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God at work in the Church

Lessons from those who left

Springs Church in Winnipeg is one of Canada’s most successful and success-oriented mega churches, where an ex-Hutterite, Phil Kleinsasser—his suspenders, beard and plaid long gone—serves as an assistant pastor.

God at work in the Church | By By Will Braun | Oct 22, 2014 | 1 comment

Phil Kleinsasser urged the faithful to "sow" their money in the offering plate in order to “reap” abundance in all areas of their lives. Kleinsasser, of course, is a Hutterite surname, but his admonition came not in an austere colony chapel, but at Springs Church, one of Canada's most successful and success-oriented mega churches, where Kleinsasser—his suspenders, beard and plaid long gone—serves as an assistant pastor.

Creating beauty out of randomness

Participants at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat gather for a group photo on their final day together. Many of the women are holding items they crafted during the three-day event.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photos by Donna Schulz | Oct 08, 2014

Assembling random pieces of fabric or paper to create something beautiful is what quilters and scrapbookers do. And they do it with gusto at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s annual Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat. This year, “Random pieces into beautiful creations” was also the theme chosen for the retreat by speaker Sharon Schultz.

Schultz, who is pastor of Eyebrow Mennonite Church, is neither a quilter nor a scrapbooker, but puts her creative energy into writing sermons. She said that sermon-writing is not unlike other creative endeavours.

How do pastors keep the Sabbath?

Emily Toews of North Star Mennonite Church in Drake, and Kirsten Hamm, MC Saskatchewan area church youth minister, relax on the dock at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters as Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church and Jerry Buhler, MC Saskatchewan area church minister, stand nearby.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | Sep 24, 2014

“I would rather be out here thinking about God than in church thinking about paddling.”

The slogan on Ric Driediger’s T-shirt bears witness to his preferred way of spending the Lord’s Day. The veteran canoe guide and member of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Pastoral Leadership Commission, welcomed pastors and their spouses to a time of Sabbath rest at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, Sask., from Sept. 2 to 5, for the area church’s annual fall pastors gathering.

Changes coming to MC Manitoba

Rianna Isaak

God at work in the Church | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Sep 10, 2014

Much time and energy at the Mennonite Church Manitoba office was directed this summer to helping host the MC Canada general assembly and Native Assembly 2014. With these two significant events now history, MC Manitoba is looking at critical changes in its own structure, programming and staffing.

Henry Kliewer, director of Leadership Ministries, will be retiring Sept. 30, after serving in this capacity for six years.

Camp Valaqua builds for the future

It takes a lot of hands to raise a cabin wall! Families work together on the Mennonite Disaster Service cabin-building project at Camp Valaqua.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photos by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Aug 28, 2014

Camp programs were in full swing alongside Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) hammers at Camp Valaqua this summer. MDS teams are usually found on disaster sites, helping to rebuild homes, so why are they building cabins at a thriving church camp? And why are there children wearing hardhats, pounding nails and using staple guns?

Celebrating summer fun together

Sometimes one needs to step over the line in order to score a hit, as this youngster discovers at MC Saskatchewan’s ‘day in the park’ in Saskatoon last month.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photos by Donna Schulz | Aug 28, 2014

The sun shone, the air was warm—but not too warm—and there were no mosquitoes. It was, in fact, a day perfect for a picnic.

On Aug. 10, people of all ages gathered at Scott Park, adjacent to Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, to enjoy Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s “day in the park.”

Taking fun and faith on the road

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photos by Donna Schulz | Aug 22, 2014

The pews are pushed together along the walls while in the middle of the sanctuary children play an energetic game of Duck, Duck, Goose. Vacation Bible School (VBS) is in session at Eyebrow Mennonite Church.

For several years, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan has employed a travelling VBS troupe to bring summer Christian education to rural and urban congregations alike.

More evidence of sexual abuse uncovered

A Mennonite Church U.S.A. discernment group addressing sexual abuse by the late theologian John Howard Yoder has reported finding additional evidence of abuse.

After a June 3, 2014, meeting in Elkhart, the group said it had found more documentation of Yoder’s abuse of women, including fondling and sexual intercourse. The many women Yoder wronged included students, missionaries and church workers.

