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Vision 2020 Posts


Dear MCA Sept 18, 2019

posted 18 Sep 2019, 21:09 by Communications Director

September 18, 2019



Dear MCA,

“I thank God every time I remember you.” These words of Paul to the church in Philippi express well the sentiment I feel as I think about the connection we share as the churches of Mennonite Church Alberta. Summer can take us in various directions as we enjoy the warmer weather and more flexible schedules. Autumn brings opportunity to reconnect, as congregations and as the broader church family.

This Fall marks an important time in our life together as MCA. For the past year we have been working on a visioning process. The final gathering of Vision 2020 will take place November 1-2 at First Mennonite Church in Calgary. We hope every church will send a good representation of their congregation to this gathering.

During our time together our facilitator Betty Pries will lead us in absorbing what has been distilled from the previous two weekend visioning events this past March and November. As we commit to a renewed sense of direction in our faith journey together, we will also have the opportunity to receive practical suggestions of steps we can take as individuals, as congregations, and as MCA as a whole.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, the ideas that were generated during our visioning weekends centre around three important aspects of our faith in Jesus Christ:

               1. Our relationship with God. Interest surrounding prayer practices and spiritual nurture only touches the surface. What are the ways we experience and nurture our sense of encounter with God?

               2. Our relationship with each other. We belong in community. For many of us this is a primary place in which our faith in God finds expression. How do we take community to deep and profound places, with core commitments reflective of the character of Christ we long to emulate?

               3. Our relationship with the world around us. The mission and ministry exemplified by Jesus speak into the deep longings of our time. They touch the longing in each of us, and yearn to reach out into the world around us, offering Healing and Hope.

In preparation for our time of visioning together, watch for prayer notes to focus on during worship and devotional times.  These will begin next week, and continue until the November weekend.

In his letter to the Philippians Paul goes on to say, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6. I have confidence that as our visioning phase comes to a close, that its completion will lead us into a new phase in life as the Church Together, continuing a journey where we are made complete through the love, grace, and leading of Jesus Christ.

May it be so,

Tim

Dear MCA - June 5, 2019

posted 5 Jun 2019, 21:21 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 5 Jun 2019, 21:27 ]







June 5, 2019



Dear MCA,

As I travel around Alberta I must say I am enjoying the vibrant green of the fields and the leaves on the trees. There is an amazing beauty to the landscape at this time of year. As the summer approaches, the whites and greys of winter have become a distant memory.

Before thoughts shift fully to summer events and vacation time, I am writing to update you on the Vision 20/20 process. The Vision Reference Group has met with Betty Pries, and are sifting through our work from our Delegate Sessions last March. At the time we had identified five main themes. We have taken these themes and further refined them into the following three areas of focus:

·       Prayer, prayer practices, and spiritual nurture point to
our relationship with God.

·       Deep community, character, and core commitments focus on
our relationship with each other.

·       Mission, ministry, and the deep longings of time relate to
our relationship with the world.

Over the coming months the Reference Group will be putting together a proposal for addressing these themes as an MCA family, including practical suggestions for us to consider as individuals, congregations, and as the larger church body.

In the weeks and months to come I encourage you and your congregation to continue to keep our Vision 20/20 process in your prayers in the following ways:

1.      Over the next three weeks please take the opportunity for focused prayer. You may choose to make note of the Vision process during a time of congregational sharing, or perhaps the focus of contemplative prayer time during worship. The following prayer notice will be included in our MCA bulletin announcements, for inclusion in your church’s Sunday prayer time:

Please keep MCA’s Vision: 20/20 process in your prayers. The themes, ideas, and challenges identified by our process point to a renewal of our relationship with God, with each other, and with all the world. As individuals, congregations, and as the MCA family, may the coming months prepare us for the next steps in our process of renewal.

 

2.      Over the summer, as people travel and enjoy the rejuvenating power of warm weather and vacation time, encourage each other to incorporate one personal “prayer practice” into your life. Some suggestions are included at the end of this letter.

 

3.      In the fall, watch for MCA prayer notes focused on the three themes mentioned above, in preparation for our Vision event November 1-2 in Calgary.

In 2 Corinthian Paul writes, “our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4: 16b). I pray that the coming months of Alberta summer may be a time of renewed sense of God’s presence and Spirit.

In Christ,

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld

Executive Minister


Possible Personal Prayer Practices

 

·        Commit 5 – 20 minutes per day to prayer (spoken prayer or contemplative prayer).

·        Commit 5 – 20 minutes per day to walking in a spirit of prayer.

·        Ask a person to be your “spiritual friend,” inviting them to ask you about your faith journey.

·        Read one or more books on the theology and practices of prayer.

·        Begin a daily practice of Lectio Divina / Scripture reading

 

 

 

 

Vision 20/20: Next Steps Apr 24, 2019

posted 5 Jun 2019, 21:20 by June Miller, MCA Communications


Vision 20/20: Next Steps

Prepared by the MC Alberta Reference Group, April 24, 2019

Background

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner) What is MCA’s deep gladness? What is the world’s deep hunger?

