Tag Archives: Baptism

Portage: Baptisms in 2017, God’s Faithfulness in 2018

by Catherine Epp

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man.—The year 2017 has passed. Many things happened and were celebrated. We welcomed children born, adopted and dedicated to the Lord. We celebrated weddings, graduations and baptisms and so much more!

One highlight was Dec. 24, 2017, when three young ladies asked to be baptized at Christmas time. It was a great time to remember for Clara Baer, Rebecca Wiebe, and Hailey Wieler. May God guide and bless each one of them for the decisions they made. They all shared their testimony and their mentors were there for their support.

As we continue to seek God and support one another we can find our hope being ratified by faith-building memories of God’s unchanging character and dependability. As we look ahead to the New Year 2018 let’s remember that God has always been and always will be faithful.

 

Picture Butte: Baptisms and Transfers

By Helen Enns

PICTURE BUTTE, Alta.—Picture Butte MC rejoiced alongside these young folks who openly committed their lives to Jesus Christ on Sunday, May 28, 2017. Two transferred their memberships; the other six were baptized. Each one had their unique testimony. Pray that these young people will fearlessly be able to live out their faith as they continue in this walk in His grace. They are Pete Hiebert, Susy Fast, Christina Penner, Sarah Siemens, Lisa Penner, John Reimer, Willy Enns, and Lena Harder.

Pansy: Church Picnic, Baptisms, Website

By Betty Barkman

PANSY, Man.—Summer has its specialties. In our church that includes things like the annual church picnic at the local park. This year’s event on June 11 seemed quite perfect. The weather, the attendance, the food, as well as the activities were all amazing, which we appreciated. (We were rained out last year.)

One thing we tried differently this time: we had the service in the church first before moving over to the park. Haven’t heard the deciding vote on that yet; maybe we started a new trend.

Another big summer highlight is the baptism service and, since our “tank” is down in the river, our best choice is always a summer baptism. The service we had on June 18 involved five men.

Each of their lives is uniquely different as their stories so clearly portrayed. Yet each came to the same conclusion: It was time to commit fully to Christ and to make a public confession of that through baptism. May God richly bless and guide you all five.

Our summer building project is well on the way. The new education wing is taking shape and the possibility of using it yet this fall is definitely rising.

Another new thing this summer is our first ever website. Yes, it’s up and running. Thanks to Gus. You can now follow us online, re-listen to a message, and check the schedules at www.pansychapel.com. I am excited about that.

Steinbach EMC: Additions to the Church Family

by Martha Kroeker

STEINBACH, Man.—We rejoiced on Nov. 20, 2016, as we listened to the testimonies of those who had decided earlier in their lives to follow Jesus and now chose to publicly confirm this decision by taking the next step in their spiritual journey and being baptized. With joy we welcomed them as part of our church family, together with several others who transferred from other churches.

There was a special sense of joy and anticipation in the sanctuary on May 14, 2017, as we gathered, joined by many guests, for a celebration of baptism and welcoming new members as part of our covenant community. Seven young people shared their faith stories of God’s involvement in their lives and indicated their desire to be baptized as a public declaration of their commitment to follow Jesus. Another four people transferred their membership from other churches.

Steinbach EMC: Additions to the Church Family

by Martha Kroeker

STEINBACH, Man.—We rejoiced on Nov. 20, 2016, as we listened to the testimonies of those who had decided earlier in their lives to follow Jesus and now chose to publicly confirm this decision by taking the next step in their spiritual journey and being baptized. With joy we welcomed them as part of our church family, together with several others who transferred from other churches.

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Members as of May 14, 2017: (back) Juan Peters (t), Markus Buhler, Dave Kroeker (t), Isaac Dyck, Abram Wall, (front) Agnes Kroeker (t), Helena Dyck, Conner Klassen, Anna Klassen, Hannah Drolet, Anna Radekop. Credit: SEMC

There was a special sense of joy and anticipation in the sanctuary on May 14, 2017, as we gathered, joined by many guests, for a celebration of baptism and welcoming new members as part of our covenant community. Seven young people shared their faith stories of God’s involvement in their lives and indicated their desire to be baptized as a public declaration of their commitment to follow Jesus. Another four people transferred their membership from other churches.

