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The MCA Communiqué
News & Notes for our Alberta family
November 18, 2020

In this issue

E3 Prayer -- Invitation to Prayer
A Menno Minute
One Good Thing

AND MORE from our wider faith communities including a fall update from International Witness
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E3 = MCA 
Year 1  Christ in life


Our E3 Prayer

Oh God, may I see you in the beauty around me
-- in the blue sky, the pure white snow, in the light of a new day.
 
 Our commitment to Daily Prayer continues. New participants are always welcome! 
 













A Menno Minute
Margaret Kruger-Harder, MCA representative to Joint Council

Caring Connections

Over the past several months, I, like many of you, have been part of multiple church and committee meeting over Zoom. I now have a designed Zoom corner in a room. Zoom has some definite limitations. One is that during lunch break each goes off to their own kitchens to put together a rushed meal, rather than being able to experience the companionship of sitting together around tables:  informal visiting is difficult in a Zoom setting. Yet Zoom also has some benefits. Attending meetings is easy to do. No time is spent in travel which makes the meetings accessible to many.  

Recently, during the Mennonite Church Canada study conference on Zoom, I scrolled through the dozens of attendees and found people from many time periods in my life. Friends from all over Canada, whom I know from high school in Ontario, CMBC (CMU now), AMBS, and locally here in Alberta, were all there. One friend whom I haven't seen in over 20 years was sitting on her couch with her dog. What a pleasure to have these glimpses into the lives of people important to us. 

In this, my third year serving as Alberta Representative to Joint Council for Mennonite Church Canada, our meetings are all done through Zoom. Though the meetings are for one day, rather than the two that we gave when we traveled to meet in person, we can meet more often. We have been meeting almost every month, rather than quarterly. This is good for quicker follow-up to topics. 

A topic that we have committed to working through, in Joint Council, is that of how to open our church structures to welcome cultural diversity. As part of an intentional opening of structures, an examination of power and where it currently resides is essential. Who holds the power, and is that all right, or do we need to make shifts to make room?

Another topic that has arisen at meetings, a topic that also deals with power structures within the church, is that of sexual misconduct. Many issues are part of this topic. How do we open the conversation for people who have experienced misconduct? How do we deal with it, in terms of reporting, caring for the victim(s), and helping the community to process it? How do we adequately create boundaries for prevention? What does a restored relationship look like?

The church, though structured, is made up of relationships, ours with God and with each other. To keep the church healthy and thriving, our attention to interpersonal relationships is vital. Without good connections to each other, we do not have church. At a time when large in-person meetings are not possible, what each one of us does to connect to each other matters. The church is truly now not a building, but people relating to each other to carry each other through and to minister to those beyond ourselves. We need to keep sharing our lives and supporting each other well.

Recently, I told a friend whose uncle died that I would be praying for her. She responded that she would be praying for me as I relive the months during which I supported my Dad while he was dying of heart failure a year ago. We pray for each other and help carry each other's burdens. This, to me, is church. 

One Good Thing. Just One Good Thing.
Our world has become increasingly negative and stressful over the past few months. Many struggle to find positivity and joy seems elusive. But goodness continues to exist -- we just have to pay attention and watch for it. To help us do so, I (Ruth) am inviting contributions to a new mini-series here in the Communiqué.
I'll be looking for contributions for One Good Thing for upcoming newsletters. Stay tuned.

New anthology documents six decades
of Anabaptist response to Indigenous calls for justice

 

"The most important peacemaking agenda that we have now"


An interview with Be it Resolved editors Esther Epp-Tiessen and Steve Heinrichs and graphic designer Matt Veith

Be It Resolved: Anabaptist & Partner Coalitions Advocate for Indigenous Justice, 1966-2020 is a new publication from Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee. The near-500-page anthology is a compilation of over 90 documents that detail commitments Anabaptists have made to Indigenous justice and decolonization.

