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God at work in the Church

B.C. pastor heads new Canadian Mennonite board

Henry Krause, pastor of Langley (B.C.) Mennonite Fellowship, was elected chair of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board at its 45th annual meeting, held at Rosthern Mennonite Church from April 21 to 23. He succeeds Tobi Thiessen of Toronto, who is going off the board after serving for six years as a CMPS board appointee.

B.C. paddle-a-thon: a successful tradition

Spectators give a warm welcome to the first canoe to arrive in Fort Langley at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon. Paddlers annually make the journey from Hope to Fort Langley to raise funds for the summer staff bursary fund. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 04, 2016

The number of people in the vessels may have been smaller this year, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end for the total earned at the 2016 Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon

When the canoes and kayaks arrived at the Fort Langley marina on April 17, 2016, the paddlers who had started out from Hope the morning before learned that they had helped raise $42,000 for the Camp Squeah summer staff bursary fund. The fund helps support college and university students who give of their time to work at Camp Squeah, Mennonite Church B.C.’s camp, for the summer months.

Staying alive amid new financial realities

Brent Zorgdrager, MSCU’s chief executive officer, says market surveys with non-Mennonite consumers with similar faith values as the Credit Union focussed on the ‘Mennonite’ name in 90 percent of the cases, leading to the realization that it was seen as a block to membership. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 20, 2016

It was the re-entry of the commercial banks into the agricultural lending sector that tipped the balance at Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU), prompting its leaders to believe that they had to do something sooner, rather than later, for the future success and survival of this 52-year-old southern Ontario institution.

Pizza lessons

God at work in the Church | By Brenda Tiessen-Wiens | Apr 20, 2016

John Biakte, left, Tha Kim and Nan Tin enjoy their first experience of making pizza dough on Feb. 13, 2016, with instruction from Karin Krahn, right. More than 20 people from Foothills Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alta.), Calgary Chin Christian Church and Calgary Chin Evangelical Fellowship got together for an afternoon of learning, laughter and applause over their baking creations, as ‘teachers’ from Foothills shared their favourite recipes and baking tips with ‘students’ from the Chin congregations. Chin participants are now looking forward to trying out their new skills at home.

Remembering Jesus’ Good Friday journey

An audience member nails his personal ‘blues’ to the cross at the Good Friday Blues service in Abbotsford, B.C. This meaningful activity is an integral part of the annual Easter event. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 06, 2016

It’s a Holy Week tradition by now in Abbotsford. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, a local bookstore/coffee shop is packed with an audience enthusiastic to hear blues music telling of Jesus’ journey to the cross. And it’s all for a good cause.

The Good Friday Blues Band, which forms each year only for this event, doesn’t earn a penny in profits for its members. Instead, all proceeds from ticket sales and contributions go to the Cyrus Centre, a shelter for homeless and at-risk youth in the Fraser Valley.

MC Alberta defers approval of Future Directions report

The Chin Church of Calgary shares about their growing congregation and leads the Mennonite Church Alberta assembly in enthusiastic singing to kick off the 2016 annual general meeting at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on March 18, 2016. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 06, 2016

“Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Chuck Neufeld’s confident voice set the tone for the 2016 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate assembly as he sang the theme words from Mark 4:50.

When the church listens

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Apr 06, 2016

A new half-hour documentary gives voice to lesbian/gay/ bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) people in Mennonite Church Canada congregations.

Listening Church, which weaves together interviews with 22 LGBTQ people from across the geographic and age spectrum, was produced at the request of MC Canada leadership and was financed by $5,000 from an anonymous donor. Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) freed professor Irma Fast Dueck to work on the project and MC Manitoba contributed some of Darryl Neustaedter Barg’s time.

Readers want CM to remain a print publication

God at work in the Church | By Barb Draper | Mar 23, 2016

Canadian Mennonite thanks everyone who took the time to fill out the reader survey distributed late in 2015. The responses were positive overall and showed that the magazine is generally well liked. Readers clearly prefer to read print, rather than online, and there is great resistance to the idea of making the magazine digital-only. Various comments indicated that many readers would also be happy to have an end to the sexuality debate.

Bound to disagree, freed to love

Marcus Kruger of Wildwood Mennonite Church, Saskatoon, describes something he experienced to Matt Derksen of Zion Mennonite Church, Swift Current. The listening exercise was part of a Listening and Discernment Committee workshop. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 23, 2016

Conflict within, uncertainties without. Perhaps it was because of these that planners of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions chose “Bound together, freed to serve” as their theme for the March 11 and 12, 2016, event.

