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Christian Centre Fellowship family enrichment weekend retreat Feb. 10-12

Focus on the Family's ‘Date Night Challenge' webcast follows Saturday banquet
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Photo courtesy of Focus on the Family

Christian Centre Fellowship
The two-hour "Date Night Challenge is marketed by Focus on the Family to churches worldwide, to be shown between Feb. 7-14, as a "customizable and flexible evangelism opportunity and way to reach out to your community" as part of "National Marriage Week USA."

Instead of featuring a guest-speaking author, as in recent years, the Christian Centre Fellowship family enrichment weekend retreat Feb. 10-12 format this year features Focus on the Family's "Date Night Challenge" pre-recorded webcast following the Saturday banquet. Tickets for the adult banquet are $12.50 each.

Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, founded in 1977 by James Dobson, a former associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

The two-hour "Date Night Challenge is marketed by Focus on the Family to churches worldwide, to be shown between Feb. 7-14, as a "customizable and flexible evangelism opportunity and way to reach out to your community" as part of "National Marriage Week USA." You can check it out online at:

The webcast features comedian Jeff Allen, known for his "His Happy Wife, Happy Life message of a marriage gone wrong and redeemed," singer-songwriter Michael O'Brien, best known for his seven years as lead singer of the Christian band Newsong, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, of Sacramento, California, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and authors Greg and Erin Smalley. Greg Smalley is executive director of marriage and family formation at Focus on the Family. Previously he worked at the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and served as president of the National Institute of Marriage.

Thompson Christian Centre Fellowship has been a member of the Manitoba Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches since 1980. The name Mennonite comes from Menno Simons, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who broke with the church a few years after his ordination to join with the Anabaptists. Although he was not the founder, his preaching and influence were such that many of the Dutch Anabaptists adopted his name, and thereafter were known as Mennonites. Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation tradition of the 16th-century. Other Anabaptists include the Amish and Hutterites. Anabaptists were often persecuted for their beliefs, which include pacifism and a refusal to take oaths, along with a belief civil government belongs to the world and they are in the world, but not of the world, especially in their early years, by both other Protestant groups and Roman Catholics.

The Thompson Christian Centre Fellowship began services in 1972, and formally organized in 1981. After using rental space for a number of years, the congregation acquired their own building in 1984 and renovated it for congregational use. Gary Sawatzky was the founding leader of the group. Other leaders and pastors besides Goossen have included Will Feldbusch, Ron Dyck, George Baerg and Jake Enns.

On Sunday evening, the Christian Centre Fellowship will wrap-up the weekend with a chilidog supper followed by the new movie Courageous with "theatre popcorn," says Pastor Ted Goossen.

Courageous was released last fall and made by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who are both pastors on the staff of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. The movie is meant to be a challenge to "men of courage" as fathers to measure up to the Biblical definition of the word. It follows four Albany, Georgia sheriff's deputies as they work the city's gang and drug problems, which their statistics attribute to kids growing up in fatherless homes.

You can see a YouTube trailer for Courageous at:, or Roger Moore's mixed review last Sept. 28 in the Orlando Sentinel for the film at:

They made their made their first movie, Flywheel, in 2003. The Kendricks conceived the idea for Flywheel in the spring of 2002 after they saw the results from Barna Research Group demonstrating empirically popular culture movies and television shows are more influential in American society than the Christian church.

They also made Facing the Giants, a high school football movie, in 2006, and Fireproof in 2008.

Past speakers at the Christian Centre Fellowship annual family enrichment weekend have included Winnipeg authors Paul Boge in 2010 and Tricia Kell in 2009, as well as Pastor Gareth J. Goossen, a younger brother of Pastor Ted Goossen, who lives in Breslau, Ont., and last year.

The Goossens grew up in Manitou, about 20 miles west of Morden, in south-central Manitoba. Gareth Goossen is an author, worship leader, and inspirational speaker who provides training for the Canadian Mennonite University and Manitoba Missions Trek and the Outtatown Discipleship School where students learn by experience, instruction and example, living and travelling in various physical settings, from wilderness to inner city, from church basements to summer camps to upscale hotels, in Guatemala and South Africa.

He has authored the book Worship Walk: Where Worship and Life Intersect, which is a look at the practice of worship.

Boge, a native of Winnipeg, is an award-winning author and has written The Urban Saint: The Harry Lehotsky Story, The Chicago Healer, The Cities of Fortune and Father to the Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story. Boge won Word Guild's best Canadian author award in 2003 for his first book, Chicago Healer.

Boge came back to Thompson for three days in February 2010 to renew old friendships and talk about his then recently published book, The Urban Saint: The Harry Lehotsky Story, which explores the life of old west end Winnipeg inner city pastor Harry Lehotsky, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2006 at age 49.

In addition to being an author, Boge, 38, is a capital costs consulting mining engineer and no stranger to Thompson. He lived and worked here for nine months in 2003, five months in 2005 and for another 10 months in 2007, while working on three separate surface projects for Vale, and doing much of his writing in his apartment at night.

The Urban Saint: The Harry Lehotsky Story was launched Nov. 5, 2009 at the Ellice Cafe and Theatre, which Lehotsky founded. Boge also made the 2006 movie Among Thieves through FireGate Films, an independent Winnipeg company he started. He is a member of North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg.

Tricia Kell, who spoke in 2009, is the author of two books, one of which is Chain of Miracles, the 2004 story of how she says the "power and love of God can change a chain of tragedies into a chain of miraculous victories."

The book describes how "God walked her through the abusive relationship and tragic death of her first husband to the accidents that left two of her children both physically and mentally challenged – to another horrifying incident that nearly killed her current husband."

Kell was born in Halifax and raised as a Roman Catholic. A self-described "air force brat," she lived in both Europe and Canada growing up. Later, she says she "developed, owned and managed a successful clothing design company along with other companies."

She describes in Chain of Miracles how her first husband, Jeffrey, with a gun in the vehicle and their three-month-old son, J.J., threw from a car into a ditch between Ponton and Thompson.

Kell, and her current husband, Gord, live in Winnipeg with their three adult children.

Her second book, Attitude Determines Altitude, is a humorous book, she says, "still based on my everyday life but tells how I beat my fear of flying." It was published in 2008.

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