Congregations across Mennonite Church Canada celebrated International Witness Sunday in October. The nationwide church declared Oct. 18 to be the official day, but welcomed congregations to celebrate on whatever Sunday worked for them. The theme of the day was “Sharing gifts. Building relationships.”
Kirsten Hamm-Epp, regional church minister of MC Saskatchewan and a member of Eigenheim Mennonite Church, appreciated the outward focus the day brought to her congregation. “It’s been easy to hunker down and focus inwards [due to COVID-19], but we felt International Witness Sunday calling us to look beyond ourselves and realize God is still very much active in the world. There are still meaningful ways we can be part of building the kingdom,” she said.
Members of Erie View United Mennonite Church in Port Rowan, Ont., celebrated their connection to the ministry of Witness workers Tom and Christine Poovong in Thailand. Erie View used online resources provided by MC Canada, which included videos about the ministry of the Witness workers, prayers and other worship resources.
Several congregations celebrated by signing covenants with Witness workers to honour their relationship with—and commitment to support—the workers and their ministries in countries around the globe. Morden (Man.) Mennonite Church signed a covenant of support for ministry in South Korea with Witness workers Sook Kyoung Park and Bock Ki Kim, while nearby Carmen Mennonite Church covenanted to support ministry in Thailand through the work of the Poovongs. Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church signed a covenant for ministry in China with Witness workers Tobia and George Veith.
The leadership team of Zion Mennonite Church in Swift Current, Sask., declared the month of October International Witness Support Month and invited people to designate gifts throughout the month to International Witness. Pastor Lois Bukar said the invitation to celebrate International Witness came at a good time, since her church was not able to have its Thanksgiving banquet and donate to a specific project like members normally do.
Living Stones Chinese Mennonite Church in Surrey, B.C., dedicated an afternoon to learning about ministry in China. Those in attendance listened to a special recorded message in Mandarin from a church leader in Mainland China, who has connected with Anabaptist teaching through Chinese partners of International Witness and the ministry of China Witness workers George and Tobia Veith. He shared his excitement in discovering Anabaptist teaching as the roots he had been looking for in his faith journey. Members of Living Stones, along with Pastor Audrey Sheu, are now helping to edit some of the Anabaptist resources their speaker shared and plan to use them in their own congregation.
“It was wonderful to see relationships between our Canadian congregations and our Witness workers and international partners strengthened on International Witness Sunday,” said Jeanette Hanson, director of International Witness. “Our hope is that this celebration becomes an annual event that reminds us that we walk together as followers of Jesus.”