Lao church receives JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men

Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member, addresses the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto during a July 1 celebration in which the congregation received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men. Next to him are Pastor Chinda Kommala (standing) and Pastor Ongarth Phounsavath (seated). (Photo provided)

Mennonite Men—On July 1, the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto celebrated 32 years of ministry. During the celebration, the congregation received a JoinHands church grant of $40,000 from Mennonite Men. These grants are for new congregations acquiring their first permanent church building.

LCEMC began as a small group of people worshiping and following the Anabaptist faith in Pastor Chinda Kommala’s small living room. Over the years, the congregation has held worship services in several different places. Their meeting space prior to the present one was the office space of a rice warehouse, which quickly became too cramped. After years of searching and prayer, they discovered an old repair shop just down the street in another industrial area, in the heart of Toronto’s Emery Village neighborhood.

It took zoning changes, public hearings and a lot of donated money over a two-year period to convert the building into a place where the congregation could meet. In addition to the JoinHands grant, the congregation received a grant and an interest-free loan from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada; they acquired a mortgage from Mennonite Foundation Canada. On Sept. 26, 2010, they dedicated their new facility.

The LCEMC consists mainly of immigrant Laotian families and Caucasians of German/Russian descent. In December 2011, the congregation merged with the Toronto United Lao Mennonite Church, and Pastor Ongarth Phounsavath joined the pastoral team of Pastor Chinda Kommala and Assistant Pastor Jason Martin. The LCEMC’s mission is to extend the peace of Jesus Christ to all the peoples of Toronto, especially the Lao and Thai. Worship services alternate between English and Lao preachers and are always translated into Lao during English services. Other activities include leadership training events, a Bible study group, a monthly youth group meeting, and holiday services followed by a fellowship meal.

At a July 1 celebration in which the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men are (l. to r.) Brian Bauman, mission minister for Mennonite Church Canada; Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member; Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada; and Assistant Pastor Jason Martin of the LCEMC. (Photo provided)

The congregation was founded by Chinda Kommala with the help of Pastor Dale Bauman, Pastor Kuaying Teng and Brian Bauman, mission minister for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. The LCEMC has been part of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada since September 2004.

JoinHands is the service component of Mennonite Men, a binational organization with offices in Harrisonburg, Va., and Calgary, Alberta.

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—Don Yoder of Mennonite Men with information from an article by Dick Benner in The Canadian Mennonite, September 2010 (used by permission), and from LCEMC’s website (http://www.lcemc.org/).

Images available:

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/MennoniteMen_LCEMC_JoinHands_2012Jul1.jpg
Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member, addresses the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto during a July 1 celebration in which the congregation received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men. Next to him are Pastor Chinda Kommala (standing) and Pastor Ongarth Phounsavath (seated). (Photo provided)

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/MennoniteMen_LCEMC_thanks_2012Jul1.jpg
Pastor Chinda Kommala addresses the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto during a July 1 celebration in which the congregation received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men. Next to him are Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member (standing), and Pastor Ongarth Phounsavath (seated). (Photo provided)

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/MennoniteMen_LCEMC_1_2012Jul1.jpg
At a July 1 celebration in which the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church of Toronto received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men are (l. to r.) Brian Bauman, mission minister for Mennonite Church Canada; Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member; Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada; Pastor Chinda Kommala of the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC); and Hans Peters, interim LCEMC chair and pastor of Jane Finch Faith Community, an MCEC congregation in Toronto. (Photo provided)

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/MennoniteMen_LCEMC_32yrs_2012Jul1.jpg
At a July 1 celebration in which the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church (LCEMC) of Toronto received a JoinHands grant from Mennonite Men are (l. to r.) Brian Bauman, mission minister for Mennonite Church Canada; Samson Lo, Mennonite Men board member; Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada; and Assistant Pastor Jason Martin of the LCEMC. (Photo provided)