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The Messenger a publication of the

Evangelical Mennonite Conference

Volume 56  No. 2 March 2018

The Day We Become Friends of God

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INSIDE: Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church page 10 Don't Put Family First

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The Christian Faith: It Makes Sense!

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The Fine Print Christian: I want to join your church. EMC Minister: Great. Have you been baptized upon your faith in Jesus? Christian: Twice. Mennonites by pouring and Baptists by immersion. Is a third time needed? Minister: No double or triple dipping needed. Do you accept our Statement of Faith? Christian: Do mean footwashing, pacifism, inerrancy (is that full or limited and how is that different from infallibility?), a vague creation account, the personality of Satan, eternal separation for the unrighteous? Minister: Well, just the important stuff. Christian: Important stuff? Why is the rest there, then? Minister: Partly to define ourselves against Catholics, Orthodox, mainliners, and other evangelicals. Christian: Really? Minister: Well, suppose we ask, “Do you believe that Jesus

Christ is Lord, that the Bible is the Word of God, and that salvation is only through the Lord Jesus Christ”? Christian: That’s fine. Minister: Will you identify with us, participate with us, be accountable, learn with us, knowing that our Statement of Faith is our teaching standard? Christian: Sure. Minister: Then you can become a member. Christian: But I’m left handed. Minister: What? Christian: Gal. 2:9 says Paul was received by the “right hand of fellowship.” Is that to be taken literally? Minister: I think I have a headache. Christian: Don’t worry. Pentecostals taught me how to lay on hands and Anglicans taught me the benefits of strong drink. Do you mind if I speak in tongues? - Terry M. Smith

The Layers of the EMC


hat is the EMC? “The EMC is a movement of people advancing Christ’s kingdom culture as we live, reach, gather, and teach” (EMC Vision Statement). This is a fine statement. The EMC is a corporation. The Senate of Canada in 1959 passed an act that lists our name, “head office,” objects [purposes], powers, committees, power to acquire and dispose of properties, and more (check The Constitution). The EMC is a community of faith; its goal is to serve Christ, not structures. Further, a denomination is “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church” (Oxford Dictionary). This fits the EMC. Does a denomination require a top-down, episcopal (bishop) structure? Not really. For much of its history, though, the KG had bishops. For a few people to say that the EMC is not a denomination might come from this desire: “You can’t tell us what

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to do.” However, mutual accountability and discipline have been important to the Anabaptist faith for 500 years and the wider Christian faith for much longer. Is the EMC a loose fellowship? What then of The Constitution that details our beliefs, practices, expectations, and structures? It lists how churches are to accept the constitution and give “responsible support of resolutions and programs developed together” (20). The General Board can step in when a leader is unfaithful (19) or a church is in trouble (21). The EMC can dismiss a congregation (20). Does this sound loose? The “you” to whom we are accountable? Our sisters and brothers that form EMC churches across Canada under Christ. The EMC’s national meetings, boards, committees, and staff members serve only with authority delegated by the churches, but this does not make the relationships or authority any less real. – Terry M. Smith

Table of Contents Features




The Day We Become Friends of God – Ryan Turnbull

An Education App

Membership and Wolves – Terry M. Smith

10 Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church

19 Further In and Higher Up

13 Don't Put Family First

27 Focusing On

16 The Christian Faith: It Makes Sense!

34 Here and Far Away


35 Stewardship Today

– Irene Ascough

– Dr. Stephen Farris

– Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen

2 Editorial 3 Pontius’ Puddle 4 Letters and Notices 20 With Our Missionaries

The Power of Least Interest – Layton Friesen

We Plant Churches Because It Matters – Earl Unger Moramora, Thoughts on Doing – Jocelyn R. Plett

28 News


The 'Yes' Perspective – Sherri Grosz

36 Kids’ Corner

What Time Is It? – Loreena Thiessen

23 With Our Churches 25 Births






30 In Memory 33 Shoulder Tapping • The Messenger 3

The Messenger

Letters and Notices

Volume 56 No. 2 March 2018

Billy Graham’s Legacy



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. The Messenger is available for free to all online at: If you wish to sign up for our email newsletter. Pleaase contact Andrew at: Digital copies are free. 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 Advertising The Messenger does not sell advertising, but provides free space (classified and display) to enhance our Conference, its churches, boards, and ministries; inter-Mennonite agencies and educational institutions; and the wider church. Ads and inquiries should be sent to

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Since Billy Graham’s death last Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2018, thousands of his friends and foes have expressed their loves and hates for what he represented. Some rejected him as too liberal (including liberal churches in his city-wide gospel crusades). A Feb. 21 New York Times op-ed castigated him for “missed opportunities,” primarily for not being liberal enough (preaching that Christ was the only way to God). Graham candidly regretted his failure to be more active in the civil rights movement, though he insisted on racial integration in his crusades from 1953 on. Across war-torn Europe in the late 1940s his preaching the message of new life and hope in Christ set the tone of Graham’s life-long focus on evangelism and on mobilizing the

whole church to proclaim the whole gospel to the whole world. Some 215 million heard him in person around our globe. Untold millions more heard him on radio, TV, and films. Only God knows how many freely received the gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Like Paul, Graham was not ashamed of the gospel. Both were untroubled by those who regard the preaching of the cross as foolishness; both saw that “we who are being saved know it is the very power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). May those who claim the name of Christ in this century be as faithful to our calling to proclaim the whole gospel to the whole world as Billy Graham was to his. – Al Hiebert Steinbach, Man.

•• Announcement of the Cancellation of the SBC Leadership Conference

As a Leadership Conference Planning Committee, after prayer and dialogue, we have decided to cancel the SBC Leadership Conference for this March 16-17. Our intention was to have a conversation about how the Bible teaches us to hear from God. As a committee we have heard some ask questions about how the voice of experience has come to usurp the voice of scripture in our spiritual growth. We thought inviting a decisive voice critiquing recent trends would be a bracing way to spur good dialogue and teaching. However, the announcement of Dr. Phillip Cary’s proposed presentation drew significant controversy in one of our sponsoring conferences and that conference asked us to withdraw the invitation.

Subsequently, the Leadership Conference Planning Committee has decided that proceeding with the presentation was not worth the divisiveness it seemed to incur. We need to be open to being challenged in our thinking, but sometimes we also need to ask whether there are better ways to engage in the discussion. We still believe there is value in addressing this topic, but we have decided not to pursue it at this year’s Leadership Conference. We want to thank those who gave us feedback, both in support and opposed. For those who have already signed up, you will receive a full refund. May the Spirit give us wisdom." Regards, – Leadership Conference Planning Committee Feb. 20, 2018

Column • An Education App

Membership and Wolves


by Terry M. Smith Executive Secretary


ount me among EMC ministers who seek to protect sheep from wolves. This affects how some of us link local church membership and denominational distinctives. Each branch of the Church in Canada has its tradition, history, and distinctives. For instance, Nazarenes have entire sanctification, Pentecostals have the baptism in the Spirit, Baptists have immersion, and Mennonites have pacifism. Each denomination is protective of its distinctives: “We need to stay with the Word. Our leaders suffered for these truths. We have Scripture and history on our side.” Ministers make choices within traditions, histories, and distinctives. I do. Distinctives, as long as they’re biblical, are to be taught. It is wise, though, not to make a hard link between some distinctives and membership for non-leaders. (This isn’t an article about teaching standards for selecting pastors, deacons, teaching elders, and Sunday School teachers.) The Christian Church is committed to Christ and to each other. We properly require a common, wonderful confession of faith in our Triune God (1 Cor. 15:1-8, 1 Tim. 3:9, Eph. 4:5). We are to be accountable in our faith and lifestyle (1 Tim. 4:19-20). Still, let’s not multiply difficulties. Pastors know it is insensitive and impractical to limit membership to those who agree with all of our distinctives. Was anyone ever denied local EMC membership because they didn’t affirm footwashing as an ordinance? Probably not. Local churches need to, and often do, take a broader view of their role. In a particular location, urban or rural, there might be a single evangelical choice—perhaps Nazarene, Mennonite, Pentecostal, or Baptist. Its responsibility to believers and the Lord extends far beyond its distinctive views. Why? Sheep are vulnerable and wolves are many (Matt. 10:16). Jesus spoke of wolves (Matt. 7:15); the apostle Paul did too (Acts 20:28-29). Paul and other apostles warned of false leaders

and false teachings (Gal. 1:6-7, 2 Pet. 2:1, Jude 4). We are to protect the flock (Acts 20:28). Sheep, by nature, are to be together, and they are more vulnerable when alone. The Shepherd still cares about the single sheep (Luke 15:3-7). As well, ponder a wonderful reality: Christians are members of Christ’s mystical body that spans continents, centuries, and denominations (1 Cor. 12:13, Heb.11; Eph. 4:4-5). How do we reflect this awareness when deciding requirements for local church membership? Suppose a Christian, because of a distinctive, doesn’t become a local member. What if, through limited options and understanding, they join a group that has wandered from central truths? It’s precisely because of central truths (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-8) that we are to be sensitive as pastors (Jude 22-23). Pastors observe the movement of God’s Spirit within a person’s life; we sense their gifts and capacities. Recognizing this, local churches do well to allow “pastoral exceptions”: for a Mennonite church to accept a non-pacifist; a Baptist church, an undipped member; a Pentecostal church, someone who hasn’t spoken in tongues; a Nazarene church, a member only partly sanctified. Does your local church do this already? Perhaps. Probably. For sheep are vulnerable and wolves are many. Of course, if a person doesn’t recognize our Statement of Faith as the teaching standard within the local church and becomes divisive (Titus 3:9-11), that’s another matter. The sheep need protection then too.

