MB Herald Digest | June 2022

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JUNE 2022 MBHERALD.COM

Digest

More than sixty years of sharing the life & story of the Mennonite Brethren in Canada

The world appears to be growing darker Peace and reconciliation, the mandate given to every Christian

VO LU M E 61 , N O. 6 W H E R E T O F R O M H E R E ? R E -T O O L I N G F O R A P O S T PA N D E M I C W O R L D A N A B A P T I S T FA M I LY G AT H E R S I N I N D O N E S I A F O R M E N N O N I T E W O R L D C O N F E R E N C E A S S E M B LY 2 0 2 2 L E A D I N G T H R O U G H T H E T R A U M A O F C O V I D . PA R T I I


Q: How do you speak well about marriage with your neighbours, knowing that marriage can be difficult? A: Check out the Faith and Life online pamphlets about marriage and family. www.mennonitebrethren.ca/ nflt-resources


Mennonite Brethren Herald Digest is digitally published monthly by the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, primarily for the use of its members, to build a Canadian MB community of faith. We seek to 1) share the life and story of the church by nurturing relationships among members and engaging in dialogue and reflection; 2) teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values, and heritage, and by sharing the good news; 3) enable communication by serving conference ministries and informing our members about the church and the world. However, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the church as a whole.

Leaders were invited to wash one another’s feet in an act of service at the ICOMB Summit Assembly in Brazil. Read more on page 18

Digest J U N E 202 2 | VO LU M E 61 , N O. 6 EDITORIAL OFFICE 1310 Taylor Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 3Z6 Phone: 204-669-6575 Toll-free in Canada: 888-669-6575

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LEADING THROUGH THE TRAUMA OF COVID Bonita Eby

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ASK GOD WHICH TOWN Mark J. H. Klassen

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THE WORLD APPEARS TO BE GETTING DARKER Phil Wagler

MBHERALD@MBCHURCHES.CA

WHERE TO FROM HERE? Rev. Philip A. Gunther

In memorial: SUSAN BRANDT (BRAUN)

W W W. M B H ER ALD.CO M

ISSN: 0025-9349 The Mennonite Brethren Herald is a publication of

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Sharing the life and story of Mennonite Brethren in Canada

MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD

JUNE 2022

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From the editor he Forks, a tourist attraction in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is located at the convergence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. A thriving trading centre for more than a century, this meeting place attracts folks worldwide, forming a community gathered for common needs and interests. Today, sitting among the bustling tables of people at The Forks Market, I consider the idea of gathering. The MB family is used to gathering; it’s in our DNA. Still, we have had few opportunities to do so over the last few years. That’s beginning to change, though. Last month, I joined the BCMB family in Whistler for their Convention. In March, MBCM met in person for their Assembly. More recently, Mennonite Brethren from different parts of the globe met in Brazil for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) Summit. MB Seminary president Mark Wessner, interim NFLT director Ken Esau and national director Elton Dasilva were among the Canadian delegates to attend. Elton’s take on the ICOMB Summit is on page 18. July 5-10, the Anabaptist-Mennonite family is invited to join Mennonite World Conference in Indonesia in-person and virtually for MWC’s Assembly. Kopeng,

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Indonesia, will host most of the events and sessions, but satellite sites will also be in other Indonesian locations. Find out how you can participate on page 19. Closer to home, we are days away from the Canadian Conference’s National Assembly. It’s been a few years since we sat together in one place to celebrate. Instead, we gather in a virtual space. It’s less than ideal; still, it’s a way to come face to face with friends from across the country and worship Jesus and discern His call upon our denomination. Don’t miss the links in the sidebar to find out how you can participate. Depending on when you’re reading this, there may still be time to register. This month’s feature article is by Phil Wagler, lead pastor of Kelowna Gospel Fellowship Church. Mr. Wagler reminds us to “seek to be agents of reconciliation in all relationships, to practice love of enemies as taught by Christ, to be peacemakers in all situations.” We face new realities, and grim situations as the Church awakens from its pandemic hibernation. As we re-gather, can we do so under the banner of Christ and His call to be a light in this ever-darkening world? Blessings,

Carson

CARSON SAMSON

Communications director

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2022 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY June 9-11, 2022 Registration deadline is June 8, 2022. CHURCHES: Click here to register your delegates. NON-VOTING GUESTS: Click here to register. Click here to visit the National Assembly website for documents, schedule and motions.


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Attend a book launch! RD ABBOTSFO FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2022, 7 pm PDT Mennonite Heritage Museum Registration recommended. Call 604-758-5667 to register. Click here for more info. Featuring:

Dora Dueck

Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen

Bev Peters

Lorraine Dick

WINNIPEG

The Historical Commission’s most recent publication is Dora Dueck’s edited collection of life-writing by 16 women church leaders, On Holy Ground: Stories by and about women in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church. The book documents the first-person accounts of these women’s calling to ministry. Contributors include Valerie G. Rempel, Laura Kalmar, Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen, Grace (Bu Ok) Kim, Mary Reimer, Mary Anne Isaak, Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder, Ingrid Reichard, Carol Penner, Karen Huebert-Sanchez, Lorraine Dick, Lorraine Matties, Dora Dueck, Bev Peters, Delores Histand Friesen, and Sherri Guenther Trautwein.

