Page 1

The Messenger Alive and Changing a publication of the

Evangelical Mennonite Conference

Volume 55  No. 4 July 2017

Abundant Springs 2017: Carrying a Bit More of Jesus With Us page 9 ALSO INSIDE: Change: Wrong Reasons, Right Reasons, and Two Considerations page 6


Conversion Stories of Martin Luther and Menno Simons page 12

Speaker Sid Koop adjusts for action at Abundant Springs 2017


How Creative Will We Be?


e need more churches in Canada of various cultures and languages. Overall, our EMC membership numbers have been flat since 2000, according to general secretary Tim Dyck. In response, how creative will we be? Certainly the EMC has the background, skill, and responsibility to develop churches in Dutch-German circles. The movement of DG Mennonites from other countries presents this opportunity. Most recently, Living Faith Fellowship (Two Hills, Alta.) has started. Further, churches have been developed within Hispanic circles. The latest activity: Emanuel (Calgary) is working within Airdrie, Alta. At the same time, despite our Western Gospel Mission history, church planting has slowed among some cultural and language groups. Still, some plants have happened. In communities near Winnipeg, Rosenort Fellowship planted Oak Bluff Bible Church and Rosenort EMC is now reaching out to Ste. Agathe.

Why plant churches? They show our gratitude for Christ’s grace in our lives, reveal obedience to the Great Commission, display love for our neighbour, and reflect the conviction that Christ is drawing people to himself—so says George G. Hunter, an evangelism staff person with the United Methodists. Our motivation is not numbers in themselves. People need the good news in Jesus. That’s what the numbers signify: more people coming to faith in Christ to serve Him. The Great Commission is a holistic calling: “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20). For denominations to grow, Donald McGavran says we need to be creative. He counsels us to look carefully at our resources (there is more money out there, he says), even our self-image and liturgical style. – Terry M. Smith Source: D. McGavran and G. G. Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work (Abingdon, 1980).


TIES: Building Church-Conference Links


ver hear someone say, “Our church doesn’t feel close to the conference”? If so, listen carefully as to why. Denominations and local churches are imperfect; they can err. Reasons and issues can be discussed. We can’t change Canadian geography. We are a small conference with large physical gaps between some church locations (a reality shared with other evangelical groups). However, electronic links offer new possibilities to be involved in seminars, committees, and meetings without travel. Beyond that, how might we respond? Perhaps first by saying that the conference is wherever you are, as Tim Dyck says. The EMC is not the national office; it is the 64 churches. You are the conference, as he says. In addition, we might suggest TIES to help a church become more connected. • Some pastors say that “their” people were not raised in an Anabaptist church or don’t know how a conference works. If so, pastors, board chairs, and delegates can wisely Teach on these matters.

2  The Messenger • July 2017

• All churches are to send delegates to the national ministerial and conference council meetings. Each region of churches has a representative on the EMC General Board. They give and receive counsel. They both hold the wider EMC accountable and encourage it. Each church and region is to Include itself. • Churches are to use the materials provided by the EMC’s five boards on their behalf. These resources help Explore our life together. • Churches do well to regularly invite national staff members for a worship service or other event, a discussion with leaders, or to share reports. Every church will benefit. National office staff members, by mutual decision of EMC churches, aid in understanding and assist in our work together. We are to Serve. Building conference-local church ties isn’t magic. Much of it is basic to all denominations: TIES (Teach, Include, Explore, Serve). Teach. Include your church. Explore our educational materials. Invite national leaders to Serve. See, then, what links develop. – Terry M. Smith

Table of Contents Features



Change: Wrong Reasons, Right Reasons, and Two Considerations


Abundant Springs 2017: Carrying a Bit More of Jesus With Us

15 Reformation Reflections

– Pastor Dwight Plett


– Jamie Loewen



Window On Missions

EMC Board of Missions approves Special Projects at its June meeting – Ken Zacharias Earlier Voices for Church Reform – Terry M. Smith

18 Further In and Higher Up

I'm Assuming... 12 Conversion Stories of – Layton Friesen Martin Luther and Menno Simons 34 Here and Far Away – Dr. Terry Hiebert

Departments 2 Editorials 3 Pontius’ Puddle 4 Letters 16 With Our Missionaries 19 Convention 2017

Indispensable – Jocelyn R. Plett

35 Stewardship Today What Is Your Passion? – Pamela Miles

36 Kids’ Corner


Celebrate Canada! – Loreena Thiessen


28 With Our Churches 31 In Memory 33 Shoulder Tapping



But it will be healed, Pontius (Rom. 8:21). • The Messenger 3

The Messenger Volume 55 No. 4 July 2017


Column • Window On Missions

EMC Board of Missions approves Special Projects at its June meeting ASSISTANT EDITOR ANDREW WALKER

Submissions to The Messenger should be sent to The Messenger is the publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference. Its purpose is to inform concerning events and activities in the denomination, instruct in godliness and victorious living, inspire to earnestly contend for the faith.

It is published 12 times per year, six in print (also online at and six in a website format at To get the most out of The Messenger, viewing both versions is encouraged. Letters, articles, photos and poems are welcomed. Unpublished material is not returned except by request. Views and opinions of writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Conference or the editors. Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement. The Messenger is published by the EMC Board of Church Ministries, 440 Main St, Steinbach, Man., and is a member of Meetinghouse and Canadian Church Press. Subscription rates (under review) 1 year print subscription $20 ($26 U.S.) Manitoba residents add 8% PST. Single print copy price: $2 Subscriptions are voluntary and optional to people within or outside of the EMC. Subscriptions are purchased by the Conference for members and adherents. Change of address and subscriptions Undelivered copies, change of address and new subscriptions should be addressed to: 440 Main St, Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5 Phone: 204-326-6401 Fax: 204-326-1613 E-mail: Second-class postage paid at Steinbach, Manitoba. ISSN: 0701-3299 Publications Mail Agreement Number: 40017362

1. Northern Mexico: $800 to assist eleven youth to attend a national youth conference in Veracruz. Designation: MW – Camp Ministry by Ken Zacharias 2. GuadaForeign Secretary lajara, Mexico: $1,500 for a Guadalajara Outreach event. Designation: M1 - Guadalajara Outreach 3. Paraguay: $500 Assist Chris and Revita Kroeker in receiving training at “Caring for the Heart” ministries in Colorado Springs Designation: P1 - Caring for the Heart 4. Paraguay: $2,500 Radio Mensajero Daily Program Support (please read the article below describing this project.) Designation: P1 – MBN To donate to a project, please send it to: EM Conference 440 Main St. Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5


Thank You, EMC, for The Messenger!

I am writing to express my great appreciation for The Messenger as a whole. I always look forward to receiving my copy, and have been impressed with the new website as well. I always especially anticipate the regular columns by Terry Smith, Layton Friesen, and Jocelyn R. Plett. I find myself so greatly encouraged by the missionary reports as well as the reports from other EMC churches. I am inspired and challenged to varying degrees by the lead articles. I think what encourages me the most is to see all the incredible things that God is doing in so many various 4  The Messenger • July 2017

Radio Mensajero: Daily Program Support

Radio Mensajero, located in Tres Palmas, Paraguay, has broadcast the Good News of Salvation for more than 18 years. When we think of people who have heard this marvelous message, we are filled with joy and thankfulness. Our audience is thankful for a helpful Christian radio station. God has been faithful and he has put in our path many people ready to pray, encouraging us and giving of their finances. We have a special project called Daily Program Support available for listeners and supporters to assist with daily costs in running a radio station. The request is 350,000 Guaranies or about $85/day. Although this isn’t the complete amount to run the station, it assists greatly. Each year we need more donors, and it would be a great blessing to have donors for each day of the year. I invite you to be part of this project, and be assured that your donation would help us a lot. Thank you and may the Lord bless you! – Friedbert Siemens, director, Radio Mensajero

•• ways even just in our relatively tiny conference and then to think of the many other churches, conferences, and organizations around the world in which God is also working! It inspires me to seek God’s guidance as I take my own small part in God’s work.  I just want to say a big thank you to the EMC for continuing this ministry and to the editors and contributors who put in so much hard work to make it happen. – Bethany Matejka Birch River, Man.

Column • Writings Shared Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith, Palmer Becker (Herald Press, 2017). 180 pp. $12.99 USD (paper). ISBN 9781513800417. Reviewed by Pastor Jacob Enns (Leamington).



Prepare for ministry in an Anabaptist church or para-church organization by earning a Master of Divinity from Central Canada’s largest seminary. Flexible study options mean you’ll benefit from a combination of online, modular and classroom instruction, and top-notch faculty will enable you for service in an Anabaptist context. Transforming students into leaders of character, knowledge and faith Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada, R0A 1G0 (204) 433-7488 or (800) 668-7768

In a time when culture seems to increasingly dissect and compartmentalize faith and practice, a message of faith and life integration is welcome. Palmer Becker in his book, Anabaptist Essentials, gives a very clear picture of what Anabaptism is at its core, where it is different from, and what it has in common with other protestant and catholic faith expressions. From reading his book I have come to the conclusion that much of what we take for granted as Anabaptists has already been lost to the young generation and needs to be brought back to the table. The book is not written for the purpose of pointing out flaws in other faiths. Palmer focuses on giving a very detailed rationale for the Anabaptist distinctives, and about the social and cultural impact they have made in various places and times in the past and are still doing today. It was these Early Church distinctives that the 16th century Reformers rediscovered, took as their own, and lived by often at great cost. In a Christianity where people can decide to be “saved” but not serve Jesus as Lord, Palmer points back to the life of early Anabaptist faith where there was no such separation and compartmentalization. It was either people were “followers of Jesus” or they were not. To be saved, but not serve Jesus was not part of their understanding. In Anabaptist faith, faith means obedience. Faith and works cannot not be separated and compartmentalized. He mentions that his father was perplexed by the question, “Are

you saved?” His answer was: “I am a follower of Jesus Christ.” It was all one unity. He was baptized on that confession of faith. At a time when personal autonomy is gaining ground, the Anabaptist view draws people together into community in all aspects of faith expression, from Jesus being the central focus of our love, and radiating that outward to serving one another, being accountable, and holding one another accountable, sharing ourselves with one another, and even suffering for one another. I suggest this as a good resource for Sunday School classes and small groups.

