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A refugee helping refugees

Ref-Nyota president and CEO Serge Kaptegaine and vendor Freddy Mahoungou, centre, are joined by Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard, left, and Ben Rempel, assistant deputy labour and immigration minister, right, at the grand opening of Winnipeg’s new refugee centre on April 23.

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 04, 2010 | 1 comment

For Serge Kaptegaine, the opening ceremonies for Ref-Nyota, a new business venture that promotes the skills and talents of refugees, was an answer to prayer. The event was held at Le Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, Winnipeg, on April 23.

Kaptegaine came as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005. Always a man dedicated to peace, Kaptegaine, a young soft-spoken French teacher in a Congolese village, was trying to bring rival rebel groups together to dialogue with one another when he fell into the wrong hands.

Stories to tell

Tak-Chhing and Khantry Cheng at their 30th anniversary in Canada celebration, May 22, 2010.

Feature | By By Laura Stemp-Morlock | Jun 04, 2010

After welcoming us into her new home, Suad Saidam promptly excuses herself, re-emerging with ice-cold water bottles on a silver tray. In Arab cultures, guests are always served refreshments in this way, one of the many hallmarks of their unending hospitality.

For discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | May 31, 2010

1. What is the relationship between the Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church Canada congregations in your community? Do you agree that the relationship between the MBs and other Mennonites has changed over the years from one of tension to cooperation?

2. The Mennonite Brethren split from the rest of the Mennonites because they wanted renewal. Can you think of other examples where a push for spiritual renewal led to tension and splits? Do you think such divisions are inevitable? Why is it so hard for Christians to live in unity?

Bert Loewen named to Order of Manitoba

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 31, 2010

Among the 2010 recipients of the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honour, is Bert Loewen, a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church. The announcement was made on May 12 by Lieutenant-Governor Philip Lee. Loewen played a vital role in the establishment of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and was its first executive director. The Foodgrains Bank has provided 944,000 tonnes of food to nearly 70 countries over the years. This investiture ceremony will take place on July 15 at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

Jacob D. Reimer’s tombstone discovered in Ukraine

The tombstone with English translations of the etchings.

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 31, 2010 | 2 comments

On a tour in Ukraine in October 2006, Gert and Katherine Martens experienced an emotional moment when a farmer in Oktaybreskoe removed a few planks from his wall and uncovered the tombstone of Jacob D. and Wilhelmine Reimer. It didn’t take them long to decipher the deep etching on the large granite stone and realize it was Gert’s great-great-grandparents. The farmer had rescued the stone before the cemetery was levelled for a grain field and had kept it for more than three decades.

From tension to cooperation

Winkler MB Church with the smaller Burwalde MB Church that was moved beside it.

Feature | By By John J. Friesen | May 31, 2010

This year the Mennonite Brethren Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a week-long celebration in B.C. in July. What have the MBs contributed to the wider Mennonite community during the past century-and-a-half? What has been its relationship to Mennonite Church Canada, or to the General Conference Mennonite Church, which also began in 1860?

Desire for renewal leads to split

How green is my MCC?

Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s Winnipeg headquarters had geothermal heating installed in October 2008 in order to reduce the carbon emissions it takes to heat the office building.

Feature | By By Rachel Bergen | May 17, 2010

While Will Braun applauds Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for its commitment to shrink its carbon footprint by 20 percent over the next 10 years, he wonders whether it is just “belt-tightening” or setting a new environmental paradigm, whether it is “leading or following.”

Anabaptism provides a map in the post-Christendom wilderness

Feature | By By Gregory A. Boyd | May 03, 2010

It is becoming undeniably clear that western civilization has entered a post-Christian age.

Whereas Christians once believed the world would eventually be brought within the expanding empire of Christendom, it is now obvious this will never happen. To the contrary, Christendom has been losing its influence on western culture for several hundred years.

Exposing the ‘bare essentials’ of Anabaptism

Feature | By John Longhurst | May 03, 2010

Anabaptism has been around for almost 500 years. For much of that time, it has been clothed in Mennonite and Amish traditions and culture. But what does it look like without Mennonite and Amish clothing? That’s what Stuart Murray wondered. The result is The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials Of A Radical Faith (Herald Press).