Count me among EMC ministers who seek to protect sheep from wolves. This affects how some of us link local church membership and denominational distinctives. • The Messenger 5


The Day We Become Friends of God by Ryan Turnbull


aundy Thursday is the day in the Christian Year when we enter into the Upper Room on the night that Jesus was betrayed to rediscover the love that characterizes the Christian life. Churches typically celebrate two practices on this day, the Lord’s Supper and Footwashing. Far from being empty rituals, the gospels say that it is these practices that teach us to love each other with the love of God. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we get similar stories about the institution of the Lord’s Supper being instituted on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. But John’s Gospel tells us a different story. John skips over the meal part of the evening to tell

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us a story about footwashing (John 13) that becomes a concrete action and precursor to the message of Jesus’ farewell exhortation to love each other (John 14-17). Anabaptists have traditionally put more emphasis on footwashing than other traditions have. Because of this, I want to take a second look at the message of love that John’s Gospel uniquely shows us as being at the heart of our Maundy Thursday celebrations. Maundy Thursday is the day where we act out two of the greatest signs of Christ’s love for us. In the process, we learn to love one another, discovering in the process that there are only friends in Christ’s Kingdom.

But What Does ‘Maundy’ Mean?

The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from a corruption of the Latin word for commandment (maundatum). After Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, he gives them a “new commandment” or novum maundatum, which is to love each other (John 13:34). Maundy Thursday is the institution of the new law, the law of love, the law of friendship. Just as Moses and the people of Israel were given rituals and celebrations to remember to keep the Law (Exodus 25), so, too, are the disciples given the practices of footwashing and the Lord’s Supper to remember to follow the Law of Christ, which is to love one another.

represents, footwashing is by far the more controversial. Theologian Stanley Hauerwas once said in a sermon at his church’s Maundy Thursday service, “Episcopalians do not come to church to be touched.” I have found this sentiment to be common even among some Anabaptists! Nevertheless, it is particularly in the Anabaptist tradition that footwashing has long been given special attention. Footwashing is understood to be an ordinance, which is a practice that is ordained or commanded by Jesus. But the washing of feet is not simply some legalistic requirement for us. Footwashing is an invitation into a vulnerable love-reality where we both learn what it means to be friends, both of God and each other. Jesus says, “A new command I give you” (John

Maundy Thursday is the institution of the new law, the law of love, the law of friendship.

A Commandment of Love, Not Legalism Of the two practices that Maundy Thursday • The Messenger 7

13:34). What is that command? It is simply that we have love for each other (John 15:17). In the practice of footwashing, we learn the posture of humility necessary to love one another as Christ loved us. We do not continue to wash one another’s feet simply because Jesus commanded us. Footwashing is a sign-act that Jesus performs to give us a concrete practice to accompany the sermon he delivers in the following chapters. In John 14-17, Jesus describes a picture of mutual indwelling love that both reveals to us the inner love life of the Trinity and invites us to participate in that love through our relationships with one another (see Jn. 15:4-14). In the gospels we see that Christ humbled himself, put on the garment of a slave, and ultimately climbed upon a cross in love. It is no surprise therefore, when God forms our lives through the practice of footwashing to begin looking like the life of Christ.

Jesus Teaches Us How to Follow His Commands

We are to love one another; to be characterized and even saturated by love! In fact, the Bible says that it is by this divine love we have for one

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Footwashing is a sign-act that Jesus performs to give us a concrete practice to accompany the sermon he delivers in the following chapters. another that we are recognized as being God’s people (John 13:35). At the centre of all of our claims about God is Jesus, the one whom “we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands” (John 1:1). Jesus is God revealed to us (John 1:18). The wonderful news of the gospel is that the God who is revealed to us is the one who takes off his glorious outer garments, puts on a towel, the mark of a slave, and does the task which only a slave may properly do—wash the feet of the disciples. The disciples are shocked and appalled that the one whom they rightly call “Lord and Teacher” is doing something so humiliating for their benefit. Of course, it is not just in the washing of feet that we see Christ humble himself to the role of a slave; in just a few hours Jesus

Why do we refuse this practice to one another? Be careful lest we refuse to humble ourselves to serve as Christ served and so we say that we are our own masters and we will decide how we are to live. There is no room in the Body of Christ for us to declare ourselves our own masters. That’s why on Maundy Thursday we are invited to wash one another’s feet in love and become friends of God.

will die on the cross the death of a commoncriminal, a rebel-slave, a non-citizen. Just as we see Christ take on the role of a slave to show his disciples the type of love he is about to pour out from the cross, so, too, should we humble ourselves to the lowest levels. We should show love to the homeless, to care for the disabled, to sit with the dying, to visit the prisoner, to feed orphans, and comfort widows. Jesus becomes a slave for us, and in so doing declares us to be his friends (John 15:1415). When we humble ourselves to serve one another in footwashing, and through serving each other in our daily lives we see our divisions disappear and discover that we have been made friends in Christ. We servants are not greater than our Lord Jesus (John 13:16), and as such, there are none who’s feet we are too important to wash. Footwashing is an uncomfortable practice that prepares us to love even when it is most uncomfortable to do so.

Ryan Turnbull, BA, MATS (both Providence) currently resides in intentional community in Spence Neighbourhood and attends St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg. He formerly attended Niverville Community Fellowship (EMMC) and considers himself a “high church Mennonite.” When not nerding out over theology Ryan can be found drinking coffee or gardening.


We have been made friends of God and God is working in us to make us into the likeness of Christ. When we wash each other’s feet, we know that we are being formed more and more into that likeness because Christ has said that this is how we become ready to start having love for one another (John 13:8). • The Messenger 9


Mental Health InItiative 2018

Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church by Irene Ascough


man was fishing in the river when he noticed someone was drowning. He pulled them out and attempted to resuscitate them. Shortly afterwards, he noticed another person in the river and saved them too. He then noticed another, and another and another. Soon he was exhausted and realised he would not be able save all the drowning people. So, he decided to walk upstream to find out why all these people were falling into the river and what could be done to stop them. This classic parable, often used when talking about preventing physical and mental health issues and health promotion, is considered “upstream work.” In a previous article in this series, Dan Dacombe suggested that we talk about mental health and the best ways in which we (youth workers, parents, members of the church) can support our young people though the challenges they are facing in an already challenging world. (See www. for the other articles in this series.) The purpose of this article is to pick up that theme and talk about how churches can participate in the upstream work of preventing mental

illness and how they can become mental health promoting communities.

What is Positive Mental Health?

Take a moment to think about what it means to have positive mental health. What kinds of things do you think about? Public Health Canada suggests that positive mental health includes: • Being hopeful that good things can, do and will happen in your life • Feeling physically healthy, eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep • Feeling like you belong to your community (school, church, neighbourhood) and are supported by family and friends • Having a positive attitude about yourself and feeling that you have something to contribute • Functioning well mentally by being able to focus, plan, learn and relax • Being self-reflective and self-aware, knowing yourself and your limits and asking for help when you need it • Being resilient or having skills to cope with life’s challenges and stresses in healthy and helpful ways

Promoting positive mental health as an everyday issue can prevent the onset of some mental health problems, decrease the number of people who experience symptoms, and can support people who are currently struggling with mental illness or challenges.

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Why is Promoting Positive Mental Health Important?

Promoting positive mental health as an everyday issue can prevent the onset of some mental health problems, decrease the number of people who experience symptoms, and can support people who are currently struggling with mental illness or challenges. By encouraging the use of some very simple every day strategies we may increase the number of people who enjoy positive mental health. Promoting mental health also strengthens individuals and communities and reduces the stigma of mental illness. When Jesus walked the earth, he was concerned with the whole person. He cared for people by feeding them and healing their physical and mental diseases and those who had been stigmatized and abandoned were restored to their place in community.

practices such as meditating on God’s Word, quiet times of reflection, prayer, confession, forgiveness, giving, gratitude and worship.

Looking at Our Practices

These church and spiritual practices have the potential to be helpful to everyone’s mental health and well-being. However, they are not meant to replace treatment, professional support, and intervention when someone is experiencing challenges to their mental health. It is important to know what resources are available to provide intervention beyond our scope and to refer to these resources. And if someone is receiving help from outside the church it is important to continue to provide a supportive community where they feel like they belong and are accepted. It is also important to remember that we must be careful when teaching and encouraging church and spiritual practices. Often unknowingly, legalism and judgement creep in and people may feel discouraged and ashamed instead of hopeful and supported. Participation in church life may become an expectation and a duty not a joy and delight. When teaching and encouraging church and spiritual practices remember Christ’s words,

Promoting mental health also strengthens individuals and communities and reduces the stigma of mental illness.

How Can Churches Promote Positive Mental Health?

Churches can be really great places for promoting mental health. We have children and youth programs that provide relationships with adults who listen, care, guide and model healthy coping skills. We provide opportunities to serve and be served and there is a sense of belonging that comes from being a part of a local church. We teach the importance of caring for the body and respecting our need for rest/ Sabbath. There is the ministry of God’s Word that provides comfort and hope during grief, loss, tragedy and suffering; and this is often ministered to us by caring friends and family. We encourage spiritual • The Messenger 11

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30).

How is Your Local Church Doing?

Take some time to prayerfully consider your local church. What is going well and what could improve? How do people feel when they walk into church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening? Are spiritual disciplines such as daily Bible reading, and prayer taught in such a way that people feel supported and encouraged to develop disciplines that are meaningful and life-giving? Are our messages about caring for our bodies filled with a sense of awe and wonder or shame and guilt? Have we explored the ideas of Sabbath and rest in scripture so that we can understand what it means to press pause in a culture that is constantly doing more and more? How would that understanding change our personal daytimers and expectations of our leaders? Are there other ways that we could be more intentional and free up time and resources to support mental, emotional and spiritual discipleship in the body of Christ?

Great Resources

There are many great resources available that can be used to help develop mental health promoting practices and spiritual disciplines and may this article inspire you to seek these out. Any musician or athlete knows that it is the repetition and the daily practice of often seemingly unrelated exercises that are going to make the difference when the day comes to perform or compete. In the same way we must practise in order to become more resilient and prepared for whatever comes our way in life. By recognizing and encouraging mental health promoting practices may we also become more intentional in our

In the same way we must practice in order to become more resilient and prepared for whatever comes our way in life.

spiritual practice so that we know the truth of Christ’s words, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Irene Ascough holds a Bachelor of Nursing degree. She has experience in and is passionate about health promotion. She is currently pursing training as a spiritual director and is an active member at Kleefeld EMC.

