Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada general secretary, inspired MC Alberta delegates with the reminder that no matter how difficult things are for the church, “this is not the end; the end belongs to God.” Basing his keynote presentations to the 82nd annual assembly of MC Alberta, held last month at Holyrood Mennonite Church, Edmonton, on Revelation 21, Metzger noted that trends across denominations indicate decreases in membership and giving, but increases in local projects.
Missions and Service projects
Projects and personalities made for an exciting year, with four Missions and Service initiatives reporting progress:
- Donna Entz, hired last November, and her husband Loren, are an outreach presence among immigrants in North Edmonton. The Entzes, with 30 years of experience serving MC Canada/U.S.A. in Burkina Faso, are uniquely suited to relate to African newcomers in the area. Recently, Donna participated in discussions between Edmonton’s mayor, Stephen Mandel, and members of the Somali community regarding violence in the city. Delegates voted to extend her part-time contract for three years.
- An intentional student community investigation has received strong verbal support for setting up a home in Calgary. The committee, represented by Becky Slack, is now investigating possibilities.
- An Anabaptist peace project called the Edmonton Ecumenical Peace Network has formed with a vision to proclaim the gospel of peace through Jesus to the church and broader society. The project committee has members from Edmonton Mennonite and Anglican churches.
- Ana Loewen of Trinity Mennonite Church, DeWinton, was hired part-time in November to oversee development of the Calgary Young Adult Christian Community. The project reaches out to 18- to 35-year-olds not currently relating to the church. “I hope to get some young adults to develop new interest in the church, or at least make some contacts with a [faith] community,” Loewen told the assembly. She has established a website (cyacc.ca) that explains the concept and lists events. Delegates extended her contract for 11 months.
Church building ownership change approved
An ongoing issue is ownership of the Edmonton Worship Centre, home to the Vietnamese and Chinese Mennonite congregations. Currently, both rent the building from MC Alberta; however, the Vietnamese congregation has offered to purchase it. A resolution authorizing the area church general council to negotiate and complete transactions relating to the centre by July 31 was passed by 92 percent.
“We want both congregations that are affected by the resolution to feel the support of all [MC Alberta],” said Hugo Neufeld, a Trinity Mennonite Church delegate. “It is the understanding that our prayers are with both congregations and with the executive in the coming months as we pray for a good resolution to this.” The comment was affirmed by applause.
During the budget presentation, a passionate discussion was held about the place and need for youth ministry within MC Alberta.
Ruth Friesen of Edmonton First Mennonite articulated the problem: “There’s no clear link for our Youth Leadership Team in the overall structure of [MC Alberta]. . . . We need to find a clearer path for it to be spoken to within the context of General Council and ultimately on this floor.”
Delegate Abe Fehr of Lethbridge Mennonite Church introduced himself as a grandfather. “It bothers me that we had the same problem last year,” he told delegates. “Let’s wake up and look after our young people, the youth.”
Delegates voted unanimously to include a budget line of $1,000 to indicate support for youth ministry.
“Congregational Leadership [Committee] would be willing to work with the structures to examine the whole question, . . . then to talk with executive and General Council about how we as a whole [MC Alberta] work with this,” said incoming chair Tim Wiebe-Neufeld.
MC Alberta has planned for a slight increase in the 2011 budget, expected to be covered by congregational giving. The budget includes a three-quarter-time salary for a conference minister and a $10,000 cut in Camp Valaqua’s subsidy.