In our latest interview, co-editors Esther Epp-Tiessen and Steve Heinrichs, along with graphic designer Matt Veith, share their encounters with the commitments, the challenge to the live up to some of them and what a book like this means for the church now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why is this book important now?

EET: It's important to know where we come from, what our story has been, what our relationships have been. Looking back doesn't mean getting stuck in the past. It enables our past to guide our present and our future. I do think it is important to keep on returning to the story and reinterpreting it to come to a deeper and a more faithful understanding.

Mi'kmaw-Acadian theologian Terry LeBlanc tells a wonderful story that illustrates this. A grandfather and grandson are walking through a forest. Every now and then the grandfather stops and looks back and then carries on. The little boy is worried. He says, "Grandfather, where are we going? We are going to get lost." The grandfather replies that he is looking back so that he will know how to return home. It's a beautiful story about the role that history plays in our self-understanding. We look back so that we can move forward in a good way. Sometimes that means having to repent for actions and understandings that have been harmful.

Read more
News from Tom and Christine Poovong,  Thailand
excerpted from from Jeanette Hanson's Witness International Report—Fall 2020

What did you do during the Covid-19 lockdown? Bake bread? Home school? Write a novel? As I have connected with International Witness workers and partners in various places in the world during
these months, it has been very strange to hear how similar yet how different our lives are in this truly global pandemic. There is not a corner
of the world where life has not been changed or challenged.

Thailand
Tom and Christine Poovong, Thailand, began open air worship when they could no longer worship indoors at the Maliwan Mennonite Church, Khon Kaen. They chose a small village nearby where the government allows people to live who are struggling with poverty, mental health and addictions. One of the sisters in the Maliwan church has a son living there. Residents of the village have invited them to make this their permanent church home. Members of the congregation are beginning programs to support families struggling with mental health and addictions in this village. Christine has taken over pastoring this congregation while Tom works with the Friends of Grace leadership and training.

In an industrial suburb of Bangkok, Friends of Grace is establishing a ministry to Lao migrant workers. A local Lao pastor, who already has a Thai congregation, began the worshipping group and a young couple (she is Lao, he is Thai) are moving to the area to establish a permanent ministry. They are working at leadership training already organizing groups of 5 migrant workers with one leader for discipleship and support. These lay leaders are being trained by the new couple. Tom will be visiting once per month to teach and support the full-time workers. The hope is that when these lay leaders return to Laos they will be able to pastor small congregations in their home communities. This ministry has the potential to be not only self-sustaining but supportive of other Friends of Grace ministries as all the migrant workers are employed unlike some of the rural poor that Friends of Grace works with in the Issan region.

Income generation ministry continues and is expanding within the Friends of Grace network. Not only Menno Shoes, which is presently being run by another family, the 8th family to go through this program, but now there are several agricultural programs. Mushroom growing has begun in a rural area outside of Roi Et. This Friends of Grace congregation also purchased a rice hulling machine which they are using to hull rice for nearby farmers charging for use of the machine to make money while providing this service for the community farmers who needed to go further away to get rice hulled in the past.

The focus for the next year in Friends of Grace is leadership development. Their slogan of “new believers, new leaders, new churches” is guiding them to move to this second level. Tom is actively engaged in planning for and with the newly appointed Asia Anabaptist Education Coordinator, Myrrl Byler. Tom is excited that this initiative has begun at a time when the Friends of Grace ministry is in most need of leadership training.

An unexpected perk of the Covid lockdown for the Poovongs was food. Tom writes: “For our family we decided to take turn cooking meals we used to cook at home back in Calgary. We found out Christine cooks the best homemade pizza. And our Joseph and Phimchanok now can make scrambled eggs. And the daddy said Amen! Hallelujah.”

