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Did we have Wild Hope at MC Canada 2014?

What church will we be: One with walls? One with shade like a tree? In the shade people from miles and miles around can watch. Then they can come closer and see who we are and what we do. This is the question I see in picture of the church building and the acacia tree.

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Christina and I spent July 3-6 2014 attending the Mennonite Church Canada General assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. A the attendees spent lots of time reflecting first, on the future of the Mennonite Church Canada and second, on how the church understands and articulates our christ centered sexuality in today’s Canadian culture. Fun right?

We were so encouraged!

Every coffee time was encouraging for Christina and I since people constantly approached us from across Canada: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Vancouver Island. What did they want to say! They pray that we would continue to spread the good news of the Gospel of Peace! They faithfully follow our blogs, Facebook and other social media. Finally their church community also remembers us weekly in prayer. Prayer is such a powerful way to engage the spiritual realm with God. By listening to God and asking him to act we have seen God’s will being done and his kingdom coming on earth as in heaven. All of these messages of encouragement give us life and encourage PeaceChurch Philippines.We know that you and many others are with us in spirit as we go back to the Philippines to serve as Anabaptist community and face the challenges of leaving our home culture again.

Thank you for eating with us.

We thank everyone who gave us their time in Winnipeg. An hour for coffee or an hour for lunch was a huge blessing during our short month here in Canada. It was always encouraging. We look forward to the next national conference and hope we can be there again.

What about Mennonite Church Canada’s future?

How do I understand the future of Mennonite Church Canada?  What structure will the church 20 years down the road? It looks like many people are nervous about how Mennonite Church Canada will sustain itself.

I believe that Mennonite Church Canada needs a radical vision to plant churches. We will grow and change as new communities emerge. Those new communities will train and walk with older more mature communities. We, new and old, will grow and take form together. I hope that in the next 4 years before we come back from the Philippines we can draw together a network of young passionate MC Canada church planters with a vision to multiply our transformational influence in the world because we have a message that is truly good news for all people now and forever.

I believe Mennonite Church Canada needs to plant churches. The church is the primary body God uses to transform the world. The church is the primary community God uses to bring hope and justice to every neighborhood in the world. Many communities in Ca nada have a church in them. And that church, when it follows Jesus, will always be on a journey to encourage, bless, serve it’s immediate neighbors. This is who we are. We are God’s evidence that Shalom is coming and is already here! May our communities be Peace Churches who are evidence of God’s shalom every where we are!!

In the biblical story God told Abraham he was God’s representative on the earth. God Said that he would bless Abraham and that Abraham was to pay forward the blessing to every other person and nation he met. Then, when God personally came to the earth as Jesus he taught the same message. Love God, love your neighbor.

From what I heard at the national conference Mennonite Church Canada has a radically wild hope (catch that? 😉 that we will adapt to the changing Canadian cultural landscape since every person I met at the conference is choosing to embrace these two great commands of Jesus.

God bless you and enjoy the pictures:

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Flying from Vancouver, and looking at Richmond BC we were excited, encouraged and amazed at how many green spaces we have to be thankful for in our British Columbian cities. In comparison to Manila they are infinite.

 

 

 

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This was a lesson I learned while flying to Thailand when I was 18 years old. It is not profound but every time I fly it is encouraging to me.

 

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We stayed at Christina’s uncle and aunt’s house in Winnipeg. Her cousin Rebecca, who is working on a PhD right now, was and awesome host who shared all sorts of stories from her life in Columbia while serving with Mennonite Central Committee and doing here PhD research.
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IMG_9103IMG_9061 Every day we walked to Canadian Mennonite University, the venue of the 2014 Mennonite Church Canada national assembly. Our walk took us through Assiniboine Park and at 7:30 in the morning it was always cool and refreshing.
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IMG_9060 Before the conference we had a day together with all the other ministers in Mennonite Church Canada. It was encouraging to sit together, reflect together, and practice listening prayer together. The focus of our time was listening prayer and how it relates to trauma healing. It was exciting to sit with 4 others and listen to Jesus voice and then share with them how we are encouraged by the voice of Christ. We were led by a couple, one a pastor and one a psychologist, who have done this across the globe and have been a great encouragement to the church, to the unchurched, and awesome witnesses of the love of God and the closeness of Jesus Christ to everyone of us.
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I think I heard someone say that the national conference was a gathering of more than 240 delegates. Even though this is probably less than half of what they would have in the 80s I was encouraged to meet so many Anabaptist Mennonite followers of Jesus and bask in the amazing feeling that this was a large family gathering, not a “business meeting.”

 

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I think it felt like a family gathering because we were bumping into so many people we knew in the Mennonite world. Below I am standing with New Testament theologian Gordon Zerby who actually went to Columbia Bible Inst. with my dad in the 70s. He was also the professor who opened my eyes to interpreting the book of Revelation in it’s historical context. I am so thankful to have him as a mentor and always know he is only an email away.

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Palmer Becker and Tim Kipfer are 2 more mentors to Christina and myself. Palmer was the 1st pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond British Columbia. The church Christina was born into. Tim is the pastor who married us and the current lead pastor at Peace Mennonite Church. They are both leading thinkers in the Mennonite world and we’re so blessed to have their influence in our lives.
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Here we have Willard Metzger on the right, the current Executive Director of Mennonite Church Canada and Gordon Janzen on the left, our coordinator at Mennonite Church Canada – Witness.
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It would not be a truly Mennonite gathering if we did not have time for coffee and cookies and cake every 2 hours. The funny thing is, the teaching sessions were only 45 minutes. Some of us were convinced it was because if they were 15 minutes longer everyone would be leaving early to the bathroom to relieve themselves of the coffee.
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IMG_9084 The pastor of our home congregation in Abbotsford British Columbia in April Yamasaki is always so encouraging to us and were thankful to at least sit with her her for one lunch. she is the author of sacred pauses a book about individual spirituality centered on Jesus in every day life. It has been so encouraging for us in the field to read her writing and be refreshed. Look her up on twitter @sacredpauses or www.AprilYamasaki.com.                    Then at the same time our 2 boys stayed back in British Columbia and hung out with my parents and Christina’s parents. Here my dad took them to the fire station and as you can tell Makai was not very excited while Cody was ecstatic!

 

 

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While in Winnipeg who looked up our family tree and these are the people we found. Thanks to our family in Winnipeg who took the time out of their day to sit with us for a couple hours and have some laughs.
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IMG_9106 I was able to reconnect with some of the Canadian indigenous history through a documentary called Broken Promises. It was produced by Mennonite Church Canada and will be on the Mennonite Church Canada website for free at www.Mennonitechurch.ca.
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Question-and-answer time with the British Columbia Indigenous Relationship Coordinator Brander McDonald
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IMG_9081 Children’s story time at Sunday worship.
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We must have had 5 – 600 people in the gym for Sunday worship. The choir sounded phenomenal.
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Dr. Jack Suderman and Irene Suderman continue to give us encouraging words about our work in the Philippines and send their greetings to PeaceChurch.ph
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And finally, Dan and Esther Epp-Thiessen who are Anabaptist writers and theologians. We are trying to lure them back to the Philippines where they served back in the 90s. 🙂 Pray with us!!


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