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A parent/child dedication was held on May 28: Rob and Sharon Steeves (Conor, Declan and Niamh), Margaret and Darcy Friesen (Dawson Thor), Jeremy and Adrienne Buhler (Thomas Elliott). Credit: SEMC

Leamington: Baptisms, Church Building Well Used

by Helen Boschman-Dyck

LEAMINGTON, ONT.–“Rejoice in all of the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household” (Deut. 26:11). We as the Leamington EMC household have truly been blessed and have much to rejoice about.

On Feb. 28, 2016, our church had a baptism and membership reception. Theresa Dyck, Stephanie Penner, and Justin Klassen were baptized upon their confession of faith. Franz and Helena Guenther were accepted as members as well.

Another baptism was held on Nov. 27, 2016. Aaron Froese, Ryan Fehr, Shannon Fehr, Amy Wolfe, Emily Penner, Courtney Klassen, Jenny Neufeld received baptism. Tommy Enns was also welcomed as a member.

Our church building has been a blessing as well; it seems as though there is always something happening. We have special events like our Annual Couples Date Night Challenge, an evening where couples from our church and local community are able to enjoy great food, games and fellowship.

We have regular Sunday School and Sunday morning services in English; and on Sunday afternoon, as well as Tuesday evenings, a Spanish church meets in our sanctuary.

The week is filled with men’s volleyball on Monday nights, along with men’s and women’s Bible studies on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We have a growing youth program in our church; Junior Youth meets Wednesday nights and Senior Youth on Friday nights. We also have two homeschool groups regularly utilizing our building.

We have been able to reach out farther to our community through hosting many other events such as Sunday potlucks, Men’s and Women’s ministry events, Youth and Young Adult Group events, meetings and weddings. We also host Berean Schools annually; this year it was in March.

We are called to be a light to those around us and we feel blessed to be able to do so as we serve our community.

“The church is the church only when it exists for others, not dominating, but helping and serving” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

Heartland: Nine members Added

by Brigitte Toews

LANDMARK, Man.—Nine people at Heartland Community Church publicly chose to follow Jesus, eight through baptism (Kaitlyn Warkentin, Noah Keating, Josh Neufeld, Hudson Skjaerlund, Craig Sawatzky, Rachelle Sawatzky, Amanda Plett, Tiffany Froese) and one recommitment (Angela Storey).

Though each person expressed their desire to be a follower at different points along their journey, they were all here for the same reason: to be an example to others and obedient to Jesus, taking to heart his instruction in Matt. 28:18-20.

After each received a personalized comforter from our congregation, Pastor Andy Woodworth spoke words of wisdom and encouragement over each person to strengthen them. He then invited each one to listen and observe the leading of the Holy Spirit in their own lives as he handed them a symbolic gift to be opened with intention. They were invited to record their questions, prayers, answers, and unique experiences and words from God and others as they read their Bibles and pursue God wholeheartedly.

He also expressed the importance of character development in the process, like being trustworthy, authentic, and consistent in their relationship with God because it would be a life long pursuit that would require courage and strength.

Wow! It was a powerful service. But we are all invited into the same intimacy with God, so let 2017 be a time of personal revival that will, in turn, affect everyone else around you.

 

Dr. Harvey Plett: Believer’s Baptism, Stay With What the Bible Teaches!

by Dr. Harvey Plett

As we celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation there is much to celebrate. One of the things to celebrate is the rediscovery of believer’s baptism.

Apostolic Church Baptism

Water baptism was practiced in the Church from its beginning. Peter’s Pentecost message ended by saying, “Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). Some 3,000 responded in faith and were baptized and added to the Church that day.

This is what is called believer’s baptism. That is, when you decide to become a Christian you, in obedience to the teaching of the Bible, follow it up with water baptism and thereby become a member of the Church, Christ’s body.

Matthew 28:18-20 tells the Church to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then teach them all that God has commanded. Those who believe are to be baptized. Scholars are in essential agreement that apostolic baptism was believer’s baptism (Luther, Babylonian Captivity of the Church).

Infant Baptism

An occasional infant baptism appears to have happened in the second century. But after the third century it became the practice of the Church. Prior to the Reformation, to refuse infant baptism was subject to state oppression, even execution.

