MCBC Mennonite Church British Columbia Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:17:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Building Healthy Connections Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:31:15 +0000 by Garry Janzen, MCBC Executive Director

Going around to MCBC congregations, hearing stories, building healthy connections and encouraging the people is a lot of fun. To hear the missional hearts of congregations and their leaders, as well as hearing their questions is what I have been doing over the past six months. So here are some of my experiences.

When Tim Kuepfer became available again last November, he began to help Vancouver Chinese Mennonite’s English congregation with occasional preaching. Then he helped them with some visioning and imagining a new future. Before long he was called to be their new English pastor. On Sunday, August 20th we celebrated Tim’s installation along with the 40th anniversary of the congregation. The congregational leadership, both Chinese and English, are imagining the potential of their future as a peace church in Chinatown.

In the middle of August, I was able to ride out to Black Creek on Vancouver Island to spend some time with Gerry and Elaine Binnema, and leadership people at United Mennonite Church. I also got to spend a morning hanging out with their Vacation Bible School ministry. They have chosen to do VBS each Thursday morning this summer, rather than putting it all into one week. This has been much less taxing on the volunteers and very refreshing for the parents and their children. Each week they look forward to the change of pace offered by VBS.

Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver has just bid farewell to James Wittenberg and Tim Froese as their pastors. Phil Routly has started as their transitional pastor. Phil plans to hear the stories of the people and help them reflect well on both the good and the challenging times of the past years; all this in the hopes of leading them to build healthy connections for the future – with each other and with their neighbours.

First United Mennonite Church in Vancouver is in the process of searching for an associate pastor with a focus on revitalisation. They want some fresh insights for building healthy connections as a church in the neighbourhood.

There are many good stories; there are also some challenging ones that we are engaging. I will just leave you with one more good connection that is coming up. Tim and Sandra Kuepfer have been invited to be our speakers for the MCBC Pastor/Spouse Retreat this year. They want to help us see what love looks like when it is based on the foundation of God’s love for us. Pastors, Spouses, Pastoral Care Reps, be sure to keep November 3-5 open on your calendars for this annual retreat at Squeah. Also, what a great place to set our clocks back for an extra hour of sleep!

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Out of the Mouths of Babes: A Devotional Reflection Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:08:51 +0000 by Eryn Austin-Bergen


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

“Sing song!” my 20 month old daughter, Eliana, declares.
“You want to sing a song?” I clarify.
“Ye-ah,” her lilting, two syllable response makes me smile.
“What song do you want to sing?” I ask.
“Jesus!” Eliana grins.
“You want to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’?”
“Yeaaaah.” She smiles and waits expectantly.

Eliana intently stacks one block on top of the next. We’re talking about which colours she wants and what she might be building. Out of the blue, she nonchalantly interjects, “Go church.”
“Sorry, what?” I ask, not sure I heard her correctly.
“Go church,” she states more clearly.
“You want to go to church right now?”
“Ye-ah. Go church, sing songs.”

As I wipe bits of oatmeal off the floor after breakfast, Eliana babbles next to me – I admittedly am only half listening. But then I hear her say, clear as day, “chains broken.” I stop what I’m doing, sit back and look at her, “What?”
“Chains broken,” she states matter of factly. I stare at her with furrowed brow.
“I don’t, um…I’m not sure…” I stutter.
“Chains broken,” she happily repeats.
I pause, racking my brain with where she could have come up with that phrase. Then it dawns on me. “Oh! Like in the song? ‘Chains have been broken, death is defeated, we are victorious’?”
“Yesss. Chains broken.” She goes about her play.

These three moments made me pause in wonder: God himself is speaking to my little girl. He is shaping her thought world and her desires; he is captivating her imagination.

Eliana is our first child and sometimes I’m anxious about whether we’re raising her to know God. We don’t have a lot of religious rhythms in our family, so I worry that I’m not doing enough, that Eliana will grow up not loving the God I cherish. But these three moments with her were a revelation – it’s not about me. I have a responsibility to raise her in the knowledge of the Lord, to model who Jesus is and that he does, indeed, love her more than life. But, ultimately, it’s not about me.

Since the moment of her conception, the Giver of Life has been singing his song over her, creating and recreating my little girl in joy. He has been wooing her, pursuing her at every stage of her development, and he will never stop calling her to himself. Through songs and books and trees and bugs, through hugs and bubbles and dreams and blocks, he whispers his wonders to her – and she hears him.