International Witness

Remember Palestinians during their olive harvest 

Please remember Palestinian farmers in the midst of this year's olive harvest—a normally festive time for communities—who face the twin challenges of COVID-19 and harassment by Israeli soldiers and settlers. To learn more about the importance of the olive harvest for a just peace in Palestine, visit https://www.oikoumene.org/events/olive-harvest-initiative.  For Christmas gift-giving, consider purchasing fair-trade West Bank olive oil products through Zatoun. (from Mennonite Church Canada Palestine-Israel Network

Colombia Mennonite Church calls for end to mass violence 

In a statement from the Colombian Mennonite Church on the massacres in communities and the assassinations of community leaders and former guerrillas, the church strongly calls the government, civic leaders and churches to work together to decrease violence and injustice in their society. There have been more than 60 mass killings so far this year. Adolescents, young people and small farmers are main victims. Please pray for safety, widom and peace for the pastors, leaders and congregations of the Mennonite churches as they take this courageous stand for peace and justice.   

Prayer as tensions rise in Ethiopia 

Pray that the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, the largest church in Mennonite World Conference, will be a strong voice for peace as ethnic tensions threaten civil war and nine million people are at risk of displacement due to increasing violence. Pray that the ethnic divisions will not spill over into the church. Pray for unity and peace.   


The webpage of resources that Mennonite Church Canada  created for International Witness Day now contains streaming and download links for all of the video resources. 

The introductory videos can also be found on our newly updated International Witness web page. 

Indigenous Settler Relations   

Take Action for the Declaration 

The Government of Canada promised to introduce legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020. With only one month to go before the House of Commons breaks for the year, we are still waiting and praying! Please send the Minister of Justice and key politicians an urgent message—using MCC’s Take Action Letter—to support this “framework for reconciliation” (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada). 

Mennonite Church Canada congregations donate $40,000 to Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 relief fund     

Since the spring, our nationwide community of faith we has raised over $40,000 for MWC’s Global Church Sharing Fund to help our sister churches around the world who struggle to meet basic needs due to pandemic-response measures in their countries. We reached 80 per cent of our goal to match Mennonite Church Canada’s initial donation of $50,000 in the spring. Thanks to everyone for helping to build up our global body of believers. 

Missed the Table Talk Study Conference?  Wish you could listen a second time?
The videos are now available.   

.                                              from Mennonite Church Canada 

Two digital at-home family worship options for Advent-Epiphany 

  • We Wait for Jesus is a new family resource similar to previous At-Home materials Mennonite Church Canada has produced since 2002. 

 

Together in Worship Launches! 

Visit www.togetherinworship.net for hundreds of free, digital, Anabaptist worship materials. A collaboration of CommonWord, in coversation with Anabaptist Worship Network and Voices Together, Together in Worship curates words, music, other artistic expressions and teaching resources to support Christian worship. It’s also a platform for individuals and communities to create and contribute resources. Bookmark it for the next time you’re planning worship!  

Virtual Book Launch at CommonWord 

Join us for a Zoom conversation with Ray Friesen on the launch of his book Wandering the Wilderness, November 12, 7:00 P.M. (CDT). Former pastor and lifelong “believing skeptic,” Ray will reflect on his own wilderness experiences and Brené Brown’s Wholehearted living research, while offering an ancient Biblical pathway for our own desert pilgrimage. Register at www.commonword.ca/go/2159

  

Voices Together Hymnal 

Congregations who pre-ordered the hymnal and its related products from MennoMedia will receive them soon! Individual copies of the hymnal pew edition, Worship Leader’s edition, Accompaniment edition, and Audio recordings are available to order from CommonWord.  

Voices Together Merchandise 

Exclusively available in Canada from CommonWord: 

Worship Calendar 

The Church and the Coronavirus Pandemic

See the MCA website for Phase 2 Reopening information. 

Have a story to tell? Feedback on the MCA Communiqué?
Email communications@mcab.ca
MCA Calendar

Oct 14-Nov 18.         Last session tonight! 
                                 Engage: Learning to Walk with People from other Faith Backgrounds
March 20/21, 2021   All Delegate Sessions -- via ZOOM
     
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