Calgary First Mennonite

Calgary First Mennonite Church invites us to pray for them

Our prayer at Calgary First Mennonite Church is to be daily transformed by our God; to face our failures of yesterday, to be forgiven, and to be called into the new day God has given us.  It is always our hope in prayer to see and love God, ourselves, our neighbours, and all of creation as God does.  And as a community, we continue to wrestle with understanding how we are called to both encounter and embody Jesus with the particular questions, problems and limits we face in this time and place.  Yet, we know the opportunity to be able to do this together is a gift from God for which we always give thanks.  

We ask our MCA family to pray for us in our journey as fellow disciples.  But we also have particular burdens, fears and concerns that face individuals in our community.  Pray for those of us who are undergoing health concerns of various kinds, whether they be mental, relational, physical or spiritual.  Please pray for many of us who are at various points in the process of grief and loss.  And pray for the families we have been sponsoring over the years, and as we discern our participation in refugee sponsorship going forward.


The Calgary First Mennonite Story

Calgary First Mennonite Church had its beginning during the 1930’s when young Mennonite women came to Calgary to find employment as domestic workers in some of the well-to-do-homes. At the time, they gathered together wherever they could for fellowship. But gradually, families arrived and the Mission Boards of the Canadian and Alberta Conferences established a ‘Mission Station’ here, with Rev. J.J. Sawatzky from Carstairs as leader. A building was purchased and Scarboro Mennonite Church was born in 1946.  Between 1948 and 1952 there was a great surge of growth as immigrants and refugees came after the war, young couples moved into the city, and retired farmers came to make their homes here. The building in which they worshipped became too small so a new one was built on Richmond Road and the church was renamed First Mennonite.  

In the decades since, generations of congregants have worshipped in this community and many ministers have sought to faithfully lead. There have been mountaintop experiences, times in the valley, and seemingly everything in-between. But being a congregation filled with refugees from the war, Calgary First Mennonite has continued to sponsor refugees from around the world and has never really stopped. So, in 2022, as our congregation completed a long renewal process, we felt called to lean even further into this identity.  We embraced a new mission statement that we believe is a calling from God that brings together our past, present, and future:  Together, we are guided by the Holy Spirit to faithfully live in a way that embodies the life and love of Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Saviour.  Therefore, we endeavour to be a refuge: a community of belonging, support, and healing, where we joyfully accept every person as a beloved gift of God.

Calgary First Mennonite Interviews

The Khushi family (interviewed by Karen Janz, photographed while picnicking at Sheep River Falls)

What brought you to First Mennonite Church?    We are a family of five, originally from Pakistan.  In Pakistan, we were being persecuted for our Christian beliefs so when our girls were very young, we left for Thailand as refugees, hoping for a safer life. We stayed there for nine years, but sadly we were not welcome there either and were treated as illegal migrants. Our dream was for our girls to attend school, and they could not do this in Thailand. Fortunately, we were sponsored by a Catholic church from Calgary and we arrived as refugees in Calgary in October 2022. Our mother was also sponsored and came with us (Khalid’s mother, Hanifa). The home that we moved into was right next door to First Mennonite Church. We walked by the church one day and noticed the sign with the Pastor's name so we decided to attend on a Sunday morning to check it out. We were so happy to be welcomed by everyone.   
How long have you been part of First Mennonite Church?   We first attended the church in November 2022.  
What keeps you attending there?  The people.  The people at FMC are so nice and kind and generous, and have made us feel welcome from the first day.  They always invite us to church events in and outside of church. 
What would you like others in MCA to know about your congregation? We would like them to know how nice and kind the people are. 

Alfred Janz (interviewed by Karen Janz)

What brought you to First Mennonite Church? In the winter of 1951-52 I was 16 years old and living in Coaldale helping on a sugar beet farm which was a seasonal job. In early 1952, my cousin Ernst was working in Calgary and invited me to Calgary to get a job in construction with him. Mr. J J Sawatsky, who was a Minister and also helped many newcomers, invited me to stay in his garage near the old Children’s hospital. The day after I arrived in Calgary, Ernst and I walked to Keith’s construction jobsite to see if they needed labourers, and they needed help with stripping basement forms, so we were hired. I was eager to work. At noon on the first day, the foreman came and took me away to another jobsite which was where Mr. Keith was building his own house. I worked on various jobs there and at the end of our shift, another worker asked if I wanted a ride home, but I actually didn’t know the address of Mr. Sawatsky’s house as I had only been there one day.  I declined the ride and started walking toward where I thought the house was.  All I knew was it was on 20th street. Three hours later, I arrived there…tired, but relieved. Mr. Sawatsky was the minister at Scarborough Mennonite church (now known as First Mennonite Church), and he invited Ernst and me to attend church there. I’ve been attending there ever since. 
How long have you been part of First Mennonite Church? I joined First Mennonite Church in 1952, when it was known as Scarborough Mennonite Church. In 1957, I was on the construction crew that built the new First Mennonite Church building on Richmond Road and I was also involved in adding space for an elevator and an additional floor on the Sunday school wing in later years. 
What keeps you attending there? I got involved with doing things at the church and over the years I was in many situations like Boys club, Sunday School, Teens Club and other committees. I also worked for MMI insurance. I liked being a part of the church, keeping myself busy doing things. I have many memories with Boys Club and Teens Club, going for outings at Banff, and learning how to do things like leather tooling and making belts. I later taught this to other younger boys. 
What would you like others in MCA to know about First Mennonite Church? Most of our members are friends with each other. This is very important. The younger people get very involved with doing things at the church. It’s a good thing to actually get involved.  (photo by Karen Janz, with Alfred's wife Ingrid)

 The Calgary First Mennonite Video

   Click HERE (or the sign) for a video slide show -- another Window Into Calgary First Mennonite.



A few photos from Calgary First Mennonite

A warm welcome

Another warm welcome!

Welcoming new Members May 2022

Gathering for baptism at Camp Valaqua August 2022

Pastor Caleb preaching at the baptism service

Welcoming the other Calgary congregations for Good Friday, 2023