Kelowna church celebrates 75 years of faithfulness

October 26, 2022 | News | Volume 26 Issue 22
Fran Siemens | Special to Canadian Mennonite
Kelowna, B.C.
The first families of First Mennonite Church, Kelowna, B.C., gathered for worship in homes. (Archival photo supplied by First Mennonite Church, Kelowna)

Members and friends gathered to mark the 75th anniversary of First Mennonite Church, Kelowna, in a celebration service on Sept. 11. The service was a time of reflection on the church’s identity as an Anabaptist congregation, the individual and collective history of worship and service, and a renewal of the church’s commitment to the vision and purpose of the church for the future.

As spiritual descendants of the 16th century Anabaptist movement, the congregation’s identity is grounded on the authority of the Bible, with a particular focus on the teachings and life of Jesus. In our practice we emphasize adult believer’s baptism, the priesthood of all believers, discipleship, peacemaking, recognizing Christ’s presence in our individual lives and whenever we gather as a community of faith.

Members Albert and Peggy Hiebert led an antiphonal service of Scripture readings alternating with the congregational singing of hymns. Johann Funk reflected on the early years of the church to the present ,and led the renewal of commitment based on II Corinthians 4:16-18 during the latter part of the service.

A PowerPoint presentation traced the history of the congregation from the five families coming together for worship in homes in the early 1940s and its formal organization on July 23, 1947, with 31 founding members. The pastoral leaders, from Aeltester Jacob J. Janzen to the present virtual pastor, Ken Dueck, were recognized, as well as the life of the church: baptisms, weddings, retreats, mission trips, refugee sponsorship, youth groups and quilting, among others.

The service was followed by a luncheon and pictorial display of people who were members in l947 and the following years.

The celebration of the church’s 75th anniversary was an opportunity for the members of First Mennonite Church to renew their commitment to the vision and purpose of the cloud of witnesses that worshipped in this sanctuary before us. To this, the guests were witnesses to their resolve.

Today, First Mennonite has a membership of 47; 22 are active, 10 inactive and 15 non-resident, some of whom still keep in touch with the congregation. The building provides space for two other congrega- tions to hold services. We also provide a location for various community activities, including a large choir and several Girl Guide groups. For many years, the women in our church have been making numerous quilts for Mennonite Central Committee.

So it was with gratefulness for 75 years of God’s faithfulness and patience, as members through the decades wrestled with being true to the Anabaptist vision, that First Mennonite inherited and had come to celebrate.

The first families of First Mennonite Church, Kelowna, B.C., gathered for worship in homes. (Archival photo supplied by First Mennonite Church, Kelowna)

On Sept. 10, First Mennonite Church in Kelowna, B.C., held a meeting to decide on the congregation’s future directions. (Photo by Johann Funk)

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