Mennonite Church Alberta

Engaging with ‘people not like us’

Dayna Goerzen of Bergthal Mennonite Church, Didsbury, Alta. (Photo courtesy of Dayna Goerzen)

Ethan Haluza-DeLay of Edmonton First Mennonite Church makes his voice heard at the climate-change protest in Ottawa in September 2019. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Haluza-Delay)

A group of Mennonite young adults from Alberta has been gathering on Zoom for six Sundays in a row to learn about engaging with “the other.” Topics included “Engaging the religious other,” with a focus on Islam, and “Engaging the culturally other,” with a focus on connecting with people from other races and cultures, and exploring cross-cultural

MC Alberta says farewell to communications coordinator, clown

Variety show host Jungle June, aka June Miller, entertains the women at the 2014 MC Alberta women’s retreat. (Photo by Helena Ball)

Sassafrass, aka June Miller, sells Tupperware in costume. (Photo by Mackenzie Miller)

June Miller keeps the children entertained at Foothills Mennonite Church’s Vacation Bible School in Calgary. (Photo by Michelle Copithorne)

Mennonite Church Alberta is sad to say goodbye this summer to June Miller. Not only has she served the regional church as its first communications coordinator, she has also used her clowning gifts to bring joy to her congregation, Foothills Mennonite Church, as well as to the MC Alberta community.

A column about plague columns

Plague columns, like this one in Linz, Austria, are a reminder that the source of salvation is God. (Image by Alfred Stier/Pixabay)

If you’ve travelled in central or eastern Europe, you may have come across a plague column holding a prominent place in a town square. Plague columns were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries as a display of public faith in the church and in God.

You’re more interesting than you think

‘Please send us your story ideas…’ (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

Earlier this month, I interviewed an ex-offender who had successfully gone through Mennonite Central Committee Alberta’s Bridges Ministries program.

He mentioned that when you are locked up in prison, you have no internet and no fresh air. He then shared how his ex-offender friends who are currently staying at home due to COVID-19 joke about how it feels like being locked up again, but this time they’re at the Hilton Hotel with Skip the Dishes and Netflix.

Mennonite Church Alberta holds virtual AGM

A screen shot of participants at this year’s MC Alberta annual general meeting, held online using the Zoom platform. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

With COVID-19 limiting the ability to connect in person, virtual meetings now seem to be the wave of the future. Mennonite Church Alberta had already been using the Zoom platform to hold small provincial committee meetings online, but when its annual general meeting (AGM) was cancelled, the regional church decided to explore whether a larger meeting with Zoom could work as well.

Edmonton-Calgary trivia rivalry continues

Edmonton and Calgary have been rivals for decades, but for the past three years this rivalry between Edmonton First Mennonite and Foothills Mennonite in Calgary has been for a good cause: raising money for Camp Valaqua with a trivia night. The last two years involved live streaming between multiple Edmonton and Calgary locations. Edmonton First Mennonite hosted 43 people on six teams, including the winner, “Not Cheating Again.” The Edmonton teams raised $1,800 in total.

Final results of MC Alberta's Vision 20/20 process revealed

An exciting part of Vision 20/20 was the unveiling of the vision statement on a huge banner that will be available to be hung in every MC Alberta congregation. Holding up the banner are June Miller, MC Alberta’s communications coordinator, left, and Heather Klassen of Foothills Mennonite Church. Facilitator Betty Pries is in the background. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Like all Mennonite Church Canada regional churches, MC Alberta continues to pray and discern God’s call, moving forward after the nationwide restructuring a couple years ago.

Representatives from across the province met at First Mennonite Church in Calgary on Nov. 1 and 2 to hear the final results of the four-phase discernment process called Vision 20/20.

A journey from fundamentalism to freedom

Donna Dinsmore, interim pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary, is pictured with her beloved seven-year-old Tucker. ‘Tucker makes every community more human,' she says. (Photo courtesy of Donna Dinsmore)

Donna Dinsmore served from 2015 to 2017 as minister of the Bella Coola Pastoral Charge while living on the Nuxalk First Nation in British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Donna Dinsmore)

Donna Dinsmore never felt she fit into church life.

‘Won’t you be my neighbour?’

Enjoying VBS craft time at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary are, from left to right: Arianna Toews, Kaylynn Toews and Zoe Willms. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

John Wiebe serenades the children with his harmonica during snack time at the Compassion Café. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Pastor Chad Miller of Foothills Mennonite Church, left, and Pastor Leng Nawn Thang of Calgary Chin Christian Church lead worship together at the annual VBS program held at Foothills Mennonite Church last month. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Pastor Chad Miller, centre, introduces new neighbours Rabah Swaidek, left, and Mohammed Awada from the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary at this year’s VBS program, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbour?” every day for almost 40 years on Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood.

‘Working at home is over-rated’

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister), left, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), Sonia Halliday and Dena Harris (MMI insurance advisors) now share a common space in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister) and Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), co-pastored First Mennonite Church in Edmonton for 15 years until 2017 and are now together again with only a wall between them at the new offices off Whitemud Drive in Edmonton. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

After years of dreaming of a Mennonite hub in Edmonton, it finally came to pass. Mennonite organizations that were formerly in basements, spare rooms and kitchens have come together to share space at the invitation of Mennonite Mutual Insurance (MMI).