Available to order at KindredProductions.com or by phone at 1-800-545-7322

THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2022, 7:30 pm CDT CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre, Canadian Mennonite University Visit CommonWord.ca for more info. Featuring:

Mary Reimer

Mary Anne Isaak

Laura Kalmar

Kindred Productions

Elfrieda Neufeld


#THERUNDOWN HOMEPAGE

Spring 2022 Provincial Assemblies and Conventions AÉFMQ (Quebec) Our provincial convention looked at promoting discipleship. Elton DaSilva inspired us with an outline of the complexities and needed focus for the various levels of engagement in the local church. ONMB (Ontario) With ongoing restrictions and complexities, we gathered virtually in February for our 2022 Convention. Our theme was ‘The Road Ahead’ and we focused on Jesus’ truth that illuminates the way. We heard ministry updates and voted on bylaw revisions and budget. MBCM (Manitoba) We were excited to host an in-person gathering for this year’s Assembly in early March. Our theme for the weekend was Deep Faith – Extravagant Grace. We facilitated five workshops and a worship night on Friday, with our AGM and voting on Saturday. We reviewed and accepted updates and changes to our constitution. Much of this work was done to bring us into alignment with the updated CCMBC bylaws and the Collaborative Model. SKMB (Saskatchewan) On March 12th, 2022 we held an online Assembly with about 85 participants. Our theme was ‘Do not lose heart’ and our speaker was NFLT Director, Ken Esau. Some of the key motions that were adopted by the delegates were the 2022 budget, the Global Gospel Advance project, naming Gord Schroeder to serve as moderator, and naming Jeff Siemens to serve as assistant moderator. Click here to read the full SKMB Assembly report. BCMB (British Columbia) We hosted our provincial Assembly in late April of this year at Whistler Community Church. We welcomed approximately 130 people in person and 50 online. Our theme this year was ‘Finding Fortitude together’ and we had Brian Buhler as a guest speaker for the Pastors equipping day. Many topics were discussed and new bylaws were passed.

SHARING A NEW AND UNIFIED L A N G U A G E – M W C A S S E M B LY “We come together throughout the world to sing and to make music together,” says Benjamin Bergey, Mennonite World Conference Assembly 17 music coordinator. With attendees from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, “What we have [at Assembly] is an opportunity to reframe what is important about music.” At this hybrid Assembly, participants who have never been able to attend Assembly before can participate in the music from their homes and local congregations and learn how sharing music can connect communities throughout the world. “As the world becomes more connected, the music also becomes more shared,” says Benjamin Bergey. Registrants for Assembly online receive the International Songbook which contains 40 hymns that represent music from Mennonite traditions on five continents. The selection affirms and celebrates unity in the Anabaptist-Mennonite family while expressing diversity in multiple languages, highlighting new Indonesian and Asian songs to create a base of shared musical language for the years to come. “By taking the time to learn someone else’s songs, we have another opportunity to make it more universal,” says Benjamin Bergey. These new songs, with notation help from Anita Purwidaningsih, will be shared by the International Choir and an Indonesian band. The 10 singers come from each of the five continents represented at Assembly, and the band, under the direction of Debora Prabu, features musicians from Indonesian congregations. “The music will be very different from the Assemblies in the past, but I really do encourage people to sing from home,” he says. “Try to enter in any that way that feels right or comfortable. If you can be open and dive in with your whole being, you can always learn new things by doing things differently.” > Read “Anabaptist family gathers in Indonesia for Mennonite World Conference Assembly 2022” on page 19.

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HOMEPAGE

A long time coming # P C O O N TA R I O

It was a long time coming but we finally were able to meet in person for our Pastor's Credentialing Orientation in the fall of 2021. Thirty new pastors and leaders representing 12 ONMB churches and agencies, as well as three participants from Manitoba and BC, met on October 27-29, 2021 at Northend Church in St. Catharines. PCO serves as a key opportunity to discover and explore what it means to be Mennonite Brethren and to build relationships across the MB family. “Thank you for bringing in speakers from all across our country and some of our national leaders, to speak into our lives, to encourage us, to equip us as we launch into our ministry roles.” shared a participant who is new to her role in ministry. Presentations from various MB leaders cast the MB vision and culminated in a passionate call to be a disciple-making people by CCMBC Executive Director, Elton DaSilva. A highlight was a panel conversation with First Nations leaders Billie-Jo I. (Bee) and John and Jenn J. facilitated by Rene N. They discussed what welcome into true relationship looks like, which proved to be both sobering and hopeful. Kyla S. serving with Multiply guided the group on a brief virtual prayer walk through the Parkdale Neighborhood of Toronto. That led to a time of prayer, lifting the Tibetan population she ministers among to the Lord, calling on a movement of the Holy Spirit. It simply felt good to be together, as the last in-person ONMB event was at Convention in February of 2020. The support network of collegial relationships needed for pastors to thrive over the long haul is built much better over foyer conversations. We are better together.

