Missions and Ministry: renewed and continuing after 85 years
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 3:11
It was the fall of 1936. After much struggle, prayer, soul searching and dialogue, four young ministers faced a course of action that would give them a new beginning.
Each of these young ministers had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed their lives and ministry. Their enthusiasm and desire to make changes within the Sommerfeld Church were not well accepted. Even after much discussion and attempts to find common ground and work together with the leaders, these young men could no longer contain their new understanding and conviction of their faith. This excitement and renewal compelled them to challenge their brothers and sisters to a deeper walk with God.
Bishop Wilhelm H. Falk, Rev. Gerhard J. Froese, Rev. Isaak A. Hoeppner and Rev. Peter S. Zacharias together with 1100 members left the Sommerfelder Mennonite Church and embarked on an uncertain future. Little did they know what would develop over the next 85 years. For most people February 4, 1937 was the official beginning of the new church – the Rudnerweider Gemeinde. It was also the date that Rev. Falk was ordained as Bishop for the assembly. From here on this new Gemeinde had a name, a bishop and a mandate to build and church for the glory of Jesus Christ.
With an emphasis on missions, sharing the Gospel, and including ministry to youth and children as an integral part of their vision, they continued their bold move forward, establishing churches and stepping into opportunities before them.
In 1959, the Rudnerweider Gemeinde adopted the name change to the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference.
Today, the EMMC has grown and extended ministries to Bolivia, Belize, into various parts of Canada, United States, Mexico and has missionaries and associate ministry workers around the globe.
Reflecting on the 85 years or this organization, we can see the hand of God directing and guiding, protecting and providing. Things have not always been easy and there have been conflicts and disappointment. There were years when the income fell short of the budget. Difficult decisions were made. Changes in structure brought questions, adjustments and uncertainty. In all these things, many prayers asking for discernment and direction were answered, sometimes in unexpected ways.
We look forward to growing ministries among Low German speakers in Canada. Young people are asking about ministry opportunities – both in churches and beyond. The requests for discipleship training and resources is exciting. Seeing a renewed desire for spiritual growth is encouraging!
There is still much work for EMMC and its churches! Opportunities are all around us – right beside us and in the areas where God is still revealing the possibilities.
Ministering together in this family of churches gives room for developing connections and relationships; learning from one another and provides the opportunity to encourage and pray for one another. We are doing together what we cannot do alone. Building our faith on the foundation of Jesus Christ enables us to continue the work to which we have been called as a community of believers.
With a renewed sense of His call and vision, EMMC is committed to responding to the Great Commission and will continue to “go” wherever He leads, all the while, ‘making disciples, connecting churches’.
This article was originally published in The Recorder Vol 59 No. 1