdom and strength.   

Church closures in China affect salaries of staff 

The closure of churches in China due to COVID-19 has had devastating financial effects on several large congregations that have worked with Mennonite Partners in China for decades.  With no opening dates in sight even though other aspects of life are starting to get back to normal, church staff are taking drastic reductions in salary and making difficult decisions about selling property.  Pray that God will give wisdom and peace in this difficult time.     

INDIGENOUS-SETTLER RELATIONS 

News from our partners 

Wet’suwet’en Resistance webinar – MAY 5 @ 7 PM EST 

In February and March of this year, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) sent two teams of legal observers to unceded Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C. With no consent from the hereditary leadership of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have maintained a militarized occupation of their lands in order to enable ongoing construction of a fracked gas pipeline—even during the current pandemic. Join Jennifer Wickham from the Gidim'ten clan and three CPTers – including Mennonite Church Canada’s Steve Heinrichs – as they share stories from the frontlines of the Wet'suwet'en resistance on May 5 at 7 PM EST. Register for free online.   


Indigenous theological gathering online – June 4-7, 2020 

The North American Institute for Theological Studies (NAIITS) is moving its annual symposium online, bringing Indigenous and settler peoples together to explore “Community Health and Well-Being: Conversations on Wholeness.” Indigenous-Settler Relations would love to see a good number of participants from each of our regional church bodies join in this rich learning. We have several scholarships to help cover the cost of registration. For more information, visit https://www.naiits.com/sym2020.html. Contact Steve Heinrichs if you would like to receive support from Mennonite Church Canada (sheinrichs@mennonitechurch.ca). 

What's available?

Links and list of resources from across MC Canada can be found at mcab.ca/pandemic-prep.

Rostern Jr. College


RJC Virtual Open House - Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00pm: Prospective students & families are invited to learn more about RJC from the comfort of their own home! Experience a virtual school tour, a brief presentation, as well as an opportunity to hear from current students and teachers. The event will be held over Zoom. Please register at admissions@rjc.sk.ca to be sent the Zoom link. 

Young Anabaptist Fellowship Week


Young Anabaptist: Mennonite World Conference: 5th annual Young Anabaptist Fellowship Week (virtual platforms). For ages 18-30, meet with young adults around the globe to encourage and celebrate together through sharing, bible studies, worship and prayer. You can download the invitation and the worship resources here.
MCA Calendar
Jun 5-7,         MCA Women's Retreat - Cancelled
Jun 13           Camp Valaqua Hike-a-Thon - Cancelled
Jun 14           Camp Valaqua Garden Party - Cancelled
Oct 22 - 24    MC Canada Study Conference - Going Virtual

The Church and the Coronavirus Pandemic

In the current state of emergency and in accordance with health guidelines,

MCA urges the cancellation of all in-person congregational gatherings until further notice.

MCA will continue to reassess this recommendation as new information emerges.


Stories, Events, Announcements?
communications@mennonitechurch.ab.ca


CommonWord online service continues during the pandemic 

Self-isolation should not mean a lack of reading material. Visit www.commonword.ca to explore over 13,000 resources. You can also pick up a Herald Press title – for sale or loan at www.commonword.ca/go/heraldpress.

 

CommonWord is curating pandemic materials regularly 

 Here are a few of the recent COVID-19 resource additions: 

  

  

New title from CMU Press 

Suffering the Truth: Occasional Sermons and Reflections

by Chris K. Huebner, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Canadian Mennonite University 

 

Chris K. Huebner invites us to reflect on how we might inhabit truthfully the strange new life into which we have been called by God. Structured around the Christian liturgical calendar, Suffering the Truth begins with a meditation on Advent as a time during which we are called to cultivate a readiness for the unexpected presence of God and concludes with a sermon that challenging the conception of peace frequently celebrated on the day Mennonites call Peace Sunday. Huebner’s sermons elaborate a liturgical counter-temporality and display what it might look like when its rhythms inform the way we go about our ordinary lives. Available through CommonWord

Worship Calendar: 

May 15    International Day of Families - www.commonword.ca/go/1751 

May 21    Ascension Day - www.commonword.ca/go/1752 

May 31    Pentecost - www.commonword.ca/go/1759  

Jun 7       Trinity Sunday - www.commonword.ca/go/1769 

Jun 20     World Refugee Day - www.commonword.ca/go/1770  

Jun 21     National Indigenous Peoples Day - www.commonword.ca/go/1474  

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