The group accessed previously unexamined institutional and personal files, including memos by Yoder.

Works of John Howard Yoder now available online

An online digital library containing nearly 250 unpublished, informally published and popular works by theologian John Howard Yoder is now available for scholars and students around the world.

Men retreat to explore manhood from an Anabaptist perspective

Scott Brubaker-Zehr, left, Clayton Kuepfer, David Armes, Geoff Wichert and Hidden Acres staff person Patrick Singh discover at a June retreat at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp near New Hamburg, Ont., that doing their own dishes is part of male spirituality.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Aug 13, 2014

Aged 18 to 71, 20 men gathered at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp from June 20 to 21 to explore what it means to be a Mennonite man in the 21st century. “Under construction: Reframing men’s spirituality” featured Gareth Brandt from the biblical/theological studies faculty at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B. C.

Discovering the kingdom at summer camp

Candy, a camper from Saskatoon attending Youth Farm Bible Camp’s Adult Special Needs session, enjoys playing the tambourine during chapel. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Story and photos by Donna Schulz | Jul 29, 2014

Swimming, archery, horseback riding and campfires are typical summer camp experiences. While children and teens enjoy these activities each year at Youth Farm Bible Camp near Rosthern, so do about 250 adults with intellectual disabilities.

New school greets returning children

After burning the school building on May 17, the Old Order Mennonite community in rural Manitoba, along with a number of outside helpers, began building a new school. The nearly completed building will open in September for new and returning students. (Photo by Terry Warburton)

God at work in the Church | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jul 23, 2014

The old school has been burned to the ground and in its place stands a newly constructed, brilliant red building, a symbol of a new beginning for this Old Order Mennonite community that reflects its hope for, and commitment to, its children.

It has been over a year since Manitoba’s Child and Family Services (CFS) apprehended all 42 children from the rural community—which cannot be named to protect the identity of the children—and 16 adults were charged with offences including assault and assault with a weapon.

Mennonites learn about hospitality and living for others

The Goreme open air museum near Cappadocia, Turkey, includes rock-cut chapels that are part of an ancient Byzantine monastic settlement. A group of Ontario Mennonites visited the site in May as part of an intercultural learning tour.

God at work in the Church | By By Amanda Witmer | Jul 02, 2014

On May 5, a group of eleven Mennonites from Kitchener-Waterloo area churches embarked on a ten day intercultural study tour of Turkey, sponsored by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI). The tour was co-led by Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church and Sezai Yeter, a member of the Turkish community in Kitchener.

Metzger meets with Harmony Group

Erwin Warkentin, a member of the Harmony Group and Willard Metzger, executive director of MC Canada.

God at work in the Church | By Story and photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jul 02, 2014

Members of the Harmony Group, formed six years ago by Mennonites seeking inclusion of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) in Mennonite Church Canada, recently engaged in earnest dialogue with Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. Metzger invited the Group’s responses to the next steps of the Being the Faithful Church (BFC) discernment process at a meeting held at Bethel Mennonite Church on June 19.

Dust settles on prison chaplaincy controversy

Chaplain Hank Dixon

God at work in the Church | By By Will Braun | Jul 02, 2014

After a series of bumps and scares in recent years, a new system of federal prison chaplaincy has emerged, with a single company, rather than individual denominations, holding the chaplaincy contracts.

No back row

God at work in the Church | By By Will Braun | Jun 18, 2014

Florence and Otto Driedger’s Regina living room is the opposite of the mega-church auditoriums that have become popular. On a typical Sunday, you might find a handful of refugees, a couple of people who have done time for sexual assault, and another handful of Euro-Canadian folk gathered around the retired couple’s living room, with Bibles open on their laps. The scene would be similar on Tuesday evening. That’s what Peace Mennonite Church looks like.

A call for Christians to be the kingdom of God

Greg Boyd, a best-selling author and cofounder of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., was this year’s “peace and justice guest” at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind.

God at work in the Church | By By Mary E. Klassen | Jun 18, 2014

“Look like Jesus, love like Jesus, serve like Jesus.” Greg Boyd, Ph.D., repeated this line several times during his visit to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) over two days in late April.

