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The newest member of the Bienvenu family, Jack.

The Mount Zion Kitchen volunteers hung up their aprons, earning a well-deserved break until the fall. They were thanked for their loyal support with a gift of red roses for everyone.

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Upcoming Events

May 26 – Blessing of Seed and Soil

June 16 – Congregational Meeting

June 23 – Worship in the Park

Sept 29 – New Member Sunday

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April 19, 2024

Join us for worship in person or on- line at 10 am every Sunday
  • Scroll to bottom of page for contact information and links to services and activities

  • Masks are optional at Mount Zion 

  • Deadline for next edition March 20

News from the Bienvenu Family
Sunday, April 7, 2024 - Peggy Nickels

I was delighted to see a message from Esperance Bienvenu pop up on my phone today on my way home from Kitchener Market, and I quickened my steps towards home to be able to call her back.  It had been a while since we talked, and as always, she had lots of news to share.

As most of you will remember, Esperance is the mother in the Bienvenu family, whom we helped sponsor in 2016.  Their journey to Waterloo that summer brought them from a refugee camp in Burundi, where they had been living for a number of years, after fleeing from violence in their homeland of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

With five young children, ranging in age from 2 to 12, we and three other churches supported them as they made a new life, learning to live – for the first time – with electricity, running water, modern appliances, and all the other changes that were so new to them.

The four oldest children went to school for the first time and by the end of the year, were speaking fluent English!   Their dad, Shinga, found work within ten months and the family was thriving.  The following spring, they proudly welcomed their Canadian-born baby, Ben, to the family.  To our great surprise, by the end of three years, with careful saving and frugal living, they were able to buy their first home before the pandemic and the spike in housing costs.  A couple of years later, they sold this house and moved to Stratford, where both Shinga and Esperance were able to find jobs in a nearby auto parts plant.  Last summer, Esperance gave birth to their sixth child, Jack, and with help from Erb Street Mennonite, their church home, Esperance’s parents, two brothers, and sister were able to join them in Stratford.

The latest news is that baby Jack, now about nine months old, is starting to take his first steps and said “Mama” for the first time yesterday!  His oldest brother, Yves, is at Mohawk College studying Photography, and his next oldest brother, Redard, is finishing High School this term.  The two girls, Agape and Uwera, are both doing well at school and are a great help to their parents.  Esperance told me that Blaise is “a very busy boy” and sometimes reminds them of Redard!  (Remember Redard caught a fish with his bare hands and then “lost it” in the house?!)  And Ben, their first Canadian baby, is already at school.

Esperance is coming to the end of her maternity leave and is returning to work in May.  This time, her mother and Shinga will share caring for baby Jack.  Esperance’s parents and siblings live only 6 houses from her, which makes that very convenient.  Esperance’s two brothers have been working at a chicken farm almost since they arrived in Stratford and really like the work.  In order to be able to marry and bring their brides to Canada, they plan to take on second jobs.

Finally, Esperance wanted me to tell you she misses us and would like to bring her family to church at Mount Zion some Sunday this Spring.  I will send her some suggested dates and will let you all know when they are coming.  In eight years, with God’s help, we have helped this family create a new life for themselves and other extended family members.  How appropriate to reflect on these new lives, and to remember such goodness in the midst of many challenges.

Pastor Philip appointed to the Canadian Council of Churches

We were delighted to learn that our national church appointed Pastor Philip to be one of three persons representing Lutherans on the Canadian Council of Churches Governing Board.

The board reviews ecumenical life in Canada and reflects on its significance. It discerns, coordinates, and communicates the common mission of the churches, as well as long-range planning and policy formation.

Founded in 1944, The Canadian Council of Churches is a broad and inclusive ecumenical body, now representing 26 member churches, including Lutheran, Anglican, Eastern and Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Free Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and Historic Protestant traditions.

In Our Prayers

In our prayers let us continue to remember Claudine, Christine, Marilyn, Konrad, Mary-Helen, Sandra, Julian, George, Betty, Rosalie, James, Thelma, Helen, and the Stewart family. Let us also pray for places torn with war, especially remembering Palestine, Israel, Iran, Ukraine, Yemen, South Sudan and others; that the conflict between Israel and Iran not become wider but that there would be peace and reconciliation.

Pr. Philip

Music Notes

We have appreciated the many positive comments regarding the Holy Week and Easter services. The choir worked very hard to make those services special and now we are working forward to Pentecost and Trinity.   The guitar choir will be with us on May 5.

Several people have inquired about Willow: she has moved to Toronto and has a job there. We were planning to have a blessing and thank you for her on her last Sunday, but at the last minute, she was unable to attend. I know we all wish her well going forward and appreciate the support she gave the music program over several years.

The Kiwanis Music Festival is Back - April 22 - 26

They will be using the sanctuary for competition all day from Monday, April 22, to Friday, April 26. There are also evening concerts on Tuesday and Thursday necessitating some changes to our schedule.


April 28 -Climate Emergency Workshop 

The next Climate Emergency workshop facilitated by Isaiah Ritzmann will be held on Sunday, April 28, after the service.  The title this time is “When the Odds are Stacked Against Us,” and the abstract is “Improbable is not impossible.  But with climate change, the odds are stacked against us.  How do we persevere?"