Martin Luther, in the early 16th century, was struggling with his faith and through study of the Bible discovered the words, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). Out of that came what we call the Reformation. Luther’s emphasis on faith and the Bible began to influence the church scene and ultimately the Lutheran Church emerged.

Luther retained infant baptism partially because he felt if he went to believer’s baptism his work would be annihilated. He, however, modified the sacrament somewhat. For the Catholic Church water baptism is used by God to remove original sin. For Luther the grace of God works alongside the water to do that.

The Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church subscribe to this kind of sacramental baptism. A sacrament is a ceremony that if done right conveys God’s grace to the individual.

The Reformed Church, the outgrowth of John Calvin’s work, practises infant baptism, but does it in a Covenantal Theological system. They say that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant and replaces circumcision.

As circumcision was done to infant boys and was the sign of the Old Covenant, so now baptism is the sign of the New Covenant in Christ. One change is that now both male and female infants, of Christian parents, are baptized, indicating they are members of the New Covenant people.

In infant-baptizing churches, baptism is followed up with confirmation when the person has reached the age of accountability. At confirmation the individual makes the faith, vicariously believed for him by a godparent or sponsor at baptism, his or her own.

Churches who practise this covenantal concept of baptism include the Reformed Church, the Methodists, Presbyterians, and the Covenant Church.

There are some church groups that don’t practice water baptism. This includes the Quakers and the Salvation Army. It is also of interest to note that Karl Barth, a key theologian, switched to believer’s baptism due to his study of the Bible. Friedrich Schleiermacher, a German theologian (d. 1834), said to read children into the family baptisms in Acts is putting something there that is not there.

Believer’s Baptism

At the time of the Reformation another movement emerged that did not accept infant baptism as a valid baptism. Through serious Bible study, this group, known as the Anabaptists, understood the Scriptures to teach believer’s baptism. With this understanding of baptism they refused sacramental or covenantal infant baptism because they didn’t find it in the Bible.

They understood the Scripture to teach believer’s baptism; that is, only those who personally understood the gospel and accepted it should be baptized. Many who had been baptized as infants asked for baptism based on their faith and thereby joined the Church. This is where the name Anabaptist comes from. They were accused of being re-baptized, but they responded and said their infant baptism was not a baptism because it did not involve the faith of the one being baptized.

Their refusal to accept infant baptism, as well as refusing to have their infants baptized, resulted in severe opposition and persecution. They persisted and the Anabaptists emerged as a significant branch of the Church, still active and alive today. The Anabaptists claimed they were going back to what the Bible teaches. They insisted that believer’s baptism ruled out covenantal or sacramental infant baptism. It also ruled out child baptism.

In support of rejecting infant and child baptism they quoted Matt. 19:14 where Jesus says, “Do not hinder children from coming to me for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” They said children are innocent and saved until they reach the age of accountability. They said the Bible teaches that children are to be nurtured and taught the love of God; and then as they grow and understand they will respond, and when they reach accountability they will know how to respond and ask for baptism when they reach the age of accountability (Eph. 6:4).

Continued Commitment

We need to celebrate the Reformation by a continued commitment to do what the Bible teaches. As we celebrate 500 years of back to the Bible freedom, we, as a people who believe the Bible teaches believer’s baptism, rejoice that children are innocent and saved until they reach the age of accountability. Being nurtured in the teaching of the Word and accepting it as they grow up, they will then be able to ask for baptism.

The issue we face is, does the Bible teach believer’s baptism? To answer this question we need to go back to the Bible. We do not find sacramental baptism in Scripture, and we also do not find the idea that baptism has replaced circumcision.

I suggest we respond by rejoicing for what the Anabaptists found and practiced back in the 16th century, examine it biblically, and take what the Bible teaches. We affirm believer’s baptism even if it is uncomfortable. If that is what the Bible teaches, that is what we want to do.

This does not mean we reject fellowship with churches that practice infant baptism, but we do not accept their practice of infant baptism because we believe it is not supported in Scripture nor is it a baptism based on personal faith. We stand for and commit ourselves to what the Bible teaches.

