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
Mennonite Church Alberta
Variety show host Jungle June, aka June Miller, entertains the women at the 2014 MC Alberta women’s retreat. (Photo by Helena Ball)
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.
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.
‘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.
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 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.
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.
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 never felt she fit into church life.
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)
Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbour?” every day for almost 40 years on Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood.
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).
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
Swirling around with ideas of strategy, focus, and “We used to do it this way,” change is messy. Grappling with the in-between is messy. Living in the liminal space between what was and what will be is messy, yet here we are, wondering, “What did I get myself into?”
Above: Donations from congregations and individuals to national and area/regional church bodies. (All dollar figures adjusted to 2018 dollars.)
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?
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.
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)
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.
“Changes coming upon us / It keeps moving, moving around us. / Got to keep singing, knowing he loves us; / Got to keep joy in our hearts.”
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)
“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.