December 12, 2003
“For the body is not one member, but many.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
For many, the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Zimbabwe offered
both a stark reminder of our wealth in North America, and the generosity
of our less well-off brothers and sisters in many places around the world.
This event was a celebration of startling and awe-inspiring proportions.
As a national church, we continue to learn from our global family.
We open this year’s report to you with a few stories about what
your support of MC Canada ministries is doing:
- Nan-Chong, China — In the 1980s, a migrant
worker returned to the isolated community of Anren, China, with a Bible,
planting the seed of a new Christian faith community. They met together
and copied portions from their one treasured Bible. With no further
outside contact, they thought they were the only Christians in existence.
Mennonite Church Canada worker in China, Jeanette Hanson, is reaching
out to this large and growing group of believers. Hanson is originally
from Tiefengrund Mennonite Church, Saskatchewan.
- Chun Chon, Korea— In a culture where parents
seldom, if ever, play publicly with their children, Mennonite Church
Canada mission worker Erwin Wiens is teaching families about Christian
values by playing baseball with them. Wiens says it all started with
one bored but rambunctious fourth grader, and has grown into a group
of 25 children of various ages. “Parents are now beginning to
express their appreciation by bringing food to our place,” says
Wiens. He and his wife Marian, from Windsor Mennonite Fellowship in
Ontario, have been ministering in Korea for 18 months.
- Borabur, Thailand — With $5500 in seed money,
Mennonite Church Canada mission worker Pat Houmphan is moving a congregation
in Thailand toward self-sufficiency, and helping impoverished local
farmers at the same time. The group has already purchased 12 cows which
have been lent out to believers. Recipients keep the first and third
calves, but the second calf and the mother are to be returned. A church
committee of local people coordinates the project. They hope to earn
enough to support a pastor and build a church. Pat Houmphan, originally
from Laos, relates to home congregations in Langley, BC and Regina,
- Winnipeg, Man.—Mennonite Church Canada’s
Resource Centre has now listed its complete catalogue of books, videos,
and cassette tapes on-line. A brand new web interface allows users,
for the first time ever, to order loans on-line. The catalogue can be
searched at www.mennonitechurch.ca/resources.
Requests can also be phoned in toll-free at 1-866-888-6785.
We hope you are inspired, as we are, by these stories of healing, hope,
and nurture. There are other stories that will yet be told coming from
Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. We invite you to read more
This past year we have needed and felt your prayers as we struggled
through the challenges of having to make unwanted reductions in our ministries.
Know too, that each of you have been in our prayers, recognizing that
you also struggled with many of these decisions.
As we have moved through the year, we have also seen hope expressed
in many ways. As of this writing, we are on track financially. Many have
responded generously with their time and counsel. We have maintained a
strong international ministries presence, with 40% (over $2 million) of
donation dollars flowing to workers and programs in 42 countries.
Below are summaries of happenings that have shaped our year:
- St. Catharines 2003 – 520 adults, 485 youth,
and 60 children gathered at our 2003 annual assembly (July 9-13) to
hear, see, learn and discern how we believe God is at work in Mennonite
Church Canada. For a review of decisions, consult the complete Minute
Book available at http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/events/stcath/index.php,
check with your church office, or call for a copy.
- Missional Church: We can all celebrate God’s
movement among established and emerging congregations in Canada and
around the world, through our support for over 100 mission workers.
We continue building our relationships with churches in Latin and South
America, Asia and Africa. Christian Witness and Christian Formation
are charged with excitement over the success of the Missional Church
Leadership study program delivered this past year. Almost fifty participants
from across Canada have completed the program. We are looking at ways
to now bring this course of studies to area conferences. We also want
to acknowledge the work of Samson Lo, MC Canada’s director of
Multi-cultural ministries. Samson’s work is bringing congregations
of new Canadians ever closer to our MC Canada fellowship.
- Area Conference Partnerships: Each of our area conferences
continues to be a significant partner in our collective work. Area churches
have been served by MC Canada staff in many ways. We have dispersed
staff present in all five area conferences; these newer relationships
are already generating successful mission partnerships.
- Bi-National Update: In 2005, Mennonite Church Canada
assembly delegates have been invited to meet jointly with MC USA in
Charlotte, North Carolina. Meanwhile, Mennonite Publishing Network is
reporting encouraging financial results. Associated Mennonite Biblical
Seminary remains a valued bi-national educational resource. The support
of our many shared ministries carries forward our witness and provides
essential support to our country-wide church.
- Finances: We are very grateful for the financial
support we continue to receive from our congregations. The policy set
by the General Board is that we base each year’s budget on the
previous year’s income. A ministry plan for the year ending January
31, 2004 will see us put to use $5.17 million. We are also seeking $130,000
in Challenge Giving for 2004. Attaining this goal will help us reach
above and beyond are current plans creating possibilities for workers
- Winkler 2004 - “Enough for All.”: This
year’s assembly theme is based on the story of Jesus’ feeding
of the five thousand as described in John 6:1-14. It will be a significant
time of worship, prayer, celebration, and decision making. We ask for
your prayer support for the many Manitoba and MC Canada volunteers and
staff as they plan this significant event in our church life.
We live in times that are challenging, hopeful, and exciting. It feels
as though we have rounded a significant bend in the road, and managed
some difficult hurdles. As we move ahead in our journey together, we offer
you our prayers for wisdom and guidance as you listen with your hearts
and discern the challenges that lie ahead for you as a congregation.
-Henry Krause (moderator) and Dan Nighswander