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von Guntens to lead Native Ministry: Mennonite Church Canada


Edith and Neill von Gunten will build on 38 years of hands-on ministry to Northern Manitoba native communities when the assume a new, joint assignment as Director and Partnership Facilitator for Native Ministry in Oct, 2005.

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May 24, 2005
-by Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — Neill and Edith von Gunten will continue their work in native ministry in a new role beginning October 15, 2005. They will take on leadership of Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry program when current director Walter Franz retires on Aug. 31, 2005.

To reflect recent changes in Native ministry where Ministry Circles have been formed with local congregations, the von Guntens will serve in a joint assignment as Director and Partnership Facilitator for Native Ministry. Neill and Edith will move between roles as circumstances require. They will relocate to Winnipeg to provide national leadership to the Native Ministry program.

“We are coming to this new job with excitement for the opportunity it presents us to help expand our larger church’s vision for ministry together with our Native brothers and sisters across Canada,” said the von Guntens in a written statement. “We have much to learn from each other, and we ask for your prayers as together we strive to discern the shape the Native Ministry program will take into the future.”

The von Guntens have been associated with Mennonite Church Canada and its predecessor, the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, for 38 years. Their community-based ministries have been foundational in the Manitoba First Nations communities of Bloodvein River, Manigotagan, Hollow Water, Loon Straits, Matheson Island, Pine Dock, and Riverton, their base since 1976 and where they have made their home.

Current director Walter Franz said, “The von Guntens bring with them strong connections with Aboriginal people, decades of experience in cross-cultural ministry, a clear commitment to Christian faith and community, and strong roots within the Mennonite-Anabaptist community.

Although officially retiring, Franz and his wife Hilda will provide pastoral leadership to the Riverton Fellowship Circle on a half-time, volunteer basis beginning in fall 2005.