GOT SKILLS AND TIME TO SHARE? Volunteer to be a leader — project directors, cooks, crew leaders, office managers needed

JOIN THE TEAM 717-735-3536 • The Messenger 5

Convention 2017

Change: Wrong Reasons, Right Reasons, and Two Considerations by Pastor Dwight Plett


he theme of this weekend is Inviting Healthy Change. Today we’re going to be talking about some potential changes in our leadership structure and it looks like we’re going to be talking about whether or not there should be a change in the leadership roles open to women in the EMC. Of course, being Mennonites, we thrive on change and we find it totally invigorating so that should be no problem. All joking aside, this is a big deal. I do have some general thoughts that apply to every decision we face. I’ve got four possible responses to the question at hand and two very important considerations. I want to say thank you to the people who have been working on this behind the scenes. They’ve been at it for quite a while already and I commend them for their patience and their determination to get this right.

1. We Can Say No for the Wrong Reasons

We can say no because it’s the easiest thing for people who hate change to do. “What’s so bad about the way things are? Change is hard and it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of people are going to have to make some huge adjustments and we’ll have to do our homework. We’ll have to examine scripture and try to figure out what it

Inspirational sessions speaker Gord Penner

really means. We’ll have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in a direction that’s unfamiliar. It’s just so much more convenient to leave well enough alone.” Even worse, we could say no because we think women aren’t qualified, maybe even that they’re inferior. We could say no because we men don’t want to let go of power because we don’t really believe in servant leadership; we couldn’t possibly submit to women or surrender the authority to women. Or maybe we want to say no because our theological heroes in more conservative churches and in previous generations said no to the same question. We could definitely say no for the wrong reasons.


2. We Can Say No for the Right Reasons

A team leads in singing.

6  The Messenger • July 2017

If we say no because we honestly believe that the Bible forbids for all time, women from being in leadership over men. If that’s what we believe then we are obliged to say no and that would be a good reason for saying no.

Convention 2017

Jessica Wichers speaks, delegates listen.

We could say no because our concern is to be obedient to God regardless of what the world thinks, regardless of what other more “progressive” churches think. We could say no because after praying and fasting and seeking after God we’ve come to the conclusion that that is the answer God wants us to give. There are good reasons for saying no. If we would decide to say no because of our conviction that the Bible and the Holy Spirit forbid us from saying yes in spite of pressure from every other direction, then I don’t think God would be displeased with us.

3. We Could Say Yes for the Wrong Reasons We can say yes because we’re tired of bucking the trend. We don’t like the kinds of labels we get for the stand we’ve been taking and we want to fit in. We don’t like it that the world thinks we’re backward. We don’t like being left behind. We don’t care what the Bible says; we just want to get with the program and fit in for a change. If we’re more concerned about what other people think about us than we are about being obedient, then saying yes from that place would be wrong.

decide whether or not Gentiles could belong to the church without being circumcised. There was no precedent; they really were moving into uncharted territory. But the Holy Spirit led them and demonstrated among them that they were moving in the right direction so they changed a thousand years’ worth of tradition in that one meeting because they were being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. That must have been a scary thing to do. But they did it because they were fully convinced that the Holy Spirit was leading them; and that, in spite of the fact that on the surface scripture seemed to be teaching the opposite, this is what God wanted them to do. And when the Holy Spirit opened their eyes they discovered that scripture supported them in this. Paul argues eloquently in Romans 4 that Abraham is father to the circumcised and the uncircumcised and that circumcision is a matter of the heart. If the decision before us is in any way similar to the one faced by the church in Acts 15, and if we decide to say yes in the 21st century to women in leadership for the same reasons that they said yes to the Gentiles in the first century, then I believe we would be saying yes for the right reasons. I guess what I’m saying is that our reasons for saying yes or no are actually more important than the decision we end up making.

4. We Could Say Yes for the Right Reasons

I can’t help but think of the early church in Acts 15 when they had to

Delegates came from five provinces to listen and to decide together. • The Messenger 7

Convention 2017 Two Considerations

And now I want to conclude with two words that are more important than anything else I’ve said.

1. My First Word is Obedience

We want to listen to God and obey his leading even if it’s not what we expected. More than trusting in common sense, we want to trust God regardless of how uncomfortable it might make us. Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” There’s no way you could have predicted that one day Paul the Pharisee and Peter and James and the other devout Jewish early church leaders would one day make the decision to allow uncircumcised Gentiles to worship freely alongside ceremonially undefiled Jews. But they were trusting the Lord with all their hearts and not leaning on their own understanding. They acknowledged him and he directed their paths and they came to a very unexpected decision. Do we have the patience and the resolve to wait on God for his leading? Remember Jehoshaphat’s prayer (2nd Chron. 20:12): “Lord, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

2. My Second Word is Unity

We need to work together. We are on the same team; we have an enemy but the other people in this room are not the enemy. The people on the other side of the argument are not the enemy. We know that Satan wants to cause division. Let’s not cooperate with his plan. We want to be unified even if we don’t agree. Love must prevail. Before you say anything to someone else about this issue you need to say this to yourself, “I love these people and we’re all on the same team, serving the same God, wanting his will. I want God’s way, not my way.” “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-3). I think whichever way we go on this issue God can accomplish beautiful things in the EMC if we let him. If we patiently work our way through this process we can, by God’s grace, grow through it and learn to love each other even more than we already do. Dwight Plett (left) is the lead minister of the Mennville EMC. He is married to Lorna. This message, shortened for publication, was presented to the EMC conference council on June 10, 2017, hosted at Mennville.

8  The Messenger • July 2017


Abundant Springs 2017: Carrying a Bit More of Jesus With Us by Jaime Loewen


ou may not realize that the weekend doesn’t actually begin with the arrival at the destination. It begins the moment the group comes together at 8 a.m. all sleepyeyed with their pillows under arms ready to load into a squished bus. This journey began on Friday, May 19, 2017, in the parking lot of the Kleefeld EMC (my home church) with 20 youth and an eight hour drive ahead. One pit stop and plenty of kilometers later, 28 churches from across Canada arrived at Briercrest College in Caronport, Sask., all eager for our weekend of fun and learning.

First Main Session

After settling in the dorms and eating supper, it was time for the first main session. At each session we begin with praise and worship. The band called “The Color” has performed for the past three Abundant Springs. They do an amazing job creating an atmosphere free to worship Jesus; and many youth, when asked their favourite part of the weekend, responded with “the worship.” This year we had the privilege of having Sid Koop as our main speaker. Sid, who is passionate about awakening the lives of students through the truth of Jesus Christ, has spent over 15 years

in full-time youth ministry in the local church. Sid taught us what it meant to be alive in Christ by focusing the weekend’s sessions on Eph. 2:4-5. Sid explained to us what it means to be alive in Christ and how God makes us alive in Him. He started the session with the story of the Pharisees, in Luke 15:1-7, who were expecting God to be firm and harsh in his judgment, to cast those that stumble or stray away from his presence. But Jesus used the parable of the lost sheep to illustrate how God is eager to be with us. The shepherd did for the sheep what the sheep cannot do on its own: find its way home. Likewise, God does for us what we cannot do: make us alive in him through the sacrifice of his one and only Son. Sometimes we need the reminder that it wasn’t us that pursued first; even while we were full of sin, God continued to pursue us. Sid Koop • The Messenger 9

Small Groups

After each main session each of the youth groups break off into small groups to reflect on the message, share thoughts and stories from throughout the day, and to pray for any requests. These strengthen the youth groups and build deep relationships.


Youth continue learning in smaller workshops both Saturday and Sunday morning. There are many workshops running, so youth choose. Some of the topics were Human Trafficking: Bringing Hope in the Face of Tragedy by Flo Friesen, Freedom From Addictions by Teen Challenge, and Making the Bible Come Alive by Dr. Patrick Friesen.


Saturday afternoon met us with a ton of activities, including sports tournaments: street hockey, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. For those inclined to the finer arts, there were indoor activities and crafts such as bracelet making, painting, drawing, board games, and a wild game of life-sized Dutch Blitz.

Second Session

Sid talked about condemnation and hypocrisy and how we tend to look to things to give us life (materialistic objects, relationships, success and popularity); and how these things actually give us the exact opposite and lead us farther away from living in the truth. When we focus on these earthly things we become hypocritical and condemning of others.

10  The Messenger • July 2017

Dr. Patrick Friesen leads a workshop.

We listen to the voice telling us that we can do things better than others or be better than others. But Jesus came to recreate us and we no longer have to listen to these voices. Instead of our experiencing condemnation, Jesus gives us life through dying on the cross and offers us continual grace and a better way to live.

The Showdown

After this evening session the entertainment committee hosted what is now called The Showdown. Youth leaders prepared game show activities for volunteers. One was The Whisper Challenge where one person whispered a phrase and the other person, while wearing headphones with loud music playing, tried to figure out what is said. Another was The Bottle Flip: three youths competed to flip a bottle so it landed upright.

Wide Game

Following Sunday’s workshops and lunch was the Wide Game, where all the youth participated in a huge outside game. This year’s game was called “The Search for a Cure.” You were to imagine that you woke up one morning to find out that you have all been infected by a sickness that would remove your ability to feel, think, and create. As small groups you have to retrieve the cure. Around the campus were multiple stations led by youth leaders where teams had to pass a challenge for the mind, the flesh, or the spirit. Some of the challenges were eating hot sauce, getting your team to stand on a pillow case and flip the pillow case over

without anyone stepping off, placing a speedometer on your head and nodding fast enough to reach a predetermined speed, and solving riddles and puzzles. The first group to complete a certain amount of challenges and make it back to the home base won the game. Seeing everybody’s excitement and participation during the game blew me away. I could see team building relationships and tons of good memories being made.

Third Session

Sid taught us from 2 Cor. 3:17 about living in freedom and how as a result God will become the core of who you are. True freedom isn’t doing whatever the flesh desires; it’s when what we ought to do becomes what we want to do. Sid challenged us to reflect on if we are experiencing freedom or slavery. What you behold is what you become, so how are you spending your time? Are you creating time to behold Christ? Following Jesus is more than just becoming a better Christian; it’s about becoming a new creation in Jesus.

Praise and Prayer

With Sunday being our last night, we all gathered into the chapel for a time of praise and prayer. This is a chance to reflect on what God has been doing in the past couple days, to thank him, and just to pray about what we’ve learned. We started it out by praise and worship led by The Color. It was followed by Garth Koop leading us into a time of prayer and repentance within small groups.

Fourth Session

On Monday morning we had our fourth and final session with Sid. He taught us about

allowing the Word to search our hearts and to lead us to a living faith. Sid used James 2 to show us that a living faith means a loving faith. An example Sid used of a husband who bought flowers for his wife when he didn’t really want to. The deed was empty of feeling. Sid connected this to how we sometimes serve God just because it’s something that we are told to do. We could really see how living faith loves God and when we love God our actions and our desires will only want to please Him. Each of the sessions throughout the weekend were eye-opening, they were filled with amazing truth, and were highlights for all.