Chains encircling a Bible provided a visual reminder of that theme as three speakers shared thoughts on Ephesians 4.

Alberta youth enjoy snow camps

Claire Dueck of Lethbridge, Alta., centre, tags Patrick Allen, left, also of Lethbridge, as Devlin Patrick of Edmonton dodges a tag during this year’s snow camps at Camp Valaqua. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Despite a warm winter, there was enough of the white stuff for youth from Mennonite churches across Alberta to call their annual winter retreats “snow camps.”

On the weekends of Jan. 15 to 17 and Feb. 26 to 28, 2016, junior- and senior-high youth, respectively, enjoyed fellowship, outdoor games and Bible study at Mennonite Church Alberta’s Camp Valaqua in Water Valley. The theme for the events was “As I am.”

The Bible says what?

Bryan Moyer Suderman, an itinerant Bible teacher from Stouffville, Ont., who is also widely known as an Anabaptist singer-songwriter, led Pastors Week sessions at this year’s event at AMBS entitled ‘The Bible says what?’ (AMBS photo)

In her opening address to this year’s Pastors Week event at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, held during the last week of January, Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, the school’s dean of lifelong learning, highlighted widespread confusion in the church today about what to do with the Bible, but implored listeners not to “put the Bible on the shelf.”

Do young people care about the future of the church?

Anika Reynar presents the vision of the Emerging Voices Initiative to the Mennonite Church Manitoba annual general meeting at Bethel Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, on March 5, 2016. (Photo by Beth Epp)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | Mar 23, 2016

Never let it be said that young people don’t care about the future of the church.

Late last year, Katrina Woelk, a sociology student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and a member of the student council, was having a conversation with some other students and members of the university administration about the challenges facing Mennonite Church Canada.

“We were asked, ‘Do you think students care?’ ” said Woelk. “We looked at each other and said, ‘I think so.’ ”

They were right.

Worship warms the human soul

A pastor holds an ice cube in worship, allowing it to melt in the warmth of her hand, just as human souls are warmed and melt in the corporate worship of God. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 09, 2016 | 1 comment

Christine Longhurst believes that the style of worship and its elements—songs, music, liturgy, readings, sermons, sharing and prayer—is of least importance for congregations, pastors and worship planners.

Longhurst, who teaches at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg and leads workshops and weekend seminars on worship in churches across Canada, told participants at this year’s Mennonite Church Eastern Canada School for Ministers, that of first importance is whether worship is focussed on God. Do the elements help people to know and experience that God is present?

God-Faith-People

The logo for Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016 reminds us that ‘faith’ is our connection between ‘God’ and the ‘people’ (Jeremiah 31:33). The dove of peace is our common symbol across MC Canada and of the peacebuilding work to which we are called. The segmented globe reveals the cross at the centre. The hands reaching to each other symbolize how God yearns for his people to love, support and join one another in the redeeming work of Christ. The colours reflect the harmony we seek in the midst of our diversity.

God at work in the Church | By Deborah Froese | Mar 09, 2016

This summer, our church family will celebrate being a covenant people at Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016, God-Faith-People in downtown Saskatoon from July 6 to 10.

Assembly 2016 consists of two programs: the general assembly and another for youth, with several opportunities for integration between the two. Both are shaped around a paraphrased text from Jeremiah 31:33: “This is the covenant . . . I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Keeping up with #thecovenantcrew

The planning committee for Youth Assembly 2016, God-Faith-People—aka #thecovenantcrew, meet at Shekinah Retreat Centre, about 50 kilometres north of Saskatoon and the location for a Friday evening event. Pictured from left to right: Kirsten Hamm-Epp, Val White, Sarah Unrau and Katie Wiebe. (MC Canada photo)

God at work in the Church | By Deborah Froese | Mar 09, 2016

UPDATE: Youth Assembly 2016 has been cancelled, due to a shortfall in the number of registrations. See here for more information. 

MC B.C. considers call to missional engagement

Concluding the annual Mennonite Church B.C. sessions, Pastor Rob Ayer of Crossroads Community Church, Chilliwack, left, leads the group in a prayer session for leaders and staff of MC B.C. and MC Canada. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 09, 2016

Reconciliation and relationships were the theme when Mennonite Church B.C. representatives met for their annual sessions late last month. The theme of “Leadership in a broken world: Walking in God’s mission of reconciliation” carried through the weekend, beginning with recognition that the meeting place of Level Ground Mennonite Church sits on Coast Salish territory, a gesture of respect to the hosting indigenous people.