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O N M B S TA F F

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Resilient Leadership LEADING THROUGH THE TRAUMA OF COVID PA R T T WO I N A FO U R - PA R T S E R I E S

The truth is, most of us are dealing with some level of exhaustion. Whether it’s related to juggling work and family, transitioning from working from home alone to being in the office with people, But it’s not just work-related exhaustion. There is the emotional exhaustion of trying to hold it together in the midst of conflicting values, grieving losses, and the fear of dealing with new social environments when we don’t know if we’re truly safe. And there is the physical exhaustion from battling covid, colds and the flu. It’s been an exhausting few years. When examining exhaustion from a high-level view, it quickly becomes apparent that much of it has to do with fear and stress. Our fight, flight and freeze responses have been overworked throughout the pandemic. A N AT O M Y O F A F I G H T, F L I G H T, A N D F R E E Z E RESPONSE

To understand fight, flight and freeze responses, let’s start with a quick lesson in neuroanatomy 101. Our frontal lobes are located at the top, front of our brains just below the forehead. They are responsible for our higher functioning, including problem-solving, executive decision-making and empathy. At the other end of the spectrum are the amygdalae, tiny orbs located in our brainstem at the base of the skull. The amygdalae (or amygdala, singular) are responsible for only one thing: survival. F I G H T, F L I G H T A N D F R E E Z E

When we experience stress, the amygdala is triggered, instigating a fight, flight or freeze response. First, the amygdala, solely concerned about survival, hijacks our frontal lobes, overtaking our rational thought, executive functioning, decision-making, and empathy to focus on getting us to safety. Second, the amygdala sends a message to our adrenals, which sit on top of our kidneys. The adrenals

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“OUR BRAINS CANNOT DISTINGUISH B E T W E E N T H E D A N G E R A S S O C I AT E D WITH BEING CHASED BY A BARKING D O B E R M A N A N D T H E C O N S TA N T STRESSORS WE’VE ENCOUNTERED D U R I N G T H E PA N D E M I C .”

respond by pumping out cortisol and adrenaline to prepare us for a fight, flight or freeze response. Our brains were designed to enter a fight, flight, or freeze response only when in imminent danger, such as when a ferocious dog is chasing us. However, over recent decades, especially with the advent of relying heavily on ever-present technology, we experience this survival response much far more frequently. Add to this the conflict, difficult conversations, a constant flow of news (and non-news) reports and a lack of empathy. As a result, we have been experiencing fight, flight and freeze responses multiple times per day or even per hour. This stress and survival response mechanism has depleted our systems and caused much physical, mental, emotional, and relational exhaustion. F I G H T, F L I G H T, A N D F R E E Z E R E S P O N S E S D U R I N G TH E PA N D E M I C

Our brains cannot distinguish between the danger associated with being chased by a barking Doberman and the constant stressors we’ve encountered during the pandemic. For example, every time we tune in to a news report or conflictual social media posts, our amygdala is triggered, and we enter a fight, flight or freeze response.


Or consider when we find ourselves in a Zoom meeting where people share opinions without laying the groundwork for psychological safety and empathy. We experience stress and a fight, flight or freeze response. If you remember, once we enter a flight, flight or freeze response, we no longer have the ability to think clearly with our frontal lobes. This means we cannot problem-solve or make decisions with high accuracy, and we are literally unable to empathize.

“ BY H AV I N G T H E C O U R AG E T O A U T H E N T I C A L LY M O D E L S E L F - C A R E , YO U G I V E M U C H - N E E D E D P E R M I S S I O N TO OT H E R S TO D O T H E SA M E .”

TRAUMA RESPONSE

But here is the bigger issue. We have become so accustomed to the survival response that we’ve learned to ignore it. Fight, flight and freeze responses are meant to be physical. When was the last time you actually ran away from a triggering event? Hopefully, you haven’t physically fought anyone. When was the last time you fled? When we’re in a situation in which we’re physically unable to fight or flee, such as when we’re in a Zoom meeting where it’s socially unacceptable to leave, we freeze. Freezing is a trauma response for humans. W H AT L E A D E R S C A N D O

Leaders are not therapists and shouldn’t try to be. However, we as leaders can model healthy coping skills to our hurting and grieving communities. Whether you lead a church, a company, or manage a group of people, modelling healthy behaviours will also encourage others to do the same. Over time, these practices will create resiliency. 1 . S E L F - C A R E . Self-care is not a luxury but an essential for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. First, figure out what fills your tank and make sure to implement it into a daily, weekly, and monthly self-care plan. Then talk about it. Share what you are doing to take care of yourself. Share about the time you take off to rest and rejuvenate. By having the courage to authentically model self-care, you give much-needed permission to others to do the same.

finish a conversation or meeting that triggered your stress response, close your office door and run on the spot with gusto for one minute. Then rest for a few minutes before resuming work. The physical exercise tells your brain you got away from the danger and turns off the fight, flight or freeze response. You can also go for a run or work out after work. Boxing or martial arts allows you to both fight and flee, again closing the loop and resetting your brain to rest. 3 . E M P A T H I Z E . Prepare yourself for upcoming conversations and meetings by deep breathing, praying, and preparing to empathize with others. By intentionally choosing to empathize, you remain open-hearted rather than closing off. Become curious rather than judgmental and ask questions to understand the other’s viewpoint better, even if you disagree. Often, when people feel heard, they become less combative as they feel safe in your presence.