Join with Christ in shaping our


Evangelical Mennonite Conference Board of Missions 204-326-6401

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Don’t Put Family First Give That Spot to God Dr. Stephen Farris


ometimes punctuation matters. “Family first?” is a question worth considering. “Family first” as a statement is a problem. Other than a phrase meaning that healthy families of various sorts are immensely important for human well-being, or that Christian worship should be welcoming to all ages, “family first” can be idolatry. This does not mean that the family is not a good thing and a great blessing. Most idols represent things that are good in themselves but have been put in the place of God and are then frozen into lifelessness as graven images.


forever.” If we think God helps achieve that end, we will send or even bring the family to church. God is merciful and can draw people through less than theologically spotless means. If we insisted that people should come to church only for the right reason, attendance would be even lower than it is now! But in the end, God does not tolerate being a means to an end. Our spiritual ancestors got it right: our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever. As the church, we hope to provide good programs for families and draw people in, but not dishonestly. We can appear to enable idolatry or to practice a bait and switch: “You think it is about family, but really it is about God.”

A Rewritten Catechism?

Listen to My Mother


Idolatry is more than adoring a statue, however. It means putting something other than God first in our lives. It is getting our relationships out of proportion so that something other than the love of God comes first. It that is so, the most common form of idolatry in our churches and wider society may be precisely the one that puts “family first.” Lots of people say it quite bluntly: “I come to the church for the family.” Attending church is like a ballet or minor sports (though not usually as important). We think we should take or send the children so that they can grow up morally straight and strong. Lots of Canadians, including folks who profess to be Christians, are at minor sports rather than church on Sunday morning, however, because they do put “family first.” And if family really is first, how can we argue with them?

This does not mean that the family is not a good thing and a great blessing.

It is as if we have rewritten the catechism: “What is our chief end? Our chief end is to produce a healthy well-adjusted family and enjoy it

Once, as a small boy, I asked my mother, “Do you love me best?” Mom replied firmly, “No, I love God first, then your father, then I love you • The Messenger 13

and your brother and sister equally.” I thank God that I was raised by a mother who didn’t put me or the family first. Listen to my mother, if you won’t listen to me. Saying “God first” does not mean “Church first” or “Church business first.” Active church people are sometimes tempted to put church first. Church may then become an ugly and destructive idol.

Allan’s Imitation


Early in my ministry I allowed myself to get too occupied with church business. My sons were three and one-year-old, respectively. One morning I was sitting on the sofa while the boys played at my feet. Three-year-old Allan picked up a book, showed it to me, and said, “I’m Daddy. This is my Bible.” “How cute,” I thought. “He’s imitating me.” “I’m going to a meeting!” Allan announced. Accurate maybe, but not nearly so cute. Allan put down his book, looked me in the eye, and said, “But maybe tomorrow I’ll stay home with my boys.” I felt as it I had been stabbed through the heart. I got up from the sofa, found my appointment book, and drew lines through many of the events. The church did fine without my presence at every single meeting. And the family did much better.

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As with all areas of life, if we put God first and, by God’s grace, got that relationship right, all the other relationships have a good chance of falling into place. As with all areas of life, if we put God first and, by God’s grace, got that relationship right, all the other relationships have a good chance of falling into place. It’s not a guarantee. We all know that faithfulness to Jesus Christ can produce anger and discord in a family, especially from those who do want to be put first. There was, after all, troubled in Jesus’ own family. See Mark 3:31-35.

Shaped for Good or Ill

Family is, however, “first” in one respect. It is in our families that we are shaped for good or ill. Veteran pastors and psychiatrists all know that what we are, for good or for ill, comes through the family. We talk about “stranger danger”; but, too often it isn’t the strangers you have to worry


about. It’s your family! Trouble of every kind will work its way through the family. But so can good. We begin to learn “all we really need to know” well before kindergarten. We learn it in the family. By all means we should create family friendly programs and worship to draw people into church. But that is only the first half of the job, at best. If people want to hand the Christian education of their children to the church, don’t let them! Hand it right back. No, that’s not quite right. Enable and motivate families to teach the faith within the home.

come together. Strangely, that kind of extended family, that “village,” may then become, as a side benefit, the best place to raise a child. God who came to us in Christ, as part of a very human and very fallible family, whose love is imprinted on us by the Holy Spirit, that Triune God can redeem the worst of us and the worst of families—if we put Him first.

Family can be a way of understanding the church. It is not “first” in this respect. Understanding the church as the Body of Christ remains primary.

Church as Family

Family can be a way of understanding the church. It is not “first” in this respect. Understanding the church as the Body of Christ remains primary. But family is up there among the key ways of understanding and living out the idea of church. The church is like an extended family where young and old, families of many sorts, and those who otherwise would have no earthly family can

Dr. Stephen Farris is a long-serving minister and professor (Knox College and Vancouver School of Theology) who served recently as moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. He currently lives in Ontario. This article first appeared in the Presbyterian Record (March 2016). It is used with his permission. • The Messenger 15

The Christian Faith: It Makes Sense! by Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen



few years ago, advertisements on buses in London, Toronto, and other major cities stated this: THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE. I respectfully disagree with the atheist view about God, not the bits about worry and enjoyment. In a two-part series I’ll set out why. I’ll make some clarifications, then sketch a cumulative case for God based on science, history, and philosophy. Often these get intermingled.

Ways of Knowing

Through intuition—direct awareness—we know some truths without arguments. I simply know (intuit) that I exist, I’m not dreaming, and that my ordinary perceptions are connected to reality (there is a tree outside my window).

I respectfully disagree with the atheist view about God, not the bits about worry and enjoyment. We also know by inference. We gather evidence and then use reason. By seeing the empty cookie jar on the counter and cookie crumbs on my son’s shirt, I infer it’s probably true that he ate the cookies! Sherlock Holmes and scientists do this much more carefully.

Special and General Revelation

The God described in the Bible makes Himself known by special revelation and general revelation. Special revelation includes Scriptures, the Holy Spirit’s personal witness, and the fact of God stepping into physical-space-time history as a

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human being—Jesus. He confirmed His claims to be God by not staying dead after being killed. General revelation consists of clues God leaves of Himself in His creation. These clues can be discerned by looking at the world’s awesomeness: gazing at a sunset, enjoying a flower, or using scientific instruments to examine living cells and distant stars.

Proof Versus Evidence

Proofs are limited to formal logic and mathematics. Here we’re concerned with evidence, as in a court of law. Evidence may not provide 100% proof, but can provide a powerful case—enough for reasonable belief.

Collections of Arguments

Cumulative case arguments are collections of arguments that individually may not provide decisive support for a conclusion, but together do. Think of legal arguments. One line of evidence isn’t enough to convict, but several lines can be enough because they accumulate and converge onto the conclusion: guilty! Just as prosecutors and defence lawyers argue for and against a verdict, cumulative case arguments consider pros and cons. Our cumulative case argument attempts to discern the objective truth (reality) concerning

God through evidence and our best ways of knowing. We’ll examine some objections along the way, and we’ll see how the positive reasons for our faith outweigh the objections.


At this point radical postmodernists might object: Reason is socially constructed, so cumulative case arguing is a dead end. My reply: The careful use of reason leads to knowledge of truth. Even critics of reason must assume it to reasonably persuade us of their view!

Each argument isn’t 100% conclusive, though some are stronger than others. But, significantly, together they provide a compelling case.

A Compelling Case

Our cumulative case argument for the existence of the Christian God consists of several arguments. Each argument isn’t 100% conclusive, though some are stronger than others. But, significantly, together they provide a compelling case. As mentioned, this is a sketch. For further investigation, check the recommended reading list.

A Transcendent Cause

This is known as the cosmological argument. Contemporary science (big bang cosmology) tells us the universe began to exist. All matter, energy, space, and time began a finite time ago.


Philosophy tells us whatever begins to exist has a cause. It follows logically that the universe has a cause for its beginning. This implies the cause of the universe is powerful. It caused the universe! It is nonphysical—it caused all physical matter and energy to come into being. And it’s eternal; it’s beyond time because it caused time to begin. Therefore the universe has a powerful, transcendent cause. This clue points, like a partial fingerprint, to God. Stephen Hawking objects that laws of nature, not God, caused the beginning of the universe. But Hawking is mistaken. Laws of nature describe or base predictions on nature. So if there is no universe—no nature— there would be no laws. Laws can’t be a cause.

The Universe is Dependent

The contingency (dependency) argument goes like this: Everything in the universe is dependent. It can not-be. Infinite contingency isn’t possible. Otherwise there could be nothing. But out of nothing, nothing comes. Therefore something must-be: a ground of being. If this ground of being is personal, it would appropriately be called I AM. Yes, think of the burning bush and Moses. Objection: This mistakenly thinks the property of a part transfers to the whole. From everything in the universe is contingent, it doesn’t follow the whole universe is contingent. Reply: This error occurs in some cases, but not all. It depends on the property in question. “Seeing better” doesn’t transfer from one person standing up to better see the football game to all spectators standing • The Messenger 17

up. This would be an error. But here the property of contingency is additive; it transfers from parts to whole. If each cubic centimeter of space in my gas tank is full of gas, then my whole tank is full of gas. If each part of the universe is dependent, then so is the universe.

Intelligent Design

The universe has features that point to an intelligent designer. The universe’s initial conditions are exquisitely fine-tuned for life. That’s true whether life emerges through some sort of evolutionary process or is subsequently created more directly. This fine-tuning suggests that the previously mentioned powerful and transcendent cause of the universe’s beginning is highly intelligent. Also, living cells smack of intelligent causation because of their complex machinery. Also, life’s blueprint—DNA’s code—smacks of an intelligent cause. Bill Gates of Microsoft says, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” It’s of interest to note that the famous atheist Antony Flew came to believe that a creator God exists because of DNA. Objection: Some people say there are a nearinfinite number of universes, so by chance, not design, we ended up with one that looks

18  The Messenger • March 2018

designed. Roll the dice long enough, we’ll get by chance a series of, say, 100,000 pairs of sixes. The dice look weighted (designed to get the pairs), but in fact aren’t. Reply: The multi-verse view hasn’t got much, if any, evidence for it. It also lacks simplicity. It’s simpler to suggest one designing mind than a gazillion universes that also would have intelligent minds. To be continued. In the meantime, some of you might check out the recommended readings. Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is the associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College, Otterburne, Man.