A Bit More of Jesus With Us

After packing up and saying goodbye to new friends, we began the reverse of our Friday drive. The weekend had been soul searching, full of growth, so much excitement. This writer was thankful for the time of quiet on the bus ride home to reflect before entering back into the daily grind of life. Hopefully, for me as well as the others, we will be carrying a bit more of Jesus with us from here on out. Jaime Loewen is a youth leader at Kleefeld EMC. A longer version of this article appears online. • The Messenger 11

The Protestant (Radical) Reformation Through 2017

Conversion Stories of Martin Luther and Menno Simons by Dr. Terry Hiebert


ctober 31, 1517, was Reformation Day, an event that produced the second great division in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church of the West. By some counts, the Protestant movement has since produced 45,000 more divisions we call denominations. Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul urged the early Christians in Ephesus to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:3-6). We might conclude from Paul’s statement that divisions should cease, denominations should dissolve, and the Christian Church should reunite as one big family. Notice, the word happy was omitted intentionally. For example, Lutherans and Mennonites have dialogued since 2002 about our differences and have expressed forgiveness and pledged cooperation with one another. Each admits that the other belongs to the extended Christian family even if we do not attend all the same family gatherings. The

differences have to do with beliefs, practices, ethics, organization, and traditions now 500 years in the making. Differences between even two Christian groups are complex.

Simplify the Issues

Now let’s simplify the issues. Lutherans and Mennonites can trace some of our main differences to the conversion stories of our founders, Martin Luther and Menno Simons. Like the influence of parents on their children, the experiences of Luther and Menno have imprinted their descendants for generations. The Reformers wrote of their conversions years after the fact. Luther described his conversion in 1545, recounting his experience of God’s grace in July 1519. Menno in 1554 wrote an account of experienced of God’s conviction and his conversion in 1536. The conversion stories of Luther and Menno reveal the distinctives between the two Reformers as well as the two traditions that developed over the past 500 years. Consider the features of their stories of coming to faith in Christ. While there are similarities, the differences are also striking. I will highlight some of the more important distinctions.

University lecturer above reproach

Parish priest playing cards and drinking

Miserable sinner repented regularly

People pleasing sinner but unrepentant

Doctrinal problem with God’s righteousness

Moral problem is with his sinful heart

Raging conscience hating the God of wrath

Troubled soul disturbed by his own hypocrisy

Crisis that miserable sinners are born in sin, condemned by the Law, and hear a Gospel of wrath

Crisis of belief in the traditional views of the Lord’s Supper, infant baptism, and the violence of Christians

Scripture study in Romans 1 about the righteousness of God

Scripture study about the Lord’s Supper and believers baptism

Focuses on God’s objective work for us

Focuses on God’s Spirit at work in us

Finds support for justification by faith in the tradition of Augustine

Finds support for his new beliefs about the sacraments in Scripture but not in tradition

Experiences transformed love for God.

Experiences a call to service and suffering in obedience to Christ

12  The Messenger • July 2017

was a sinner, but was angry at a God who was not satisfied with his attempts at repentance. Luther was converted by an insight from studying the Bible that God justifies the sinner by the gift of faith. Luther had a theological conversion and repented in his beliefs about God. Menno grew in awareness that his preaching of Scripture clashed with his sinful lifestyle. Menno was converted by the conviction that God would judge him for misleading his parishioners through hypocrisy. Menno had a moral conversion or a repentance of heart toward God and people.


Different Emotions and Callings

Martin Luther

What can we learn from the two conversion stories? Let’s reflect on the stories of transformation, before, during and after conversion. Again we discover as many differences as similarities. Perhaps we should not be so surprised at their differences considering the conversion stories we hear in church every year at baptism.

Different Places, Mindsets

After their conversions, Luther and Menno followed experienced different emotions and callings. Luther felt “altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” He returned to his study and was comforted to discover that his mentor Augustine had written similar ideas about justification by faith years earlier. Nine months after Menno’s conversion, he felt God’s Fatherly Spirit empower him to renounce his worldly reputation. Menno yielded to “the heavy cross of Christ” and accepted the call to lead a small group of the Anabaptist faithful. The two conversion stories are quite different. Luther’s conversion transformed his life from tormented anguish of soul in anger towards God to a place of love for God and the proclamation of God’s grace. Menno’s conversion transformed his life from sensuality, ease, and popularity with people to a place fearing for his life and the proclamation of obedience to God. Both Luther and Menno in their conversion stories indicate that they were ministers of God before their conversion. Luther posted his 95 Theses two years before his conversion. Menno served as parish priest 12 years before his conversion. Both confessed troubled souls. Both identified a moment of enlightenment when a new understanding of God’s Word transformed their minds. Both yielded themselves to the grace of God after their conversions. Both continued to serve God

The conversion stories of Martin Luther and Menno Simons display aspects of the Reformation advantage.

Before their conversions, Luther and Menno came from very different places, backgrounds, and mindsets. Luther was a university lecturer who encountered a biblical, theological, and philosophical problem that tormented his spiritual life as well. It seems that for Luther, the biggest problem was with a God of wrath and not so much with Luther the sinner. Menno was a parish priest serving without ever having read the Scriptures. Menno started reading the Scriptures, but admitted that he wasted this knowledge through youthful lusts, sensual living, and looking for the favour of people. Luther started out to please a wrathful God while Menno started out to please worldly people. At their conversions, Luther and Menno experienced a deep crisis of faith. Luther admitted he • The Messenger 13

resulting in a renewal of worship, beliefs, and morals for generations of followers. While I hear many Christians lament the disunity in the Church today, the Reformation has become more of a blessing even considering the great difficulties experienced in the early years after 1517. Why? Because the message of unity is not the only word in the Scriptures. Paul continued his appeal to the early churches by celebrating the importance of diversity in the body of Christ as well. In Ephesians, Paul wrote, “but to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (4:7). We hear echoes in praise of diversity as Paul calls the Corinthian church to unity in the Spirit’s manifestations of grace. To a divided church the apostle still maintained, “now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). The phrase common good is better translated as “to be an advantage to someone.” One legacy of the Reformation is found in the conversion stories of the Reformers and their followers. Like faith stories today, no two Reformers were identical. The conversion stories of Luther and Menno are quite different. The Reformation advantage is that over 75 million Christians identify more fully with the body of


Beyond Lament, a Blessing

Menno Simons Memorial

Christ because Luther and Menno taught us to see God’s grace in different ways. Still, 500 years later we are Christian first, and only then Lutherans or Mennonites, because there is one Lord Jesus Christ, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. In the case of Luther and Menno, how about three out of four? Dr. Terry Hiebert serves at Steinbach Bible College as Academic Dean and enjoys when students get excited about theology. He is married to Luann, a college English instructor. They have three adult children and four energetic grandchildren. Terry and Luann enjoy their dog, a tiny house project, and long distance travel. They attend Gospel Fellowship Church (EMMC) in Steinbach, Man.


Martin Luther’s conversion account see https:// Menno Simons' conversion account see http:// 14  The Messenger • July 2017

Column • Reformation Reflections

Earlier Voices for Church Reform


by Terry M. Smith Executive Secretary


efore Martin Luther, there were other voices calling for the reform of Roman Catholic beliefs, practices, and structures. Earlier than Anabaptists, these Christians were concerned about careful study, preaching, and living out of the Scriptures. Peter Waldo (ca. 1140-1205), a French reformer, formed a group that held to the Bible as final authority and used lay preaching, stressed the words and example of Jesus, chose and taught voluntary poverty, and initially opposed capital punishment and war. John Wycliffe (ca. 1329-1384) was an English reformer, with a doctorate in theology, who held that “civil government should seize the property of immoral clerics.” He was critical of church wealth and the civil power of clergy. He disagreed with transubstantiation, held the Bible as the final authority for faith and practice, and influenced the translation of the complete Bible into English. He died of a stroke, but later was convicted of heresy. His body was dug up, burned, and his ashes flung into the Swift River. Jan Hus (1373-1415) came from poor parents, became a priest, and served as the preacher at Bethlehem Chapel, a centre of Bohemian (now Czech) church reform. He defended the writings of English reformer John Wycliffe. When anti-reformers won the archbishop to their side, Huss was forbidden to preach, but he refused to be silenced. Over the years he suffered various excommunications, opposed the sale of indulgences, and resisted his adversaries in writing. When an offer of safe passage was withdrawn after he arrived at a council, he was imprisoned. He was tried on many charges and, despite saying the charges did not reflect his views, declared a stubborn heretic and burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) was a Dominican monk and an Italian Reformer. In 1490 he moved to Florence, “calling for repentance on the part of the city’s leaders and pleading the cause of the poor and oppressed.” Twice influencing a French king not to sack the

Peter Waldo

city, Savonarola reformed both the tax system and the courts and aided the poor. Under his supervision, “people made a great bonfire of their gambling equipment, cosmetics, false hair, and lewd books” (R. G. Clouse). He denounced the papal court. He was later tried for heresy, found guilty, and executed. When earlier Reformers spoke in protest, the hand of the Roman Catholic Church came down hard; but when it later tried to flatten Luther, it felt, to its surprise, pain caused by a sharp object (Dr. Ron Kydd). Many factors prepared for the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation and assisted in its spread. Among these were the earlier Reformers’ activities and the printing press. Because of the influences of Luther and other Reformers, positively and negatively, the Anabaptist movement began. The negatives stand out in some Anabaptist minds, yet the positives are foundational. Because of the positives we are indebted. Sources: C. Neff, H. S. Bender, and N. van der Zijpp, "Waldenses" (GAMEO, 1959); “Wycliffe, John”; “Hus, Jan”; and “Savonarola, Girolamo” in J. D. Douglas, ed., The International Dictionary of the Christian Church (Zondervan, rev. 1978). H. E. Fosdick, Great Voices of the Reformation: An Anthology (Random House, 1952).

