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Report to Mennonite Church Canada Congregations for 2003 - Western Canada

   

December 12, 2003

“For the body is not one member, but many.” 1Co 12:14

 

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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, Saskatchewan.
  • 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 at www.mennonitechurch.ca/news.

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 and ministries. To help us plan, we are asking all congregations to inform our Resource Development office of your giving intentions for 2004. This information will help us plan for a stable future.
  • 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 (general secretary)