As leaders, we often want to charge ahead with our plans for the future. But this may be a time to rest and recover. Taking the time to understand why we and others are stressing and having a few tools in our toolkit to manage our fight, flight and freeze responses, we can reset and lead our communities into a healthier future.

2 . C L O S E T H E L O O P. When you find yourself in a situation that triggers stress, become aware of your body’s stress signals and promise yourself you will fight or flee when appropriate. For example, once you

B O N I TA E B Y

attends and is a former pastor at WMB Church in Waterloo, Ontario. She is a burnout prevention strategist, executive coach, and owner of Breakthrough Personal & Professional Development Inc. Connect with Bonita at bonita@break-through.ca.

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Ask God which town BY MARK J. H. KLASSEN

n 2006, Ivana (not her real name) and her husband moved with their five children from Germany to Canada, where they soon welcomed their sixth child. It was a big move for a big family. Little did they know, eight years later, God would be preparing them for another international move. One year after arriving in Canada, a missionary visited their church and told them this story: A woman put her hand on a world map and asked God to show her a town she should pray for. She was led to pray for a town in Iran. After praying for that town for thirty years, an Iranian pastor came to her church. He testified to the great things God had been doing in his town in Iran. After his report, she walked up to him and asked him the name of his town. Because it was very small and didn’t appear on most maps, he didn’t think she would recognize the name. She insisted to know it. When he finally told her the name, she said, “Thirty years ago, I started praying for this town.” He replied, “Thirty years ago, I became the town’s first follower of Jesus!” Ivana remembers well the challenge that the visiting missionary gave after sharing this story: “He told us, ‘Go home and ask God which town you should pray for.’ Then he added, ‘and maybe someday you will even go there.’” The next morning, Ivana was lying in bed, and she heard God’s voice: “Your town is Zara.” “Right away, I thought of our daughter’s name, Sarah” said Ivana, “which, in German, we pronounced

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the same way. But God said, ‘No, your town starts with a Z and doesn’t end with an H.” After finding it on the map in Central Asia, Ivana started praying for Zara. “There were times when I forgot about it,” she said, “and then again times when God put it heavy on my heart. As predicted, the desire grew in me to visit the town and to find out what God was doing there.” Several years later, Ivana and her husband were talking about taking a trip for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. “As my husband was praying and asking God where we should go,” said Ivana, “God drew his attention to Zara.” On their anniversary trip, the couple visited the town of Zara. “We walked the streets and prayed for the people,” Ivana said. “We also distributed Bibles in the town. I can’t describe the joy we had knowing that the Word of God was now in Zara.” The Bibles the couple distributed in Zara included contact information of an organization that provided Bible study material upon request. Within months, someone from Zara was actually ordering more material online. The trip was a turning point for Ivana and her husband. As they traveled, they saw God’s hand of faithfulness upon them. “We were overwhelmed by God’s care over and over again,” said Ivana. “We saw God orchestrating a plan and bringing the right people into our path. On the trip, God gave my husband the assurance that he was calling us to move.”


“It was his love that was calling us, calling me, to follow him to this new country.”

However, for Ivana, the idea of another move was not easy. “I wasn’t ready for that at all,” she said. “The challenges of moving to Canada were still in my memories. Learning a new language was difficult. Helping our teenage children to adjust to the culture was very tiring. We all struggled in so many ways. Fifteen years later, I didn’t want to leave our home, our children, and grandchildren. And what about our teenage boys who would come with us?” It didn’t take long for Ivana’s heart to soften. “We serve a gentle Lord,” she reflected. “He showed me his heart. It was his love that was calling us, calling me, to follow him to this new country.” During their time in Canada, Ivana and her husband had been involved in a variety of ministries through their church family, and they cherished the spiritual lessons learned over the years, which kept pushing them as a couple to trust God with the next big step. However, following God to the ends of the earth, to some unknown town, was hard for others to understand. “We experienced opposition,” said Ivana. “People were trying to keep us back, people that we loved and appreciated. But the call of Jesus remained clear in our hearts.” For Ivana, one of the obstacles to overcome was seeing her teenage sons embrace the call to go. “God did not conquer only my own heart with his love,” she said, “but he also showed our boys individually that he had called them as well! This assurance gave them strength to say goodbye to very close friends and siblings and a home they loved.” When the time came, Ivana, her husband, and their two sons were sent off by their home church in Canada, and through a mission organization, to Central Asia. In turn, their organization seconded them to Multiply, to work with a church-planting team that was located literally down the road from Zara. “We are called to follow Jesus,” reflected Ivana. “We have been learning that our focus should not be on what

we do or where we do it, but simply on abiding in him and following him. Wherever we are, we only try to serve the people he puts in our way as we follow him. Our service changes according to the needs of the people. We have to remain focused on Jesus.” Since moving, Ivana and her husband are fully engaged in language and culture learning, and they are embracing the opportunities that God brings them. Their team is focused on supporting the local church and on helping to plant churches in the surrounding area, which includes Zara. Ivana reported, “My husband and some other men from our local church are going regularly to meet with seekers in the area near to Zara. A few of the seekers are actually from the town of Zara. One of them, a young man, has recently put his trust in Jesus.”

