Walking Together -- with so much to Learn

Walking Together -- with so much to Learn

Mennonite Church Alberta and the South Sudanese community have an established relationship. Leaders from a group of Nuer-speaking Christians first reached out to MCA through a meeting with First Mennonite Edmonton pastors in February of 2012. They expressed their desire to form a Mennonite church because they wanted to be a church that “helps people” and “believes in peace”. For the next year many of their leaders and participants attended worship services at First Mennonite before beginning their own worship services in the Nuer language in January of 2013. They were formally welcomed as a member congregation of the MCA faith family in March of 2014, as the Edmonton South Sudanese Mennonite Church. Some of their members have family and friends in Calgary and Jake Froese, member of Mennonite Church Alberta’s Missions and Service Committee, was encouraged to make connections.

Jake reflects on the growing relationships between himself, other members and congregations of MCA, and the South Sudanese community in Calgary, Alberta in a recent blog post.

His story begins with meeting two men at Trinity Mennonite, 10 km south of the city. Word spread quickly and soon Jake found himself at what he calls an “inauguration meeting” at a Tim Hortons coffee shop! More Sudanese friends and family became involved and soon some were attending Foothills Mennonite whose church building was closer to their homes than Trinity. Then, just as this small group was beginning to make connections at Foothills, in-person services ceased due to Covid-19.

God’s work, however, never ceases and Jake continues to stay in contact. He notes the struggles of an immigrant community who “like this country” and are committed to making it home but who also carry great pain for those who continue to struggle in South Sudan and Ethiopia. For example, his friend Bayak, although he lives in Calgary and works in Fort McMurray, is the Executive Director of Nile Care Advocacy for Peace and Development (NILECAPD) headquartered in Juba, South Sudan.

Immigrants often begin their lives in a new country, a new city, in entry level jobs such as drivers, care givers, and in labor jobs that require them to be away from their families. Work schedules create challenges for integrating into existing church structures but an unexpected blessing of Covid-19 is that services have moved online. Bayak, in Fort McMurray, has been able to join a Foothills worship service via Zoom.

Jake lives in hope that he can continue to introduce his South Sudanese friends in what he calls our “well-heeled” churches and that we might learn to walk this journey of faith together. We have so much to learn.