Recommended Readings

Paul Copan, Loving Wisdom William Lane Craig, On Guard William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. Antony Flew, There is a God Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity

Column • Further In and Higher Up

The Power of Least Interest


by Layton Friesen Conference Pastor


recently spoke with someone who had a career working for the UN. Early on he had a conversation with his director, who tried to tell him that he would need to accept living away from his family for long periods of time. My friend had no intention of living away from his family and suspected the job could be done without that living arrangement. So he told his director he would not live away from his family and that if that meant losing his job, so be it, he had other options and he did not mind poverty. He had a long and fruitful career with the UN. That shows the power of a person in the position of least interest. It’s hard to coerce someone who has other options. As Kris Kristofferson sings, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” When we lose sight of our “other options,” the world can easily make us slaves. So is poverty an absolute no-no for you? Do you have to live out your full life expectancy? Is losing your career the one thing that must be avoided at all costs? Does being on the outside socially need to be at a zero possibility for you to be happy? If yes, than the world has power over you and can make you do things to avoid the outcome you fear. Take poverty. If financial ruin would feel like the end of your life, you will not give recklessly. You will never move to Bolivia to be a missionary. You will never drain an RRSP to fund a Bible college in Myanmar. You will never abandon a career that is ruining your marriage. But if poverty is an outcome you don’t mind, the Kingdom belongs to such as you. In the resurrection of Jesus, God has shown that people baptized into Christ’s death will live forever in uninterrupted blessing in spite of their own failure and death. If the resurrection is actually God’s last word to us after poverty, mockery, abandonment by friends, and death have had their say, we have extraordinary

freedom to live as God calls us to live. This is what the Evil Powers find so galling about a martyr. The martyr holds a fierce power over her persecutor simply by being in the position of least interest. What can be done to someone who feels no need to avoid death? Who feels no compelling need to be “successful” in her city’s eyes? If you can’t scare someone with poverty, what hope is there of forcing him into your mould? This is the spiritual dynamo beneath gospel pacifism. We can live like Jesus because the resurrection has shown that death is not a bad outcome. Let’s proclaim the resurrection of the dead with great boldness. Let’s insistently and vividly preach heaven as a certain future for every believer. The great benediction of God needs to resound among us, because it makes us people with nothing to lose in this world. It makes us people who can love with abandon, even at the cost of our lives. It sets us free. Christians have been delivered of the need to survive this life. When career, family and life are threatened, we have other options, possibilities like Heaven we don’t mind one bit. Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever. (Martin Luther)

When we lose sight of our "other options, the world can easily make us slaves. Let’s proclaim the resurrection of the dead with great boldness. • The Messenger 19

With Our Missionaries

Caring For Workers, New Believers We are taking some time to adjust to the heat here in Hoskins. Even the national people say it’s hot. So that’s encouraging. It will get cooler. We’re hoping and praying. Anyway, God is still good. He is bringing us through the fire to refine us to be more like his Son.  We are keeping busy, hopefully being an encouragement to our co-workers and the national folks here. Besides working in the finance office, I’ve been able to make use of my hobby to make furniture for Bush orientation folks and for some furniture needs here on Hoskins centre. Laurel is working in the Tribal print shop and is also overseeing Hoskins housing. A couple of her projects have been printing and laminating Chronological Bible pictures for a tribal church and now she’s putting together Bible study calendars for all the West New Britain Tribal churches. We’ve had four new families that are finishing their Pidgin studies and are doing or have finished Bush orientation. That’s where Laurel gets to work with the national lady workers here to get houses ready for them. I’ve been helping out a little bit too.  We’ve had some contact with the Pukapuki believers. The radio is out of commission, but some have been out



Tim and Laurel Schroder

where they can get cell phone coverage. Most of the people have gone back to their traditional way of life since we’ve left; they are back in their clan territory living in smaller family hamlets. It makes good sense as there is more food and building materials out there and not the hassle of living on another clan’s land. It is a real chalEvangelical Mennonite Conference lenge for the life of the church as they don’t Quarterly Financial Report 2017 get together for teaching and encouragement Jan.–June Jan.–June very often. There is still the huge need for 2017 2016 Bible teachers and leaders. They are all on our hearts and in our Receipts and Transfers 701,625 723,032 prayers continually—our children and the Disbursements 910,266 907,656 Pukapuki believers. Excess/Shortfall -208,641 -184,624 Please pass on our greetings and thanks for financial support and prayers. We are General Other All Funds privileged to have partners with us in the Missions 1,021,732 562,045 1,583,77 work the Lord has entrusted us with. We need Church Ministries 174,543 116,614 291,157 to be faithful stewards. Trustees 216,215 4,061 220,276 – Tim and Laurel Schroder General Board 33,887 25,952 59,839 Tim and Laurel Schroder (Pelly) serve with Leadership and Outreach 187,623 109,771 297,394 Ethnos Canada. Church Planting 266,760 19,924 286,684 Total

20  The Messenger • March 2018




With Our Missionaries

Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in Nicaragua! EMC foreign secretary Ken Zacharias, Arlyn van Enns (Fort Chipewyan, Alta.), and Phil Hamm (Leamington, Ont.) travelled to Nicaragua from Jan. 17 to 24, 2018, to attend the annual conference of the FIEMN (Fraternity of Evangelical Mennonite Churches in Nicaragua). The work started in 1967 and now there are 22 churches and 12 church plants. One of the objectives of EMC Mission is to support the work in that impoverished nation. The work is growing as an independent conference. Many pastors walk for an hour or two or take buses to get to their churches as they do not own personal vehicles. Most of the pastors of these churches and church plants make less than $200 per month. I am sure that there are nights when they go to bed hungry and struggle to make ends meet, but I did not hear a word about those kind of struggles. The Canadian EM Conference is supporting them by sending $13,000 USD to them to keep the administrative work functioning. They struggle to look after their own pastors, let alone the cost of doing work together with youth, women, and social action. Your contributions to the EMC Mission Board help them tremendously.

Special Projects

On this field visit, there were five special projects that the Nicaraguan church council presented to us for consideration and the Board of Missions have now approved each one of these projects for 2018. Let me outline them for you so that you can give a donation to one of these very important projects if you desire. Please designate it.

Nutrition $6,000

Congregations in Nicaragua help the poor in six communities where churches and church outreaches are located. The Social Action Committee gives undernourished children one meal three times a week.

Pastor’s Medical Fund $2,000

The Board of Missions assists pastors and their families by contributing 50% of their medical costs to a maximum of $2,000 per year.

Pastoral Food Hampers $3,500

The Pastoral Council gives each one of the thirty-five



They were very appreciative of the $10,000 that the Canadian EMC sent through MCC to help after Hurricane Nate wiped out crops just before harvest time. Also EMC Project Builders is willing to help the Nicaraguan conference with some of their building projects. Pray for the leadership of the FIEMN as they seek to bring their people into the Kingdom of God. – Phil Hamm, BOM Member pastors in the conference a grocery hamper four times a year. Most of these pastors are self-supported and have limited income. $25 provides one hamper per pastoral family for three months.

Scholarships $1,800

The Bible Institute committee provides scholarships to Bible School candidates to assist with their travel costs in order to study at a master’s level at the Semilla Bible School in Guatemala.

Internet Communications $600

In 2019 this will be the responsibility of the National Council as part of their administration costs. Thank you for praying for the FIEMN conference in Nicaragua. They are doing well and are encouraged. It is a privilege as the EMC to work alongside our sister conference in Nicaragua. – Ken Zacharias Foreign Secretary • The Messenger 21

Column • Focus On

General Board Approves New Structure


t the General Board meeting on March 7, the board approved changes to the Conference Handbook and the revised job descriptions for Conference staff. These changes will become effective on May 1, 2018. This decision is the culmination of two years of work by all the EMC boards and a pair of subcommittees assigned to work out the details.

by Tim Dyck General Secretary

There is no change to the Constitution or the structure of Conference Council, Ministerial or Conference Boards.

Why was this change necessary?

The main issue identified was the independent structure and accountability of EMC staff and boards. EMC has five boards, each of which is accountable to the Conference Council with a specific mandate. One of the five boards is the General Board, which has responsibility to coordinate the activities of all of the other boards. In the current structure, the boards and staff operate independently of one another, with minimal coordination. This leads to other related issues including a lack of sharing of vital information and a lack of flexibility in responding to changes. There is a desire to change the focus of staff to serving all of EMC rather than a specific part of the ministry.

How was the change processed?

The General Board formed a committee to investigate changes to the current structure that would address the main issues. The committee made several recommendations, which were modified and approved by Conference Council. Then a second committee worked towards implementation of the general plan, together with input from EMC national staff and boards. The committee was assisted by support from a management consulting firm and received helpful advice from other denominations similar to EMC. Conference Council and all boards approved the final recommendations.

What does the change mean?

There is no change to the Constitution or the structure of Conference Council, Ministerial or Conference Boards. The change that was approved moves EMC from a board-directed staffing model to a team-oriented approach

22  The Messenger • March 2018

serving all boards. An executive team will work together to serve all of the ministries and boards of EMC, and will function as a team in setting and prioritizing goals and achieving results. A Personnel Committee has been established to oversee the hiring and management of all EMC national staff. An Executive Director gives leadership to the executive team and reports directly to the General Board. All of these changes are designed so that EMC is better equipped to serve all national ministries with focus and clarity.

What Happens to Current Staff?