For Murray, who helps direct the Anabaptist Network in Great Britain and Ireland, Anabaptism is a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs and inspires, summoning Christians to lives of discipleship and worship.

Join ‘Naked Anabaptists’ on Facebook

Feature | By By John Longhurst | May 03, 2010 | 1 comment

No, it’s not what you might be thinking—nobody is nude. At least, not literally, although more than 300 people have joined the Naked Anabaptist group on the Facebook social media site to metaphorically explore what it means to strip down to the bare essentials of the Anabaptist faith.

The new group was formed by Winnipeg Mennonite pastor and blogger Jamie Arpin Ricci, to discuss issues raised by Stuart Murray in The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith.

Chances are . . . you worship with a gambler

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Apr 19, 2010

They’re advertised on billboards, on radio and television. The kiosk in your local grocery store or shopping mall sells them. Your local charity wants you to buy one to help it out? Buy what, you ask. A lottery ticket, of course.

Or your daughter’s basketball team needs money for new jerseys? Just join the game pool.

Bored, perhaps? Check out live entertainment at the casino—and while you’re there drop some money into a video lottery terminal (VLT) or try your hand at blackjack.

Or if you really want to be discreet, check out

What do Mennonites do with gambling donations?

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Apr 19, 2010

Mennonite organizations tend to agree that gambling is wrong, but few policies are in place to respond to donations of gambling revenue. Perhaps this is because of a prevailing sense that such donations are rare or non-existent, and could be dealt with on a case by case basis if the need arises.

Caught between dice and a hard place

Feature | By By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 19, 2010 | 1 comment

I’ve never resisted selling chocolates or magazines for my children’s school, but this time was different. “Would you volunteer a few hours of your time at our casino fundraiser?” the letter asked. Only two nights of parent volunteers at a local casino and our school could earn about $40,000 towards computer equipment or playground upgrades.

For discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Apr 05, 2010

1. What have been some of the more effective and less effective ways that you have heard Scripture read during worship? What are the advantages and disadvantages of reading longer passages? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a wide variety of people in reading Scripture?

Making the Word in worship come alive

Worshippers at the Zion Church of the Messiah near Gabarone, Botswana, are asked to read Scripture “on the spot,” according to photographer Dan Dyck.

Feature | By By Christine Longhurst | Apr 05, 2010

How much of your worship service is spent reading and hearing Scripture? 10 percent? 15 percent? More? Less?

For discussion

Feature | Mar 22, 2010

1. How does your congregation commemorate the pain of the cross and celebrate the joy of Easter? What do you find most meaningful? Peter J. Dyck describes a papier-maché drama that he experienced in Poland. How would that drama be received at your church?

2. What things discourage us as we walk along the road of life? What are the things we “just can’t understand”? What are some ways that the Easter story brings light and hope to this “dark” path?

Victory through Christ

The late Peter J. Dyck

Feature | By By Peter J. Dyck | Mar 22, 2010

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”

(Paul, in I Corinthians 15:57).

Easter is the most joyous holiday on our calendar. Nature decorates the landscape with colourful flowers, birds sing and women display their new dresses. The cynics say it is only an annual spring fashion show.

On the road to Emmaus

“Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio (1601). National Gallery of London, England.

Feature | By By Udo Woelke | Mar 22, 2010

On that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about 11 kilometres from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.

For discussion

Feature | Mar 08, 2010

1. How are country churches different from city churches? Do you agree with Phil Wagler that country churches are more traditional? What are the advantages of living in the city or living in the country? What might make a large urban church more attractive than a small rural one?

2. Are rural Mennonite churches in your area suffering serious numerical decline? How has urbanization influenced your congregation? How far do people drive to attend your congregation? Where is your congregation on the spectrum of urban to rural?

Pastoring the flock out along the fenceline

Feature | By By Phil Wagler | Mar 08, 2010

There I was, the country-bumpkin pastor amidst all the really important people at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa. Such an event is quite the shindig for someone from the sticks. Being asked where you’re from and having to “get them there from here” is quite humorous. Most people gauge where you’re from based on proximity to a major urban centre. “Is that near Toronto?” “Oh, that’s close to Edmonton!” You get the picture.