Many factors prepared for the sixteenthcentury Protestant Reformation and assisted in its spread. Among these were the earlier Reformers’ activities and the printing press. • The Messenger 15

With Our Missionaries

Sunday, an orphan and a bishop SOUTH SUDAN


Sunday is not just a day. This story is about Sunday the man. Sunday grew up in refugee camps as a Sudanese orphan. Camp life was very difficult and as an orphan, and especially a Sudanese orphan, he had to figure out how to support himself in another country. The culture and language were different and people often never thought of others and were consumed with trying to survive. Sunday felt like he was the scum of the earth, and that is how he thought about himself. When he was a bit older, maybe 13, he left camp life that was too difficult only to find that city life was sometimes even worse. A pastor in Kampala City in Uganda found him destitute and offered him a helping hand and counsel. It was not much, but Sunday was given some food, counsel and provided some education. Sunday believed he would never become anybody significant because he believed he was nobody significant. The pastor taught him that he could have a position in Christ. He could be a child of God and learn and have a new identity. Sunday could not believe that could ever happen to him. But as he grew in relationship with his new community and the pastor reinforced that Sunday had potential, he went along for the ride. It was time for him to move back to his own country, South Sudan, and the pastor bought Sunday a ticket to fly back with Mission Aviation Fellowship. Sunday had only seen these planes in the sky, and so, when he went up into the sky himself, he was terrified that he would fall out of the sky.

Bishop Sunday with his wife and child.

This experienced changed his life, though, and God used it to move him forward in faith. He realized that if he could fly in the sky, he could do anything—and be anybody that God wanted him to be. He finally grasped his identity in Christ as a child of God and brother of Christ and all its benefits, and he shared them freely with others. It was difficult in South Sudan for Sunday but he, as a humble servant of Christ, just helped people and orphans; and the community noticed that Sunday was a spiritual leader. Sunday is now a bishop and serves thousands of people. There are many more details to Sunday’s story that I did not share as they were too disturbing and too CRESTVIEW FELLOWSHIP graphic. In an interview with Sunday, the last time I CHURCH met him, he was living in a refugee camp in Northern 271 HAMILTON AVE WINNIPEG Uganda because his home in South Sudan is destroyed SUNDAY SEPT. 17TH and he is not able to go back. He said, “I was born in war. I married in war. I have had children in war, and now I may die in war.” This may sound devastatingly negative, but Sunday serves beside Avant Ministries. He serves South Sudan IT IS OUR TH ANNIVERSARY within the context of Short Cycle Church Planting in the refugee camps promoting health, peace, and spiriSPECIAL 5OTH SERVICE 10 AM tual vitality. 4-7 PM COMMUNITY BBQ, – Gordon Skopnik



16  The Messenger • July 2017

Gordon and Sharon Skopnik (Wymark) serve with Avant Ministries. Sunday’s story is told with his permission.

With Our Missionaries

Our King is a God with a lavish disposition! Under-qualified. That’s the word that came to my mind when the Holy Spirit prodded me, “You should be on that prayer team to Paraguay.” Was this chance that a verse in Zephaniah leapt off the pages of scripture that very day to affirm the calling? “Then I will purify the language of my people, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Zeph. 3:9). I would go. I would raise my voice, call on God to intervene in Paraguay, and thus work shoulder to shoulder with our missionaries there. It occurs to me that the meaningful occurrences of a Spirit-led Christian cannot be attributed to chance or human logic. If it were so, what would make us different from “the nations that do not call on the Name”? Ours is a God who wants to lead down strange paths (like through a Red Sea), provides strangely procured bread (manna), and leads us to make war by unorthodox methods (blowing horns and breaking jugs). Our team (Maria Dyck, Peter and Anne Kroeker, Doris and Elmer Barkman, Reynold Plett, David Kruse, Tina Wiebe, and myself ) was a strange brew, too, and came together through unexpected healing, inexplicable provision. We were away from March 9 to 21 and served in the Minga Guazú and Asunción areas. We got to Paraguay on flights that were, to say the least, not as planned. But it was God’s way to show us that this was His scheme, not ours. We landed there on March 9 in three disrupted flights that enabled some excellent Godconversations to happen on planes. We loosely followed a 10-day schedule made up by the missionaries in Paraguay and Gerald Reimer at the EMC national office. Even though our goal was to pray/work alongside our hosts and be as little additional work as possible, hosting is work. And we are so thankful to Joanne Martens, Chris and Revita Kroeker, and Travis and Rosey Zacharias for so graciously hosting us in their homes for the bulk of the time. So, what does a prayer team look like? There were mornings when three hours flew by praying for our host families, their families, health, and mission ventures. In the afternoons we visiting homes in the area of the church plant, praying God’s intervention for salvation, provision, healing, justice, employment. We visited retired missionaries and calling on God to bless their “retirement ministry.” We prayed while on-site



in Alto Refugio, a refuge for people living with HIV/AIDS in Asunción; in Santa Teresa at a school, church, dispensary, and store for the Mbyá; at Radio Mensajero; at sites of future ministries (addictions recovery). We took part in several church services by prayer, preaching, testimony, and music. We visited with and prayed for associate missionaries like Benny and Esther Goertzen and Dave and Judy Schmidt. We prayed for people who heard a prayer team was in town and just showed up needing prayer. We prayed for waitresses, for people in the seat next to us. Oh yes, we had a day where our prayers were mostly, “Ooh! Ah! Wow!” as we toured Iguassu Falls and a bird park. We had such precious, transparent times of fellowship as a team, praising God, admitting our fears: “What if we spend all this time and money to go pray and nothing visible happens? What about healing? What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Do we always pray for the nice outcome if we are led by the Spirit?” There were rich times when we lifted each other up to the Father, asking help through grieving, for wayward children, personal growth, dying family members, and guidance. Here are obvious questions to ask, “Doesn’t prayer work from home? Why waste all that money on plane tickets when it could have been used to feed the starving children in Africa?” Our God is a King with a lavish, loving disposition, not an accountant! He will provide for what He approves in ways we don’t expect. And he tells us to “Go!” and he tells us to “Ask!” So, do it! – Nita Wiebe Nita Wiebe is a part of the Portage Evangelical Church. • The Messenger 17

Column • Further In and Higher Up

I’m Assuming . . .

Y My prayer is that God would use me to show the EMC that it is something in God’s eyes. Does this sound understated? Yet it damages "nothingbuttery."

18  The Messenger • July 2017


by Layton Friesen Conference Pastor

ou may have heard that the author of this column is assuming the work of EMC conference pastor. I hope “assuming” is the right word. When a pastor is interviewed for a leadership position the question is often asked, “What is your vision for the church?” Depending on how that is taken, that can be good question or a bad question. Is it important for a pastor to understand Christ’s vision for the church as described in the scriptures, and should a pastor be able Former conference pastor Ward Parkinson and BLO chair Peter Doerksen to give a winsome summary of that vision during an interview? Absolutely. lead in prayer for Layton Friesen in his new role as conference pastor. Should a pastor be asked to clearly describe a leadership style, a way of handling con“Nothing-buttery” says that prayer is nothing flict, creating change, and building teamwork that but self-talk. That church unity is nothing but the congregation can expect? Absolutely. team spirit. That congregations are nothing but But should a pastor arrive at a church lugspecial-interest groups. That “conferences” are ging a specific “vision” for that congregation nothing but bureaucracy, structures we put up before the work has even started? Before any to help ourselves do our “mission” (another conprayers have been said at deathbeds? Before any cept nothing-buttered in our age). sermons have been preached on the gospel of After we nothing-butter the conference, we Matthew? Before long and caffeinated conversa- can take it or leave it. We can force it to do what tions with parishioners become friends? Before we want or else. We can tinker with it, gussy it the pastor finally understands the history, perup to look relevant, despise it as a nuisance or sonalities, and conniptions of the deacon board? ignore it into oblivion. Nothing-buttery is an I doubt it. acid that destroys any sense that God is in our So I will try not to bring a “vision” to impose midst; so no need to take off your shoes, for you on the conference. However I do “assume” some certainly can’t be standing on holy ground. things about who we are as a conference, and I No one can prove that the EMC is something now tell you what the main one is. I assume that in God’s eyes. We assume God did it. As a pastor in God’s eyes the EMC is something. within this communion I can hopefully tend the This bond of communion, this camaraderie garden God has planted. I can hopefully offer at the feet of Jesus, this fellowship in mission, is encouragement, a listening ear, wisdom or a sernot a merely human construction. I assume that mon to those the Spirit has led into the fray. As this covenant between the 64 churches, at its a pastor my calling is to be a real, live pester of deepest level, is a creation of the Holy Spirit. unbiblical thinking and living. I assume God has To assume that in God’s eyes the EMC is called me to be a pastor in our midst, a beckon something may sound a little understated. But to that I confess causes me to tremble. assume this does serious damage to one of our My prayer is that God would use me to show enemies: secularism. One of the acids secularism the EMC that it is something in God’s eyes. throws at the church is the corrosive product called “nothing-buttery.”

Convention 2017

The EMC Moderator's Closing Comments


by Abe Bergen EMC Moderator


his weekend we have gathered around the theme of “Inviting Healthy Change.” I was reminded this morning that in light of rapid changes all around us, perhaps, we would do well to consider what it means to live as the body of Christ with members that don’t resemble each other; appreciating the ways in which our differences make us stronger; building God’s Kingdom with people who are different from us. This is illustrated well in the EMC welcoming our first Chinese Speaker Gord Penner is introduced by Pastor Dwight Plett. congregation. You see, a generation or two ago, we sent mission workers into Latin people who are different from us? This was one cultures and today we have numerous Spanish of our points of discussion during this weekend. churches in Canada who belong to our conWe also considered how we might strucference. Our conference will increasingly look ture our conference and its ministries differently different, or at least be increasingly diverse in so that we can adapt to the changing dynamics the future. of our world and minister most effectively. Yet In some of our church plants among Low amid these swirling changes, we have affirmed German-speaking people, they are most comour Statement of Faith—our core beliefs— fortable worshipping God wearing head rooted and grounded in the Word of God as coverings; and among some of our more urban Gord Penner aptly reminded us. Rooted in the churches, they are comfortable recognizing Word of God and led by the Spirit so that we God’s call to ministry on some of their women can avoid the pitfalls of wandering away, and leaders. How will we build God’s kingdom with be actively seeking ways to love God and others—in such a time as this. Gord’s theme and messages were very timely for our present realities—“for such a time as this!” This has been a good weekend “doing” the work of the conference and “being” the conference. Thanks to the Interlake churches for hosting us, and for all who volunteered to make it happen. Benediction—Now may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Our conference will increasingly look different, or at least be increasingly diverse in the future.

The Winnipeg Logos Church was received into the EMC. • The Messenger 19

Convention 2017

Delegates Respond to Survey Results, Restructuring Proposal Women in Leadership survey results invite discussion, no clear way ahead by Terry M. Smith


Board of Missions

Dwight Plett: Consider why you vote yes or no.