There are no changes planned to the number of current staff at the EMC national office, except that job descriptions, responsibilities, reporting structures and titles have been modified in most situations. Here is a list of your EMC national staff with new job descriptions: Tim Dyck – Executive Director Terry Smith – Director of Communications and Education Ken Zacharias – Director of Global Outreach Gerald Reimer – Director of Youth and Discipleship Layton Friesen – Conference Pastor Charlie Koop – Director of Canadian Church Planting Erica Fehr – Church Leadership Assistant Diana Peters – Missions and Finance Assistant Andrew Walker – Communications Assistant The General Board is grateful to the many volunteers on the boards and committees, and to the national staff who have all worked many hours to implement these changes. The General Board extends special thanks to moderator Abe Bergen for his expert guidance and support throughout this process.

With Our Churches Portage Evangelical Church

Portage Holds Baptism and Dedication


PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man.—Feb 25, 2018, was a special day as we had a baptism and a parent-child dedication. Estina Hemingway was baptized. Marvin and Rachael Giesbrecht dedicated their daughter Katie with Natalie and Caleb standing and Pastor Glenn Loewen and elder board chair Gord Utz praying. Again, it was a good morning. – Stan Wiebe and Catherine Epp Pastor Glenn Loewen baptizes Estina Hemingway.


Pansy Chapel

Pansy: 6 + 16 = 22 Baptized in One Service (thanks to Urban Life) a winter baptism was planned. There are, of course, many other ways God is working in our midst. We could tell about the pre-Christmas rush of sending shoeboxes in record numbers or of the regular Christmas concert that turned to a highlight this year. Or we could describe the seven-week Hearing God study that amazed us. There is so much to learn about hearing God throughout the Scriptures as well as in life. One surprise happened with that that none of us could remember seeing before: a midweek traffic jam on Road 21N. Plus the sessions may well have been the catalyst preceding the unusual service on Jan 14. Who knows what God may do? –Betty Barkman


PANSY, Man.—A winter baptism on Jan. 14, 2018, planned for six people turned into an impromptu baptism for an additional 16. After the six candidates (Sarah McQuade, Ginette Morgan, Sandy Gobeil, Brad Wiebe, Jordan Reimer, and Aaron Barkman) had been baptized, as per our custom of many years the invitation was given to anyone else who would like to take this important step. It didn’t take long and people starting coming forward and, upon confession of their faith, an additional 16 received baptism that morning, a mix of regular attenders and some visitors. As the stage became littered with towels, shoes and dripping clothes, and people went home in dry shepherd costumes, it made us wonder what it was like in Acts 2:37-41. When 3,000 were baptized in one day, there must have been a lot of wet clothes and shoes lined up on the beach. Our hearts were full. What a privilege to be a part of the work that God is doing. Our baptisms typically take place in summer (including a five-week New Life Class leading up to the service) when the creek behind the church property can be used. This winter several people expressed an interest in winter baptism, so with the use of a baptismal tank • The Messenger 23

With Our Churches Pelly Fellowship Chapel

Pastor Hyoungjin (Frankie) Kim ordained


PELLY, Sask.—Sept. 25, 2016, was a special day for members and adherents of Pelly Fellowship Chapel, as this was ordination day for Pastor Hyoungjin (Frankie) Kim, supported by his wife Minju. The day dawned bright and sunny, the ladies had a lunch prepared, and 3 p.m. was the time. The chapel was comfortably filled. There were representatives from three of the EMC churches in Region 3—Hudson Bay, Birch River, and Swan River. People came also from the Kamsack Evangelical Free, the Hyas Baptist, and the Norquay Covenant churches. Many Pelly folk came. Very pleasing for the Kim family was that Pastor Kim’s father from South Korea was able to be present. Merv Abrahamson was chair for the evening. Lewis Anfinson read from 2 Timothy. Simon Yoon and his wife Joy, who made the trip from Calgary to be with their friends, the Kim family, provided special music. On behalf of the wider EMC, Fred Buhler, pastor at Hudson Bay (Pineridge) and a mem- September 25, 2016, was a special day. Minju and Pastor Hyoungjin Kim listen and ber of the EMC’s General Board, had a short respond as Pastor Fred Buhler, a member of the EMC’s General Board, officiates durmessage of encouragement for Frankie, Minju, ing the ordination service. The Kim family came to Pelly in December 2015. and the congregation. He then conducted the ordination service. It was a solemn, meaningful, and joyful time. Many people went forward to give their support during the prayer of dedication. Suitable gifts were presented to Frankie, Minju, and their daughter Choah by Merv Abrahamson, chairman of the board; Donna Abrahamson, ladies president; and Brenda Bellows, Sunday School superintendent. Simon and Frankie sang two numbers with Joy at the piano and Frankie’s father, the senior Mr. Kim, on the harmonica. The chair then announced an “open mike” time. Many people took this opportunity to speak words of encouragement and appreciation for the Kim family. The day ended with lunch and fellowship in the lower hall. – Vivian Anfinson and Rhonda Brodeur

24  The Messenger • March 2018

With Our Churches Pelly Fellowship Chapel

PELLY, Sask.—It’s not every day you have someone who has done the same job in the same church for 50 years. In August 2017 Lewis and Vivian Anfinson celebrated 50 years as Pelly’s deacon couple. You do not hear too often a person who does the same position in a church for 50 years, never mind a couple who does the same position together in the same church for 50 years. On Sunday, August 27, 2017, we had our regular Sunday service. At the end Pastor Frankie Kim made an announcement of a special service. Lewis Anfinson, easygoing as he is, did not seem to have concern. Vivian did not know what was going on. I could see her whisper to Lewis, who shook his head no. Pastor Frankie Kim led a short service to thank Lewis and Vivian for their 50 years of service as our deacon couple. People joined us from Kamsack, Norquay, Hyas, and Benito. There was an open microphone. People spoke how Lewis and Vivian were an example for them in one way or another. They admired Lewis and Vivian, and spoke of what a great couple they are. They have given of themselves to the church and the community. Both Lewis and Vivian volunteered wherever they were needed. They were there to help out Births and volunteered at numerous places FRIESEN—To Dan and Danica, a son, Lucas, over the years. on Aug. 25, 2017. The Anfinsons FRIESEN—To Josh and Gina, a son, Jaxon, were presented with on June 13, 2017. a plaque. People took GUDERIAN—To Rob and Becky, a son, pictures. Vivian said Benjamin, on Sept. 24, 2017. for the first time HARDER—To Henry and Cindy Harder of. St. Thomas, Ont., a son, Hudson Reese, on she was speechless. Dec. 27, 2017. She was too moved HEPPNER—To Wayne and Kelsey, a and touched, and daughter, Eden, on July 22, 2017. thanked everyone KRAHN—To Andrew and Melissa, a son, for coming and the Asher, on June 5, 2017. lovely words and the MARTENS—To Derek and Melissa, a daughter, Juniper, on Aug.17, 2017. plaque. Then Lewis MATEJKA—To Vlad and Bethany of Birch spoke and thanked River, Man., a son, Sevastjan Karel, on Dec. everyone for coming 1, 2017. and for everything. THIESSEN—To Joe and Lisa of Walsingham, After we all went Ont., a son, Owen Grant, on Oct. 1, 2017.


Anfinsons Honoured for 50 Years as a Deacon Couple

Deacon couple Lewis and Vivian Anfinson

downstairs for a surprise lunch. It was my honour to interview Lewis and Vivian for article. They were both very humble about their position as deacon couple, and are doing it as to the Lord. Vivian said it is a privilege to serve the Lord and the church in this way. Lewis said he will do whatever work the Lord leads him to do. Lewis and Vivian were married in 1951. When they and their family started attending what became Pelly Fellowship Chapel, people would gather in each other’s homes for church, a different home each week. Then they rented a house in Pelly and called the church Pelly Fellowship Chapel. A missionary Benny Eidse, from the Western Gospel Mission, led the church. From that, the church grew to what it is today. Vivian was a Christian when she and Lewis started attending church. Lewis became a Christian back in the days when they were still meeting in each others’ homes. In August 1967 the congregation of Pelly Fellowship Chapel voted in Lewis and Vivian as their deacon couple; and they are doing such a great job we will not let them step down.  – Rhonda Brodeur • The Messenger 25

With Our Churches Kola EMC

KOLA, Man.—We ended the year off right by welcoming Meagan Plett and Jenny Hiebert into our congregation on Dec. 31, 2017. Megan was baptized by Pastor Richard Klassen following her testimony, citing Isaiah 41:10 as being a verse that continually has brought her comfort over the past year. Jenny Hiebert was welcomed into our membership after transferring from her former church in Belize. This past year had been very hard for her as her daughter underwent open heart surgery last spring. Praise the Lord, her young daughter recovered well and has a strong, beautiful presence about her. Psalm 139 brought comfort to Jenny and her husband as they went to countless doctor’s appointments over the year. I cannot help but wonder what the future will bring as we seek a full-time pastor to lead our small, vibrant congregation. – Alida Martens

Kleefeld EMC


Baptism and Membership

Megan Plett, Jenny Hiebert


Couples Dedicated to Raise Their Children in the Lord KLEEFELD, Man.—On Nov. 19, 2017, three couples dedicated themselves to bringing their children up for the Lord. Associate pastor Pete Ascough prayed over them, and the members of the congregation stood to indicate their promise to walk alongside these families in their journey. The couples were Chris Yaremkiewich and Ingrid Dueck with Allison; Tim and Jodi Bartel with Carlo, Alessa, Casabella and Angelo; and Alyssa and Steve Toews with Oliver. – Lou and Dennis Friesen


