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International Mennonite Pastors Coming Together

   
 


Alexander, a pastor with the Evangelical Missionary Church in Cuba, pictured here with his wife Aisha, is one of the two Cubans being denied a visa by the Canadian government.
(surnames withheld by request).

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Madelin, pastor of three congregations and vice-president of the Evangelical Missionary Church, has also been denied entry.
(surnames withheld by request).

View or download full sized image.

   

March 16, 2006
-by Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — IMPaCT – International Mennonite Pastors Coming Together is the name given to a brand new initiative of Mennonite Church Canada designed to help the denomination grow as a global church, and help pastors to learn from, shape, and challenge one another.

IMPaCT will match six Mennonite pastors from international locations with six Canadian pastors for two weeks. Mennonite Church Manitoba has offered to sponsor and host the first rotation, scheduled for the first two weeks of June.

“This isn’t a theological or academic course. It’s a practical endeavour to the have pastors reflect together with Anabaptist pastors from different contexts,” said Janet Plenert, executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada Witness.

Mennonite pastors from Cuba, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, and Spain have been invited. The national church in each country is responsible for selecting their respective representative pastors. This year the event is bilingual Spanish-English.

So far participating Mennonite congregations are Sargent Avenue, Charleswood, and North Kildonan, all in Winnipeg, and two rural congregations, Graysville and Portage. One more rural Manitoba congregation has yet to be named.

Area conferences can offer to host the event in subsequent years. “We are hoping an area conference will step forward and offer to host a 2007 event.” said Plenert.

John Klassen, Conference Minister for Mennonite Church Manitoba, Sven Eriksson, MC Canada’s denominational minister and Plenert are leading the initiative. A Logistics Committee and a Program Committee of local volunteers have been engaged to help coordinate the Manitoba round of IMPaCT, and Plenert hopes that this local involvement will help build ownership of the project and multiply interest in what it means to become a global church. Canadian Mennonite University’s Institute of Theology and the Church is a supporting sponsor of the event.

Plenert is working with the Canadian embassy in Cuba to obtain visas for the Cuban pastors, which have been initially denied by the Canadian government. “We need to get the prayer chain going on this issue,” added Plenert.

Becoming a global church is one of three priorities that have been identified by Mennonite Church Canada leadership following delegate discernment sessions at the annual assembly in Charlotte in 2005. The other two priorities are to grow leaders and form a people of God.