MENNVILLE, Man.— EMC’s conference council delegates voted on June 10, 2017, to fill conference-related positions, tabled motions related to the Statement of Faith, and discussed both the Women in Leadership survey results and a Conference Restructuring Committee proposal.


Fred Buhler, chair, said national staff are intentional about visiting churches with missions information. The time of 10:02 a.m. has become a prompt from Luke 10:2 to pray for workers to be sent into the harvest. Beth Koehler has become a prayer coordinator. Wisdom is needed to care for missionaries and their children, Fred said. Ken Zacharis, foreign secretary, talked of beginnings and endings in missions. Hacienda Verde is a beginning: a ministry within a 3,000-hectare area used by 18 families excommunicated from Old Colony settings. A school and a church have developed. On the other hand, Nicaragua recently celebrated a half-century of active church development, though no EMC missionaries have been present for 25 years. Nancy Friesen shared that she will be going to language study before serving again in Bolivia. Tim Dyck, general secretary, reinforced the need for prayer. He said that this is a “season” of medical challenges for missionaries, some of whom are dealing with cancer, which affects ministry. Beth Koehler led in prayer.

Dwight Plett, lead minister of the host Mennville EMC, cautioned delegates that we can say yes or no to women in church leadership for both good and bad reasons. There is a need for obedience and unity. We need to remind ourselves that we are on the same team and need to love each other. After, moderator Abe Bergen said that Dwight came forward in an unassuming manner and then hit the delegates between the eyes.


Sid Reimer, Nominating Committee chair, led in elections (see the sidebar) and told stories about the Region.

20  The Messenger • July 2017

Nancy Friesen: heading to Bolivia after language study.

Convention 2017 Theology and Ministry’s advisory council and that EMC students are involved in undergrad and graduate studies. CMU is celebrating the Protestant Reformation 500th anniversary.

Church Transitions

Ralph Unger leads in prayer.

Board of Leadership and Outreach

Peter Doerksen, chair, said the BLO has been involved in two major items: the Statement of Faith review and the search for a Conference Pastor. Layton Friesen was introduced as the new conference pastor. The BLO is looking at the examining and credentialing process for ministers. Doerksen has two single-spaced pages of names of people who have been sent forms for processing, but have not returned them. Ralph Unger, interim conference pastor, described the EMC as small, but tenacious, a setting where beliefs matter. He suggested a committee be formed of “older, younger, male, female, more conservative and more liberal individuals” to decide core beliefs not to be compromised, while moving some practices to the “periphery” without violating scripture or offending others’ consciences.

Church Planting Task Force

Charles Koop, church planting coordinator, highlighted the recent chartering service of Gospel Light Fellowship (Medicine Hat); a new outreach in Airdrie, where about 40 people attend; and the concern for outreach to First Nations communities around Pelly.

After much deliberation, Cornerstone Fellowship Church (Swift Current) will hold its final service on June 25, 2017, moderator Abe Bergen said. Conference passed a motion to release the church. On the other hand, the Winnipeg Logos Church , a Mandarin-speaking congregation, has applied for conference membership with the endorsement of Fort Garry EMC, the churches of Region 7, and the EMC General Board. Council voted to accept the congregation.

Conference Restructuring

The Conference Restructuring Proposal, distributed somewhat earlier in written form, was presented. Change is needed because the relationship between the national ministerial and the conference council needs to be clarified; the current boards cooperate, but do not collaborate (“silos” of responsibilities); our needs today and tomorrow are to be considered; and the structure needs to reflect our Vision and Values statements. While the General Board could make changes by adjusting the conference policy, not the constitution, it prefers to place the matter into the council’s hands, it was said. There were five recommendations (see sidebar). Because the fifth recommendation affects the second, third, and fourth, this recommendation will be acted upon; the second to fourth were withdrawn until the fifth is complete. The first recommendation was passed after


Layton Friesen said that summer and fall programming at Providence Theological Seminary is moving ahead despite the recent fire at Bergen Hall. He will be involved in directing the Anabaptist Studies Track. Five courses will be included. Dr. Cheryl Pauls, president of Canadian Mennonite University, highlighted that the EMC has a member on the Graduate School of

Layton Friesen: PTS has a new Anabaptist Studies Track. • The Messenger 21

Convention 2017

Moderator Abe Bergen and General Secretary Tim Dyck

considerable discussion. Among the comments: Change is supported. This involves significant change. Will other groups be consulted? (Response: Other boards, the General Board, and other non-EMC groups will be consulted.) The proposal did not come to the churches soon enough. The proposed restructuring is vague. (Response: Input is wanted and so what is presented is half-baked.)

Conference Restructuring Recommendations To affirm the General Board, in consultation with all boards, to develop proposed amendments to the current policy towards implementing the restructured staff/board linkage, which will be approved at a future Conference Council. Carried. That the Regional Representatives be members and good standing and nominated from each region and be elected for three-year terms, renewable once. Withdrawn. That the terms for Moderator and ViceModerator be changed to three-year terms; renewal once. Withdrawn. That we delete the eligibility requirement of the Moderator and Vice-Moderator to be ordained for 3 years. Withdrawn. That the General Board together with the BLO propose changes to the Constitution and/or the Conference Handbook that will strengthen and clarify the membership, mandate and role of the Conference Ministerial. Carried.

22  The Messenger • July 2017

What’s broken that we’re trying to fix? (Response: Use of staff and board resources needs to be more efficient.) What is being asked in the motion, approval of a basic direction or something more substantial? (Response: It is a desire to be transparent. It is an approval in principle of a direction, not a structural change.) What is this doing to the power structure of the Conference? Will power be in fewer people’s hands? If so, there could be a loss of trust among churches. Groundwork needs to build trust, not just efficiency. (Response: This concern was shared by others, including by the General Board. There is an emphasis on collaboration. Send further responses to the Conference Restructuring Committee. This process is not complete. It is half-baked and shows what could be.)

Board of Trustees

Gordon Reimer, chair, said the Treasurers’ Day went well in Jan. With changes at Abundance Canada affecting how the EMC can offer church mortgage loans, the practice is being reviewed. The 2016 audit showed a modest surplus for the year, though the reserve funds require replenishing. Churches, individuals, and businesses were thanked for their financial support. He highlighted “all other funds,” internal and external designations (with significant amounts) that are not part of the budget. The audited financial statement was approved.

Gordon Reimer: 2016 had a modest financial surplus, but reserves require replenishing.

Convention 2017 EFC and MDS

Tim Dyck, an EMC representative to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said he was encouraged by the results of the Evangelical Missions Engagement Survey among church members in Canada. It is a “treasure trove” that reveals a commitment to missions, the pivotal role of the local church, and an appreciation of conference and mission agencies. He encouraged churches to participate in a survey of youth ministries (Nov.-Dec.). Ross Penner, MDS director of Region 5, said Mennonite Disaster Service has been engaged in mission in a time of global change since 1950. It shows an evangelical faith that cannot lie dormant and responds to disasters, touching lives and nurturing hope, faith, and wholeness. He has been surprised how people from set aside their denominational differences for the sake of mission.

Board of Church Ministries

Jessica Wichers, chair, highlighted the new beliefs brochure, a bookmark listing Anabaptist distinctives, and the Christian Education Update. Kevin Wiebe’s six lesson video series on Pov.ology has been well received in wider circles; she encouraged churches to check it out. More members are needed on the Archives and Worship Committees, and, with current technology, distance is no barrier. Andrew Walker, assistant editor, said The Messenger is available in a variety of digital formats and he gave an update on readership statistics; digital readership is increasing. The

Andrew Walker: Digital readership is increasing.

website will include a poll to be posted through the year. He encouraged pastors and church secretaries to advertise the digital formats. The decision has also been made to post audio sermons on the magazine’s website. Gerald Reimer, conference youth minister, highlighted the Young Adults’ Retreats in Manitoba and Alberta. Abundant Springs went well, though with an attendance of 345 young people. The lower numbers are a concern, but the event continues to meet needs. Where are the other churches? “Basically, it’s in your hands,” he said. Speaker Sid Koop, in his third appearance, did well. A seminar on mental health issues was packed out four times. Out-going members were thanked for their efforts. Jason Dueck has served for 16 years.

Statement of Faith

The Statement of Faith had been previously presented. The council made and tabled motions to replace the current 13 articles and to move footwashing from the Statement of Faith to Church Practices. These matters will to be voted on in Nov.

Women in Leadership Survey Ross Penner, MDS: Differences are set aside for mission.

Darren Plett, project leader, said about twothirds of EMC churches responded to the survey. Many responses indicated that local • The Messenger 23

Convention 2017

Small group discussions rated survey action points.

leaders were not agreed on how to respond to the questions. Regarding restrictions in EMC policy (to limit ordination and selection of ministers to males), 32% would “require adherence”; 25% would support “no change, allow variance”; and 43% would “remove restrictions.” With no majority, no clear way forward is seen. Potential action points were mentioned (summarized): • That all who teach in our churches be examined for theology and be held accountable. Could a woman be credentialed for working with children? • Though past study has happened, perhaps there is a need for current study, including Bible study guides. • There is a need to respond to fears. Examples: approval of female pastors might lead to allowing same-sex relationships, women are too emotional to be pastors, and men don’t know how to relate to women in authority. • We have not heard from women. There is a need to hear their experiences and be better informed. • Do we only allow women to serve or do we encourage them? We could have “a more welcoming space” for women, even a co-pastor role. • Male pastors would be encouraged to take a course or seminar on women’s issues.

Small Groups Discussion

In response to the proposed action points, delegates gathered in small groups to rate the points and to comment on them. They could also suggest another action point. When the small group discussions were over, some of the results were shared with the wider body.

24  The Messenger • July 2017

Among the comments during the council’s discussion: • Have a women’s conference with men present, but only female presenters. • Follow-up with churches that did not respond. • Some women have gone through much training; credentialing is needed, but need not automatically lead to being a pastor. • The three options in the survey were inadequate. • Some interest in the process ahead. • Where is the balance between personal and church positions? • Whether credentialing should be reduced to a local matter. The sheets with ratings and comments were gathered to assist in future proposals and decision-making.