Free for Sunday School! Contact or 204-3266401. 26  The Messenger • March 2018

Column • Focusing On

We Plant Churches Because It Matters Garry EMC to support an outreach project, led by Pastor Len, on the campus of the University of Manitoba. Another exciting outreach project we are supporting is the work of Simon and Joy Kim, members of the Pelly church. They are actively reaching out to two nearby First Nations communities, Keesekoose and Cote. This began through the vision of Pastor Frankie Kim at Pelly Fellowship Chapel. Beyond the ten ministries already mentioned, we are also excited about what is happening at Ste Agathe, Manitoba. For the past number of years the Rosenort EM Church has been reaching out to this neighbouring community. This work is progressing and Pastor Scott and Debbie Dyck of the Rosenort EMC are praying about relocating to Ste. Agathe to aid these efforts. As you can see, the church planting efforts under the EMC umbrella are expanding and increasing in influence. I hope this report has provided an increased understanding of the exciting, ethnically diverse, and ever-evolving scope of our church planting in Canada. We are looking and praying and seeking the Lord to send us more workers because the need for people to know Jesus is huge (Luke 10:2). We know you care. But still you may be wondering how you can do more to assist in this important work. Here are a few suggestions. For one, you can pray. Pray for our church planting coordinator Charlie Koop and our Church Planting Task Force, but, most importantly, pray for these churches and ministries and the people who lead them. And, secondly, if you would be so led of God, consider financially supporting the work of the Canadian Church Planting Task Force through giving to the Church Planters and Training Fund.

by Earl Unger Vice Chair, Canadian Church Planting Task Force

As you can see, the church planting efforts under the EMC umbrella are expanding and increasing in influence.



eporting on church planting is like a Jets fan talking about his young, but improving hockey team. Following them still hurts sometimes, but increasingly their swift skating, fancy stickwork, and deft puck handling thrills even the most jaded heart. So it is regarding our efforts at extending the Kingdom through church planting. Here’s what I mean. We currently have ten church plants and outreach ministries, in varying degrees of maturation, stretching across Western Canada. We have church plants in Redcliffe/Medicine Hat and Two Hills, Alberta, both reaching into what are primarily Low German-speaking communities. Among our other church starts, we have two Spanish churches in Calgary and Dauphin. The latter has not had a full-time church planter since January 2018 because of a lack of growth and sustainability after four years of ministry. Meanwhile, Iglesia Emmanuel of Calgary, a young church itself, is working hard at establishing another Spanish church in the city of Airdrie, just north of Calgary. We also support a Spanish outreach project emanating from the Aberdeen EMC in north Winnipeg. This is currently led by Angel and Blanca Infantes. It has grown to around 60 people. These are all exciting ventures, but there are more. The Many Rooms Church Community in the Spence community of Winnipeg continues to grow, effectively reaching the inner city through a network of six house churches. A further indication of God’s blessing is the recent addition of the Logos Church of Winnipeg, a Chinese church plant. They have hired Jabez Lee as their pastor. They are receiving significant support from our Fort Garry church, as this is where the Logos church meets; and associate Pastor Len Harms is mentoring Pastor Lee and the church leadership. Len also preaches there monthly. It should be noted that the Canadian Church Planting Task Force also provides funds to Fort

John and Helen Froese, Two Hills, Alta. • The Messenger 27


Providence Launches Anabaptist Studies Track To assist all conferences whose members train at PTS

Church Planter needed for Windsor, Ontario Is this person you? If you are interested in learning more, call or email Charlie Koop at 403-874-1759 or

28  The Messenger • March 2018

social justice, pacifism, and the state. All students can take the courses, not only those in the MDiv program, for credit (graduate and undergraduate) or audit. The five courses will be taught as weeklong intensives and offered over a three-year cycle. The relationship between Anabaptism Susanne Plett and Evangelicalism was explored by Dr. Friesen and Dr. Patrick Franklin, who teaches systematic theology and ethics. The relationship was seen as challenging, overlapping, and mutually enriching. Two people led in prayers of dedication for the program: Dr. Lissa Wray Beal, chair of PTS’s Bible and theology department, and Terry Smith, an EMC minister who works in the EMC national office. Before praying, Smith said he wished three EMC people were in attendance: Ben D. Reimer, Archie Penner, and Susanne Plett. Earlier (in the 1930s and 1940s) they chose, despite criticism, to study at Providence (then Winnipeg Bible Institute). They would be pleased to see this event, he said. Reimer became the president of Steinbach Bible Institute (now College) and promoted church planting in Canada. Penner became the first EMCer to earn a PhD; he served as a professor and a pastor. Plett served as a foreign missionary when EMCers were suspicious both of missions and women serving as missionaries. She died on the field in Brazil, but her influence continues. The program is designed to assist all Anabaptist conferences whose members train at Providence. For more information, Dr. Layton Friesen can be contacted through Providence or the EMC national office. – EMC GAMEO

OTTERBURNE, Man.– The new Anabaptist Studies Track at Providence Theological Seminary was launched on Feb. 22, 2018, at a campus dessert night with community members and Mennonite conference and Providence representatives in attendance. Dr. Layton Friesen, the AST director, outlined the Dr. Layton Friesen new major within the Master of Divinity program. It consists of five related courses, an internship in an Anabaptist setting, and a thesis (if that project is chosen) on an Anabaptist theme. The courses deal with Radical Reformation history, thought, and practice; Evangelicalism and Anabaptism; contemporary AnabapDr. Lissa Wray Beal tism and theologians; global Anabaptism; and Anabaptist perspectives on community,


One hundred and fifty people from the five EMC Spanish Ministries of Manitoba gathered for a joint service on Feb. 16 at the Portage Evangelical Church. The five ministries are Aberdeen EMC, Ebenezer Christian Church (Brandon), Iglesia Cristiana Tabernaculo Ebenezer (Dauphin), Portage Evangelical Church, and Steinbach EFC. Angel Infantes coordinated the event. Paul Friesen, leader of the Portage’s ministry, welcomed those who came, referring to the aroma of unity (Psalm 133). David Peters coordinated the four groups that led in praise and worship. Testimonies told of what God is doing. • The Spanish ministry started at Aberdeen in October 2017. God is bringing together people who are being transformed. God is bringing together a church as described in Rev. 7:9 from every nation, tribe, people, and language. • Dauphin is motivated by the “mission” given to the followers of Jesus, Their vision is to equip each believer to use their spiritual gifts to serve others (1 Pet. 4:10). • Charles Koop, church planting coordinator, said “everyone present here is the work of God” that began with


Portage: Hispanic Joint Service Held

Hernan and Landis Benitez in Braeside EMC. This ministry sparked works in Brandon, Steinbach, Aberdeen. It is also the fruit of returning missionaries. God wants His Kingdom to become a reality “on earth as it is in heaven.” Rosario Cruz, of Brandon, coordinated the children’s activities. Forty children were inspired by teachers and helpers with singing, stories and crafts. After the service everyone participated in the potluck meal. Acquaintances were renewed and friendships formed. The event was encouraging to the attendees. Many expressed their desire to meet again. – Lester Olfert and Angel Infantes

Portage: servicio conjunto hispano celebrado Ciento cincuenta personas de los cinco ministerios españoles de EMC de Manitoba se reunieron para un servicio conjunto el 16 de febrero en la Iglesia Evangélica de Portage. Los cinco ministerios son Aberdeen EMC, Ebenezer Christian Church (Brandon), Iglesia Cristiana Tabernaculo Ebenezer (Dauphin), Portage Evangelical Church y Steinbach EFC. Angel Infantes coordinó el evento. Paul Friesen, líder del ministerio de Portage, dio la bienvenida a los que vinieron, refiriéndose al aroma de la unidad (Salmo 133). David Peters coordinó a los cuatro grupos lideraron la alabanza. Los testimonios cuentan lo que Dios está haciendo. • El ministerio español comenzó en Aberdeen en octubre de 2017. Dios está reuniendo a las personas que se transforman. Dios está reuniendo una iglesia como se describe en Apocalipsis 7: 9 de cada nación, tribu, pueblo e idioma. • Dauphin está motivado por la “misión” dada a los seguidores de Jesús. Su visión es equipar a cada creyente para usar sus dones espirituales para servir a los demás (1 Pedro 4:10). • Charles Koop, coordinador de plantación de iglesias,

dijo que “todos los presentes aquí son obra de Dios” que comenzó con Hernan y Landis Benítez en Braeside EMC. Este ministerio desató trabajos en Brandon, Steinbach, Aberdeen. También es el fruto de los misioneros que regresan. Dios quiere que su Reino se haga realidad “en la tierra como en el cielo”. Rosario Cruz, de Brandon, coordinó las actividades de los niños. Cuarenta niños fueron inspirados por maestros y ayudantes con canciones, historias y manualidades. Después del servicio, todos participaron en la comida compartida. Se renovaron amistades y se formaron amistades. El evento fue alentador para los asistentes. Muchos expresaron su deseo de encontrarse nuevamente. – Lester Olfert y Angel Infantes • The Messenger 29

In Memory

Nettie Anne Brandt

1945-2016 Nettie was born in her parents’ home on April 22, 1945, in Blumenort, Man., the eighth child of Abram and Anna Brandt. She was quiet child who would sit alone meditating. She said she asked Jesus into her heart at age four and understood what it meant. As a girl she was kind, concerned about others, unselfish and conscientious. She was baptized into the Blumenort EMC as a teenager. Intellectually she was well above average. Mental health problems were noticeable in elementary school, but not identified. She finished grade 12 and a Bible diploma at Steinbach Bible College. She attended Briercrest, but her studies were interrupted by a mental health problem incorrectly diagnosed and with no treatment offered. Nettie began nurse’s training at Red River College and the University of Minnesota; both ended with psychotic breakdowns. Nettie worked at Municipal Hospitals in Winnipeg and with the Victorian Order of Nurses, both interrupted by health problems. As a caretaker and homemaker for a lady paralyzed by polio, she was recognized as a special person. Soon after she had to take medication that robbed most of her life. She heroically applied for jobs, but ended up volunteering at a daycare and worked as private companion