As an adult, it’s easy for me to forget that I am not the one in control; it’s easy for me to tighten my grip against the Author of the Story when things are not going as I think they should. But Eliana daily reminds me – it’s not about me. Her God is in control of her life; now I need to just open my hands and follow his lead.

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Considering Our Heritage Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:47:42 +0000 (Image caption: Woodcut image of the Peasant’s Revolt. A number of early Anabaptist leaders were involved in such uprisings.)

by Greg Thiessen

This semester I have the privilege of teaching Anabaptist History and Thought at Columbia Bible College.  As I have been preparing for the course, it strikes me yet again how full of conflict our Anabaptist heritage is.  We often think about the conflict between the early Anabaptists and other Christians of the 16th Century – both Protestants and Catholics – and how horribly the Anabaptists were persecuted.

What we fail to reflect on are all the conflicts and divisions among Anabaptists themselves.  It was by no means a unified movement, and along with religious zeal and pursuits of purity and correct biblical (and/or spiritual) teaching came disagreements, excommunications (the Ban), and schisms.  Key leaders like Michael Sattler and Hans Denck, Wilhelm Reublin and Jacob Wiedemann, Balthasar Hubmaier and Hans Hut, and even Menno Simons and David Joris butted heads and opposed one another.  These conflicts often resulted in banishments or schisms rather than reconciliation and unity.  While some were pacifist in the sense of not taking up arms – and this was by no means a universal trait – there was widely a great failure of peace.  I mean peace here in the biblical sense of shalom – reconciliation with God, one another, creation, and oneself.  Thankfully, Menno Simons’ pastoral heart and the recoil from the Munster debacle (where Anabaptists took the city by force as the New Jerusalem, held public executions to maintain control, and were in the end massacred) brought some more stability to Anabaptist radicalism.  Nevertheless, disagreements and schisms have continued throughout Mennonite history under the pursuit of purity in the visible church.

Today, I believe we have embraced much of the good and rejected much of the bad from our heritage.  I know, for example, of none of our MCBC churches actively practicing the Ban.  There are other areas, however, where we are blind to how our heritage shapes us.  While we acclaim a pacifist stance, we often fail to live out peace.  Guided by our genuine pursuit of purity, we can oppress others who also seek to follow Christ, but have come to different understandings.  While we may not do physical harm to one another, we can do emotional and spiritual harm as our words can be incredibly militant. While passion for God’s Kingdom is good – let us pursue words and ways of building up that Kingdom with conviction and love instead of using our words as a way to dominate and suppress others.

To help us navigate our common pursuit of Christ and his peace, I would like to encourage us as a denomination to be historically mindful.  When we are familiar with our Anabaptist and broader Christian heritage – not just the exemplary points, but also the lamentable – we will hopefully be humbled in our own opinions and become more charitable and peaceable to one another.  This will help us live into our MCBC theme for the year: Building Healthy Connections.  We also gain a greater perspective to see Christ himself more clearly.

This coming October the Metzger Collection will be starting a feature exhibit on the Reformation in honour of the 500 Year Anniversary of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses on October 31st, 1517.  Similar to the Anabaptist story in particular, the Reformation as a whole bears much to acclaim and celebrate, but also much to lament.  We see a period in which people gain access to the Bible, where justification by faith is preached, and where corruptions are exposed.  But we also see a period of division, turmoil, and violence.  It is part of our story, and shapes our heritage, whether we are aware of it or not.

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Childcare Programmers + Assistants Needed At Pastor/Spouse Retreat Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:45:13 +0000 Would you like to bless the pastors of Mennonite Church BC with a weekend retreat? MCBC is looking for individuals who would be willing and able to look after the children’s program for our Pastor/Spouse Retreat.  We need 3 people who can spearhead the weekend with activities to keep the kids busy and enjoying all that Squeah has to offer in November, and 4 others who are willing to assist with the program. The Pastor/Spouse Retreat is Friday-Sunday, November 3-5, 2017.  The kids range from 2-14 years old. The 3 childcare programmers would be in charge of 1 of 3 areas: littles, elementary aged children, or youth; programmers would each receive a $200 honorarium. The 4 childcare assistants would each receive a $125 honorarium.  The honorariums serve as a way for MCBC to say thanks for helping us care for our pastors’ children well! Both programmers and assistants would receive free room (if coming further than Hope) and board for the weekend (shared accommodation).