What makes a quilt Amish?

Bruce Bechtel, left, Janneken Smucker, Debbie Shapansky and interim academic dean Marlene Epp pose after Smucker’s 2016 Bechtel Lectures at Conrad Grebel University College on Feb. 5. Bechtel and Shapansky are the children of Lester Bechtel, who has supported the lecture series from its inception 16 years ago. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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

What makes a quilt Amish?  Does it have to be “quilted by a group of Amish women sitting around the frame in their sitting room?” Or does it have to have an Amish pattern, like the Amish Wedding pattern created and popularized by Rachel Pellman of the Old Country Store in Lancaster, Pa? Is appliqué or pieced the appropriate technique?

Edmonton church becomes inclusive, affirming

God at work in the Church | Feb 24, 2016 | 1 comment

On Feb. 7, 2016, Edmonton’s First Mennonite Church voted to become an inclusive and affirming Christian community.

Two motions, one stating that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer people are welcome to become full and equal members of the church, and another to approve the statement: “God calls us to be an inclusive, affirming, Christian community,” were originally put forward at the 2015 annual general meeting.

Future Directions: Myths and message

God at work in the Church | By Future Directions Task Force | Feb 10, 2016

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. . . Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. —poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke

Mennonite Heritage Museum opens in B.C.

Cutting the ribbon to open the new Mennonite Heritage Museum are, from left: Richard Thiessen, executive director of the museum; Peter Redekop, president of the Mennonite Museum Society; and Christy Clark, premier of B.C.  Mennonites in B.C. now have a central place to learn about and research the origins of their faith and family. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 10, 2016 | 1 comment

The dream of a heritage museum for B.C. Mennonites to tell their story became reality Jan. 22, 2016, when hundreds, including B.C. Premier Christy Clark, gathered for the grand opening of the Mennonite Heritage Museum (MHM) in Abbotsford.

Hearing stories dispels fear

Glad for an opportunity to relax after a week of exams, Saskatchewan youth listen to Cory Funk’s presentation at this year’s SMYO senior high retreat. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

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

Retreats present opportunities for building relationships and hearing one another’s stories. Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s senior high retreat, held January 29 to 30, 2016, at Shekinah Retreat Centre, was just such a retreat.

Evangelical Anabaptist Network generates hope and frustration

Left to right: Ryan Jantzi, pastor of the Kingsfield-Zurich Mennonite Church, John Troyer of EVANA, Ron Weber from the Listowel Mennonite Church, and Dianne Roeder from Calvary Church, an MCEC congregation in Ayr, visit during a break at the EVANA workshop at Maple View Mennonite Church on Jan. 22, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 10, 2016 | 2 comments

On January 22 to 23, 2016, Maple View Mennonite Church, with its pastor Brent Kipfer, sponsored the first Canadian workshop of the Evangelical Anabaptist Network (EVANA). Located west of Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont., the church is a member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC).

Do church and journalism mix?

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Jan 27, 2016 | 1 comment

Journalism is a tense and often misunderstood business, especially within the church. Readers get riled, interviewees feel gypped, church leaders squirm. But in many ways the tension is the essence.

I distinguish between “newsletterism”: straight up churchy news with no probing of deeper layers (“Relief sale has record year”); devotional articles (“How relief volunteering deepened my walk with God”); opinion articles (“Why I think relief sales need to be reinvented”); and journalism (“Experts debate pros and cons of relief sales”). The latter is the diciest.

No dust gathering here!

Ralph Dahl and Ted Regehr are pictured in the vault at the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Archives in Calgary. The temperature- and humidity-controlled room with the light blue boxes is jokingly referred to as ‘heaven’ by the Archives’ volunteers. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 27, 2016

Hearing the word “archives” may conjure sneeze-worthy stereotypes. However, a visit to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Archives in Calgary quickly dispels any dusty images.

A crowd of lively volunteers surrounded by history laugh around the lunch table, sharing discoveries made during their weekly volunteer stint to preserve the history of Mennonites in Alberta.

Another necessary conversation: Mental illness and addictions

Wilf Yantzi, an elder from the Poole Mennonite Church, left, makes a point to Brice Balmer, one of the presenters at ‘Mental wellness,’ the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders event held at Steinmann Mennonite Church, Baden, Ont., on Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jan 27, 2016

Helping those in lay and paid pastoral care roles better minister to their congregations, some of whom deal with issues of mental illness and addictions, was the goal of “Mental wellness,” Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders event held Jan. 16, 2016, at Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden.

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