As seasons change and one generation makes space for another, the deep hunger of the world also changes. What is the world’s deep hunger today? What we know is this: We are living in what is believed to be the loneliest time in history; mental health issues are on the rise, and the yearning for inner rest is profound. The world’s deep hunger can be summarized as a longing for meaning, purpose and belonging. This longing is not just in the world “out there,” it is also a longing in our pews!

Alongside the world’s deep longing, we are observing a fresh openness to wonder and mystery. The world’s longing is a profound and even urgent missional moment for the church: Meaning, purpose and belonging have been at the center of the church’s deep gladness. We believe in a God to whom we belong and in whom we also belong to one another! This gives meaning and purpose to our lives. What would it look like for MCA to claim (or re-claim) its sense of meaning, purpose and belonging? What would it look like for each congregation in MCA to do so? How would this reclaiming define our congregations and drive our relationships with our neighbours near and far? What would happen when our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger would meet?

As MCA, we have been on a renewal journey entitled Vision 20/20. All renewal journeys are first and foremost spiritual journeys; they are a time of deepening and coming close to God. This has also been true for us: Over this year we have listened for the place to which God is calling us. We have sought to understand both the world’s longing and our deep gladness. The following report shares where we have been, where we are at on the journey so far and where we are headed.

Where we have been

The MCA Vision 2020 journey began in September 2018 with a survey. The closing summary of the survey results stated the following: In summary, we love the church and see many signs of hope. We enjoy worshipping and fellowshipping together. We appreciate the diversity within our congregations and within MCA. We value relationships, the care and support we show each other, and the sense of belonging we find within our congregations. We are energized by service opportunities and projects, and are encouraged to see young people engage with these. We are filled with hope by stories of how the good news is transforming peoples’ lives, and we look for more ways to spread the gospel. We affirm the MCA priorities to equip congregations and train leaders, and build more connections between MCA congregations. We recognize the importance of the Camp Valaqua ministry, and see this as a main point of connection for MCA churches.

We also recognize the challenges facing our congregations, MCA, and the wider church in the context of the current time we are in. We have questions about how we will sustain MCA ministries within the new MC Canada structure. Nonetheless, our commitment to the church is strong and we continue to trust in God’s Spirit to guide us. Rooted in Anabaptism, we are committed to the gospel and willing to following in Christ’s footsteps, wherever they may lead. As one person stated:I firmly believe the church is the body of Christ visible and active in the world today. I believe that life within the church can be difficult, but life outside the church is not what Christ envisioned.”

We followed the survey with a gathering in November 2018. During that event we considered the role of the church in the context of the world’s deep longing in the midst of 21st Century dynamics. We explored the discipline of prayer, the rhythms of renewal and with MCA pastors, ten indicators of thriving congregations for the time we are living in. Many found this event worshipful and inspiring. Each person was sent away with an invitation to pray and to listen for how God was calling MCA. When we gathered again in March 2019, we wrestled and discerned together. We concluded that MCA and its people are being called to pursue five essential themes:

1.      Prayer & Prayer Practices (Scripture reading, leaning on God’s love for MCA; noticing where God is at work)

2.      Core Commitments + Engagement with Deep Longings (love of God & neighbour, place to ask questions & bring real issues, study MWC core convictions)

3.      Deep Community (sheltering tree and adoption imagery for inclusion; multi-age, multicultural, youth, camp; ecumenism)

4.      Character (kindness, forgiveness, welcome; claim who we are)

5.      MCA Ministries (Camp, Muslim-Christian dialogue, pastor supports; share stories between congregations; share prayer needs, learnings, struggles)

We also brainstormed many different ideas for how MCA can lean into these themes.

Where we are going

As congregations, we are inviting you to continue in prayer over the coming months. As an overarching theme, we ask for prayers for guidance as we discern God’s calling together. More focused requests for prayer related to our identified themes will be sent out in coming months.

The Reference Group will be working with the outcomes of the collective discernment in March and wrestling further, asking, “What does it mean to live into the themes we have discerned?” You will be hearing more from us over the summer and in the fall in this regard.

Our next Vision 20/20 event will be November 1 (evening) and 2 at Calgary First Mennonite. All of MCA is invited to come to celebrate our commitment to one another and to God, to affirm directions for MCA and, most importantly, to practice together the discipline of being the people of God together. Please plan to have representatives present from your congregation.

We thank you for your ongoing prayers, engagement, and participation in our Vision 20/20 process of renewal. May God allow us to see clearly the way ahead!

In Christ,

The MCA Reference Group:

Debbie Baergen, Tracy Brown-Ewert. Kate Janzen, June Miller, Paul Neufeldt, Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Betty Pries

Phase III - Complete

posted 20 Mar 2019, 19:56 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Thank you to all who came out for Phase III: Discerning God's Call. The Reference Group will meet April 3rd. Resources should be available by the following week.  Check back to the Vision 20/20 page for any updates.


















