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Volume 21 Issue 21

Cover Date: November 6, 2017
Volume 21, Number 21 (PDF available in 45 days)

Something old and new

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 01, 2017

On the weekend of Oct. 13 to 15, Mennonite church delegates and others took part in Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg. More than 400 of us gathered from across the country to consider the direction we, as Mennonite Church Canada, should take in the years to come.

‘Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory’

Batik artwork by Nina Bailey-Dick, from a 2015 Eternity Sunday display at Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont.

Feature | By John D. Rempel | Nov 01, 2017

Wherever Jesus goes, we see God’s kingdom descending from heaven to earth. Wherever Jesus appears, God’s loving power takes hold. A hemorrhaging woman is healed of her infirmity; a rich man gives away half his wealth. In Jesus’ healing, teaching, dying and rising, God is rescuing the world; the mending of creation has begun. Yet paradise has not yet been restored. Having had a foretaste of its healing makes it all the harder to live with the aftertaste of its brokenness.

Readers write: Nov. 6, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 01, 2017

Manitoba church celebrates pastoral couple’s retirement
Carman Mennonite Church celebrated a retirement party on Aug. 27, in honour of Bob and Martha Pauls, who had served our church for 17 years.

The morning service was a more private event, during which we were encouraged to let our tears flow, and we did. The afternoon was more open, and many visitors attended from other churches, especially from Bob’s former congregation, Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

Relationships, screen free

Makai Barkman smiles for the camera on his first day of Kindergarten in Metro Manila, the Philippines. (Photo by Christina Bartel Barkman)

Viewpoints | By Christina Bartel Barkman | Nov 01, 2017

Last week, Makai started Kindergarten at the same school in Metro Manilla as his older brother, Cody, who is now in his second year. Although we are very happy with the school—and Cody loves it—a complaint arose for me within Makai’s first three days, after his teacher played a television show during the 30-minute recess as students ate their snacks.

A country boy in the ‘new city of God’

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Nov 01, 2017

I wasn’t too sure about this idea of moving into a city. It didn’t seem much like the utopia I dreamed of.

I’m a country kid. I grew up on a farm, where we had room to roam. Baseball games and kick-the-can could be played in our yard. Gorgeous sunsets could be seen regularly from our dining room table. While I did enjoy my three-year foray into the city, I was quite pleased to return to rural life. I prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Injera: a symbol of community

Ardith Frey, right, offers a snack to Fouzia’s three-year-old son, circa 1982. (Photo courtesy of Ardith Frey)

Viewpoints | By Ardith Frey | Nov 01, 2017

There is no other food from our years in Africa that symbolizes community quite like injera, a type of flatbread.

Tsar Nicholas II

Photo courtesy of Sarah Dyck, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Nov 01, 2017

Tsar Nicholas II, seated on a chair at centre of this photograph, is surrounded by patients, Red Cross workers and other staff at a hospital for wounded men in Ekaterinoslav, South Russia. Abraham Dick, a Mennonite non-combatant serving in the medical corps, was present that day. He carried this photograph with him when he emigrated to Ontario in 1924. This was probably one of the last public occasions for the Tsar, who was deposed in March 1917. Knowing what was soon to happen in Russia, how does this picture make you feel?

Grandma, please tell me a story

Waltrude Gortzen, pictured with some of her precious family photo albums, represents the B.C. women’s ministry on the Mennonite Women Canada board. (Photo courtesy of Waltrude Gortzen)

Viewpoints | By Waltrude Gortzen | Nov 01, 2017

Do you remember any of the stories your grandma told you when you were little? I’m not referring to Bible stories, fairytales or super-hero stories, but stories about her life or the lives of other family members? Stories of memories about days gone by.

Delegates affirm Covenant and Operating Agreement

Regional Church moderators signed the Covenant and Operating Agreement that form the newly structured Mennonite Church Canada on Oct. 15, in Winnipeg. Pictured from left to right, seated: Ken Warkentin of MC Saskatchewan; Paul Wideman of MC Eastern Canada; Lee Dyck of MC B.C.; Paul Neufeldt of MC Alberta; and Peter Rempel of MC Manitoba; and standing: MC Canada moderator Calvin Quan. (MC Canada photo by Coreena Stewart)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Dan Dyck | Nov 01, 2017

A Covenant and Operating Agreement describing the intent of both the spirit and function of the new relationships among the five regional churches (formerly area churches) comprising Mennonite Church Canada were affirmed in principle after robust discussion by delegates on Oct. 14 at Special Assembly 2017.

Lee Dyck, moderator of Mennonite Church B.C., introduced the documents, noting that they reaffirm the 20-year-old Vision, Healing and Hope statement. “We’re promising to be together for the long haul,” she said.  

All International Witness workers being recalled next June

Gordon Janzen, centre, an outgoing director with MC Canada’s former Witness program, speaks during a focus group discussion. (Canadian Mennonite photo by Aaron Epp)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Dan Dyck | Nov 01, 2017

To say that the ins and outs of International Witness ministry are complex would be an understatement.

It could take an entire study conference to explore a theology of mission as it relates to congregations, regional churches and the nationwide church as a united body.

Is it a financial plan or a budget?

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Dan Dyck | Nov 01, 2017

The terms “financial plan” and “budget” were used somewhat interchangeably in reference to a spreadsheet in the Discernment Guide Supplement outlining how Mennonite Church Canada will be funded following the restructuring taking place after Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg last month. Now, only regional churches (formerly area churches)—not congregations—will be members of the nationwide church (formerly national church).

What is the Spirit writing on our hearts?

Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Johise Namwira and Vernelle Enns Penner lead delegates in singing at Sunday morning’s worship service. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Deborah Froese | Nov 01, 2017

“We don’t all see things through the same lenses. We don’t all agree on every little or big thing, but we are loved by you, and we love.”

That prayerful acknowledgement of diversity and unity as God’s community by Vernelle Enns Penner opened Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 on the evening of Oct. 13 at the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg. 

Throughout the weekend, segments of worship integrated with business discussions, nudging participants to consider what the Spirit is writing on their hearts (II Corinthians 3:1-6). 

Communicating priorities

Artwork by Mennonite Church Canada

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Donna Schulz | Nov 01, 2017

Mennonite Church Canada is changing and the need for communication has never been greater. This seemed to be the consensus at the Communications Focus Group discussion held during MC Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 on Oct. 14, 2017.

How will the nationwide church communicate with its regional member churches? And how will regional churches, in turn, communicate with congregations? What role does Canadian Mennonite play in this important work? These were some of the questions participants asked and responded to during the course of the discussion.

Serving Mennonite Church Canada

Donna Schulz
Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Donna Schulz | Nov 01, 2017

While some delegates at Special Assembly 2017 looked forward to the nationwide church restructuring process, others mourned the loss of what has been an important part of their church life.

At this juncture in Mennonite Church Canada’s history, it seems appropriate to reflect on the church’s work and the impact that work has had on the lives of MC Canada’s people across the country:

When you’re a small regional church

Ruth Friesen

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Nov 01, 2017

Ruth Friesen of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, says her congregation has always had a strong connection to the Mennonite Church Canada national office in Winnipeg and the worship and education resources that came from there. Individuals from the congregation were involved in the larger national efforts, and they kept members informed about what was happening beyond their doors.

‘We want these connections to continue’

Activities for youth at assembly included meeting for lunch with Willard Metzger, executive minister of MC Canada, top left corner. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Nov 01, 2017

On a mid-October weekend, 13 youth from across Canada weren’t on the field playing soccer, at their desks studying or settling in with Netflix. Instead, they were helping decide the future of Mennonite Church Canada.

Ready to take the next step

Madeleine Wichert (Photo courtesy of Aaron Epp)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Aaron Epp | Nov 01, 2017

Madeleine Wichert, 23

When she missed the deadline to register for Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017, Madeleine Wichert found another way to get in the door—as a volunteer.

“I was originally a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to be a delegate . . . but I’m really enjoying being a volunteer,” she said as she helped usher assembly participants through the supper line on Oct. 14.

Funny GIFs and heartfelt expressions

‘You do it to connect with people who aren’t at your table [and] you do it for the diaspora of people who aren’t here,’ Kyle Penner said of his decision to tweet at assembly. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Aaron Epp | Nov 01, 2017

Once an avid Twitter user, Steph Chandler Burns almost never uses the social networking site anymore. That changed, however, when she attended Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Delegate Assembly in Winnipeg Oct. 13-15, 2017.

Chandler Burns, interim pastor at Bloomingdale Mennonite Church in Bloomingdale, Ont., was one of more than 15 delegates who were tweeting throughout the assembly, using the hashtag #mcassembly2017 to share their thoughts online.

Community: ‘The easiest way to live the Christian life’

Chan Yang, Sue Kim and Caleb Yang provide an insight into their communal living arrangement during a recent service at Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Henry Neufeld | Nov 01, 2017 | 1 comment

After 11 Koreans—two families plus two teenagers—began attending Point Grey in late 2016, interest in their intentional communal living was piqued. The 11, ranging in age from 11 to middle age, live in one home in Vancouver. They share meals, household tasks, money (one adult handles the finances), and all major decisions. They operate several home-based businesses, mostly of a high-tech nature, along with book publishing.

A hundred years of helping others

Founding directors of the Mennonite Union Waisenamt represented three Mennonite conferences. To learn more, visit (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Trust Ltd.)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 01, 2017

For many Saskatchewan Mennonites, the name Mennonite Trust is synonymous with wills and estate planning, but executive director Cory Regier is quick to point out that the company has not forgotten why it was founded a century ago.

Pastoral, vocational transitions in Alberta

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Nov 01, 2017
  • Donna Dinsmore began a one-year term as interim pastor of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, on Oct. 1, 2017. Dinsmore is an ordained United Church minister who has served in various congregations. Most recently she was in Bella Coola, B.C., ministering to Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Dinsmore has a master’s degree in Christian studies from Regent College in Vancouver, as well as a master’s degree in music education.

It’s all about trust

‘God is at work,’ said Willard Metzger, executive minister of MC Canada, at the end of his sermon on Oct. 15. ‘The Spirit of God is active. Therein lies our competence. Therein lies our confidence.’ (Canadian Mennonite photo by Aaron Epp)

Back Page | By Deborah Froese | Nov 01, 2017

“What are the dreams that have been placed in us? What has God whispered in our ears? How has God invaded our thoughts?” asked Willard Metzger, Mennonite Canada’s executive minister (formerly executive director). Thus began his final address on Oct. 15 to those who gathered for Special Assembly 2017.

Staff transitions at MC Canada in the wake of Special Assembly 2017

Decisions made at Special Assembly 2017 have resulted in staff reductions at Mennonite Church Canada and program realignment to regional churches serving congregations. (See “Overwhelming vote in favour of new MC Canada structure.”

Overwhelming vote in favour of new MC Canada structure

Delegates voted 94 percent in favour of a new structure for MC Canada. (Canadian Mennonite photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Special Assembly 2017 | By Dan Dyck | Oct 19, 2017 | 2 comments

Delegates voted 94 percent in favour of taking Mennonite Church Canada’s existing structures off of life support equipment designed for a society and church culture from a prior century.