“Jesus Christ is present here. Alleluia!” sang enthusiastic worshippers in many languages to begin the fourth annual Mennonite Church Eastern Canada multicultural Mission Festival, held on Oct. 26 at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.
Worship leader Yoel Masyawong, the pastor of Grace Lao Mennonite Church in Kitchener, expressed his delight to see “all the nations come together,” noting that 14 languages are now spoken in congregations across the regional church. Groups from various churches shared music and dance from their cultures as part of the worship time.
The Mission Festival was also an opportunity to thank Brian Bauman, who is retiring after 16 years as MC Eastern Canada’s mission minister, and to bless Norm Dyck, who takes over the position at the end of the year.
Chung Vang, pastor of Chin Christian Church in Kitchener, spoke on behalf of the local multicultural cluster of pastors. He thanked Bauman for his support and for his “deep compassion toward God’s people.” He said to Bauman, “The love of God flows to us from you.”
Jim Loepp Thiessen, currently pastor of Floradale Mennonite Church, shared from his story of planting a church while Bauman was mission minister. He described Bauman as a supportive and patient listener with an “apostolic gift.”
Som Phanpha expressed appreciation to Bauman on behalf of Laotian congregations for the seeds he planted, for his wise counsel and encouragement, and for the way he invested in the lives of others.
In a farewell blessing, Bauman reflected on the growth and diversity of the churches represented, saying, “Words cannot describe what I am feeling . . . that we are here in this place together.”
Regional church staff wore T-shirts sporting Bauman’s image and one of his favourite sayings: “Every neighbourhood deserves a disciple-making peace presence.” Dyck presented Bauman with one of the shirts, thanking him for his mentorship.
Referring to Ephesians, Dyck reflected on the mystery of how the church, bound together in the lordship of Jesus and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, can be one body. He noted that the “world continues to arrive” in Eastern Canada, “forever changing the dynamic of the church” in this part of Canada, and he celebrated how God is using “the rest of the world to reignite the passion of the church in North America.”
The worship time ended with a service of communion and prayers of gratitude and blessing for Bauman and Dyck. The celebration continued with a potluck meal.
Norm Dyck, right, the new MC Eastern Canada mission minister, presents Brian Bauman with a tribute T-shirt as part of retirement celebrations for Bauman held at the regional church’s fourth annual Mission Festival at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)
People from the Chin Christian Fellowship share a cultural dance at this year’s Mission Festival on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)
Women from the First Mennonite Church Hispanic congregation share a Colombian cultural dance at this year’s fourth annual Mission Festival on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)