P R AY Are you willing to ask God which town he wants you to pray for? Are you open to going there someday to serve? To receive our Daily Prayer Guide and keep up to date on the various needs and requests of our workers and worldwide, go to multiply.net/dpg

MARK JH KLASSEN

is a writer with Multiply and a member of Yarrow MB Church (BC). This article was previously published in Witness, Multiply’s quarterly magazine. To read other stories from the Spring edition, go to multiply.net/witness or subscribe at multiply.net/subscribe

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BY P H I L WAG L E R

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the opening week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Alexander Bulkin, translator for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, was asked what he would say to Vladimir Putin. Bulkin blurted, “The easiest way to express my message would be ‘burn in hell.’ …I don’t have anything to say to this creature because it’s not a human being.” A few weeks later, Russian state media debated the “special military operation.” “Either we lose in Ukraine, or the Third World War starts. I think World War III is more realistic…the most incredible outcome that all this will end in a nuclear strike seems more probable,” mused Olga Skabeyeva, one of Russia’s most prominent pundits. “But we will go to heaven,” bantered co-host Vladimir Soloviev. “And they will simply croak.” Then Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Arnand spoke these disconcerting words in early May: “We do live in a world at the present time that appears to be growing darker.” The chaos of war in Eastern Europe (not to mention Cameroon, Yemen, Myanmar, Ethiopia and the occasional blustering of North Korea) is causing governments to reassess geopolitical strategies. Unless you’ve come to Canada fleeing conflict somewhere else, it’s easy to assume war is for grainy black and white films. Didn’t the nuclear threat end when the Berlin Wall tumbled, the Soviet Union imploded, and the “good guys” won? Arnand continued, “…the world we live in today differs from the threat assessments that underpinned Strong Secure Engaged (Canada’s defence policy) in 2017.” That’s five years ago! In less time than it took for a child to be born and enter Kindergarten, that official document, “based on a long-term vision to respond to a changing world”, is deemed to have been changed by the world. As a member of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace and Reconciliation Network (PRN) I have listened to my colleagues around the world speak of the destructive, proxy, ideological, and sometimes religiously influenced conflicts ravaging their lands in the last few years. North American communities are shaped – recently and not-so-recently – by displaced peoples from all these conflicts. The wounds are among us; even in us. Numerous tensions and unreconciled wounds fester beneath our society’s surface that is increasingly unsure how to keep it all from erupting. Climate change is opening the arctic, China is deemed a threat, and suddenly defense spending seems poised to rise. Here, there, and everywhere the reality of a looming threat is convincing Sweden – who stayed neutral in World War II – to join NATO, Germany to raise military spending astoundingly, and some African nations to quietly side with Russia. This coming darkness appears to be more than appearance. How have Canadian churches used the last few years? Have we considered the theological and missiological foundations for life in World War III? We’ve lived (are living) through a once-in-a-century (we hope) pandemic and warred over masks and mandates. Many, many churches have seen people leave one fellowship for another. Christians increasingly congregate around narrowing views and opinions. Theologies – even relationships – are tested by

How have Canadian churches used the last few years? Have we considered the theological and missiological foundations for life in World War III?

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whether they are on the political left or right. Lamentably, a vast army who once graced our fellowships have dispersed into the spiritual swamp, shrugging off “church” for now, potentially permanently, and taking their children with them. Meanwhile, the world grows darker. What if the last few years – including the pandemic – was missiological training to prepare Shalom-centered, ambassadors of reconciliation? Have we even been talking about this? In what was already a world marching toward larger-scale military conflict (remember the war in Ukraine began in 2014), have we been discipling our churches in biblical peace-making as the shadows lengthen? Or will ideological theologies – “progressive” on the one hand or militarized and nationalistic on the other – sweep us away? Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has called Russia’s aggression a “holy war.” In our PRN contacts we have heard Ukrainian pastors say, “Don’t send us Bibles, send us weapons.” And, when apocalyptic religious language is brazenly used to say who goes where when the next bomb drops, it seems a more whole Gospel is required. As a people in the peace church tradition this is what Mennonite Brethren have been entrusted with and it seems precisely what the world is seeking. Are we ignoring our moment? Are we forgetting that peace and reconciliation is not for the activists, but the ambassadorial mandate given to every Christian and every local church (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)? Our Confession of Faith, our long communal conversation with Scripture, centers us. Article 12 on Society and State states, “The primary allegiance of all Christians is to Christ’s kingdom, not the state or society. Because their citizenship is in heaven, Christians are called to resist the idolatrous temptation to give to the state the devotion that is owed to God. As ambassadors for Christ, Christians act as agents of reconciliation and seek the well-being of all peoples. Article 13 on Love and Nonresistance says, “Believers believe that God in Christ reconciles people to Himself and to one another, making peace through the cross…. We seek to be agents of reconciliation in all relationships, to practice love of enemies as taught by Christ, to be peacemakers in all situations. We view violence in its many different forms as contradictory to the new nature of the Christian. We believe that the evil and inhumane nature of violence is contrary to the gospel of love and peace. In times of national conscription or war, we believe we are called to give alternative service where possible. Alleviating suffering, reducing strife, and promoting justice are ways of demonstrating Christ’s love.” The International Community of Mennonite Brethren Confession declares, “Jesus came announcing the Kingdom of God. The mission of Jesus was to reconcile humans with God, each other and the world. The church is called to participate in God’s mission…. Peace and reconciliation are at the heart of the Christian gospel. Jesus calls the community of faith to be peacemakers in all situations.” Our discipleship-centered evangelical-anabaptist heritage is the shared conviction of a global mosaic of Christians, not simply sixteenth-century Germanic ancestors, and part of our sacred contribution to the wider body of Christ. We have a mission precisely for this twenty-first century moment. In our evangelism we are inviting sinners to become children of God, the household of God,