30  The Messenger • March 2018

with a handicapped boy. Medicahospital and in Rest Haven for two tion affected her so much that she was years, limited to a wheelchair because hospitalized several times because of of knees and the effects of drugs. psychotic breaks. When I walked in at 11 a.m., she was For fifteen years Nettie was a good cheering. “The doctor said it will be caretaker for our parents. She joined soon and there will be no more pain.” the Evangelical Fellowship Church She spent most of the next three when she still drove her own car. After hours talking about people coming our parents died, she lived with her to know Jesus, and stopped breathing sister Elma in Steinbach. The blessings quickly just before two o’clock. far outweighed the duties. Nettie has been out of my house Nettie’s life was nothing except for four years. I am not a mystic, but disappointments, pain, loneliness, God’s power and glory in her life still rejection. She remained kind, friendly, lingers. I regret that few of you ever generous, willing to help, never holdhad the opportunity to glimpse the ing grudges. She followed the Bible’s hidden treasure that Nettie was. directions to the best of her ability. – Elma Brandt Our pastor preached, “If you read the Bible and believe it, you have the power of God in your life.” Nettie wore out three Bibles. When I could not find someBe more generous to the charities you thing, usually she gave care about now and through your estate. me the chapter. Her docLet us show you how. Call 1.800.772.3257 tor asked her what it TODAY for a free consultation. would be like if she died. She gave him a happy smile and said, “I would be much closer to Jesus than I am now.” Another message was: “If in hard times you have the power of God that shows the glory of God.” Nettie’s life was one long, hard time. Recently, “Every trial is an opportunity for spiritual growth.” She had more opportunities Because generosity changes everything than most and she grew. By March 9, 2016, she had been in the

Giving That’s Easy

In Memory

Arnold Thiessen

He got a job at Weldwood lumber yard` where he would work for the next 30 years. They attended Aberdeen EMC. He was active on many committees, being a deacon, and managing the church directory on the computer. Each summer they would drive to Indiana to visit Lois’s family. At home they kept busy with fixing or building things; designing beds, desks and shelving units; and busy on the computer. He enjoyed reading and discussing science fiction books with his daughter, driving to hockey practices, piano lessons and games. Arnold and Lois also managed two trips back to Europe in 1975 and 1993 for their 25th anniversary. In 1998 Arnold’s wife Lois passed away. One year later he married Tina Barkman and together they attended Braeside EMC. They both retired shortly after and did volunteer work through EMC Missions in Mexico, Paraguay, and West Africa (Burkina Faso). They took care of the EMC guest house in El Paso, Texas, from 2004-2007.

In Winnipeg Arnold tutored math for the Union Gospel Mission, and was a handyman at the Charis Center, Star Lake Lodge, and at church. Arnold also took time to go on exotic holidays with Tina every year, visiting places like Brazil where his son Bruce lived and El Salvador where his sonin-law Alex is from. After a stroke in 2014, Arnold’s life slowed down, but he adjusted with grace and humour. He and Tina moved into a new apartment building where Arnold found ways to keep busy. There were books to read, puzzles to conquer, coffee with friends, Skype with the grandkids, hockey to watch with his sons, and computer skills to continue. The last years of his life, though continuing health struggles, gave us all an opportunity to witness Arnold’s persistence and positive attitude. Arnold was a good man dedicated to God, family, and friends. We thank God for his life. – His Family

1940-2018 On Jan. 27, 2018, Arnold Thiessen passed away suddenly at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Man. Arnold was born in Giroux, Man., on Aug. 13, 1940, to Cornie and Margaret Thiessen. He attended the Blumenort EMC, part of which branched off to become Ridgewood EMC. Arnold took his last two years of high school by correspondence and finished his high school requirements at SBI as well as two years of Bible training. At age 25 Arnold went to Europe with the Intermenno Exchange Program for a year. After getting back to Canada he studied at university, majoring in Courses on Anabaptism at Otterburne, Man. chemistry and minoring in physics. During these two Radical Reformation: History, Thought, and Practice summers he worked with May 14-18 Instructor: Dr. Layton Friesen the CN Rail on the trains, Its glories, weaknesses, historical events, transformation, wittravelling back and forth to ness, and meaning today give a captivating glimpse of what it means to Canada’s west coast. be a radical follower of Christ in this pattern. In the winter of 1968 Complicated Faithfulness: Issues in Contemporary Arnold married Lois Miller Anabaptist Theology of Shipshewana, Indiana, whom he had met in May 21-25 Instructor: Zac Klassen Europe. After a short time Enduring issues such as baptism, the ban, ecumenism, the church/world in Burns Lake, B.C., they distinction and pacifism are explored through modern writers who dissettled down in Winnipeg. cuss Anabaptist theology as a gift to the broader Church. They raised three children: Bruce (Lyndell), Akron, PA; Classes are offered for graduate and undergraduate credit, and for Andrew, Michigan; and audit. Those seeking EMC credentials are encouraged to take it for Melanie (Alex) in B.C. with credit. Mercedes, Mani, and Luisa. For information contact Admissions: 1-800-668-7768, 1-204-433-7488,

MASTER OF DIVINITY • The Messenger 31

In Memory

Barbara Ann Plett

1949-2017 Barbara Ann Plett, of Landmark, Man., was born to Margaret and Peter X Reimer on Nov. 19, 1949, and passed away peacefully in her home on Oct. 26, 2017. Barb grew up in Landmark and graduated from Landmark Collegiate Institute. She spent the next few years working, travelling to Europe and attending Grace Bible Institute in Nebraska and Steinbach Bible College in Manitoba. When Barb’s sister got married, Barb was a bridesmaid. A certain Ron Plett was also in the wedding party as it was his brother marrying Barb’s sister. When Ron saw Barb at the wedding, he knew she was the woman for him. On March 9, 1974, they were married. Ron was a farmer at heart and they shortly moved to Landmark to take over the family farm. Barb was an amazing support to Ron, particularly during harvest, even learning to drive the combine! Barb loved to sing! She and some friends even cut a record. Her alto voice blessed many patients at the St. Boniface hospital over the 20-plus years she volunteered there. Barb loved to sew. She won sewing contests as a teenager and sewed her brother a suit. Barb also designed and

32  The Messenger • March 2018

sewed her own wedding dress. She often found ways to re-purpose thrift store finds, creating many costumes for her children. Barb’s creative interests led her to follow her dream to become a potter and start a small business, Pots n’ Pieces. Her appreciation of beauty led Barb to spend hours creating wonderful flower and vegetable gardens and a lovely yard. Barb was an amazing cook and loved to entertain friends and family. The greatest love of Barb’s life, however, was Jesus. She consistently strived to use her gifts, talents, and joys to God’s glory and the blessing of others. From handing out Christmas cards and Bibles with $5 bills to strangers, to volunteering with a Granny’s Club. From advocating on behalf of the unborn with League for Life, to leading Bible studies at the Remand Centre. From her fervent commitment to prayer and missions, to using her pottery income to fly her family to Africa to see mission work firsthand. From coaching junior and high school girls’ basketball, to mentoring many young women that she loved. Even the anticipated annual Barb’s Country Christmas was seen by her as a vessel to share the gospel. Every customer went home with a short explanation of the true meaning of Christmas tucked safely into their bag of purchases. Barb was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in January 2015. Her journey through cancer was difficult yet evidenced the hand of God leading

and guiding. She encouraged us not to waste pain but to spend it drawing close to Jesus. Barb is survived by her five siblings: Joyce Forgo, Elvira (Louis) Plett, Hilda Koop, Philip (Phyllis) Reimer, Larry (Ina) Reimer; her husband, Ron Plett, and their children: Danny Plett, Fiona (Steve) Thiessen, Ivan (Sherry) Plett, Janice (Lance) Barrate, thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. – Her Family

Calendar Alberta June 1-2 MCC Charity and Auction Didsbury, Alta.

Manitoba March 9-11 Young Adult Retreat Camp Nutimik, Whiteshell Provincial Park

Ontario July 6-8 EMC Convention Rooted in the Gospel Western University, London, On.

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.

Additional EMC Openings Often there are more churches looking for senior, associate, youth, and interim pastors than are identified on this page. For information on additional openings, contact conference pastor Layton Friesen (; conference youth minister Gerald D. Reimer (greimer@emconference. ca); and church planting coordinator Charles Koop ( The national office phone number is 204-326-6401. Talk with Erica Fehr, administrative assistant to the BLO, to request a cell number for a particular person.

EMC Positions* Taber EMC, in southern Alberta, seeks a full-time senior pastor to lead our congregation. We are a church with an average attendance of 200 people. Our congregation consists primarily of young Mennonite families who are fluent in Low German and English. Our services are being held in English. The ability to speak Low German is helpful. Relevant education and experience are assets. For more information, call 403-634-9389. Resumes can be sent to Evangelical Fellowship Church of Fort Frances, Ont., seeks a pastor to come alongside the congregation as we minister to each other and our community. We

are open to the options of a part- or full-time pastor. We are a diverse congregation and this we see as a strength. If you have a heart for the lost, a clear understanding of God’s Word, leadership experience, and would enjoy working with our Church Board and Elders, contact us. Fort Frances is an area of great opportunity for “letting your light shine.” This may be where your next big adventure for God is waiting. Please send your resume to johanneslgerber@gmail. com or leave a message at 807-274-2328. Kola EMC, a rural congregation, is seeking a full time senior pastor. Our beloved pastor will be retiring this spring and we are in need of a new shepherd. Kola EMC is a church of about 100 attendees with many young families and children. This closely knit community is located just south of Highway One on the Man./Sask. border. Successful candidates will preach regularly, visit and support individuals in the congregation, advise ministerial boards, lead or organize small groups, initiate growth and development and outreach. Please submit your resume or questions regarding the position to Adam Bajus at or to Kola EMC, c/o chairman, Box 2, Kola, MB R0M 1B0 The EMC’s Campaign of One is looking for one church planter to work in urban Canada. Is that person you? Are you being called to start a church in Windsor, Ont.? If interested, contact Charles Koop, EMC church planting coordinator, at 204-326-6401 or

Other Positions Attention, Christ-centred high-school teachers, snowmobile and boat sales and service people, pastors, and police officers: Are you growing

weary of feeling redundant? Are you tiring of working where you're replaceable? Are you longing to be useful where a Christian presence isn't, unless you are? Fort Chipewyan, in northern Alberta, may be the home of spiritual challenge and blessing for you! Call Arlyn van Enns at 780-697-3818. Steeprock Bay Bible Camp is seeking a seasonal director for 2018. SBBC is an evangelical interdenominational ministry located in the northern part of Manitoba`s parkland, near Sapatoweyak Cree Nation. We currently offer five weeks of junior camp and one week of teen camp. For further information or to submit a resume, please contact us at info@ or call the board chair Ferlin Abrahamson at 204-281-2879. Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, located in Winkler, Man., is seeking a part-time associate pastor. We hold to the Anabaptist theology and have accepted The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. We are currently not affiliated with a Conference. Currently we share our facility with another congregation. Our congregation consists primarily of seniors. The associate position would focus on visitations (both home and hospital), preaching, and teaching (which includes Bible study and/or adult Sunday School class). Please submit resumes to Search Committee, WBMC, Box 1207, Winkler, MB R6W 4B2 or email to

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.