If you would be willing to serve in this way, please fill-in the application at by Monday, October 2, 2017.

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Cultivating Thankfulness Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:40:18 +0000 by Aften Thiessen

Over the last season of my life, I have had the privilege to preach in a number of churches. The prayers of Paul have always been an inspiration (and challenge) to me, and so they have been the basis of a number of my sermons. Paul’s prayer for the church in Colossians has always been a favourite probably because the letter to the Colossians is also a favourite. Paul wrote to this small community of new believers while he was in prison. It was a group of people he did not know personally and a community that was struggling to find the truth of Christ amidst competing philosophies and religious beliefs. Amidst the struggles both in Paul’s personal life and in the life of this community, the theme of thankfulness emerges.

It is so easy to grumble and complain about life; it’s so easy to compare our lives to others – who seem to have it better than us, and social media has made these negative human tendencies even easier! Seriously if you are looking to be thankful or even just content then don’t go to Facebook.

Yet something I have become convinced of as I have journeyed along this road of faith now for 20 years is that thankfulness is one of the true markers of someone who knows God. It just seems to radiate off of some people. I think of my Grandma, who had real hardships in life – living through the great depression, the dust bowl and having to leave the family farm and connections, having a still-born child, and an abusive husband – and yet I don’t remember her ever expressing anything but gratefulness to her Heavenly Father for all the blessings he had given her. She was always singing, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

So much of how we deal with life is based on perspective. Are we going to choose to see the good things or are we going to dwell on the difficult things. For me, I often need help to see the good; the darkness can so easily overwhelm me. Still in the midst of the hardships, the questions, the darkness – we are called again and again to give thanks to God.

Here are just some of the things Paul has to say to the Colossians on the subject:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

We are called to be overflowing with thankfulness, not because God necessarily needs to be constantly thanked, but in thanking we ourselves are forced to see the good things God is doing in our lives. Sometimes life can be genuinely dark, but we are still called to give thanks – even if it’s just thanking God that He is there or thanking God that he has good plans for us that will someday come to fruition – even if that fruition will only take place in the Kingdom to come.

Thankfulness is not just something that springs up naturally for most of us; rather it is something we have to cultivate. We have to work the hard soil of our hearts to soften them. We have to pluck out the weeds and the rocks and the thorns. And then the beautiful flower of thankfulness can be planted – whose root is the good news that we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son.


For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

Thriving Congregations Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:37:53 +0000 by Betty Pries (foreword by Garry Janzen)

As MCBC congregations, these 10 Characteristics of Thriving Congregations are worthy of our consideration. These have been put together by Betty Pries.  May God be with us as we seek to thrive as beacons of the love of Jesus in our congregations, our neighbourhoods, and around the world.


1. Empowered and Empowering Leadership  
• A leader people want to follow
• A leader that can go to the hard places and into the tough questions
• A leader who loves the people unconditionally
• A leader who can read the Bible and the times in which we are living
• A leader who awakens and nurtures the gifts of the congregation

2. Passionate Spirituality
• Spirituality that plumbs the depths: Faith that speaks to head, heart, will
• Spirituality that allows for questions, invites people on a journey
• Spirituality that is rooted in reading the Biblical story with fresh eyes
• Spirituality that boldly and humbly makes claims about who God is, what Jesus was about, what the Spirit is doing…

3. Loving and authentic Relationships  
• Engaging in conversations that matter – the freedom to be real with one another
• Healthy interpersonal relationships
• Creating a sense of belonging – “this place cares about me”

4. Sense of Values, Identity, Purpose
• Clarity of fence posts – naming what the congregation is clear on (core values/identity)
• Listening for God’s leading
• Keeping a sense of purpose in front of the congregation
• Talking about our values, identity, purpose to ourselves

5. Effective Structures and Appropriate Resources
• Structures that are driven by a sense of mission, values, identity and purpose
• Structures that are flexible, clear, efficient and effective
• Meeting spaces, finances and resources that allow a congregation to flourish without allowing the congregation to become complacent

6. Inspiring Worship
• Worship that awakens people to their identity as God’s beloved
• Worship that invites encounters with God’s presence
• Worship that occurs on Sunday mornings or not on Sunday mornings

