Kathyg Reflects on Four Decades of Ministry

Kathyg Reflects on Four Decades of Ministry

At the end of April, Kathy Giesbrecht retires after four decades of ministry among us. Kathy has offered the following reflection on her ministry.

Where have the decades gone?

I was a young 21 when my congregation, Burrows Bethel Mennonite Church, affirmed my call to begin serving with Youth for Christ. They, who had nurtured my faith, now prayed over me, put me in the missions budget, and sent me to my first ministry posting in Portage la Prairie. Over the next four decades I would find myself serving with YFC Winnipeg, the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre, Springstein Mennonite Church (where I was ordained in 2002), Winnipeg Chinese Mennonite Church, Home Street Mennonite Church, and for the last 15 years on staff with Mennonite Church Manitoba.

For many of these years I would find myself holding two half-time positions, which was invigorating, challenging, and at times a tad exhausting. My shift from para-church ministry to congregational ministry was prompted by my own growing desire to invest my energy into the Mennonite Church. This desire was honoured with significant shoulder tapping and provisions of financial support to attend seminary in preparation for ministry in the Church. We must never underestimate the work the Spirit does as we take seriously our responsibility to see, encourage, and call out the gifts among us.

I have been known to say, about life in the Church, “Never a dull day!” This has certainly been true about my MCM ministry, primarily due to its variety and intensity. So many highlights in so many different seasons of our MCM life together.

Among my greatest joys has been to care for and support the ministries of our Youth/Young Adult/Formation Pastors. For many years we have been known as the YMF Circle—“Youth Ministry Fellowship”—though the job descriptions go far beyond youth ministry! Together we have nurtured deep connections with one another, supported and inspired each other in ministry, paid attention to the movements within the Church and offered our energies to the wider Church in a multitude of ways.

The impact of the MCM YMF group on the wider Church has been significant. They have offered vision, vigorous conversation, time, and energy for the planning of nationwide gatherings. They have responded to invitations to gather together both nationally and internationally. I shall miss the deep laughter, butter chicken lunches, love, and prayer we have shared.

It has been an honour to accompany many young pastors as they started out on their vocational journey. When young adult women and men offered their “yes” to the Church, I continually thanked God for the Spirit’s work in their lives and the privilege of walking into the deep waters of congregational ministry with them. Many coffees have been had, much pizza has been eaten, and praying has been constant. A huge perk of my position has been to get to know so many folks within our congregations, and particularly the delight of hanging out with our young people. They call me Kathyg, I call them the Beloved. They have infused and inspired my ministry and brought delight, concern, fun, and hope to my heart again and again.

When it comes to hope, I have it in spades! Hope is alive as we continue to choose each other in our congregations and within MCM. Certainly what binds us is stronger than the differing perspectives that unsettle us. Our neighbours long for communities that can hold their disagreements in love. This capacity is our greatest witness to the love of Christ.

I will retire. I will rest. I will continue to offer whatever gifts, grace, and gusto I have to the life of the Church.

The Scripture text that has guided my life in ministry is 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” I pray that this will be true of all of us as we share both the good news of Jesus and our very selves for each other and all those around us.

– Kathyg