Top row: photos by June Miller
Bottom row: photos by Donita Wiebe Neufeld

Video 3: Die before you die

posted 20 Feb 2019, 18:23 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Video 3: Die before you die


Video 2: Preparing for Phase III

posted 13 Feb 2019, 13:22 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 20 Feb 2019, 18:25 ]

Vision20/20 Video Series - A Season of Prayer
Preparing for Phase III

Tools for Phase III


Video 1: What are we listening for?

posted 13 Feb 2019, 13:17 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 20 Feb 2019, 18:24 ]


A Season of Prayer, the inbetween of Phase II and Phase III. What are we listening for?

YouTube Video


Dear MCA, Jan 30, 2019

posted 30 Jan 2019, 16:34 by June Miller, MCA Communications   [ updated 30 Jan 2019, 19:24 ]

Dear MCA,

Greetings in the name of Christ! We are now well into the New Year of 2019, meaning that a new season of MCA’s Vision 20/20 process is upon us.

Our year-long process of visioning and renewal began early in Fall with a survey of congregational leaders. Phase II took place over a weekend in November during which we explored the challenges facing the church while also recognizing the deep spiritual longing in our world today. Betty Pries of Credence and Co. shared with us the grand narrative of spiritual renewal. When we yearn for renewal—for vitality, for Transformation—a key step is Opening Ourselves to God’s Leading. How might we open ourselves to God in a posture of listening, surrendering our own agenda and ideas so that we may truly hear God’s call for us today?  How might we prayerfully listen for the voice of God’s spirit?
Over the next two
months we invite all of us to enter into a season of prayer together. Whether this time of prayer is done individually, or as congregations in worship, or both, we are asking all of us to spend time in silent prayer, listening for God to speak into the life of our church today. We are invited to set aside our own ideas, ambitions, and uncertainties as we listen for what God may be calling us to be and do. How might we prepare the fertile soil of our hearts and minds to receive the seeds God has in mind for us?

During our November meeting time we, as a group, generated a list of many questions we had of God when it comes to the future of MCA. These included questions like: How might we open ourselves to the movement of God’s spirit? How might we overcome our fears, losses, and
self-judgement? How might we address the deep longing of our time? How might we live more fully into being God’s people?

To enter into a prayerful listening stance, we encourage you to frame your thoughts around two overarching questions: (1) What is God calling us to release? (2) What is God calling us to embrace?

In the weeks ahead watch for prayer notes and suggestions for how we as congregations and individuals may focus our time of prayer together. As we pray through these questions and the statements above, please journal, reflect, and take note of what comes to you. We will have the opportunity to share what has been heard at our upcoming Annual Delegate Sessions, which will take place March 15 & 16 at Bergthal Mennonite Church. As we listen to God and one another, we trust that God will speak into our life together.

New resources now available on the website
include a listing of ways to get involved, some guidance for how to enter into contemplative prayer, and a summary of questions to guide your prayer time. These and other resources can be found on the website at www.mennonitechurch.ab.ca/events/vision2020. If you have any questions about this Season of Prayer or the Vision 20/20 process do not hesitate to contact me, or any other member of the Reference Group: Debbie Baergen, June Miller, Kate Janzen, Paul Neufeldt, and Tracey Brown-Ewert

Yours in Christ,
 


Tim Wiebe-Neufeld
Executive Minister

Reflections from Tim

posted 11 Dec 2018, 11:36 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Reflections from Tim

To Guide Our Feet into the Way of Peace


By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79.

These words come from Zechariah's prophecy about the birth of Jesus. They provide a vision of a bright future. Dawn will break into the world. The new day will bring light to dark places and guidance for the way - a way defined by peace.

Zechariah’s words offer a profound message of hope. We live in a world yearning for a new day to dawn. In our society people are searching for meaning, purpose, and belonging. Instead, we experience anxiety, polarization, and fragmentation as we neglect to put our trust in God.

Every year the conference pastors and executive ministers from across Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church USA meet together for resourcing and mutual support. At our meetings this past week our presenters, Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, encouraged us to embrace Christ's calling to his followers to become "Ambassadors of Reconciliation". Together we explored how the coming of Jesus broke down barriers, challenged the status quo, and named injustice in order to bring about a new day of reconciliation with God, with each other, and with all of creation.

In a world of brokenness the birth of Jesus reveals a new way of peace - a peace our world is longing to experience. During this season of Advent and the celebrations of Christ's birth to come, how might we be challenged to allow our feet to be guided more fully into God's way of peace? How might we as a church live more fully into this vision of hope God has for us?

An invitation to a season of prayer.

posted 11 Dec 2018, 10:30 by June Miller, MCA Communications

Vision 20/20—An invitation to a season of prayer.

Advent is a season of prayerful waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. MCA’s Visioning and Renewal process is also entering a season of prayer. In coming months we are invited as individuals and congregations to open ourselves to God in prayer. We are invited to listen for God’s voice as we consider what God may be calling us to be and do. How might we prepare the fertile soil of our hearts and minds to receive the seeds God has in mind for us? As we celebrate the coming of the light of Christ into the world, may we open ourselves anew to hear the calling of God’s voice.




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