Elections Moderator Abe Bergen (Reg. 8) Vice Moderator Darren Plett (Reg. 6) Board of Church Ministries Heidi Dirks (Reg. 8) Kyle Dueck (Reg. 5) Kim Muehling (Reg. 7) Russell Doerksen (Reg. 8) Board of Leadership and Outreach Richard Klassen (Reg. 4) Ed Peters (Reg. 1) Board of Missions Tricia Reimer (Reg. 8) Phil Hamm (Reg. 9) Board of Trustees Harold Reimer (Reg. 5) Gordon Reimer (Reg. 8) Nominating Committee Alvira Friesen (Reg. 6) Dave Kroeker (Reg. 5)

Convention 2017

EMC Ministerial Ponders the Role of Deacons—Past, Present, and Future Klassen: Do we need deacons? Yes, but we also need to help deacons. by Terry M. Smith a shorter series is planned for this magazine.)

The Biblical Foundation of Deacons’ Ministry


In the Old Testament there was a need to “open your hand” to the poor and needy (Deut. 15:1-11) without excuses. Money is to be used for the sake of community. Jesus redefined who is our neighbour. 1 John 3:17 contains a hint of Deut., he said. Mercy ministry or servant ministry, synonyms for deacon ministry, spans both Testaments, is done for the sake of the community and BLO chair Peter Doerksen introduces Dr. Darryl Klassen. God, and reflects on Him. In Acts 2:42RIVERTON, Man.—The EMC’s ministerial 45 and 4:22-35, Luke saw Deut. 15 acted out. spent the day of June 9, 2017, at the Riverton Our testimony to the world is that we strive to Gospel Chapel reflecting on and discussing the care for those around us. role of deacons within the EMC, past, present, Acts 7 does not refer to those chosen as deaand future. cons. The first clear reference to a deacon is in 1 Tim. 3:18-13, with indications of the office of deaOpening con in Philippians and Romans. The “implied” job Host pastor Vern Knutson led in a devotional description is that deacons are humble, will work based on John 16, focusing on how our underwith people, have a reputable character, are able standing of God needs to be more than generic. to handle money, can teach or guard the faith, are Jesus promised the Holy Spirit who would guide leaders, and are involved in prayer, he said. the Church. We need to proclaim God as Triune to combat the confusion caused by the gods in society. He led in prayer and in a song about the holiness of God.

Dr. Darryl Klassen

Darryl Klassen (Kleefeld), the day’s main presenter, said his Doctor of Ministry thesis focused on a practical study of deacons. During it, he reflected on his teenage impression of deacons: they were terrifying. (His presentations cover more ground than can be said here, but a three-part series is being published in Theodidaktos and • The Messenger 25

Convention 2017 The Historical Progression of Deacons’ Ministry

Scripture says little about this progression. History says the ministry of deacons started well, but it did not stay that way, Klassen said. In the Early Church deacons often ministered to those who became martyrs. In the Council of Nicea (AD 325) concern was expressed about deacons who served communion to presbyters; deacons were shifting from service to a teaching role. (Even today in some circles, deacon is seen as a steppingstone to becoming a pastor, though some current books speak of deacon as an honourable end goal, he said.) The Dordrecht Confession (1632) affirms that deacons are to seek out and to care for the poor and the weak and they can preach. In Russia, P. M. Friesen said that the wider church helped the poor among Mennonites. Within the EMC, deacons were first involved in alms, budget planning, church building loans, and publications (pre-Messenger). Two shifts in Canadian society led to a loss within the deacons’ role: the shift to being a conference saw some work taken over by committees; and the Canadian welfare system took over alms and benevolence, setting limits on what and how much can be given before it is clawed back.

Discussion Time

• What about health care? Answer: in the 1700s deacons ran orphanages and hospitals. Today we fall into the attitude: don’t have to, don’t do it. • There is a need to separate spiritual counseling from mental health service. Answer: because of boundaries and legal issues, there is a need to refer. • Would you promote an illiterate with a servant’s heart? Answer: Yes. Many people in the Early Church were illiterate, but they knew the truth. • The title “deacon” scares off some people. Answer: whatever works, but keep caregivers informed on church concerns.

Deacon Ministry for the Next Century

Why do we need deacons today? Klassen said Scripture gives a vision for practical ministry. Drawing from First Baptist Church (Orlando), Klassen highlighted that, first, deacons are the primary caregivers for widows and Highlights of Council Meeting orphans. He suggested we interpret “widows and orphans” metaphori1. Missions celebrations in Bolivia and Nicaragua. cally to imaginatively relate to the 2. Report by Nancy Friesen – Bolivia “disenfranchised” and those without 3. New Conference Pastor – Layton Friesen family. 4. Church transitions: Cornerstone and Winnipeg Logos Second, deacons support the 5. Conference Restructuring unity of the Body, suppressing nega6. New website for The Messenger – sign up! tivity, motivating and encouraging; 7. Celebration of Abundant Springs – see video they serve as bridge builders, minis8. Statement of Faith constitutional updates. ters of reconciliation, peacemakers. 9. Survey results re women in leadership They need to get into peoples’ 10. Convention re-cap video on homes to better understand people, he said. • Is Paul excluding single people as deacons? Answer: Not purposefully. He was responding to polygamy.

26  The Messenger • July 2017

Convention 2017 Third, deacons are to support the pastors and the elders. Pastors do not have all of the gifts; and when a deacon visits, it’s significant even if the pastor isn’t there. Encourage plural ministry, Klassen said. The EMC struggles in deacon ministry because its deacons lack training and written job descriptions, a past history where power was abused, and burnout from too many expectations, he said. Klassen mentioned three deacons’ ministry models. The first is mutual care without the official title. It raises the questions: Who takes the initiative? Who leads? The second is care group/ cell group ministry, but some care groups turn into a social group. The third is gift based: fellowship (event based), Bible studies (don’t have to lead, just direct); newcomer ministry; crisis care; and prayer. The drawbacks of the gift-based format are the uncertainty of giftedness and a concern by some people not to be pigeonholed.


Darryl recommended that a deacons’ manual be developed and that the EMC move away from the examination of deacons and toward orientation evenings. Do we need deacons today? Yes, we do, Klassen said.

Duane and Jennifer Froese

Duane and Jennifer Froese shared. Duane has been Pastor of Care at Heartland (Landmark, Man.) since Feb. 2017. He has always cared for people in and out of the church. When he was a teen, some deacons took an interest in him. Opening the door to someone’s life does not

always mean progress and sometimes it requires a pulling back, he said. One goal is to foster relationships among all ages and demographics. It is to come alongside before someone’s struggle reaches the breaking point, Duane said. Jennifer asked what do we do when we can’t change our circumstances, when there’s no way forward or out? When people have problems without solutions, they might say God is absent, apathetic, or angry, she said. Duane’s own journey through pain has uniquely equipped them to reach out to others. Hallways and foyers can be authentic places of ministry. We need to trust that God will use our efforts even if fruit is not forthcoming.

Kevin and Jennifer Janzen

Kevin and Jennifer Janzen, a deacon couple at La Crete Christian Fellowship, spoke of monthly meetings held for deacons and ministers. They learn together and connect; in connecting they share their stories with each other. They pray for each other and for other needs that have been brought to their attention. They discuss concerns, doctrinal issues, and general items. Together they plan both how to minister in our community and how to reach others. Who are we? Janzen asked. His answer: Just some regular folks who have chosen to follow Christ’s call to serve the church and the community as deacons. We come with varying struggles and inadequacies, he said, not always knowing how to do it and what they feel they need to do. Serving while feeling inadequate and as a busy mom, Jennifer said she was stretched out of her comfort zone. They have deliberately chosen to live their lives in ministry where listening to the Spirit’s leading is important. Her own grief has helped her to relate to the grieving. Kevin shared stories provided by other deacons at La Crete.

Prayer Time

Jennifer and Duane Froese: Trust God to use our efforts.

Prayers were said for a hurting pastor, an ill member, church struggles, and a new pastoral couple. Peter Doerksen then thanked Ralph Unger, interim conference pastor, and his wife Mary Lynn for their efforts and support. • The Messenger 27

With Our Churches Aberdeen EMC

Aberdeen Seeks to Reunite Refugee Family


WINNIPEG, Man.—Last October, with the help of MCC, Aberdeen EMC applied to sponsor an extended family from Iraq. In total, there are eight adults and two babies in the family. Our hope is to reunite a young couple we sponsored several years ago with their family. We want to invite churches and individuals in our EMC conference to help us with this sponsorship. On June 3, 2017, Humam Shihab and his wife Sabreen celebrated two years in Canada. They are from the city of Bagdad in Iraq and were sponsored by Aberdeen. They were fortunate to find a home in Winnipeg. Both of them have learned English and are working in the public school system in Winnipeg. But Humam could not forget about his family still in Iraq and requested that Aberdeen try to sponsor his family. His father has been housebound for years and the family feared for the father’s safety. Two of Humam’s uncles have been taken by militias and never heard of again. Last October Aberdeen applied to sponsor Humam’s family. This includes his parents, three brothers, one sister,

Births HARDER—To Robert and Janice of Marchand, Man., a son, Liam Jasper, on Jan. 9. PLETT—To Curt and Lindsey of Blumenort, Man., a son, Hudson Chase, on Jan. 20. REIMER—To Cole and Arianne of Blumenort, Man., a daughter, Coralie Grace, on April 15. DRIEDGER—To James and Desiree of Steinbach, Man., a son, Jude Montgomery, on April 20. PENNER—To Tim and Bethany of Blumenort, Man., a daughter, Avery Joy, on May 19.

