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God at work in the Church

Pastoral transitions in Ontario

Dave Rogalsky
God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 08, 2017

• Hans Peters began as the minister of Milverton Mennonite Fellowship on Jan. 1. He spent the past seven years at Jane Finch Faith Community Church in Toronto as pastor. During that time he took Jane Finch from a “service ministry doing work in the community, to a church doing work in the community.” That church is now being led by three young adults from the congregation.

EVI listening tour roundup

Clockwise from left: Sara Erb, Steph Chandler Burns, Kathy Janzen, Ed Janzen and Chris Brnjas consider the questions posed at the second Emerging Voices Initiative listening tour event on Nov. 11, 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | Jan 25, 2017 | 2 comments

Over the past three months, the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) conducted a cross-country listening tour, endeavouring to gauge the mood of Mennonite Church Canada congregants on what should happen next with the national church following the presentation of the Future Directions Task Force recommendations at last summer’s assembly in Saskatoon and the creation of a transition process to redefine the area and national churches.

Alberta names new area church pastor

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld has been hired as the new Mennonite Church Alberta area church pastor. Starting in February, he will combine this half-time position with a quarter-time role as Future Directions coordinator for the area church. As area church pastor, he will serve administrative roles relating to ordination and licensing, provide coaching and leadership support to pastors, and serve as a key link between the area church executive and congregations. He completed undergraduate degrees at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg (theology) and the University of Waterloo, Ont.

​‘Let him speak’

Beth Downey Sawatzky
God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jan 25, 2017

An Mennonite Church Manitoba meeting at Fort Garry Mennonite Church took a confrontational turn on Jan. 12, 2017, opening the floodgates of debate on just what it means for local congregations to “create space” for one another based on the Being the Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution passed at last summer’s general assembly in Saskatoon.

To distinguish the conversation at hand from any previous theological debates on same-sex unions, moderator Peter Rempel outlined three core areas for discussion:

No longer alone

Ottawa Mennonite Church is located at 1830 Kilborn Avenue in the nation’s capital. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jan 11, 2017 | 2 comments

In past years, there were only two Anabaptist congregations in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, one Mennonite Brethren and the other, Ottawa Mennonite Church, a member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.

But there has been an explosion of congregations of late: two new Mennonite Brethren associate congregations; a Brethren in Christ satellite of Oakville’s Meeting House; and four more MC Eastern Canada congregations: Church of the Living Word and Oromo Evangelical Church (both Ethiopian), Chin Christian Church, and Village International Mennonite Church.

Engraved on the heart of God

With the moon still peeking over the mountains and the stars twinkling in the clear sky, more than 60 people gathered together in the wee hours of Christmas morning at the Epp family farm in Yarrow, B.C., to celebrate Christmas with a sunrise service. (Photo by Angelika Dawson)

God at work in the Church | By Angelika Dawson | Jan 11, 2017 | 1 comment

With the moon still peeking over the mountains and the stars twinkling in the clear sky, more than 60 people gathered together in the wee hours of Christmas morning at the Epp family farm in Yarrow to celebrate Christmas with a sunrise service.

The service, entitled “While by my sheep,” was written by Heidi Epp, and included singing, monologues, Scripture reading and fireworks. Epp was very intentional about having the service outdoors and at sunrise.

Painting for community

Teens from Kelsey Nowaczynski’s art classes at Edmonton’s Dan Knott Jr. High School painted a mountain scene mural on the walls of a therapy room at Southview Child Care, which is owned and operated by Edmonton First Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Dec 21, 2016

In an ironic coincidence, ugly graffiti was sprayed on the outside wall of Edmonton First Mennonite Church the same day that teenagers from a local junior-high school painted a beautiful mural on walls inside the church late last year.

From behind the Iron Curtain

Those attending the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C. sing German hymns together. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Dec 21, 2016

Tales of families separated through war and later reunited through letters 60 years ago were featured at the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C.’s fall fundraiser. The program, held at King Road Mennonite Brethren Church in Abbotsford on Nov. 13, 2016, was entitled “A small sign of life and love: Letters from the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev Thaw, 1956.”

New Ethiopian church emerges in Ottawa

Wondimu Senbeto, left, chair of the Oromo Evangelical Church of Ottawa’s elders group, and Teso Felmina, vice-chair. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 21, 2016

The Oromo Christian Fellowship, which was established in 2004 and changed its name to Oromo Evangelical Church of Ottawa in 2010, has applied for emerging church status in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and expects to be received into fellowship in April.

Future Directions: Take Two

Pictured from left to right, the Interim Council is composed of: Keith Regehr, transition coordinator; Aldred Neufeldt, vice-moderator of MC Canada; Paul Wideman, MC Eastern Canada moderator; Willard Metzger, MC Canada executive director; Dan Jack, MC Alberta moderator; Calvin Quan, MC Canada moderator; Ken Warkentin, MC Saskatchewan moderator; Peter Rempel, MC Manitoba moderator; and Lee Dyck, MC B.C. moderator. (Interim Council photo)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Dec 07, 2016

Faced with a funding crisis, sliding attendance and shifting cultural contexts, the response of Mennonite Church Canada and the five area churches has been a five-year process of restructuring denominational offices.

Peter Rempel—moderator of Mennonite Church Manitoba and a veteran of other restructuring processes—says pastors tell him that 90 percent of people in the pews are disinterested in the process.

Future Directions process accelerated

Coreena Stewart, MC Canada’s chief administrative officer, left; Alissa Bender, pastor of Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church; and Calvin Quan, MC Canada moderator, visit before a pastors supper during the MC Canada fall leadership assembly held at Toronto United Mennonite Church on Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 07, 2016

“The timeline [for the Future Directions plan] from Saskatoon did not reflect what was possible,” Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, told the denomination’s fall leadership assembly in Toronto on Nov. 10, 2016.

‘When all you have is a hammer . . .’

Tom Yoder Neufeld, left, a retired Conrad Grebel University College professor, and Renate Klaassen from St. Catharines United Mennonite Church, centre, interact with Carol Penner after her presentation at Grebel’s annual pastors breakfast. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 07, 2016

Carol Penner went into ministry to be a “humble tool in God’s tool box—to preach, go to meetings and love people,” like the hammer she brought to the lectern  with her. “But,” she said during her address to the annual Conrad Grebel University College pastors breakfast on Nov. 1, 2016, “the church is in a different space now.”

Extending the table

Mesfin Woldearegay, pastor of Bethel Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Kitchener, Ont., leads his congregation in worship at Central Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons. The congregation worships in Amharic, a Semitic language from East Africa. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Nov 16, 2016

English is still the dominant language in Mennonite Church Canada as a whole, but worship also happens every Sunday in Cantonese, Lao, Tigrinya, Oromo and 14 other languages. Unfortunately, links between Euro-Canadian Mennonites and Mennonites of other backgrounds remain limited.

From refugees to refuge

Lucy Roca, pastor and planter of Refuge de Paix in Sherbrooke, Que., receives her diploma for completing the Anabaptist Learning Workshop from Henry Paetkau, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s area church minister, at the congregation’s 10th-anniversary celebration on Oct. 14, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 16, 2016

As Lucy Roca was leaving Colombia for her safety and that of her family 12 years ago, the Colombian national church commissioned her to establish Spanish-speaking congregations in Canada in coordination with Mennonite Church Canada. Landing in Sherbrooke, Que., she set to work immediately. Now there is a thriving 10-year-old congregation there, which has spawned seven other congregations from Montreal to Quebec City.

New home for an old church

Although there is still much work to do, the New Church building, the original home of Rosthern Mennonite Church, sits on its new foundation beside the Mennonite Heritage Museum, the original home of Rosthern Junior College. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

The little church that was home to the New Church Society of Rosthern for more than a century has a new home beside the Mennonite Heritage Museum on the Rosthern Junior College (RJC) campus.

It was built around 1905 by Rosthern Mennonite Church, but the congregation quickly outgrew the building, so around 1912 it was sold to the New Church, a small Swedenborgian congregation under the leadership of Gerhard Enns.

Living the good news in many ways

Claire Ewert Fisher, standing, interim pastor of Grace Mennonite in Prince Albert, Sask., and one of the MC Saskatchewan Equipping Day organizers, offers gifts of tobacco to elders of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation during a workshop entitled ‘So you’re going to a powwow—now what?’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

With titles such as “Don’t be a culture monkey” and “I saw an orange glow on the horizon,” participants at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual Equipping Day had a difficult time choosing which workshops to attend. And with 11 workshops on offer in three time slots, there was much to choose from.

MC B.C. divided on BFC7

Gerd Bartel of Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, left, John Klassen of Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver, and Betty Loewen of Langley Mennonite Fellowship discuss possible paths forward as Mennonite Church B.C. deals with disagreement concerning MC Canada’s passage of the Being a Faithful Church 7 resolution affirming same-sex marriage. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 02, 2016

“Who is MC B.C.? What kind of family are we and what kind of family do we want to be?”

These questions were posed by Garry Janzen, executive minister of Mennonite Church British Columbia (MC B.C.), to a gathering of 200 billed as “Hearing each other with regard to the BFC [Being a Faithful Church] 7 decision in Saskatoon,” held at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford on Oct. 22, 2016. (See “Delegates vote to allow space for differences,” on the decision at Assembly 2016.)

Donna Entz has ‘a lot of sun in her bones’

Donna Entz is pictured with her award from A Common Word in Edmonton. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Nov 02, 2016

Donna Entz, an outreach worker for Mennonite Church Alberta, has many friends in the North Edmonton communities in which she lives and works.

Manna Ali, a member of the Somali community, is among them. She told a gathering at First Mennonite Church on Sept. 23, 2016, to celebrate MC Alberta’s North Edmonton ministry, that Entz started English-as-a-second-language classes and a community league, organized a Somali seniors group, and helped children with homework.

‘Social media: The good, the bad and the beautiful’

Paul Heidebrecht, left, the director of Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College, discusses David Balzer’s presentation on social media with him during Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Spiritual Emphasis Week on Sept. 28, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 02, 2016

Selfies just might be God’s idea. Remember, you are smarter than your smartphone. What if virtue went viral?

With these three ideas front and centre, David Balzer, assistant professor of communications and media at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, spoke to multiple audiences of students, faculty, staff and parents on the topic of “Social media: The good, the bad and the beautiful” during Spiritual Emphasis Week earlier this fall at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener.

Faith formation for leaders today

This visual image of lilies on water drew Deep Faith conference participants into worship each day. (Photo by Walt Wiltschek)

God at work in the Church | By Virginia Gerbrandt Richert | Nov 02, 2016

Spending half of Canadian Thanksgiving in the U.S. away from my family is not how I usually like to plan things. But this past summer as I was thinking through my fall schedule, the speakers and themes from the Deep Faith conference that was being planned at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., kept coming back to me and drawing me in. And I’m glad I went.

New moderator brings ‘non-anxious presence’

Calvin Quan

As a busy professional engineer and a young father, Calvin Quan’s days are full, yet he is ready and willing to serve as Mennonite Church Canada’s new moderator. Where does he find the time and energy for national church leadership during a season of uncertainty and change?

“God provides in unexpected ways,” says Quan. “I’ve seen God working most when I recognize I’m not in control, those times I’ve had to take risks and go places that I wouldn’t otherwise go. It’s a recurrent theme for me.”

Taking a chance on Menno-poly

Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Oct 19, 2016

With special “Menno-poly” Chance cards, five different Monopoly boards scattered throughout Saskatoon and fun team challenges, the Mega Menno Monopoly Rally kick-off got groups excited for another year of youth events in Saskatchewan. The event took place on Sept. 9, 2016, at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, with about 40 youth and sponsors from eight different congregations participating. After a fairly epic game of musical chairs, teams were off to find the Pokémon-, Star Wars-, Saskatoon-, Red Green- and Simpsons-themed boards, each located at a different house.

Regehr named Future Directions transition director

Keith Regehr

Keith Regehr, a managing partner working in the field of conflict resolution and restorative justice for the L3 Group in Kitchener, Ont., formerly known as Associates Resourcing Churches, has been named the new transition director for Mennonite Church Canada, according to a new website of the national church’s Future Directions Task Force.

Yee resigns pastoral role

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Oct 19, 2016 | 1 comment

Kuen Yee, pastor of English ministries at Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church, has resigned her three-quarter-time position effective Oct. 31, 2016. Yee is Chinese and has an Alliance Church background. In September 2012, she began serving as the pastor of English ministries with Vietnamese Mennonites. She formerly served as a lay pastor at Edmonton Chinese Alliance Church. She has also resigned as Mennonite Church Alberta’s representative on the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service board.

Camp Koinonia 50th anniversary snapshots

Mennonite Church Manitoba photo 

Molly Schaeffer, standing rear, one of this summer’s resident managers, acts as emcee for Camp Koinonia’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Oct. 2, 2016. Close to 150 people gathered for the event, which included camp activities like wall climbing, ziplining, canoeing and pontoon boat rides that were supplemented by tours and cinnamon buns in the afternoon. (Mennonite Church Manitoba photo)