Boyd, a best-selling author and cofounder of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., was this year’s “peace and justice guest” at AMBS. In an evening lecture to a filled chapel on April 24, Boyd described characteristics of the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God. Then he outlined how to keep God’s kingdom “holy,” meaning distinct and separate.

Graduates challenged to imagine what the world could be

Cheryl Pauls, Canadian Mennonite University president, centre, awarded President’s Medals to valedictorian Scott Sawatzky, left, and Justin Rempel, both English majors in the four-year bachelor of arts program, in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photo by Canadian Mennonite University | Jun 18, 2014

Make the future a figment of your imagination. That was the message delivered to 80 graduates at the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) graduation service on April 27.

“Faith in God compels us to imagine what the kingdom of God in our wildest dreams could be,” said keynote speaker Don Friesen said during his address. “Imagination looks at the world as it is, and seeks to reshape that reality.”

Prioritizing ministry

God at work in the Church | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 04, 2014

Two topics were front and centre when the board and staff of Mennonite Church Manitoba travelled the province in April for face-to-face conversations with congregations in seven regional meetings.

Being a Faithful Church

‘The fruit of renewal’

The cross with the crucified Christ is an important icon for Greek Catholic worshippers. (Credit: George Dyck)

God at work in the Church | By By Ron Rempel | Jun 04, 2014 | 1 comment

A former Mennonite church building in Ukraine is being restored and transformed with the help of Canadian Mennonites into a Greek Catholic church.

According to observers, this development is an example of Mennonite-Catholic collaboration in the spirit of other exchanges over the past decade or so.

The Mennonite church in the former village of Schoensee—now Snegurovka—was originally built in 1909. During the Soviet era after the October 1917 Russian Revolution, when Mennonites were forced to leave, the church building was used for storage and then fell into disrepair.

Gathered to grow . . . scattered to serve

Recent member Donna Bentz and founding member Ron Zehr look at photos from Hillcrest Mennonite’s 50 years at the anniversary celebration on May 24. Behind them are the 50 comforters knotted this year as an anniversary service project.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Jun 04, 2014

Things moved fast 50 years ago. On May 14, 1963, East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock decided that it needed to plant a daughter church to alleviate crowding in the mother church. A building committee met the next day to plan where the new congregation’s building would be and what it would look like. Members of East Zorra and daughter churches Cassel and Tavistock Mennonite were canvassed and funds gathered.

B.C. women ‘at a time of crossroads’

Cutting the celebratory birthday cake for B.C. Women’s Ministry are members of the planning committee: Cheryl Dyck, left, Waltrude Gortzen and Rita Siebert.

God at work in the Church | By Story and Photo by Amy Dueckman | May 21, 2014 | 1 comment

Seven-and-a-half decades after its founding, Women’s Ministry of Mennonite Church B.C. celebrated its diamond anniversary on May 3 with a day of memories and celebration. The annual spring Inspirational Day held at Emmanuel Mennonite Church drew 138.

Five past presidents of what was formerly B.C. Women in Mission shared memories of their terms of service spanning the years 1980 to 2007, reflecting on how serving had changed them, and how women’s roles in church and society had changed over the years.

Discovering faith in a consumer age

Scott Haley of Forge Canada challened B. C. Mennonites to think about how Christians view the church as consumers in an April 5, 2014, seminar at Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 07, 2014

“We are formed to be consumers, wanting maximum value for the lowest price,” Scott Hagley of Forge Canada told a group gathered at Level Ground Mennonite Church for “Consumed: Finding faith in a consumer age.” Not only that, but he said people have come to “imagine God in economic-consumeristic terms.”

Four new directors named at 43rd annual CMPS meeting

Bryan Moyer Suderman

Four new directors were named to the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board at its 43rd annual meeting held here from April 10 to 12. They are Henry Krause of Langley, B.C.; Ken Reddig of Pinawa, Man.; Bryan Moyer Suderman of Stouffville, Ont.; and Kuen Yee of Edmonton. All will serve three-year terms.

Between horizons

Mennonite Church Canada’s General Board offers this discernment guide in advance of Assembly 2014, to be held in Winnipeg from July 3 to 6.