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Relationships at the heart of mission


Members of the March Philippines Learning Tour group from Leamington United Mennonite Church with the quilt banner they presented to Witness workers Daniel & Joji Pantoja. In the photo are: (front row left to right) Frank Froese, Lois Konrad, Nettie Froese; (back row left to right) Karen Repko, Joji Pantoja, Daniel Pantoja, Matt Tiessen

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July 16, 2010
-Deborah Froese

Calgary, Alta.  For Mennonite Church Canada, the old days of “doing mission” are over. Relationships form communities of faith and are at the heart of building a global church, one of Mennonite Church Canada’s core priorities. But building the global church by developing relationships also touches on the remaining two priorities; forming a people of God and growing leaders for the church.

 “Being informed locally by experiencing the formation of another culture, another practice, another way of being the church helps us to realize that God is at work vitally around the world in awesome, strange, wonderful and challenging ways,” says Norm Dyck, Executive Secretary of Church Engagement for Mennonite Church Canada.

“The missional church is most healthy when fully engaged across the street and around the world in partnerships both long and short term.”

Mennonite Church Canada encourages congregations to partner with Witness workers or ministries to achieve this goal. Partnerships can take shape according to those who are engaging in them, ranging from a commitment to provide prayer and encouragement, to initiating new ministries.

“If we’re engaged in forming a people of God, becoming global in our perspective, people will become inspired in what it means to be the church. We’re inspired to grow leaders for the future,” Dyck says.

Young adult Matt Tiessen from Leamington United Mennonite Church (LUMC) shared suggestions and assistance for ministry vehicle maintenance during a Mennonite Church Canada learning tour to the Philippines in March of this year. In the fall, Tiessen will return to the Philippines on a one-year Witness internship.

“His exposure to Witness ministry will open the door to other opportunities to explore and develop his leadership gifts,” Dyck says.

St. Jacobs Mennonite Church began relating to Benin Bible Institute (BBI) approximately 13 years ago. The partnership was formalized in 2007 when an intergenerational delegation from St. Jacobs travelled to Benin to sign a covenant of relationship with BBI. The delegation was intentionally intergenerational to indicate the long-term impact of the relationship and how it would form them as a people of God.

Dyck notes the importance of the intergenerational approach. “If as broad a spectrum of the congregation as possible is engaged, it impacts the full spectrum of the life of the church.”

Currently there are 104 active Witness worker and ministry partnerships in Mennonite Church Canada.