Winnipeg

The Winnipeg MVSA unit was started in 1985 as a direct outgrowth of Bethel Mennonite Church's efforts to serve, and to witness Christian discipleship to, the people of Winnipeg. The unit places volunteers in positions identified as important to the mission of Bethel Mennonite Church. This has included work at a local food bank, childcare, peace work and social work.

Location

Winnipeg is the "Gateway to the Canadian West," located about 100 km (60 miles) north of the U.S. border, sitting in the centre of Canada at the junction of two major prairie rivers. Winnipeg is on the Trans-Canada highway, and is easily accessible by road, rail, bus or air. Population is around 650,000, with many different ethnic groups whose roots are often proudly displayed. Manitoba is officially bilingual (French and English) and offers most services in both languages. Winnipeg is home to a significant French-speaking population as well as many other European, Asian and Aboriginal groups.

Parks (one includes a zoo), playgrounds, swimming pools, golf courses and tennis courts abound in Winnipeg. Professional sports teams include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (football). The arts scene includes drama, ballet and dance, symphony and choral music, opera, art galleries and North America's largest annual folk music festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Various community and ethnic groups sponsor recreational and cultural events throughout the year, including the annual festival of the nations, Folklorama. The city hosts a number of colleges and universities, including Canadian Mennonite University. The downtown is undergoing a major revitalization project.

Winnipeg is on the southern tip of one of the largest lakes in the world (Lake Winnipeg) and on the eastern edge of the Canadian prairies. Manitoba experiences four distinct seasons. Temperatures in winter can drop to -30 degrees, with wind a common factor.

Unit life

The Winnipeg unit lives in a 3-story frame house located in Winnipeg's inner city. Unit members meet weekly to keep in touch, do household business and share joys and concerns. They also try to set aside time to develop relationships and enjoy each other's company. Monthly or bi-monthly unit recreation activities, such as attending a play or going out to eat as a group, help in this.

Church

Winnipeg has a rich diversity of religious traditions, reflecting the city's wide cultural diversity. The city has a high concentration of Mennonites--more than 10 Mennonite conferences or groups have congregations there. The Canadian headquarters of the Mennonite Brethren church, as well as the offices of Mennonite Church Canada, are located in Winnipeg.

Bethel Mennonite Church, the sponsoring congregation for Winnipeg MVSA, is a large and growing congregation of about 600 members, located in south central Winnipeg. Many non-members also attend worship regularly and are actively involved in the congregation. Bethel has a history of responding to the needs of the community in the past through financial contributions, material aid and volunteer services. Bethel accepts and supports each member of the MVSA unit as part of its own church family and as an expression of the church's mission. The congregation also looks to MVSers for leadership in identifying new areas of witness in Winnipeg, in dealing with lifestyle issues, and in challenging Bethel Mennonite to greater faithfulness in living out the Gospel.

The unit members meet with an MVSA Support Committee monthly, with retreats scheduled at least once a year. The committee functions as a support group for the volunteers with an emphasis placed on fostering relationships between volunteers and committee members. The committee in conjunction with the MVSers sets the service direction for the unit.

Winnipeg Unit House

Winnipeg Unit House

Carter Day Care

Carter Day Care

Winnipeg Harvest

Winnipeg Harvest

Needs Centre

Needs Centre

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:11
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