What if the last few years—including the pandemic— was missiological training to prepare Shalom-centered, ambassadors of reconciliation?

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The International Community of Mennonite Brethren Confession declares, “Jesus came announcing the Kingdom of God. The mission of Jesus was to reconcile humans with God, each other and the world.

through the Word made flesh (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:14-22). In our discipleship we are being trained by Lord Jesus to be peacemakers, the long-identifying mark of the children of God (Matthew 5:9). And, as children of God within societies we are discipling the nations in the way of our Heavenly Father’s shalom; to do to the least of these what would be done to Jesus (Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 25:31-46). How is our current theological wrestling equipping us for this necessary and glorious task? How is your church engaging the biblical call to peacemaking as World War III looms? How is your household practicing reconciliation in all things, so that there are people who have a holy clue of how to behave when the shadows lengthen? How are our leaders learning to serve as warera pastors? How is our praying changing? Are we praying against the spiritual strongholds that are binding people, nations and systems? Who is if we are not? David Bosch, assessing the epochal shifts in global mission in his landmark study Transforming Mission reflects soberly on the non-optional Gospel imperative to be peacemakers: “Our missionary involvement may be very successful in other respects, but if we fail here, we stand guilty before the Lord of mission.” “The world appears to be growing darker.” “But, we will go to heaven.” Does our theology, missiology, and ecclesiology sound like the extrapolations of a Russian pundit? Or are we people of The Book; a communion of radical disciples walking with the Prince of Peace?

PH I L WAG L ER

is the North American Network Coordinator, Peace and Reconciliation Network & Lead Pastor, of Kelowna Gospel Fellowship Church, in Kelowna, BC. You can follow PRN’s Reconciling Blog on The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s online version of Faith Today.

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Where to from here? Re-tooling for a post pandemic world B Y R E V. P H I L I P A . G U N T H E R

“THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERY THING, AND A SEASON F O R E V E RY AC T I V I T Y U N D E R T H E H E AV E N S … A TIM E TO TE AR DOWN AN D A TIM E TO B U ILD.” ECCLE SIASTE S 3:1 , 3B

t was not really the pandemic and its massive collateral damage which posed the most profound challenge for the church, it was waking up afterwards and realizing the cataclysmic culture shift that had taken place over the past two years both inside and outside the church and wondering how to ever re-engage passionately in the mission of making disciples. No pastor or lay leader I’ve spoken to recently believes that the church will ever return to the way it used to be. The anxious rumbling is now similar to that of the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea: “Well, where to from here?” This sentiment is often laced with a mixture of uncertainty, fear and doubt; doubt that there exists enough energy for yet another change in a long chain of transformations, evolutions and innovations. I empathize with these disquieting feelings, however, a lack of clarity about the trajectory of the church’s mission is like setting sail from

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Vancouver to Hawaii without GPS, a sextant or a compass. An aimless, soul-depleting bobbing on the ‘waters’ is most certain. Consider the wise aphorism attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The church must face its fears and doubts with the conviction that God will build his church, empower people for mission and provide wisdom to overcome obstacles. Revisiting the church’s core convictions and vision is not only wise and healthy, it brings new insights and often reignites passion. It may be an arduous path, but the opportunity for breathing new life into the calling of God is invaluable. I resonate with the adage, “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.” In this post-pandemic season, I would counsel


“ T H E WO R L D I N FRO N T O F YO U I S N OT H I N G LI K E T H E WO R L D B EH I N D YO U... WE ARE CALLED TO ADAPT TO A CHANGING WORLD B ECAUSE W E A R E C A L L E D T O R E A C H T H AT CHAN G IN G WORLD.” TOD BOL SING ER

churches to genuinely engage with seven key questions. In preparation, the church must seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, both are the church’s counselors. Bathing the process in prayer; asking the Lord for receptive hearts and minds is vital. God may call the church to something very different from its existing expectations. These seven questions are primer queries, they open the door to other equally helpful and significant ones. 1. Why do we exist? 2. Who is with us and how healthy are we? 3. What are we doing that is fruitful and what is not? 4. What are our desired outcomes and how will we measure success? 5. What kind of leadership do we need? 6. How will we resource our efforts? 7. What values do we want to possess? Before a church engages with these questions, leadership could ask substantial process questions: 1. Who are the stakeholders we want engaging with these questions? 2. What form will engagement with stakeholders take? 3. What will be our timeline? 4. Who will lead the process? 5. What will be that nature of our communication? 6. How will we prepare stakeholders? 7. What kind of third-party support do we need? Trusted Spirit led voices within the church are consistently calling the church to be self-aware and willing to adapt to the challenges associated with fulfilling its redemptive mission. In