My day on the Walk for Common Ground

Tim Wiebe, centre, stands with fellow Walk for Common Ground participants Cassidy Brown, left, and Allegra Friesen-Epp, right. (Photo courtesy of Steve Heinrich)

The image on the Treaty 6 flag is striking. 

The crest shows a European and Indigenous leader engaged in a never-ending handshake, a longstanding and well-understood symbol of mutual agreement. 

The edge of the crest is lined with words that testify to the longevity of this agreement: “As long as the sun shines... And the rivers flow... The grass grows.”

The women of Alberta rediscover Mary

Valerie Proudfoot of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, presents Irma Fast Dueck with a picture of a Mennonite Mary. Entitled ‘Mennonitische Madonna,’ the artwork by Helena Dueck of Pennsylvania was originally given to Proudfoot in 1986 as a gift of encouragement. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

“We grew up never talking about Mary. It was like the Catholics got Mary in the divorce settlement and Mennonites got a 30-minute sermon,” said Irma Fast Dueck in her opening talk at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat held from June 7 to 9 at the Sunnyside Retreat Centre in Sylvan Lake.

Dreaming of possibilities

'We pray that a significant number of our dreams come to be fulfilled,' Vince Friesen writes. (Illustration courtesy of Pixabay)

As we explore new possibilities in our journey with a new church structure, the Mission and Service Committee of Mennonite Church Alberta has been dreaming about possibilities in a variety of areas. Some of these dreams will remain dreams, while others, hopefully, will come to fruition.

‘Opening to God’s leading’

John Neudorf speaks with Betty Pries of Credence & Co. during a break in the Nov. 16, 2018, session of Mennonite Church Alberta’s first Vision 2020 gathering at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

In opening comments at Mennonite Church Alberta’s first of three Vision 2020 gatherings, Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, the regional church’s executive minister, asked people in the crowd to stand if they had left their place of birth in search of new life and opportunities.

A picture of gradual decline

Above: Donations from congregations and individuals to national and area/regional church bodies. (All dollar figures adjusted to 2018 dollars.)

Above: Dollar amounts to be forwarded to MC Canada in 2018. (Not included are contributions from regional churches to post-secondary schools or added budget lines for staff to take over some tasks previously performed by MC Canada staff.)

Often our society relies too much on numbers. In gravitating to quantification we tend to short-circuit the truth, which is nuanced and multilayered.

But when it comes to our denomination, I would like to see more numbers. Specifically, how has overall giving to area/regional churches and Mennonite Church Canada changed over time?

MC Alberta appoints two new Joint Council members

Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, left, and Margaret Kruger-Harder, right, represent Mennonite Church Alberta on the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada.

At Mennonite Church Alberta’s annual delegate sessions in March 2018, Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Margaret Kruger-Harder were appointed to represent the regional church on MC Canada’s Joint Council, which was created following the restructuring of the nationwide church in October 2017.

MC Alberta celebrates a ‘church born anew’

Ryan Siemens, left, and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, executive ministers for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively, exchanged visits to each other’s annual assemblies to support and encourage the work of collaboration between regions in the new MC Canada structure. Siemens is wearing a Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey purchased for him by a spontaneous collection at a Saskatchewan gathering. Wiebe-Neufeld, not wanting to take any sides in a Calgary/Edmonton rivalry, diplomatically borrowed a Lethbridge Hurricanes uniform to represent Alberta in the photo op! (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, helps himself to the Syrian feast at MC Alberta’s annual assembly last month. The food was prepared by Syrians welcomed to Canada over the last several years by Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Many members of the Bethel International Church Oromo Edmonton Congregation travelled to Lethbridge to be welcomed into membership of Mennonite Church Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

At the last minute, Lethbridge Mennonite Church had to scramble to host the 2018 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate assembly. Already working hard to finish entrance and meeting room renovations, a burst water pipe flooded the church basement just a week before the March 16-17 gathering.

Breaking down walls in the name of Christ

Elaine Klassen and Noreen Neufeldt ham it up in the kitchen as they prepare food for delegates at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta assembly hosted by Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Dan Graber, MC Alberta area church minister, left; Elias Miranda, pastor of Word of Life Mennonite Church, Calgary; Thomas Pham, pastor of Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church; and Jon Olfert, Camp Valaqua director, lead the 2014 MC Alberta assembly delegates in a time of remembering those who have passed away in the last year, and celebrating those who have joined MCA through baptism. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Cheryl Bear-Barnetson poses with a copy of her 2013 book, Introduction to First Nations Ministry, at the MC Alberta assembly. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

“As a child, I didn’t see the wall,” Arlyn Friesen Epp told delegates to the 85th annual Mennonite Church Alberta assembly, as he spoke of growing up in small-town Saskatchewan with no real knowledge of, or connections to, first nations people other than negative stereotypes.

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