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BC congregations hear about international Witness ministries


Abbotsford, BC.—Although picture-perfect weather threatened to reduce attendance, more than sixty people gathered at Emmanuel Mennonite Church to learn more about International Ministries activities of Mennonite Church Canada Witness here on June 9.

Representatives of six congregations showed strong interest and support for the work of Witness around the world. Presenters were MC Canada staff Marilyn Houser Hamm, Steve Plenert, and Gerd Bartel. Hamm and Plenert are responsible for developing congregational partnerships while Bartel participated in his new role as Mission Formation Facilitator for BC.

Plenert provided the history of how Mennonite Church Canada Witness has inherited the Canadian portion of ministries carried out by former Commission on Overseas Mission (COM) and the Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM). The Mennonite Mission Network inherited the legacy of MBM and COM in the US, and continues as MC Canada Witness' partner for mission activities. What's important to know, said Plenert, is that Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers advance the gospel message of Christ in over forty countries.

For example, in Macau, Witness partners with several groups to do church planting in a location where the gospel has not penetrated deeply, but where people are hungry for meaning. In Mongolia, Witness partners with Joint Christian Service (JCS) in doing work with Habitat for Humanity, a forestry project, and a model dairy.

These projects are changing the lives of people in their homes and in their livelihoods as mission workers give lively testimony to the faith that motivates them. Many are coming to know Christ and groups of believers are forming.

Encouraging the gathered group to consider an intentional partnership with an international congregation, Plenert asked, "How can the transformational experiences of believers and mission workers internationally become part of the experience of Mennonite Church Canada congregations? If the missional church is the model we are using, we need to be impacted by what God is doing in the world."

Response to the evening was positive with good participation in the worship time, generous contributions made to Mennonite Church Canada Witness, and probing questions about the new structures and the relationship with Mennonite Mission Network in the US.

"There isn't duplication, but there is significant and intentional overlap", said Plenert in responding to the concern of doubling-up. "There is a common commitment to the ministry and to historical relationships. A good collaborative spirit is moving us forward. The relationship is different, but it is still very good."