28  The Messenger • July 2017

a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, as well as two babies. The Shihabs have been living in Beirut, Lebanon, as refugees. There they waited anxiously for news about their sponsorship application. Finally, in early May, they were advised that they would be accepted to come to Winnipeg. Upon hearing this news, they were overjoyed that they were being given a new opportunity in a new land. They are now waiting for their visas to be processed and for a flight date. We are presently preparing a home for them. It is big task for a small church to take on a sponsorship of this size. However, Humam and Sabreen have become a part of our community and we feel compelled to help reunite this family. – Herb Heppner Note: Many EMC churches are currently sponsoring or co-sponsoring refugee families. This is in line with the compassion of Jesus as shown in Matthew 25. Aberdeen is a small congregation with a big heart. If your congregation is not involved in such a sponsorship, or if you are interested in helping personally, Aberdeen welcomes your help in this project. Donations may be sent to Aberdeen EMC, 265 Flora Ave., Winnipeg, MB R2W 2R2; aberdeenchurch2@ – Tim Dyck, EMC General Secretary

With Our Churches Braeside EMC

Prayer Days, ‘Put on Love’ are key events


WINNIPEG, Man.—Viewing photos of other members of Braeside congregation helps us to know each other better, so a few times per year we are asked to send photos of Christmas functions; at another occasion things we are thankful for. Seeing others with family or friends gives us a quick look into their everyday lives. A Lenten display near the front of the church can help us to appreciate the coming Braeside, 2012 Easter season. A purple cloth stands for penitence, burlap for sorrow and mourning, Joshua. Kevin passed away on Sept. 24, 2016. Linda Smith sand and stone to remind us of Jesus in the wilderness, a also needs our prayer, as her husband Denis died on Nov. candle to show God’s presence to us, and a cross for Jesus’ 9, 2016. sacrifice for our sins. As we ponder the meaning of this Thanks to Layton Friesen, who filled in on Sundays display, may it help to make Jesus’ sacrifice more real to us. while our pastor, Kim Stoesz, and her husband Jerry were Several “Prayer Days” have been observed. When one on holidays. shows up, one is given a prayer guide and each one works Does your church have a family Sunday? Try this if you alone. This is a time of reflection, focusing on Scripture, like: when a month has five Sundays, we designate that and praying at several locations: the boardroom, a Sunday extra Sunday as a family Sunday. On this day we encourage School room, the prayer room, and back to the sanctuary. children and young families to attend by having a sermon Nineteen people signed up with “compassion” when especially for children. Jay Calder presented the great need for more sponsors. – Caroline Loewen His guitar playing was fascinating; and when he told us his family is also supporting several children Evangelical Mennonite Conference through “Compassion,” he showed they “practiced what they preached.” Quarterly Financial Report 2017 “Put on Love,” a fashion show that Jan.–June Jan.–June attracted many who had perhaps never 2017 2016 been to Braeside Church, was a stunReceipts and Transfers 701,625 723,032 ning success, judging by the crowd that Disbursements 910,266 907,656 attended. Testimonies, good musical entertainment and lovely desserts were all Excess/Shortfall -208,641 -184,624 a part of the evening. It was a special outreach to others. We give thanks to God for the continued strong support of EMC ministries, and we Prayer was requested for the famacknowledge the contributions of EMC Churches and individuals who give so generily of Kevin Davis: Shannon, Maria, and ously. Here are the results for the first quarter of 2017. - The Board of Trustees • The Messenger 29

With Our Churches Fort Garry EMC

New Beginnings


WINNIPEG, Man.—Our first potluck of the year was a Chinese New Year event on Jan. 29 with the Winnipeg Logos Church. We are thankful that we can share our facility and do joint events with them several times a year. For our service that day, a man within the Logos congregation shared his story of coming to faith in God this past year and being baptized at Thanksgiving by Pastor Len Harms. He shared about the many ways in which following Jesus was helping him make changes in his life. He said he has changed from being judgmental to becoming a more gentle and A baby dedication was held on Feb. 12: Luke with parents Chunyan Ye and Peng gracious person. Zhang, Emily with parents Janna and Dean Olfert, Edward with parents Everlyne The potluck lunch was a lovely mix of both Kich and Nashon Otieno, Theodore with parents Heather and Mike Plett, Mackenzie Canadian and Chinese food. The Logos church with parents Amanda and Gavin Barkman. had decorated the basement using Chinese New Year’s banners that translated read, “ We are celebratWe praise God for the confidence that people from all ing the Chinese New Year by Praising God.” cultures, new believers, and young children can all take A baby dedication was held on Feb. 12, welcoming five refuge and put their trust in the Almighty. All of us are new babies to our congregation. Each parent read a prayer welcome to find shelter under the shadow of His wings for of dedication and Pastor David Funk said a prayer of bless- life’s journey. ing for the families. – Elaine Kroeker

•• Morweena EMC

MORWEENA, Man.—Our congregation held a baptismal service on March 5 involving nine individuals, most of them youth: (back) Youth pastor Donovan Dueck, Mikaela Reimer, Bryson Schettler, Cheyenne Reimer, Breanne Reimer, and Stephanie Dueck; (front): Kevin Kornelson, Lukas Hamm, Aiden Payne, and Jordan Reimer. – Donovan Dueck

30  The Messenger • July 2017


Nine baptized at Morweena

In Memory

Walter George Kruse 1945-2017

Walter George Kruse was born on Jan. 1, 1945, in Teulon, Man., to George and Helen (nee Dyck) Kruse. At home in Inwood they spoke German—until he started school in 1950, running at recess from the postwar playground bullies who did not appreciate his German ancestry. His mother's Russian Mennonite faith did not encourage him to fight back. In 1956 the family moved to Brandon to operate a restaurant for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and in 1960 was transferred to Moose Jaw, Sask. Walter and his younger brother Alfred rode the trains selling drinks and sandwiches. That fall he returned to Brandon for high school. Alfred urged him to attend a Crusade where

he heard the good news about Jesus Christ and believed it.  In 1964 Walter dropped out of his mechanics course for several months of solo bicycle backpack travels across Europe, visiting his father’s family. The next year he attended Steinbach Bible Institute to make up for his high school deficiencies, and met EMCers for the first time.  In the fall of 1966 he was in Teachers College in Brandon when he met nursing student Anne Martens at a birthday party. He was baptized by the Kola EMC and they were married on Aug. 12, 1967. Children born to this union were David, Krista , Erika, Rolf, and Paul.  While working and being a husband and father, he continued to study at Brandon University, graduating in 1978. He did not use his education to belittle those who had less, but to enlarge their view of the world. He taught school in The Pas, Churchill, Kola, Virden, and Paraguay (Tres Palmas/Lucero, and Loma Plata) where he made friends and many memories for his students.   Walter also worked with his hands, helping his in-laws in agriculture and logging, and doing his own carpentry career. He built a house and cabins, signs, boxes, boomerangs, and

toys. In mid-life he worked with a stone mason, and was in his 60s when he did “penance” for all the trees he had cut down as a young lumberjack: he joined a tree planting crew. His hands were also artistic, writing letters in flowing script, communicating in sign-language, and playing musical instruments. He sang tunefully, learned Low German as an adult, and was known as a storyteller. Some of his stories were published in the waning months of his life.  Walter was a member of the EMC in Kola, but was also part of evangelical fellowships in Ridgewood, Virden, and Rosenort. Baptized as an infant in the United Church, raised Lutheran, awakened in the Alliance, discipled in the Salvation Army, “re”���������������������� -baptized in the Evangelical Mennonite, embraced by the Baptists, and appreciative of the Anglicans, he was at once an orthodox churchman and a childlike realist, seeing the good and the beautiful in people. Alongside a commitment to Anabaptist theology, he respected the military heritage of his ancestors. Though he read widely, he was simple in his theology: “������������������� �������������������� I wanted to be honest with God; the Gospel just makes sense.” He was an encouragement to the faith of those with little left of their own.  In his last years Walter insisted he was neither suffering nor battling. Rather, after a long conversation with cancer, on May 6, 2017, the conversation was over. Jesus will have the last word. – His Family • The Messenger 31

In Memory

Ellen Plett 1921–2017 Ellen Plett was born on Feb. 23, 1921, to Cornelius and Susanna Plett in what is now called Landmark, Man. She grew up in Landmark and on April 25, 1943, married John K. Plett, also of Landmark. After many years of living on Dad’s family’s farm in the Landmark area, Mom and Dad made the big move to Treesbank, Man., in 1967. Mom always had a big garden that always included lots of flowers. Besides having a big garden, taking tailgate lunches to Dad in the field, raising a family of seven that included two sets of twins, Mom loved to sew. Though a very hard worker, Mom loved to go on trips that included going to Mexico, Banff, the Holy Land, United Arab Emirates, and the USA. Mom accepted Jesus as her Saviour at an early age and openly declared this by getting baptized and becoming a member of the Prairie Rose Klein Gemeinde Church in Landmark and remained a loyal member of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference throughout her life. Mom loved Jesus as her Lord and Saviour with her whole heart, and joyfully lived her life passing the love He had for her onto others. When the Brandon MCC Thrift Store opened, Mom was one of the founding

32  The Messenger • July 2017

volunteers. She taught Sunday School being able to die peacefully with sevand taught Friendship Bible Coffees. eral of her children by her side. When that was no longer possible Mom was predeceased by her husfor her, she gathered a group of her band John, her parents, four sisters, friends together on a regular basis to and two brothers. sing Gospel songs. With our hearts full of tears, but Mom and Dad farmed in the with joy in the knowledge that Mom is Treesbank area until their retirement where she longed to be, we grieve and from farming in 1987. They moved celebrate: Marian (Les) Plett, Shirinto a new house in Treesbank, but ley (Del) Friesen, Lillian (Ken) Weber, sadly were only able to enjoy living in Luella (Leonard) Plett, Leroy (Sylvia) it together less than a year. After Dad Plett, Eleanor (Rob) Reimer, and Eddie passed away in the fall of 1987, Mom (Val) Plett, her 22 grandchildren, 32 continued to live in Treesbank for 10 great-grandchildren, two sisters, one years. When the yard work became brother, and five sisters-in-law and too difficult, Mom moved into an one brother-in-law. apartment in Wawanesa. – Her Family With her health deteriorating more and more, Mom bravely made more and more of the necessary downsizing moves, from Make a greater impact on your favourite her apartment to the Valcharities. Let Abundance Canada show you ley Lodge and then a few how. Call today for a free consultation. years later into the Wawanesa Personal Care Home. Thank you so much to the staff at the PCH for giving Mom such love and wonderful care. On Wed., April 12, 2017, in the morning, Mom’s health took a very sudden downward turn and that evening while gazing up toward heaven she peacefully took her last breath. Mom was 96. Because generosity changes everything We are thankful that God granted Mom her wish of 1.800.772.3257 | having a sound mind and

Giving That’s Easy

Shoulder Tapping *With any applications for EMC church pastoral positions, candidates are expected to also register a Ministry Information Profile with the EMC Board of Leadership and Outreach, which can be obtained through Erica Fehr, BLO Administrative Assistant, at or 204-326-6401.

EMC Positions* Mennville EMC, a rural congregation with an attendance of about 90, located in Manitoba's Interlake region, seeks a full- or part-time pastor. The pastor will work within a ministerial team as the church seeks to renew and grow. College or seminary training and pastoral experience are definite assets. Starting date is flexible and salary will reflect EMC guidelines. A candidate should be a collaborative leader (team player), comfortable in the pulpit and

in pastoral care, familiar with the EMC Statement of Faith, and respectful of various cultures and rural living. Contact minister Terry Dueck at frontier104@ Crestview Fellowship (, an EMC church located in the St. James-Assiniboia area of Winnipeg, Man., is prayerfully seeking applications for a half-time (approx. 20 hours/week) Youth Pastor or Director. Our current mix of youth are two-thirds from the community with little or no church background and one-third from the church. If you have questions about the position, please call Pastor Darrel Guenther at 204-837-9490 or Scott Groen at 204-885-0233, or send your questions and/ or resume electronically to Those nearing graduation and new graduates are welcome to apply.

