Mar 17, 2018

SGAF ~ Deadline to register ~ June 30

Mennonite Women Canada offers scholarships to women who are studying Anabaptist theology at a Master's level through their Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund. This includes academic and/or practical courses in church related ministries (such as seminary, theology, peace and conflict resolution). Members of a congregation belonging to Mennonite Church Canada are eligible to apply.  Funding may be granted for part of the tuition costs (payable to the institution) at the discretion of the executive of MW Canada.  First time applicants are given priority, but applications for continuing support are also considered.  
The deadline for applications is June 30.
Applications can be downloaded from our website - click here.

Mar 14, 2018

Meet our new Treasurer - Helen Kim

Helen Kim (left) and Nyoman Klassen
former MC Canada staff
Before coming to Canada, Hyang Ok (Helen) Kim received a Bachelor of Economics degree in Seoul, South Korea and worked there as a Sales Manager and in the Export department of Young Bo Textile Company until 2001. More recently she managed a souvenir shop at The Forks Market in Winnipeg, MB and for H&R Block during tax season.  She has also been working on her Chartered Professional Accounting (CPA) degree.

Helen is married to James, who also has business training from Korea, and with whom she managed the souvenir shop until last Spring. They have one son, who attends university.

When Hyang Ok came to Winnipeg and Charleswood Mennonite Church in 2001, she added an English name and introduced herself as Helen. Since then, I (Elsie Rempel) have appreciated Helen as a gracious friend and fellow church member at Charleswood Mennonite Church, where she has served as a deacon and on the food committee. Currently, we are both part of the Prayer Shawl Knitting Group, where we enjoy relaxed fellowship and worship as we knit. It was there that she took pity on my trials and challenges as MWCanada treasurer and offered to help out in that department. Hallelujah! I am so grateful, and we are so fortunate to have her join us.

Because I have past connections to the Canadian Mennonite organizational world, we will work in tandem, with each of us offering the gifts we have to manage the Secretary/Treasurer role of Mennonite Women Canada.

~ Elsie Rempel, Secretary

Gramma Stories ~ Along the Road to Freedom

How exciting to have an art exhibit come to town featuring Mennonite women from Russia who made their way to Canada under impossible circumstances! The exhibit is at the Ambrose University in Calgary and will be there for another few weeks. There was a reception at the opening of the exhibit in early March and the artist Ray Dirks was present to give background for his reasons for creating the paintings. This reception also included a choir and a story from Hugo Neufeld who had a direct connection to one of the paintings. (see below)
Two weeks later a group of 21 women came from various Mennonite churches in the Calgary area to view the exhibit. The event was billed as "Gramma Stories". There were presentations from four women. Jeanette Thiessen told the story of Grandma Baerg who endured many hardships. When they arrived in Quebec after an uncomfortable trip they were surprised by offerings of sandwiches, cake, and the Gospel of John!

Rose Klassen passed on the story of her Grandma Retzlaff who lost many members of her immediate family, including two infant daughters, during her escape from the Red Army. Two Chin ladies Tial Mawi and Hnin Tida, dressed in their cultural outfits told us about their modern day trek from the jungles of Burma to Calgary. They repeatedly said how their faith and determination got them to the beautiful country of Canada. The Chin congregation joined Mennonite Church Alberta in 2013.

There were other spontaneous stories that included a beautiful pill box and a hand sized manicure set that served the entire Mennonite community in a Siberian camp. Alice Unrau shared her experiences of her involvement in the Mennonite Historical Society. She urged us to get involved and attend a conference being in Edmonton this November.

The afternoon also included an urban “faspa” that lacked zwiebach or kringle but the tasty lunch was enjoyed by all!

~ Kate Janzen
(Kate is a member of Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, and is the Mennonite Women Alberta Rep on the Mennonite Women Canada executive.)

Mar 13, 2018

Reflections on Mennonite Church Alberta Women's Retreat

Recently I was asked "What is so special about the MCA women’s retreat?" 

I remember as a child, my mom leaving us kids in my father’s care (or sometimes an aunt and uncle), in order to go to “Women’s Conference”.  We had a big family, and for my mom to take time away from it was something unheard of.  What was important enough for her to do that?  
Now many years later, I can only be grateful that the continuing opportunity for women to come together in a spiritual and social venue has stood the test of time.  It is still a valuable and worthy event!

I started coming to the retreat only four years ago.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and never having been to one before, wasn’t even sure it was something I should take time away from the home front to do.  A couple of ladies from my church were involved in the music portion of the weekend and encouraged me to come along.  What I found that weekend was something I had not had in my life for a long time.  And people I knew later told me that they saw a side to me they had never seen before.

It was a place to be free:  free from the daily responsibilities as a mother (it took some planning, and I admit some letting go, to make arrangements for the family), free to be served instead of serving (meals provided, a soft bed with sheets I wouldn’t have to launder), free to laugh without fear of appearing silly (silliness was embraced), free to enjoy the part of me which loves learning (4 sessions in 3 days), free to be vulnerable with sisters in Christ (opening up and getting real with each other).  It was the closest thing to what I remembered dorm-life at Bible School to be.

I was reunited with a number of ladies I hadn’t seen for years, and introduced to many new and wonderful other ladies.  Over the years, I’ve begun to enter into a unique relationship with many of these ladies whom I only see once or twice a year, and we just pick up where we left off.  There is something about being together for these three days with common goals, and learning, praying, and having fun together that is just so bonding.  Even though we come from many different backgrounds, and are of different ages, it just feels so natural and right. 

I come away from retreat each time feeling a little more comfortable in my own skin, and empowered to make life more meaningful and purposeful; I’m often invigorated to continue the field of study the guest speaker has introduced.  I encourage anyone to come and experience whatever it is that God is bringing to you.  If you need laughter, you will find much to laugh about and an easy crowd to tell your jokes to.  If you need to feel God’s love through a sister, there will be someone there who has walked a road similar to you and will feel your pain.  If you need to be taken care of, you will not have to cook a meal or clean a toilet.  If you need quiet and introspection, you will find a time and place.  If you need a creative outlet, there’s opportunity provided. If you need spiritual depth, you will not come away empty.  If you need fellowship, it will be there in abundance. 
While my mom never shared what went on at “Women’s Conference”, I’m sure she had many of the same experiences. There really is something special that only happens at retreat.  I encourage you to find out what that something special is for you.

~ Laura Wiebe

(Laura attends Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary, AB and is serving her second year on the Retreat Committee.)

2017 MCA Women's Retreat Poster
Guest speaker Sara Wenger Shenk, 
President of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Photos from the 2017 MCA Women's Retreat