perhaps the most prophetic book on the mission of the church in recent decades (printed in 2003) – The Present Future – Reggie McNeal penned: “We are witnessing the emergence of a new world...The church needs a mission fix...The response to the emerging world is a rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command...” Echoing McNeal’s work, Tod Bolsinger writes to church leadership in his impactful work, Canoeing The Mountains: “...churches need to keep adventuring or they will die. We need to press on to the uncharted territory of making traditional churches missionary churches.” Most recently, Thom S. Rainer in his book The Post Quarantine Church counsels the church: “Get ready to begin the journey. From my perspective, the church is entering the most amazing and exciting days it has seen in decades – maybe even in centuries. Though the path will not always be easy, we can expect future days of great opportunity.” The church is to be about advancing the gospel, making disciples and living out the Great Commandment. This mission is titanic, but nothing is impossible for the One who calls and empowers us. As we go from here (present) to there (future), be courageous, be bold and be certain that God is faithful and will build his church for such a time as this. Consider reading Gunther’s article: To Change or not to Change? – MB Herald Digest, July 2021.

R E V. P H I L I P A G U N T H E R

is director of ministry for the Saskatchewan Conference of MB Churches

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Finish lines HAROLD TIMOTHY SIEBERT Harold was a man of courage and faith which showed in his stoic resolve in the struggle with cancer. He was especially proud of his close-knit family. For 50 years, Harold was a devoted husband to Dorothy. A man of action and competitive spirit, he passed on to his children a love of chess, cards, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, squash, ping pong, disc golf, and spur-ofthe-moment adventures. He taught them to run class-three rapids and to revel in solitary loon calls. His return to a rural lifestyle in retirement on Pender Island, B.C., gave him joy. He made many friends, led music in the community church, and enjoyed chopping wood for charity with the Green Angels. When he was young, his rich baritone voice landed him on national television for several years with CBC’s Hymn Sing. He taught music at Winkler Bible Institute, directing choirs there and in Morden’s MB church, Westside. He spent 4 summers leading music and waterfront skills at Camp Arnes and Simonhouse Bible Camp. When Harold was 16, his younger sister Marilyn died in a farm accident, and this spurred him to make a lifetime commitment to God. At 40, Harold switched gears from music teaching. He and Dorothy with their 4 children worked 10 years for MB Missions and Services in Colombia, South America. Along with other team members, they founded two new churches as well as building up a third. Even in his final months, he said he wished that his last days would “be in service to others.” In Colombia, he survived being shot at and thought nothing of driving through guerrilla-held territories. Several times threatened with knives or machetes, he even chased down a band of robbers. When he became Latin America director for Mennonite Brethren Missions, he loved travelling throughout the continent. He revelled in riding dug-out canoes to remote villages in Panama and flying by small plane into a Peruvian village endangered by guerrillas. Harold never lost his sense of humour and was always looking for a playful twist of phrase to put a smile on your face. He was a natural optimist who did not worry about the future. When pressed, just months ago, about when he would prepare for his end of life, he said he would do that “the day before.” His friend Denis teased, “Or maybe the day after?” which turned out to be true!

Birth: May 16, 1946 Birthplace: Sexsmith, Alta. Death: March 24, 2022 Parents: Nick Siebert & Mary Hamm Married: Dorothy Schmidt, June 19, 1971 Family: Dorothy; children Matthew (Betty-Anne), Rebecca (Raj), Andrew (Rachel), Conrad (Rosita); 8 grandchildren; his mother; siblings Alvina, Dan, Len, Vic, Ken Church: La Glace (Alta.); Brooklands, Winnipeg; Fairview, St. Catharines, Ont.; Westside, Morden, Man.; Crossroads MB, Winnipeg Baptism: La Glace, Alta.

O B I T UA R I E S H AV E LO N G B E E N A VA LU E D PA R T O F T H E M B H ER A LD. FR O M T H E F U N E R A L B U L L E T I N S , EU LO G I E S , A N D N E WS PA P E R O B IT UA R I E S YO U S EN D, O U R ED ITO RS C R A F T LIFE STORIES OF OUR MEMBERS TO INSPIRE A N D E N C O U R A G E O U R R E A D E R S , C R E AT I N G A MEMORIAL OF MB SAINTS. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT AN OBITUARY

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A number of flags represent the 26 countries that met and worshipped together at the ICOMB Summit in Brazil.

