French toast fresh future: 50th anniversary of Quebec conference
With a warm welcome, joyous reunions, godly conversations, and exhortations to continue working to advance the church, the Quebec MB conference (AEFMQ) marked 50 years June 10–12.
Fifty years ago, when a door closed in what is now DR Congo, another opened in Quebec. Ernest and Lydia Dyck, recently evacuated from mission work in Congo, settled in Saint-Jérôme, Que., in 1961 to plant the first MB church. The conference now consists of 10 churches with a newly revised strategic plan, slogan, and fresh vision for expanding the kingdom of God.
The weekend-long event was not only a time to celebrate what the Lord has done in the lives and communities of the AEFMQ for 50 years. It was also a time of encouragement to persevere in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, collaborate for the expansion of the conference, and look to the future with passion and realism to become “living stones,” as David Manafo exhorted in his preaching.
“It’s not our style or type of music or building that will make a difference, but what is important is that God is alive and active with us.” Manafo, pastor of The Westside Gathering, Montreal, spoke on “the tangible church, living and local” at the bilingual worship service attended by more than 300 Sunday morning. The creative service included a children’s choir and dance, and an original sketch.
Saturday featured the past, present, and future. A supper banquet attended by 283 at Centre Culturel et Communautaire Thérèse de Blainville followed an afternoon resource expo where some 15 MB partners and agencies explained challenges and objectives for the coming years. Presenters included Patrice Nagant and Alain Després for Rendez-vous Montreal, Roger Deschênes and Pierre Pellerin for Camp Peniel, Zacharie Leclair and Richard Lougheed for Mennonite Historical Society of Quebec, and Marie Eve Nagant and Vincent Gamache for MB Mission and the provincial youth project.
Following the banquet were tributes to the pioneers of the Quebec conference and singing led by the Saint-Eustache congregation. Continuing education coordinator Danielle Lajeunesse called it “five hours of pure pleasure marked by excellence, appreciation, and good humour.”
The AEFMQ’s story, like that of most church conferences, is not marked solely by success. Of the 20 churches opened in the last 50 years, some 10 have closed, and several divisions within churches resulted in members leaving. Patricia and David Miller drew the evening to a poignant end by inviting all to prayer for reconciliation and forgiveness between churches.
The weekend kicked off with a thunderous youth rally Friday night featuring Gamache speaking on “here I am, send me,” and closed Sunday afternoon with a bicycle rally for MCC.
1961 – First MB church planted in Saint-Jérôme
1974 – Camp Peniel founded
1976 – Institut Biblique Laval (now ETEM) founded
1980 – French-language insert (now stand-alone magazine, Le Lien) begun in MB Herald
1984 – AEFMQ joined Canadian conference
2002 – Rendez-vous Montreal (Key Cities Initiative) launched
2008 – Horizon Quebec launched