7. Holistic “Smaller” Opportunities to Connect within the larger Whole
• Inviting participation in our programs/ministries
• Encouraging smaller opportunities to connect as locations for encountering God’s presence and for loving and authentic relationships
• Placing leadership energy to build connections and support faith development within cohort groups
– Age cohort groups:  Children, youth, young adults, seniors
– Gender cohort groups
– Service-based cohort groups (choirs, outreach groups)
– Needs-based cohort groups (support groups)
• Placing leadership energy to build connection opportunities between cohort groups and the larger community (outreach)
• Talking about our programs/ministries to ourselves

8. Gift-oriented Ministry
• Making space for a wide range of participation
• Inviting people’s gifts to share in the ministry of the church
• Asking more of people not less
• Leaning into, celebrating and deepening the areas God is already blessing among us

9. Need-oriented Engagement with the World
• Engagement/action that emerges from the intersection point between the congregation’s gift/call (identity, values, purpose) and world’s need
• Engagement/action linked to a sense of God’s activity in the world
• Engagement/action that follows the action/reflection cycle
• Engagement/action that is humble – all, including those in the congregation, are on a journey of transformation
• Courage – the congregation may be called to take risks, do great things, go to uncomfortable places
• Talking about our engagement/action to ourselves as a way to solidify the tie between mission and identity, values and purpose and as a way to encourage participation

10. Marketing/Action-Reflection
• We pay attention to and tell the story within our congregation of how God is alive in our community and congregation.
• We watch for moments of surprise, grace, calling, blessing and pay attention to how these moments are forming who we are and to what we are being called.
• We “market ourselves to ourselves” – talking about our successes and our failures so that we may draw others in while also paying attention to the places where we might shift our action.
• We engage the action-reflection discernment cycle, paying attention to questions of identity and purpose.
• We share our stories of transformation with the world around us – both personally and through our vehicles of community engagement

Update on Brander Mcdonald: MCBC Indigenous Relations Coordinator Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:30:05 +0000 As has been reported to our congregations Brander McDonald, MCBC’s Indigenous Relations Coordinator (IRC) has had serious health issues since early July 2016 and has been unable to work since that time. His health has been getting increasingly better and his doctor has said that he is able to begin work again in June but starting at 30% time (1 ½ days a week) and working from home. If his health continues to improve he will be coming back into his role of 3 days a week (60%) beginning in August 2017.

As Brander prepares to come back into his role as IRC, Leadership Board want to give an update on Brander and his work: Below are three items:
1. Brander’s vision for his work
2. Expectations for the IRC Position
3. Resolution passed at the February 25, 2017 MCBC Annual general meeting

1. Brander’s Vision for this ministry of MCBC: Introduction by Brander McDonald

Tansi neechewam- “Hello my good friends”

As a Cree First Nations believer in Jesus I am delighted to be given this opportunity to join with MCBC in relating the First Nations Cultural mindset and of what it means to carry the Jesus Walk.

MCBC has had the extraordinary courage and vision to embrace an Indigenous person to relate the First Nations protocols and bridge building leadership to its members in local native communities. This is a truly exciting time!

I am excited to join in the vision and goals for this reconciliation work to our native peoples and church families, as both an Aboriginal leader and a fellow traveller in the Jesus Walk!

With this opportunity that MCBC has made available I feel honoured, privileged and excited to be able to share some key cross cultural understandings to help bridge this communications gap.

1. The passion I hold is speaking into the question of what it means to be a First Nations cultural man and to be fully engaged as a lifelong follower of Jesus. Not the Jesus of residential schools of the past, not of government policy, but the Saviour represented in the gospels and even of Anabaptist traditions. I have a passion to share what it means to carry this cross-cultural heart for the healing of my native peoples and the church community to which I grew up in.

2. The second passion associated with this is in regards to being a singer songwriter who can share these same stories and lessons through song and speech.

Finally, I believe God has placed me here for this unique time to speak to this need of what it means to be a bridge builder and agent of change. Sharing what it means to be an Aboriginal and a follower of Jesus and how both the native community and church family of God are ready for meaningful dialogue.

