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God at work in the Church

MWC assembly was an amazing experience

Prabidhi Pandey worked on the Mennonite Disaster Service project while at MWC assembly. She is a 14-year-old from Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Prabidhi Pandey)

God at work in the Church | By Prabidhi Pandey | Aug 26, 2015

All the youth name tags at Mennonite World Conference assembly in Harrisburg, Pa., had “#J178” on them. Nobody gave much thought to it until 600 youth from around the world were gathered in a 24-acre space under the arena in the morning while the adults listened to the sermon in one of two daily worship services.

Historians address Nazi influence on Mennonites

Ben Goossen shows the photo, “Heinrich Himmler in Molotschna, 1942,” during his workshop, “From Aryanism to Multiculturalism: Mennonite Ethnicity and German Nationalism, 1871 to Today.” (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

God at work in the Church | By Tim Huber | Aug 26, 2015 | 5 comments

A chapter of 20th-century German Mennonite history that has been predominantly glossed over, received attention in back-to-back workshops by historians on July 22 at the Mennonite World Conference assembly.

Ben Goossen of Cambridge, Mass., spent six years studying Mennonite identity and German nationalism. Using archival material in North America and Europe, the doctoral student at Harvard University says the rise in Mennonite ethnic identity was built on and supported the rise of Aryanism and the Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) movement.

Churches support Freedom Road

First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg doesn’t have a church sign with moveable letters, so they got creative in voicing their support for Freedom Road. (Photo by David Driedger)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | Aug 26, 2015

A campaign of church signs supported by Juno-award-winning musician Steve Bell is calling on the federal government to address the longstanding injustice of Winnipeg’s water system.

In August 2015 Bell joined the chorus of voices asking the federal government to do its part in building a road that would connect the isolated community of Shoal Lake 40 with the Trans-Canada Highway.

Lenore Mendes at Mennonite World Conference, 1990

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Aug 12, 2015

Lenore Mendes of Guatemala addresses Mennonite World Conference 12 in Winnipeg in 1990. She thought she would be speaking to a few hundred people, but was surprised to see thousands. The Winnipeg gathering was the biggest to date with 13,000 registrants.  Her sermon in Winnipeg was an important stepping stone to her election to the Executive Committee of MWC. It was the first time a Central American woman would represent Latin America in the MWC Executive Committee.

Slowing church down

Through July and August, The Commons, a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregation in Hamilton, Ont., has been meeting in Beasley Park on Sundays at 6 p.m.

God at work in the Church | By Randell Neudorf | Aug 12, 2015

The Commons is starting to slow down. No, we are not retiring as a church, we just think it is time for a little different pace. The plan is to switch things up in the fall for our Sunday worship gatherings. We plan to use our gathering time to dig a little deeper into liturgy, spiritual practices, hospitality, old traditions and new creative expressions. To do this we are going to have to slow down a little.

On the way to Sängerfest, 1934

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Jul 22, 2015

A group of 18 young men and women travel in the back of a truck on their way a Sängerfest or song festival in the Didsbury, Alberta, area in 1934. No seatbelts used here! Song festivals were popular in Mennonite circles as a way of gathering to see old friends, enjoy singing four-part harmony music, and a way for young men and women to meet in controlled environments. These events often included people from different Mennonite denominations. Charismatic itinerant music directors, like Kornelius H. Neufeld, commonly led these groups, which could number over a hundred singers.

Community Mennonite celebrates 25 years

Mike Martin (second from right) and his siblings (from left), Steve, Ron, Willard, Gloria and Terry Martin sang at the 25th anniversary celebration for Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on May 23, 2015. Mike, who is the chair of church council, wrote a special song for the event. (Photo courtesy of Community Mennonite Fellowship, Drayton)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 22, 2015

The roots ran deep in both the Berea and Moorefield Mennonite Churches, north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Berea, first known as the Parker Mission, was founded in 1941 and joined the Ontario Mennonite Conference in 1947. That same year a congregation was founded less than 10 miles away at Moorefield, using a disused Anglican church building.

In 1967 the two congregations started sharing a pastor. They also had a combined Mennonite Youth Fellowship, adult fellowship, Christmas and evening services, as well as sports teams.

Emotions run high at MC USA convention

Prayer team member John C. Murray of Hesston, Kan., prays during a Pink Menno hymn sing outside the delegate hall July 4. (Photo by Paul Schrag, Mennonite World Review)

God at work in the Church | By Paul Schrag | Jul 22, 2015

Pick a category of people at the Mennonite Church USA convention, and you could identify their pain.