CCMBC National Director attends 2022 ICOMB Summit The ICOMB (International Community of Mennonite Brethren) Summit is an annual event that consists of an Assembly with reports and decision-making, as well as a Conference. This year it was held in Brazil and the conference was “Depertar 22”, meaning ‘Awakening 22’. CCMBC National Director, Elton DaSilva, attended this year’s Summit and thoroughly enjoyed building relationships with fellow Mennonite Brethren from different parts of the world. “The most rewarding thing was the opportunity to listen to what was happening in the different regions and pray.” DaSilva said. “Anyone that went there was extremely challenged by incredible stories of faith.” DaSilva described some of the stories of people working in areas without sufficient resources, but who continue to sacrificially work for the Kingdom of God. “God is showing up for them,” continued DaSilva. “These stories invite us to take greater risks for the Kingdom of God in our own work.” Aside from sharing stories and reports from different nations, a number of discussions took place including voting in a new board for ICOMB. DaSilva also took part in a annual

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flag exchange. There were 26 flags representing 22 nations that are a part of ICOMB, plus another 4 that are upcoming. The names of each country were put in a bowl and representatives each selected a country from the bowl. This year Canada picked Brazil. “We took a flag from that country to bring back to the office and pray for them,” DaSilva explained. “Next year we bring the flag back and pick another country.” During the Assembly, ICOMB also invited regions to organize themselves as regional communities. Canada met with the United States to explore the idea of creating an ICOMB North America and discussions went well. The goal of this regional ICOMB would be to learn from each other and other countries, as well as to encourage our larger community of Mennonite Brethren organizations. DaSilva said the event was an inspiring few days and was well attended by people both international and from Brazil, praying, worshipping, and building relationships together.

H O L LY H A N N I G A N

MB Herald staff writer


Anabaptist family gathers in Indonesia for Mennonite World Conference Assembly 2022 Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Assemblies happen once every six years in various countries around the world. This year, the Anabaptist-Mennonite family is invited to join MWC in Indonesia July 5-10, 2022, in-person and virtually. The cost for an online registration is about $150 USD and gives you, or your church, access to the full week of session videos, workshops, and worship services. Articles and photos will be documenting the activities in Indonesia and will be shared with online registrants throughout the week. The session videos will be available online for one month. These assemblies usually see nearly 10,000 in-person attendees, but due to covid restrictions in-person numbers will be limited to 1,250. To ensure everyone has the opportunity to take part, in-person registrations are divided into categories by location with each category being allotted so many available spots. Kopeng, Indonesia will host most of the events and sessions, but there will also be satellite sites in other Indonesia locations. “Through these satellite locations, all participants can see, hear and experience the unique worship styles found throughout Indonesia,” says Liesa Unger, MWC chief international events officer. The theme this year is “following Jesus across barriers”. MWC is invited churches to think about what barriers exist in their local Anabaptist communities and how they can they cross them with the help of Jesus. MWC is encouraging churches to host watch parties throughout the week for the different services and sessions. “Collaborate with other churches,” Braun echoed the call of MWC. “Invite other congregations and conferences in our Anabaptist family.” Another way to get your church or community involved in this year’s assembly is to join the Celebration Sunday service on July 10th by playing the service in replacement of a speaker Sunday morning. “We would love for every MB congregation to register online,” said Braun. “It’s a way to participate with what’s going on with the Anabaptist family all over the world.” The Sunday services will be longer than a typical Canadian church service but MWC is encouraging churches to worship along with those in Indonesia, even if just for bits and pieces of the service. > Visit the Mennonite World Conference website for more information and to register.

H O L LY H A N N I G A N

MB Herald staff writer

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Susan Brandt (Braun) Oct 14, 1940-May 20, 2022

In 1982 their family moved to Winnipeg where they settled. Susan became the secretary to the MB Conference minister and assistant for the MB Herald. This didn’t last long as she moved up quickly in her responsibility We remember Susan as the first female editor of the MB Herald. She thoroughly enjoyed her work with the Herald. Once she retired, Susan spent her time soaking in her grandchildren and travelling. At the age of 81, after a lengthy struggle with low energy, Susan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was admitted to St. Boniface General Hospital where she passed away a week later on Friday, May 20, 2022. Susan was a strong, determined woman, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She was a quiet trailblazer, always working toward the greater good, especially when it came to equal status for women in the workplace. For this we thank her and recognize her gifts to all of us. Birth: Oct 14, 1940 Birthplace: Yarrow, BC Death: May 20, 2022 Parents: Johann and Susanna Braun Married: Gilbert Brandt Family: Gilbert; children Daryl (Sharon Lewis), SuAnn (Terry) Goertzen, Jon (Stephanie Hanna); grandchildren, siblings. Church: River East Church

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A moment in time

V I R G I L , O N TA R I O , 1 9 5 4

A gathering at the 1954 Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference held at Virgil, Ontario. The general church services were held in nearby St. Catharines. Attendees are seated in a hockey arena. A large choir in white shirts and blouses sits in the bleachers near the small stage on which a number of people are seated. Note the Union Jack flag hanging from the rafters. It was used in Canada until 1965 when the maple leaf flag was adopted. Courtesy of the Mennonite Archival Information Database

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&

G R AC E T RU T H JOHN 1:14-17

JUNE 9-12, 2022 visit na.mennonitebrethren.ca for more information

S U B S C R I B E T O M B H E R A L D D I G E S T W W W. M B H E R A L D . C O M / S U B S C R I B E -V I A - E M A I L