$1 for the 47 days in Lent, Food Card Ministry

Mary Thompson reports that about $3,562 was donated during Lent for food cards, making this effort a success. The Justice Through Service Committee and Health Council would like to express our profound thanks to all those who have responded to the campaign with contributions to the food card fund during Lent this year.

We are very grateful to Betty Behm and Pauline Finch for organizing the effort, Margaret Waechter for sending the messages, and Barb Barnes for her help spreading the word.  

Black History Committee Recognized for Community Leadership

Members of Mount Zion’s Black History Committee were selected as recipients of the Leading Women, Leading Girls –Building Communities Waterloo 2024 recognition program organized by MPP Catherine Fife. This important recognition program acknowledges and celebrates women-identified Waterloo residents who have demonstrated exceptional community leadership to improve the lives of others and have made substantial contributions to our community through volunteer work. 

Mrs Bell, Arlene Knight, Cynthia Simpson, Susan Brubacher, Karen Gastmeier, Sarah Cardwell, Margaret Waechter and Pastor Philip will attend a special luncheon in May.


Congregational Meeting June 16 to Adopt new Constitution and Bylaws

The meeting's purpose is to Adopt a new Constitution and Bylaws document. Over the last several months, the council’s executive has been working on these new documents. We are doing this now because we learned that the government of Ontario is requiring all incorporated non-profits to amend their Letters Patent and update them as Articles of Amendment.

In order to do this, our Bylaw #1 (Constitution) must be updated so that the information contained aligns with the new requirements for the Articles of Amendment.  We are warned that if there are discrepancies, the Articles of Amendment will take precedence over our constitution.

Much of the new document remains similar to our current Bylaw  #1. One difference is how we must define our membership. We will now be required to keep a list of non-voting members. We currently do this on our database in a category named Friends.

We are grateful for the synod's support and guidance during this process. They have sought legal advice and provided us with a template for our new Bylaws and Constitution, making it much easier for us.

The council reviewed the package last night. It will be available on the website in the next few days, and a few printed copies will also be available in the Narthex. We will publish the links in the next newsletter.


New Member Sunday…September 29

All the discussion surrounding membership in the new constitution has reminded us that, even though we have welcomed several new members recently,  we have not had a service to acknowledge them in more than a few years. To address the issue, we will be conducting a New Member Service on September 29. If you are interested in becoming a member, please speak with Pastor Philip soon.

Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis Film and Discussion Event

A homegrown response to the UN’s World Press Freedom Day theme, “Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis,” is a special film and panel discussion event on Sunday, April 28, from 1 – 4 p.m., at Waterloo’s Princess Twin Cinema. Admission is $20 at the door, and parishioners and church members are especially invited because of our understanding of Creation as a gift from God to be cherished and defended from abuse. This event is mounted by local journalists, many of whom are friends of the local Christian and interfaith communities. Details and advance tickets are available from

Trillium’s Coffee House - Saturday, May 4

Pauline Finch and Lilla Hall will be playing several short sets of music from Star Wars and Star Trek (all 8 series!) arranged for flute and piano during this not-to-be-missed evening of fellowship and music at Trillium’s Coffee House on Saturday, May 4th from 7-9 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Beverages and sweet treats will be served. Performances by: Smackjive, Chris Mertz, Sheltered Life, Steve Bergen, Better Than Nothing, Leo Schellenberger, On Air, Rick Kitchen, TLC Worship Band, and more!

Coaching available for new Assisting Ministers

Do you want to be more active in our worship leadership?  Do you want to gain confidence when reading text out loud to an audience? Have we an opportunity for you? Joining the Assisting Minister team is an opportunity to learn how to lead worship and to gain confidence in speaking publicly. Coaching is available to those who want to learn how to use their voice when delivering written text. You’ve probably already had experience—reading children's stories out loud.

Join this supportive Assisting Minister team!  Rotation is approximately every 4-5 weeks, and you pick the Sundays that you’re available.   Call the office at 519-886-5820 or speak with either Pastor Philip or Margaret.  

Exercise Classes continue on Tuesdays. 

Community Support Connections Exercise Classes continue on Tuesday afternoons at 1:00 p.m. These one-hour classes include cardio, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. This is a free service.  

Mount Zion Cafe -10 am

Meet your friends and enjoy coffee and a few activities at the Mount Zion Café, which meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Call Margaret the day before if you need transportation; she will arrange a driver or taxi.

The Annual Spirituality and Aging Seminar

will take place on Friday, June 21st, in-person and virtually at Conrad Grebel University College. Rev. Dr. Mark Roberts presents “From Problems to Possibilities: Faith Communities Enabling Those in the Third Third of Life to Flourish.” This seminar challenges the narratives about elders in communities, churches, and society at large; exploring the role churches can play in empowering older adults. Visit for registration information. Professionals, practitioners, and all interested are welcome.


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Links for Worship and more

  • YouTube

Sundays 10 am Click on the logo to join the Live Stream Worship

(Recordings of the services are available)


VESPERS    7:00 pm Monday - Thursday evenings
(Sign in any time after 6:30, Service starts at 7:00 pm)

Mount Zion's office tel.: 519 886-5820  office hours: Tues. - Fri. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

How to contact our staff, while our building is closed:  
Pastor Philip Mathai                            cell: 519-781-5602
Music Director Sarah. E. Cardwell
Office Administrator Margaret Waechter           
Nurse Christine Ramseyer            cell: 519-588-8006
Feel free to call our cell phones. If we aren't available we'll return your call!

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