It might have been the pain of exclusion due to sexual orientation. Or of feeling the church has agreed to tolerate sin. It might have been the pain of sexual abuse. Or of concern for the future of a church sharply divided on how to relate to sexual minorities.

“I’ve never been at a convention with so many tears, and I’ve been to quite a few,” said Doro­thy Nickel Friesen of Newton, Kan., on July 4, the convention’s last full day.

Mennonite World Conference, 1962

Mennonite Archives of Ontario/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Jun 30, 2015

In 1962, Canada hosted the Mennonite World Conference for the first time. Twelve thousand delegates attended; 6,000 of these were billeted in local homes. Historian T.D. Regehr notes in Mennonites in Canada: A People Transformed, “The Kitchener-Waterloo area, where Old Order Amish lived side by side with successful Mennonite businessmen, professionals, and academics, provided a unique opportunity to show the diversity of Canadian Mennonite life.

Hutterites thank John J. Friesen for teaching courses

This painting by Victor Kleinsasser depicts John J. Friesen talking to Hutterite students after class. It was commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee and presented to Friesen as a gift.

God at work in the Church | Jun 30, 2015 | 1 comment

A new artwork honouring a professor from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee was unveiled in CMU’s new library on June 3. It honoured John J. Friesen, professor emeritus of history and theology, for his contribution to the Hutterite community.

The Gathering Church celebrates ten years

Jim Loepp Thiessen and Catherine Gitzel stand in front of the Gathering Church’s store front offices on Activa Ave. in Kitchener, Ont., across the street from the W. T. Townshend Public School, where they gather on Sunday mornings. The congregation celebrated its tenth anniversary in February this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 30, 2015

Two in three church plants don’t make it past the five-year mark. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been successful, but long life is not part of most church plants. The Gathering Church, a full member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, celebrated its tenth anniversary quietly in February this year.

Lebold dinner funds new pastoral training program

Rudy Baergen, interim pastor at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church (left) chats with Roberson Mbayamvula, pastor at Hagerman Mennonite Church. Baergen was the keynote speaker at the June 11 Lebold fundraising dinner at Conrad Grebel University College and Mbayamvula was last year’s speaker.

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 30, 2015

A new focus was announced this year at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment fundraising dinner, because last year it reached its goal of $1 million to fund pastoral training at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC). This fund, jointly supported by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Conrad Grebel, was founded in 1997 and is named after Ralph Lebold and his wife. Lebold was a pioneer in pastoral education beginning in 1961.

Ex-offender finds new life and home in the church

Ryan Grills (right) and his pastor, Garth Ewert Fisher, share a deep mutual respect and affection. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 17, 2015

He’s the newest member of Mount Royal Mennonite Church and he loves his church. Ryan Grills started attending Mount Royal just over two years ago, when he was released from the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

Nutana Park celebrates 50 years of God’s blessing

Under the direction of Duff Warkentin, the Nutana Park Mennonite Church Choir presents songs of praise and thanksgiving in both English and German to help mark the congregation’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Voices joined together in celebration for the opening hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” in a service of worship at Nutana Park Mennonite Church commemorating 50 years as a congregation.

The theme of  “blessing” infused every moment of the celebration service on May 3, 2015, which was postponed a week by a crippling snowstorm that kept everyone at home on April 26. A choir led by Duff Warkentin offered anthems of blessing and thanksgiving in English and German reflecting the origins of 50 years ago.  Peter Hooge planned music for the anniversary service.

More study on homosexuality and the Bible sought

Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church was founded in 1895. It is considering leaving Mennonite Church Manitoba and MC Canada over same-sex marriage issues within the area and national churches. (Photo courtesy of Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | Jun 03, 2015

Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church wants Mennonite Church Manitoba to organize a conference to study “what Scripture clearly states on the matter of homosexuality and the definition of marriage,” and Ken Warkentin, executive director of the area church, says, “I think that’s a great idea.”

Here’s to old white guys and everyone else

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Jun 03, 2015

I stopped short when the ’70s picture of a serious-looking white-haired man in a suit and tie popped up on my screen.

I had started an article about a Mennonite thinker and institution builder who died before I had a chance to meet him. Part-way through my research I stumbled upon his photo. It was pretty much the standard posed headshot I would have expected had I thought about it, but still, when confronted with the image, I knew the article was dead.

Touring the province, touring the church

Participants board the bus for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s 2015 Touring Mission Fest. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 03, 2015

Louise Sawatsky has boarded the bus for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Touring Mission Fest every year the event has been offered. For the 92-year-old from Saskatoon’s First Mennonite Church, the annual tours are worthwhile and enjoyable.