We also need to do a diligent study on the role of children and the church. Our Anabaptist forebears found no basis for sacramental or covenantal infant baptism. As already noted, they believed the Scriptures teach that children are safe in the kingdom until the age of accountability when they decide to continue in the faith or leave it (Pilgram Marpeck; Schleitheim Confession).

Dr. Harvey Plett
Dr. Harvey Plett

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation we rejoice in the testimony of our forebears and commit ourselves to be true to the study and teaching of the Bible and its teaching on baptism as our Anabaptist forebears did.

Dr. Harvey Plett (BA, MA, MDiv, PhD) has served as president of Steinbach Bible College and as EMC moderator; he is a long-serving minister at Prairie Rose EMC. He continues to do some teaching, preaching, counselling, and writing. He and his wife Pearl live in Mitchell, Man., and celebrated 58 years of blessed marriage on Aug. 22, 2016.

 

Blumenort: Syrian Family, New Youth Pastoral Couple

by  Janice Harder

BLUMENORT, Man.—Wonderful things have been happening in our church this fall. To begin with, this refugee report from Irma Plett who is working closely with the refugee family: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

In late September a young Syrian couple with three small children arrived in our community. With the help of MCC and the Canadian government, we are seeking to provide refuge and support for them as they try to put a traumatic past behind them and build a safe future for their children.

This first year holds numerous great challenges for them, so we are trying to ease their load by helping them learn English, get a Manitoba driver’s license, buy a vehicle, find medical and dental care, set up banking, find furniture and warm winter clothing at prices they can afford, connect to other Arabic-speaking people in the area, and build a community of friends who will continue to care for them once our year of official support is over. We do it all in the name of Christ, hoping and praying that they will come to know Him and His Love, and one day join that multitude praising Him before His throne.

After much prayer, on Nov. 1, 2016, the church welcomed Mitchell and Becca Martens as our new youth pastoral couple. Mitchell says, “The church has been very welcoming,” and that they are looking forward to making this their new home. Prayer support is welcomed for this young couple as they move to our church body and settle into their new position.

On Nov. 17 we had a Refresh Worship night. What a wonderful time of worshipping and praising our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

On Dec. 4 we also had five baptismal candidates come forward to dedicate their lives to God and this church. Dawsyn Froese, Karenna Ginter, Mackenzie Klassen, Jeremy Reimer, and Jodi Thiessen gave their testimonies and were baptized. Please carry these young people your prayers and encouragement as they live out their faith in Jesus.

Treesbank: Transition and obedience

by Jolene Friesen

TREESBANK, Man.—In May 2016 we hired a part-time pastor, John McMillan, for a three month period to help us work towards finding and hiring a permanent pastor.  As the end of August drew near it was decided that Pastor John would continue in the part-time position for an additional year. Part of his focus has been teaching us about our statement of faith and our church constitution, reminding us why they are important.

On June 26 we celebrated with and supported three sets of parents as they dedicated their children and themselves to godly instruction and parenting.  Isaac and Jenny Klassen dedicated Lilly, Mark and Lisa Plett dedicated Asher, and Daryl and Jolene Friesen dedicated Lewis.

Our annual church camping weekend was held in July at Spruce Woods Provincial Park.  Attendance was great this year—our group campsite was full—and many of those who didn’t join us for the rest of the weekend were able to come and enjoy our outdoor Sunday morning service in beautiful weather. We enjoyed a potluck lunch together and a wonderful time of informal fellowship.

After an extended period of overlooking the practices of communion and foot washing we were able to take part in both of these ordinances in separate Sunday morning services in August and September. What a blessing it was to partake of the Lord’s Supper together! It was also amazing to experience the humbling act of allowing someone else to wash your feet and to kneel in an attitude of servant hood to wash another’s feet, thus gaining the blessing Jesus spoke of in John 13.

We rejoiced to witness two baptisms on Oct. 1.  Sharon Hallam and Jenny Klassen were baptized upon their confession of faith and received into membership. It was so encouraging to hear their testimonies and support them in this step of obedience to Christ. As an obvious reflection of our farming community, the outdoor baptistery was a large, round, blue cattle watering tank.

The planning committee for our 50th Anniversary Celebration has begun meeting to discuss preparations for July 22 and 23, 2017. We look forward to seeing you there!