A regional church check-in meeting last month gave members a chance to learn how Mennonite Church Alberta is faring.
With the arrival of fall, when in-person meetings were prohibited, MC Alberta leaders decided to host a Zoom check-in for all the churches so communities could connect and hear how things are going.
Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, the regional church moderator, asked churches, “How have you been enlivened? Surprised? Challenged?” adding, “I know pastors connect, but it’s good for churches to connect, too, to build community.” She expressed the desire to know that churches are okay, both spiritually and financially.
Each congregation was invited to share how it was adapting to the pandemic. It quickly became clear there was a diversity of approaches. Some meet in person, some do not; others have a combination of in-person and online services; some live-stream, others have services on Facebook. Regardless, each church is active and alive. Funerals, weddings and communion continue, even if not in person.
A variety of reported highlights included:
- MC Alberta announced a projected surplus and is beginning to discuss priorities and dreams for 2021.
- Camp Valaqua raised $32,000, double what its annual hike-a-thon fundraiser usually brings in. The camp also built two yurts to be rented out.
- The Chin congregation is planning to move into its newly purchased and renovated church building in January. Other churches were invited to help.
- Congregants from across the province have been faithfully joining together in prayer on Zoom every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday since COVID-19 began.
- Excitement in having young people who have moved away, and new people who rarely attend, join the online services.
Most congregations seemed to be doing well financially, although one church shared about its struggles. This resulted in another church immediately offering to help. Another common struggle that was expressed was decreased leadership, as some members have now stepped down from their positions for health and other reasons.
The meeting ended with brainstorming ideas for Year 2 of Alberta’s E3 (Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ) action plan.
The 2021 MC Alberta Annual Delegate Sessions will be held online in the spring.
To view a short video of this year’s MC Alberta activities, visit mcab.ca.
Do you have a story idea about Mennonites in Alberta? Send it to Joanne De Jong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Corrected Dec. 4, 2020
Thanks to a generous donor, Camp Valaqua was able to build two yurts this spring to offer as places to rest and refresh. Next to the Little Red River on the north quarter of the camp’s property in Water Valley, Alta., each yurt has a bunk bed, and pull-out queen bed together with other modest furnishings. Yurt bookings are expected to be available by April 2021. (Photo by Jon Olfert)