“All my relations” – (respectful honouring of all our families and connections)
In Creator Redeemer Jesus,
Brander “Standing Bear/Strongraven” McDonald

2. Excerpt from Brander’s ‘Memo of Understanding’ Expectations:
– Encourage healthy churches by equipping them to bridge barriers of understanding and acceptance in their own communities – to be ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5.18,19 and Ephesians 2:11-22)
– Challenge and inspire MCBC congregations and individuals to develop meaningful relationships with Indigenous people.
– Identify relevant peace and justice activities and invite congregations to be involved in them especially as it relates to the ongoing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
– Develop resources for MCBC pastors and congregations that can be used to cultivate a healthy interaction with people of other cultures, starting with Indigenous people.
– Exemplify the Gospel of Jesus Christ in “word and deed” as understood by the MCBC Confession of Faith.
– Model Christian unity by learning from and encouraging Christians of other cultures, especially in the Aboriginal community.

3. Resolution accepted by delegates at the February 25, 2017 MCBC annual general meeting

The MCBC Board recommends that we extend the Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Brander McDonald for another year to February 28, 2018. During this coming year, once Brander’s health has improved, MCBC will work on evaluating and projecting how best to continue this work of reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, we will continue with the work Brander is doing to fulfill our ministry objectives as MCBC.
Three priorities identified for the coming year are:
– to be available for congregations when there is a request to speak, teach or be present in a local church
– to create, build and support relationships of healing and reconciliation through dialogue and community involvement locally within the Sto:lo peoples and other Indigenous communities of the Fraser Valley
– to organize (three) bridge building/cross cultural workshops that will provide opportunities for MCBC members to gain knowledge and skills focusing on the 94 Calls to Action coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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Squeah is Calling Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:25:34 +0000 There’s Room for You at Squeah!
With the weather suddenly turning from wet and cold to hot and dry, it’s a sure sign that summer is on its way, and we are almost ready to welcome a new season of staff and campers – and there’s room for you!

A summer of service
If you love spending time with your Creator in the great outdoors and sharing that love with campers, then we’ve got the perfect opportunity for you. We have a few staff spots still available in our MUD and Go Beyond camps. We’re also looking for a canoe instructor for the month of July, someone with an unrestricted, class 4 driver’s license. And if you love food and making great meals, then we’d love to have you join our kitchen staff! Check out the details when you visit:

A bunk with your name it
Our camp registration has been filling up but we’ve still got a few bunks available in some camps. We’ve also got a new camp this year: Go Beyond Family Camp for families with teenagers who want to experience the great outdoors together, under the leadership of our experienced outdoor staff. Don’t hesitate– sign up for your Squeah experience today at:

Always gratitude
If you can’t join us this summer, please know that we always appreciate your prayer support and notes of encouragement. And if you want to support a camper whose family can’t afford to send him or her to camp, you can support our Campership program and make a camp experience possible ( For all the ways you support us, we are truly grateful! We look forward to hearing from you – or call 604-869-5353 x102

Meet Mary Barg: New MCBC Leadership Board – Secretary Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:21:48 +0000 Mary has been attending Eden Mennonite Church since she married Duane in 1995. She has been involved in various ways at church, and over the years her awareness of the importance of the work MCBC does has been growing. Mary says, “There has been a shift in my appreciation for the work the conference does as I have seen them reach out to congregations and facilitate conversation around being the Body of Christ together. It is apparent that there is a desire for unity that allows diversity and this requires work; God-glorifying and rewarding work, but still work.”

Over the last few years she has been attending more MCBC meetings and learning more about the work that we do. She was considering how she might be supportive of what she calls the “good and sometimes difficult work that the conference is doing,” and then she discovered that our Leadership Board was in need of a secretary; she felt like she didn’t have much to offer, but that she could fill this role.

In her own words, Mary says, “As I learn the workings of the conference (the acronyms alone are a learning curve!), I hope to see more ways I can support the work we do. I see my heart aligning with the work of MCBC in that I desire to continue to work out my faith and to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ – it seems that the purpose of the conference is to facilitate that corporately. My hope and prayer for MCBC is for us to have wisdom and peace as we navigate how to ‘encourage one another to love and good deeds.’’’

Kelowna First Mennonite Church Turns 70 Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:19:52 +0000 Kelowna First Mennonite Church (KFMC) will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on Saturday, July 8, 2017. KFMC is located at: 1305 Gordon Drive, Kelowna, BC V1Y 3E7.

For more information contact Helen Wieler at: