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God at work in the Church

Summerbridge: Three detours in(to) ministry

Members of a walking neighbourhood tour of Winnipeg’s West End are given a surprise tour of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Aboriginal Catholic Parish. The tour was organized by Jim Cheng, Summerbridge participant and Home Street Mennonite Church member. (Photo by Matthew Veith)

God at work in the Church | By Matthew Veith | Oct 05, 2016

“Are you on a tour?”

Squinting in the summer sunlight, we glanced across the street as a man stepped out of his car. Guilty as charged. Our walking neighborhood tour, composed of members and friends of Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, had come to stop at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Aboriginal Catholic Parish on Ellice Avenue in the heart of the city’s West End.

“Would you like to see inside?”

Finding a way to be together

Amy Dueckman
God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Oct 05, 2016 | 1 comment

A month after a pastors-only meeting, Mennonite Church B.C. congregations are being invited to give their personal views on the national church’s Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution on same-sex marriage at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2016.

Waiting to return

Months after the fire, many residents have yet to return to Fort McMurray, Alta, some questioning whether they can go back. (Mennonite Disaster Service photo by Bethany Daman) 

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

The road ahead for the recovery of Fort McMurray, Alta.—devastated this spring by wildfires that forced the evacuation of 88,000 residents while consuming and scorching large swaths of residential areas—will be dictated somewhat by the reality of the local and provincial economy, but also by when and if people return to the city.

One couple’s perspective

Bergthal, Chin congregations meet for joint worship service

A small number of the joint Bergthal-Chin worship service on Aug. 28 in Calgary.

God at work in the Church | By Anna-Lisa Salo | Sep 21, 2016

Several members from the Bergthal Mennonite Church left their own place of worship in Didsbury, Alta., on Aug. 28, 2016, to join with their Chin brothers and sisters in worship at Calgary Chin Christian Church.

Recognizing the coming shift in the structure of Mennonite Church Canada, the members of Bergthal felt that it was important to extend the hand of fellowship beyond their own community, to those congregations that are relatively new and finding their place within MC Alberta.

Dormitory to create equal opportunity for women

Construction of a women’s dormitory for Meserete Kristos College, anticipated for completion by the end of April 2017, is expected to make it easier for women to attend the college and increase their participation in leadership roles within the church. (Photo courtesy of Darrell Jantzi)

God at work in the Church | By Deborah Froese | Sep 07, 2016

To ensure women receive the education and training they need to help build the body of Christ, Meserete Kristos College, a ministry of the Ethiopian Meserete Kristos Church, is building a women’s dormitory on its main campus in Debre Zeit.

Two-thirds of the required $1.37 million has been raised, and a generous Canadian couple are encouraging donations for the last third. They have agreed to match up to $200,000 in gifts and pledges committed to the project by Sept. 30 and payable by March 30, 2017.

The importance of ‘memory institutions’

The Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives in Winnipeg has an extensive collection of multi-media items. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Sep 07, 2016

Here is a question you do not hear every day: When was the last time you visited an archive? Not your email archive, a but a local bricks-and-mortar archive.

MDS builds at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp

Helping during the MDS Family Project at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp this summer are Wendy and Kyle Stirbet. The new lifeguard hut is visible in background. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Disaster Service Ontario)

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

Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Ontario started discussions with Dave Erb, executive director of Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, over a year ago, to explore the possibility of partnering on a “family project.” The goal was to provide a service opportunity for families with younger children in a safe multi-generational setting while building new structures at the camp.

SEED comes to an end

SEED program participants on their winter camping experience, from left to right: Dustin Siemens, Kimberly Hartman, Nigel Wismath, Tamaya Hamm, Melissa Brubacher and Geoff Gould, director of SEED. (Photo courtesy of Geoff Gould)

God at work in the Church | By Angelika Dawson | Aug 24, 2016

When Geoff Gould ponders his six years directing the SEED program at Camp Squeah, it is with mixed emotions: pride, joy, humility, gratitude. But there is also sadness. After much prayer, discussion and discernment, the decision was made in June to close SEED (Seeking to know God as your Father, Exploring yourself, Experiencing loving community, and allowing God to Develop your character as well as your gifts) after this year’s group had finished.

Marching to ‘Onward’ from ‘Zion’

The Rockway Mennonite Church ‘Ark’ is carried out of its former home in the now-sold Zion United Church building as the congregation marches ‘to Onward [Avenue] from Zion’ on June 26, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Aug 24, 2016

Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener has worshipped in rental properties for all of its 56-year existence. Until now.

On June 26, 2016, the congregation had its final regular service in the Zion United Church  building on Weber Street West. During the service, Ann Weber Becker added one more item to an “Ark” built by her husband Byron while at a congregational retreat in February: the chair used by the children’s storytellers in worship.

‘What begins in God goes back to God’

Kathy Reidt, representing the congregation, left, Pastor Walter Jantzen and Ryan Siemens, MC Saskatchewan’s area church minister of congregational and pastoral relations, lead worshippers in a litany of release and blessing at the closing service of Horse Lake Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Aug 10, 2016

It had probably been a while since Horse Lake Mennonite Church welcomed so many worshippers. Filling every pew, they gathered to celebrate the life of this small country church and to grieve its closing.

During the decommissioning service, held June 26, Pastor Walter Jantzen shared the church’s history.

Wideman Mennonite celebrates 200th anniversary

Hannah Taylor, left, Linda Ramer and Milissa Fortier stand beside an ‘open door’ welcoming guests to a barbecue and hymn sing that were part of Wideman Mennonite Church’s 200th-anniversary celebrations over the weekend of July 23 and 24, 2016. (Photo by Joanna Reesor-McDowell)

God at work in the Church | By Joanna Reesor-McDowell | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

Hundreds of friends from near and far attended Wideman Mennonite Church‘s 200th-anniversary celebrations over the July 23-24 weekend. It was a culmination of special activities over the past few months that helped members mark this significant milestone.

Beginning in January, a few minutes during each weekly worship service were devoted to sharing stories from the past. Monthly Sunday evening hymn sings started in April, with guest musicians and worship leaders returning to Wideman from other communities.

MFC hopes to expand ministry with name change

God at work in the Church | By Jess Huxman | Aug 10, 2016

Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) will change its name to Abundance Canada in October.

The decision to rebrand follows 18 months of market analysis, survey research, competitive analysis, and formal and informal discussions with stakeholders and the general public. The new name is an open invitation for generous Christians across Canada to use the services of Abundance Canada to support charities that impact and change lives.

The future of neo-Anabaptism

Paul Martens

God at work in the Church | By Henry Neufeld | Aug 10, 2016

“We are not living in the 16th century, and whatever is called Anabaptism today inevitably looks and sounds quite different,” said Paul Martens during a recent talk entitled “Neo-Anabaptism is dead: Long live neo-Anabaptism” at the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver. Hence “neo-Anabaptism” is a way of naming the connections between the past and present: a new way of understanding the past.

Martens, an associate professor of theology at Baylor University in Waco, Tex., is a native of Manitoba who studied at Providence College, Regent College and Notre Dame University.

‘Imagine’ a bright beginning

David Epp

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 28, 2016

“This is our first kick at the cat,” quips Rosthern Junior College (RJC) principal Jim Epp.

Nevertheless, he is confident his school’s new integrated learning program will be “a dynamic learning experience” for Grade 10 students. “Recognizing that pedagogy and student learning styles are different than they were, we’re offering an educational opportunity that’s different but still very consistent with the mission of our school,” he says.

The program, dubbed Imagine, will involve up to 26 students engaging in a multi-disciplinary learning program.

Returning to their roots

C. Schmidt—front row, second from left—and Henry W. Friesen—back row, right—were two of the founding members of the Mennonite Youth Farm. Friesen was a driving force behind Youth Farm Bible Camp for many years; his wife Helen—back row, second from right—continues to reside at the Youth Farm. (Photo courtesy of Youth Farm Bible Camp)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 15, 2016

The history of Youth Farm Bible Camp is, in no small sense, the history of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. In the early 1940s, the Mennonite Youth Society began holding retreats at the Dominion Experimental Farm, just south of Rosthern. Several individuals saw the neglected farm as an ideal site for the ministries of Saskatchewan Mennonites. Henry W. Friesen, Isaac Epp and J. C. Schmidt spent a full year in prayer to discern whether or not they should purchase the farm.

Hope Mennonite Fellowship withdraws from MC Saskatchewan

Hope Mennonite Fellowship of North Battleford, Sask., left the area church on April 30 over theological and same-sex issues. (Photo by Gerhard Luitjens)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 15, 2016

Hope Mennonite Fellowship withdrew its membership from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan effective April 30, 2016.

A hedge of protection

Virginia Froese

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jun 15, 2016

Forty Mennonite Church Manitoba clergy attended the area church’s biennial “Healthy boundaries” seminar, held this year at Carman Mennonite Church. Led this spring by clinical psychologist Lois Edmund, the conference is mandatory once every four years for all credentialled MC Manitoba pastors.

Topics covered at the seminars include “Boundaries defined and their importance in ministry,” “Healthy congregations and healthy pastors,” “Strategies to reduce pastoral misconduct,” and “MC Manitoba policy on professional misconduct,” among others.

In a 21st-century storm of change

Clockwise from front left, Stephen Cox, Oderay Peters, Marvin Shank and Sririsack Saythavy discuss the role of pastors in the 21st century on May 11 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 01, 2016

A seminar for pastors may have begun with marine imagery, but it was the cascade of effects that happened in Yellowstone National Park in the United States that caught the imagination of 30 pastors gathered at Conrad Grebel University College on May 11, 2016.

Betty Pries of Associates Resourcing the Church showed the YouTube video “How wolves change rivers,” which describes the theory that the reintroduction of wolves led to all kinds of changes, even of landforms, in the park.

Saskatchewan pastors wrestle with Scripture

Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church, Sask., describes his group’s interpretation of Jonah 3, while Josh Wallace of Warman Mennonite holds up the illustration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 01, 2016

“People assume that reading the Bible should be easy,” said Derek Suderman, adding, though, “That’s not the way the Bible works.” If they are to truly understand Scripture, they must be prepared to wrestle with it.

‘Learning how to listen is a journey’

Sister Care organizers, pictured left to right: Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener. (Photo by Lynn Lavalee)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jun 01, 2016

Mennonite Women Manitoba organized and hosted Winnipeg’s first-ever Sister Care seminar at Bethel Mennonite Chuch in mid-May, drawing women of all ages from multiple congregations.

Sister Care was developed and is now presented worldwide by Carolyn Heggen, a psychotherapist specializing in trauma recovery, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care’s director.

Vancouver pastor ordained

Lydia Cruttwell

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 01, 2016

Lydia Cruttwell, pastor of First United Mennonite Church in Vancouver, was ordained to the ministry on Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2016, in a joint worship service with First United Spanish Mennonite Church. Mennonite Church B.C. executive minister Garry Janzen conducted the ordination. Also present were former First United Mennonite pastors Helmut Isaak and Ingrid Schultz, and retired MC B.C. pastors Erwin Cornelsen, Sven Eriksson and Tim Kuepfer.

Finding God in my neighbourhood

Brian Quan, left, pastor of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church and MC Eastern Canada’s assistant moderator, gives a plant to Jonathan Abraham, centre, pastor of Shalom Worship and Healing Centre, to welcome it as an emerging congregation. Missions minister Brian Bauman, right, looks on. (Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 18, 2016

Stuart Murray, author of The Naked Anabaptist, encouraged Mennonite Church Eastern Canada delegates to become mobile temples, moving out of their buildings and into the neighbourhood to speak out the good news of God’s redeeming presence. At the annual church gathering held in Leamington on April 28 and 29, 2016, he encouraged the church to work with non-churched people, meeting the needs of the community, rather than building churches. Murray and Alex Ellish told stories about God at work in their neighbourhoods in Britain.

Wisdom in legacy

Surrounded by personal mementoes representing women of several generations, Ingrid Schultz speaks on the legacy of faith at the MC B.C. women’s Inspirational Day on April 30.

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 18, 2016

Recalling the legacies passed down through generations, women gathered on April 30, 2016, for the 77th annual Mennonite Church B.C. women’s Inspirational Day at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church.

With II Timothy 1:3-7 as her text, speaker Ingrid Schultz used the examples of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice, who both passed their faith on to him. Schultz is currently chaplain at Menno Place in Abbotsford and former pastor of First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver.

From the pews

The church at Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, Man. / ‘Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach’ by Robert Linsdell CC BY 2.0

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 04, 2016

For an hour each week we sit together. Most of us are mostly silent. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we sing, sometimes we wander off in thought. Sometimes I wonder what other people wonder about. What do they wish church would be? What do they really believe? What pains would they share? What recollections warm their souls? So I asked. I interviewed six people of various backgrounds and ages. Over time, I hope to ask the same questions of dozens more people.

Holding out hope for the post-Christendom church

The Caspian Trio, featuring Simone Friesen on violin, Godwin Friesen on piano, and Amos Friesen on cello, entertained guests at the Canadian Mennonite fundraising banquet held at Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church on April 23, 2016. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 04, 2016 | 2 comments

The Naked Anabaptist, by British author Stuart Murray, summarizes the foundational tenets of Anabaptism, but “I have a feeling it wouldn’t have sold quite as well with a different title,” he quipped.

Murray was speaking in Rosthern as part of a two-week tour thanking Mennonite Church Canada for sending Witness workers Michael and Cheryl Nimz to the United Kingdom. The Nimzes connect Anabaptists scattered throughout the U.K. and provide them with resources.