Ministry in an Evangelical Anabaptist Setting The priesthood of all believers and the dignity of vocations (beyond priest, monk, and nun) are two biblical truths rediscovered during the Protestant Reformation. In an Evangelical Anabaptist understanding, all moral types of work can be Christ-honouring for believers. At the same time, most of our churches do set aside some individuals for special functions of spiritual leadership, teaching, and preaching. Not all settings are the same. Some of our churches elect ministers from within their midst. Others choose a minister from outside of the congregation. Some of our churches have full-time paid pastors, either solo or in a multi-staff setting. Others have a team of hired and selfsupporting ministers. Some pastors are bi-vocational. Our ministers reflect a variety of educational paths: most have Bible college and some have seminary; other training is also common.

When experienced pastors or new graduates from outside the EMC wish to pursue pastoral openings in our conference, it is wise to look at the EMC Constitution, including its Statement of Faith and Church Practices, and our Vision and Values. Copies of these can be found online. Familiarity with Anabaptist history and doctrine are assets or will need to be developed. To be commissioned or ordained with national recognition within the EMC requires an examination by and approval of the Ministerial Examination Committee, Board of Leadership and Outreach. Please contact Layton Friesen or Erica Fehr for details.

Pastoral Search Committees

There are resources available to assist you in your search and deliberations. Please contact Erica Fehr for resource materials. • The Messenger 33

Column • Here and Far Away

Moramora, Thoughts on Doing


oramora (pronounced “mooramoora”), meaning “slowly, slowly” in Malagasy, is a word many Westerners come to despise during their tenure in Africa. With our Western efficiency buckled tightly, albeit unconsciously, to our backs, the culture of moramora can feel extremely abrasive. Such a clash of cultural priorities quickly brings frustration, disdain, and stress. The speed our Western society idolizes is a lie I have, evidently, accepted without question. Efficiency (“achieving maximum productivity with minimum effort or expense”) is, in my recent observations, rarely synonymous with being effective (“successful in producing an intended result”) within the Kingdom of God. The Maker of heaven and earth creates “in the twinkling of an eye” with only the “effort” of a spoken word. We, on the other hand, are granted the grace of a slow progress toward greater likeness of Christ and the building of His Kingdom on earth. I see this as graceful in that my frail humanness simply cannot bear the Shekina of Yahweh, His glory, in such high doses (Exodus 34). Imagine drinking from a fire hose— times infinity! Making friends. Finding a job. Discovering where and how to invest my gifts and talents to serve the Church. My natural self itches to have these things sorted as quickly as possible. Once

by Jocelyn R. Plett www.writewhatyousee.


Yet the Word tells me to wait on the Lord for the best things, rather than rushing in on my own strength.

34  The Messenger • March 2018

these things are in place, I tell myself, I can get on with living, instead of this uncomfortable time of transition and waiting. Yet the Word tells me to wait on the Lord for the best things, rather than rushing in on my own strength. “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Pro. 19:2) I appreciate the wisdom of waiting even while I groan under its weight. While I fear waiting too long and appearing lazy, Scripture delineates a counter-cultural, slower path in most areas of life. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:8-9). And also, “Woe…declares the LORD, to those who carry out plans that are not mine… children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction… the LORD longs [waits] to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” (See Isaiah 30:1, 9, 18.) I’m often impatient with God because I feel He is slow in providing what I need. In truth, slowness is a grace I know I need. In transition, it is important to realize the upheaval, work through it, allowing the heart and mind to settle in good places, rather than easy ones that are quick to find. This obviously requires hard internal work, a conscious listening to the Word and Spirit. Moramora reminds me that God’s timing, oftentimes uncomfortable, is superior to human “efficiency.”

Column • Stewardship Today

The ‘Yes’ Perspective


by Sherri Grosz ISTOCK

hen I was a young girl, I realized that the coloured papers in my mother’s purse could get you things. That was my introduction to money. Growing up, I remained fascinated by the intense influence money has on human behaviour. The Bible has a lot to teach about our relationship with money, but adopting a biblical approach to wealth often requires us to reject the things our society tells us we should cling to. It isn’t easy. I often think of the story of Peter being called into discipleship. “Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him” (Luke 5:10-11 NIV). Imagine Peter in that moment. Walking away from his career, his home, and his family. Stepping into the unknown, unsure what might happen; not knowing the delight, the surprises, and the amazing things he would experience. I sometimes feel the reflex to close my hand firmly around my money and hold on tight. Wealth can give us the illusion of self-sufficiency and security. It’s hard not to swallow the lie that if I have enough money, I can deal with any problem that comes my way. If I have enough money, I don’t have to ask for help or rely on the mercy of others. In those moments when I am tempted to see money as my hope, I think back to Peter’s “yes” and remind myself that I need to trust my God, not my wealth. There is no denying Peter’s decision to leave his nets and follow Jesus was a spiritual one, but it was also financial. There was security in continuing to earn a living in the fishing business, but Peter said “yes” to giving that away. And we can, too. It feels risky to share our wealth instead of keeping it safe for a rainy day, but we can lean on Jesus’ words to Peter, “Don’t be afraid.” At Abundance Canada, I have the privilege of working with generous people who have said “yes” to giving away their hard-earned income. Several years ago, I got to know “Bob,” an entrepreneur who learned to provide for his family

while still stepping out in fearless generosity. Bob started many different businesses over the years. Some were successful, and others weren’t, but somehow he always came out ahead. Bob once told me he felt he was gifted with the ability to make money, but that this gifting came with the responsibility to give generously. Early on, he had prayerfully examined his finances and determined how much his family needed to live comfortably. He drew a line across that financial ceiling, and he gave away everything above it. In seasons of prosperity, there was more money above the ceiling, and in seasons of scarcity there was less. Giving in this way became easier over time. After all, he felt the money had never belonged to him in the first place. We all experience those flashes of “just in case” fear when it comes to our money, but I am so grateful for the generous people I work with, people like Bob, who have encouraged me to look at wealth and money differently than our world does and just say “yes.” Sherri Grosz is a Gift Planning Consultant with Abundance Canada in Kitchener, Ontario. Saying Yes to a commitment of charitable gifting may seem daunting at first; however, whether your financial capability is large or small, you can tell us how much, when and where your donations are made to the causes you care about most. Call Abundance Canada today at 1.800.772.3257 to speak with a Gift Planning Consultant in your area.

In those moments when I am tempted to see money as my hope, I think back to Peter’s “yes” and remind myself that I need to trust my God, not my wealth. • The Messenger 35

Column • Kids’ Corner

What Time Is It?



by Loreena Thiessen

ave you grown in the past year? Do you weigh more? How can you tell? You use tools, of course. You use a tape measure to measure your height, and to see what you weigh you get on a scale. A clock is a tool too. A clock measures time. Its hands move over the minutes and hours to show what time it is now and how time passes. The calendar measures time too. It shows the days, weeks, and months. On a calendar you can look up the time that was last week, last month, and even last year. You can also look ahead to future days, weeks, and months. Time is a measure for events, things that happened in the past and those that will happen in the future. If we had only the present time, this moment, to think about, we wouldn’t need time. The Piraha Tribe in Brazil uses no numbers, nor do they have time. They have no clocks and they do not think about what time it is. They do not talk about the past or the future. They catch fish to eat and fall asleep when they’re tired. You would be in big trouble if that is all you did. You have to think about your bedtime, when you will get up, when you will eat your lunch, when to go to school. If you’re meeting a friend you have to make sure both of you have the correct time in order to meet. You have to calculate travel time. How long will it take? Time is important and today it’s quite exact. At any moment you can find the right time. A long time ago time was confusing. The calendar

was not exact. There were no clocks. There were months missing from the calendar. January and February did not exist. They were winter months, dreary and gray. The people did not like winter so they took out these months. But this created a new problem. The calendar was not long enough to cover all the days. So January and February were put back in. How did the people tell what time it was without clocks? The setting sun told them the day was ending. The rising sun woke them up and began a new day. They looked at the moon and its phases to know when to plant seeds and when to harvest their crops. They could also tell time by the changing position of the stars. Then someone saw that a stick stuck upright in the ground had a shorter or longer shadow depending on the time of day and that was the beginning of the sundial. God sees time differently. He sees it all at once, the past, the present and the future. Moses says in Psalm 90:4 that for God Activity: How long is your day? Make a time line that shows your a thousand years is like just one day. day. God created time for us, so that we can organize ourselves and use our time Need: Blank index cards, markers, crayons, pen, pencil. wisely. Although God doesn’t need time for Do: Label each card with different times: wakeup, breakfast, school (arrival, himself, he is with you in each moment lunch, home), supper, evening activity, bedtime. of your day. “I am with you always, to On each card write out or draw a picture of your activity for that time. the end of time,” God promises in MatWhen the cards are complete line them up in chronological order, which thew 28:20. means in the time they happened. How long is your day?

How did the people tell what time it was without clocks?

36  The Messenger • March 2018

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The Messenger March 2018  

Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church page 10 Don't Put Family First page 13 The Christian Faith: It Makes Sense! page 16

The Messenger March 2018  

Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Church page 10 Don't Put Family First page 13 The Christian Faith: It Makes Sense! page 16