Jesus Did It All For Me Jesus did it all for me When He walked on Calvary’s road When they denied Him as Lord When they mocked Him and beat Him And said He is to blame He must surely be crucified Jesus did it all for me When He walked on Calvary’s road When they crucified Him that day He shed His blood there To save me from my sins And set me free forever Jesus did it all for me When He walked on Calvary’s road And arose from the dead that day He claimed me for His own And gave me life anew And now I can walk with Him Jesus did it all for me When He walked on Calvary’s road And gives me victory He leads me, and guides me And walks right beside me Yes, Jesus did it all for me Yes, Jesus did it all for me – Elmer Hamm, Elmer Hamm attends MacGregor EMC.

Winnipeg Logos Church is a one-year-old evangelical Chinese church being planted in the Fort Richmond area of Winnipeg. In partnership with the Fort Garry EMC, it is seeking to reach out to the new Chinese immigrants in southwest Winnipeg. We are diligently praying for a pastor. Bible college or seminary education is required. The applicant must be fluent in Mandarin. For more information or to submit a resume, contact Helen Wang (204-509-2628 or Fort Garry EMC is seeking an associate for pastoral care (.2FTE) to provide pastoral care to congregants of our church. The successful candidate will work closely with the senior pastor and other ministerial staff in this ministry. This position is highly relational in nature and requires that the candidate possess and nurture a vibrant evangelical faith. It is preferred the candidate have formal theological education and relevant experience providing pastoral care. Preference will be given to candidates who are members or attendees of FGEMC or another EMC church. FGEMC is a congregation of 220 located in Winnipeg near the University of Manitoba. To apply, please submit a resume via email to the Search Committee at by Aug. 31, 2017.

Where are position ads to be sent? Please send all position ads, including pastoral search ads, to All ads are to be 150 words or less. All ads can be edited. Please advise us when it is no longer needed.

Calendar Alberta October 13-14 Discover Your Ministry Potential La Crete, AB

Manitoba November 25 Conference Council

November 25-27 EMC Ministerial Retreat Wilderness Edge Pinawa • The Messenger 33

Column • Here and Far Away




by Jocelyn R. Plett www.writewhatyousee.

hat would we do without you!” I’ve heard people say this to missionary colleagues of mine or other family members who do a great job of making themselves indispensable to others. Of course, we are called to work with excellence, allowing the Church to benefit from our skills and gifts. However, there is a danger, definitely on the mission field, where our indispensability can subconsciously go to our heads; and we begin to believe that, “Horrors, what would the people do if I need to leave the country?” Alternately, we can find ourselves thinking, “What would I do if I could no longer lean on so-and-so?” be that a spouse, a colleague, a friend or parent. Although we love to feel needed, like we’re contributing a valuable resource, this is a heavy load to carry. I know many people who can’t move on to the next place that the Lord is calling them to because they feel the hole they will leave is too large for anyone to fill, and, therefore, the people who depend on them will suffer. My grandfather, never one to mince words, taught me an important lesson shortly before we left for missions. “You see this?” he said, putting his finger into a glass of water, “This is you. Now watch what happens when I take my finger out of the water.” He pulled his finger out and gave me a pointed look. “Do you see any holes?” he asked. Ouch! Thanks, Grampa, for making me feel like I’ll have no lasting impact. But of course, that wasn’t his point. It was this: we are not indispensable, none of us. “What would we do without you?” isn’t a phrase I want to hear about myself, not because I don’t want to serve in the best possible capacity that I am gifted to, but because I want to ensure that I follow what Scripture teaches in training up leaders to follow in this path I am walking.

My grandfather, never one to mince words, taught me an important lesson shortly before we left for missions, using a glass of water.

34  The Messenger • July 2017

Malagasy culture is power-selfish in many ways. If someone succeeds in something, the culture is not to encourage him, but to pull him back down to the common level. Similarly, church leaders don’t train up younger leaders to take over. In fact, they purposefully withhold information and wisdom in order to keep them at a disadvantage. This is not only unscriptural, it hurts the whole Church. We are followers of Christ, not of people. The Church is His Bride, not a tool. We would do well to ensure that Christ becomes greater in us as we become less. It is my own goal to ensure that those around me learn with me to say, “What would we do without Christ?” Never, “what would we do without you!” I will fail, I will leave, I will get weary, and I will die. But Christ is constant and generous with the grace, strength, power, and love each of us needs in every situation. I can’t compete with that, nor do I want to.

Join with Christ in shaping our


Evangelical Mennonite Conference Board of Missions 204-326-6401 www.emconfer

Column • Stewardship Today

What Is Your Passion?



ow often have you heard the question, “Will you sponsor me?” I’m sure you’ve heard it many times from a family member, a colleague or someone from your church. There are occasions when I feel bombarded by these requests for generosity. To ease this, I now set aside funds each year to support my adventurous family and friends who are willing to run a marathon, climb Kilimanjaro, grow a beard, or pour a bucket of ice water over their heads for a cause that’s important to them. I want to be generous. And more importantly, I want to be a good steward of God’s gifts. Because God is generous, He invites us to share. The invitation to give often causes me to reflect on the charities I support: Why did I choose them? What would I be willing to do for them? What do I know about them? Ray, a family friend, started his charity 30 years ago. Ray had maintained a public image of a successful businessman, while privately his life was one of frustration and alcoholism. At 35, he decided to follow Jesus. He immediately began working with the homeless, prostitutes, those addicted to drugs and alcohol, and those struggling with mental illness. He opened a coffeehouse and this led to opening care homes and a residential addiction treatment program. I’ve supported Ray for many years because his story of transformation and helping others resonates with me. I remain connected to the charity by consistently reviewing the effectiveness and impact. This is one of many reasons why people give: they want to see that their donations and support are affecting change. Selecting which charity or cause to support boils down to this: What are you most passionate about? What matters to you? Your preference may range from giving to your local church, a national or international cause, medical research, a centre for learning, a community group or a local charity. Perhaps you’re wondering how you could make a greater impact or be more strategic in your giving. Rebecca Riccio, a university

by Pamela Miles professor, invented the RISE framework to help people give more effectively: Relevance—How well does the charity understand the needs its addressing and knows what works in response to the need? How connected are they to the community they’re serving? Impact—Does the charity hold itself accountable? Will supporting this charity allow you to make a difference with your resources? Sustainability—Does the charity have reliable revenue sources and how effectively does it manage its money? Excellence in Management and Operations—How well-qualified are the executive director and board members? (Eisenberg, 2014) Whatever charities you support, gathering relevant information about them will help you determine to what degree you want to get involved. It is a personal journey to discover what causes you and your family are most passionate about. At Abundance Canada, we envision a world where everyone lives generously. We are unapologetically faith-driven, and we have the privilege of providing advice on estate and charitable gift planning and setting up personalized gifting accounts. We work with generous Christians across Canada who want to make a difference. Find your passion and join us in making the world a better place! Pamela Miles is the Director of Gift Planning at Abundance Canada.

At Abundance Canada, we envision a world where everyone lives generously. We work with generous Christians across Canada who want to make a difference. For more columns, check out: • The Messenger 35

Column • Kids’ Corner

Celebrate Canada!

Read Psalm 72:8. It is the official motto of Canada.

36  The Messenger • July 2017



his year Canada is 150 years old. What does this mean? In 1867 a group of men, the Fathers of Confederation, decided that Canada should have its own government and laws. Its name should be Canada. At the time there were only four provinces. It was July 1 and Canada was born. How has Canada grown since 1867? Canada is a country of immigrants. Most by Loreena of the people living in Canada have come from Thiessen other countries. First it was fishermen. They were Vikings from Iceland. They came to find more fish. The Atlantic Ocean around Newfoundland and Labrador was thick with codfish. That was 1,000 years ago, long before Canada was a country. The fishermen loaded their ships with the fish and returned home. In time the King of England and the King of France sent men to explore new lands. The French wanted gold and riches. The English wanted to find a shorter trade route to Asia. Each king wanted the new land for himself. Other explorers came. The land they found was Canada. They met Canada’s first people, For more colthe Indigenous people who were already here umns, check out: and who showed the new explorers how to hunt for fresh meat, how to travel by canoe, and traded furs for Activity: tools. 12 Canadian Words: which ones do you know? They trapped Write another word beside each one that tells animals like what it is. beaver, muskrat, ermine, and Toque ____________________ mink. People in Parka _____________________ Europe wanted Toboggan ______________________ hats and coats Canoe _______________________ made of these Loonie ________________________ furs and CanToonie ________________________ ada had plenty of Timbits _________________________ them. The trapButter tart __________________________ pers travelled Nanaimo bars _______________________ along rivers and Canuck ___________________________ streams and carBeaver tail ___________________________ ried the furs with Poutine ___________________________

them. They unloaded them onto bigger ships in the Hudson Bay that sailed across the Atlantic and brought the furs to Europe. The English and the French each built settlements to keep control over the land they wanted. They competed with each other and they fought each other. Each one wanted Canada and its riches for their king. Finally the British won and for a long time Canada belonged to England. In 1812 the Americans invaded Canada. They had 4,000 men. They believed it would be easy to defeat the Canadians. The Canadians had only 400 men, but with the support of Native troops, together they defeated the Americans. Now Canada needed a strong border, a line to mark Canada’s land. And so they built the railroad along the border. The railroad kept the border more secure. It sent a strong signal to the Americans not to attack again. The railroad connected the vast distances of Canada. Towns and cities grew along the railroad. Now people and goods could travel from the east to the west, from Montreal to Vancouver. Today one half of Canada’s population lives in the big cities along the U.S.-Canada border. New people arrive every day who want to make Canada their home. It was the Fathers of Confederation who built the country’s laws believing that God ruled over them and that he had “dominion from sea to sea.” Read Psalm 72:8. This is what the Fathers of Confederation believed. It is the official motto of Canada.

The Messenger Evangelical Mennonite Conference 440 Main St., Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5 Publications Mail Agreement #40017362

The Messenger July 2017  

Feature articles include: Change: Wrong Reasons, Right Reasons, and Two Considerations by Pastor Dwight Plett (p. 6) Abundant Springs 2017:...

The Messenger July 2017  

Feature articles include: Change: Wrong Reasons, Right Reasons, and Two Considerations by Pastor Dwight Plett (p. 6) Abundant Springs 2017:...