Begun in 2005 under the auspices of MC Saskatchewan’s Ministries Commission, Touring Mission Fest was initially seen as a way for urban congregations to connect with their more-remote rural counterparts.

‘A community event’

Canoes and kayaks arrive at their final destination after a successful paddle-a-thon down the Fraser River. The $51,000 raised will support summer staff volunteers pay for post-secondary education. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 03, 2015

Weather was again the main story at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon held on April 18 and 19, but this time—unlike some years—for all the right reasons. Sunny skies, warm weather, little wind and no major mishaps meant that the 31 paddlers who finished their two-day sojourn down the Fraser River arrived energized and in great spirits.

MCC pre-sale fundraiser exceeds expectations

MCC Alberta supporters add pocket change to a growing spiral, netting more than $550 to go toward paying the costs of the annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6. (Photo by Gordon Baergen)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jun 03, 2015

“I thought if we could do $3,000 to $4,000, that would be what we’ve done in the past. When I was off by $10,000, I was elated.”

These words came from Gordon Baergen, a member of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton who helped to organize a May 21 pre-sale fundraiser in preparation for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta’s annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6.

Why Mennonites love their gardens

Susie Fisher holds a handful of heritage cucumber seeds given to her by a Mennonite couple in Winkler, Manitoba. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | May 20, 2015

In the village of Neubergthal in southern Manitoba, gnarled cottonwoods with deeply grooved trunks line the village streets and cluster along the edge of farmyards. Cottonwoods here and in nearby towns bear nostalgic meaning for many Mennonites. According to local mythology, the cottonwoods are descended from Russian trees brought to Canada as saplings or seeds by Mennonite immigrants in the 1870s. Some of them were planted on the graves of loved ones.

Chin Christians receive Mennonite teaching with joy

David Martin, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada executive minister, centre, poses with the baptismal candidates from the addictions recovery group in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 06, 2015

David Martin was invited to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in March 2015 to preach two or three times and to teach from the book of Galatians in four sessions over two days. By the time he returned he had also performed two graveside memorial services, baptized six, preached at a wedding, and took part in many more services in Myanmar and Malaysia. Martin, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s executive minister, travelled to South Asia with Pastor Jehu Lian Ching of the Kitchener (Ont.) Chin Christian Church.

MCC 50th full of historic symbolism

Elder Margaret Harris and Donna Roach flew in from Vancouver to celebrate with MCC Manitoba at Knox United Church in Winnipeg. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 06, 2015

As the choirs’ final note of “Die Zeit ist Kurz” hung sublimely in the sanctuary of Knox United Church on April 18, the indigenous drums began to beat and the Buffalo Gals started into the “Wolf Song.” Once they were done, it was back to the Faith and Life choirs and the University of Manitoba Women’s Chorus for “Come Let Us All Unite to Sing.”

MC Eastern Canada gathering hears stories of faith

Chris Brnjas, left, Dimitri Faludy, Rachel Brnjas and Esther Kissor talk about their work at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. The Brnjases work in churches in Kitchener, Ont., and attend The Gathering Church. Faludy and Kissor are from the Jane Finch Faith Community in Toronto. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 06, 2015

Paul Wideman, moderator of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, challenged the 28th annual church gathering, saying, “How can we encourage one another by sharing our faith?” The day-and-a-half event was filled with faith stories and had little actual business. Advertised as such, the gathering at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener on April 24 and 25 was fully subscribed with some watching the live streaming from home.

Building houses and learning to serve

Participants in the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s recent trip to Mexico mix cement for the foundation of the house they built. Pictured from left to right: Brandon Wurtz, Holly Epp,  and Dawson Dueck. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 06, 2015

It may not be typical summer camp staff training, but Mark Wurtz says the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s annual trip to Mexico is “probably more worthwhile than orientation.” The camp has been taking senior staff members and youth on short-term mission trips for the past eight years, and Wurtz sees the trips as highly valuable in developing camp staff.

God is at work in the church in China

George and Tobia Veith, left and centre, visit with Denise Epp following one of the Veiths’ presentations on the church in China held at Rosthern Mennonite Church recently. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Apr 22, 2015

“This is about what God’s doing,” said George Veith. “We want all the glory to go to God.”

He was referring, during a series of four presentations hosted by Rosthern Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Canada on April 10 and 11, to the vibrancy which he and his wife Tobia have witnessed in the Chinese church from their vantage point as Witness workers in Macau for the past 18 years.