Lil Goertzen of Winnipeg is
communications co-ordinator for the
Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference (www.
gomission.ca) and editor of its periodical The
Recorder. The EMMC now includes 27 churches
across Canada. For a list of affiliates of The
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, including
EMMC, visit www.theEFC.ca/affiliates.
god met me. As I allowed the space for my spirit to connect with Him, His Holy Spirit came to me.
God met me.
My forefathers were there when
the Spirit moved among a small
group of people in Southern Manitoba in 1936. That group of people
– and the Spirit in them – changed
so much that neighbours noticed
across the region.
Whether they had been to the
evangelical meetings in Winkler
or not, local residents all knew
something new was shaking things
up in town. Those who had participated – mostly Anabaptists who
spoke Low German – were really
excited, and this excitement made
them talk differently, walk differently and generally act differently.
Business, politics, and all the
usual things of life had to adjust
their way of doing things to take into
account the new Spirit in town.
Four young men in particular
were profoundly affected by the
evangelical meetings that had
taken place. They were searching
for spiritual renewal and longed
for that renewal to take place in
their church. But their desire for
change met with discouragement.
They soon felt the only alternative
was to begin a new group that
would have the freedom to express
their newfound assurance of salvation and encourage sharing the
The four young ministers led a
group to found the Rudnerweider
Mennonite Church, reflecting the
name of the district where they
were meeting. The group of en-
thusiastic believers soon numbered
more than a thousand, meeting in
smaller groups in communities
across the Manitoba prairie.
Machine sheds, homes and empty
granaries provided the first worship
spaces as they grew, but soon small
church buildings similar in appearance were constructed.
Word of the renewal spread to
Saskatchewan through personal
connections and testimony, and
groups there also began to gather
and join the movement God’s
Spirit had begun. Together, these
groups in Manitoba and Saskatchewan had a heartbeat for missions
and responded by jointly supporting their first missionary to
Africa in 1942.
By 1959 the group of churches
had to adapt to its new size and
shifting language use. The leading
of the Holy Spirit was nurturing
growth and enthusiasm in urban
settings where Low German was no
longer the primary language.
Responding to those changes,
the Rudnerweider Mennonite
Church changed its name to the
Evangelical Mennonite Mission
Conference. Each word in that
name describes who this group was
and continues to be. Evangelical –
sharing and teaching the Word.
Mennonite – who we are as a faith
group. Mission – actively going,
developing and being involved.
Conference – a family of churches.
During the decades since 1959,
much has changed within EMMC.
The family of churches has spread
to Alberta, Saskatchewan, South-
ern Ontario, Belize and the United
States. For practical reasons, the
four churches from the United
States withdrew in 2013 to form
their own group called Active Mis-
sion Conference. Ministries have
been established and continue to
grow in Bolivia and Mexico.
Another response to the Spirit
brought a revision process in 2009
which birthed a more grassroots
structure of action named EMMC
/ Go Mission! Churches. People
now have more direct input in
decision making, and are able to
better reflect and respond to God’s
Spirit in local situations.
All this change over the last five
years has been unsettling, but our
members have found reassurance
in the timeless truth that God’s
foremost desire is for individual
relationships with individual
people through His Spirit. That
truth, found throughout Scripture,
encourages our leaders to seek to
train, facilitate and organize
around God’s Holy Spirit.
Humans are remarkably cre-
ative and flexible. We have an even
more creative and flexible God
who sent His Holy Spirit. So if I
create space where God can meet
me individually, then His Holy
Spirit will help me experience
connection with others and work
toward a common goal.
Where God’s Spirit leads, we de-
sire to be faithful and respond. /FT
GOD AT WORK IN DENOMINATIONS
Faithful to the spirit’s leading
A personal introduction to the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference
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