God at work in the World

Buildings crumble but faith remains

Ibrahim Nseir, pastor of the National Presbyterian Church of Aleppo in Syria, stands at the site where his church building once stood. In 2015 a new building was erected and the church continues to distribute MCC aid, including comforters and kits. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Rev. Ibrahim Nseir (left) holds an MCC comforter made in Europe, ready to be distributed by the National Presbyterian Church in Syria. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

In the old city of Aleppo, Syria, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir stands on the pile of rubble that used to be his church. The building where his congregation once worshipped is now a pile of broken stones and dust.

Mennonites attend Indigenous theological studies symposium

During an Indigenous theological studies symposium, held in Wolfville, N.S., the presenters sang a traditional Christmas hymn in English while drumming. Many of the audience members sang along. (Photo by Kathy Thiessen)

The 20-or-so Mennonites who attended the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) symposium were humbled by the grace of their hosts who welcomed them, without hesitation, into the conversation.

Edmonton store to contribute to Ten Thousand Villages sustainability plan

Board members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages store met on June 27 to decide whether to contribute $100,000 toward a TTV sustainability plan. The board includes (from left) Adrienne Wiebe, Alexandra Ketchum, Robert Proudfoot, Helen Mc Cabe, Kurt Sawatzky, Ghenette Houston, Phyllis Schneider. Not pictured: Kari Morton and Irma Stickland. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On June 27, 2018, supporters of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) store voted overwhelmingly to grant its board the authority to gift $100,000 to the TTV program of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), in a one-time attempt at a sustainability plan.

UNDRIP: Good news for everyone

Around 70 people gather to listen to a panel of speakers at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Geraldine ‘Gramma’ Shingoose speaks to those gathered at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. Marcus Rempel (left) was part of a panel. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Canada has violated the rights of its Indigenous peoples ever since the country was born, from forcing thousands of children into residential schools to disrespecting treaties and stealing land. In 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and Canada announced its support for the declaration in 2010.

Blooming Positive Project responds to theft

When ten floral hanging baskets were stolen from the Communitas Supportive Care Society office, the organization responded by creating flowers using materials that were recycled or repurposed. Through creativity, the negative experience was turned into a positive celebration. (Photo courtesy of Communitas Care Society)

In the early summer the staff at Communitas Supportive Care Society arrived at work to discover that someone had stolen the floral hanging baskets from the front of their office building. All ten of them. The discovery was met with anger, outrage, frustration, and disbelief: We should totally do a social media post about this! Who would do such a thing?

MDS Canada moves to new location

Cutting the ribbon at the dedication of Mennonite Disaster Service Canada’s new office on June 15 are: (from left) Harold Friesen (MDS Canada board chair), Ross Penner (director of Canadian operations), Kevin King (MDS executive director), Grace Loeppky (MDS Canada board secretary and volunteer) and Gerald Loeppky (MDS volunteer). (Photo by Kelsey Friesen)

On June 15, 2018, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada hosted a dedication for their new office space located on the second floor of 600 Shaftesbury Blvd. at the Canadian Mennonite University campus, followed by a lunch and open house.

MDS Canada decided to move to a bigger space when they added several staff to their team and their lease at 1325 Markham Rd. was coming to an end.

Faces and stories from the Alberta MCC relief sale

Sisters Jessica and Samantha Friesen enjoy having their faces painted in the children’s entertainment area at the MCC Alberta relief sale. The sisters are from Abbeydale Christian Fellowship in Calgary. The congregation donated half of the pies needed for the sale and the Friesen family delivered them to Didsbury. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Friday night’s auction opened with bids for a special peace quilt which cannot be taken home. The winning bid went to Rudy Wiens who made a $2,200 donation to MCC. He intends to display the quilt at Camp Valaqua this summer before it returns to MCC to be sold again next year. Wiens is a repeat camp volunteer who has warm friendships with staff and campers. He likes to offer a listening ear and encouragement to young people. “I connect well with the kids…they are ready to tell an 80-year-old things,” he said. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Three years ago Joyce Doran was working for Ten Thousand Villages in Calgary when she heard Abe Janzen (then MCC Alberta director) share some of his stories. “I was so touched by the work that was being done and I knew it was an organization I wanted to get involved with,” Doran said. In April 2018, Doran began working as thrift shop coordinator for MCC Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Two years ago, Bergthal Mennonite Church worked through MCC to sponsor a Syrian family, the Al Husseins, to come to Canada. On June 2 the family volunteered at the sale, wiping tables in the dining area and sorting coins. Pictured are: (from left) Nasayem, Delores Peters (Bergthal church), Mothana, Mariam, Jawaher, and Hatem. (Hatem was sponsored through the Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary). (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sarah Neufeld of Didsbury (left) and Neve Jeffery of Calgary met and visited while tying knots in a comforter. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Doris Veirgutz made a double donation when she had her hair cut. “God has given me this long hair, I can donate it for wigs for people [Locks of Love] and raise money for MCC.” Stylist Brittany Derksen donated her talents to the effort. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

For almost 40 years, John Wiebe’s welded art has raised thousands of dollars for relief work. The dove candle holder was inspired by well-known pastor Menno Epp (1932-2011). In the mid-1990s, Epp sent Wiebe a sketch of something he saw in Guatemala, asking if Wiebe could make it as an MCC project. Wiebe’s unique bookends, candle holders and other items can be found in many homes and churches across Alberta and beyond. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Matthew (5) and Aaron Friesen (6) are two of the youngest volunteers, taking turns pulling the school bus to collect change. Asked why they are helping, Matthew said, “because I like it.” Aaron added, “it is going to donate to other people.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sisters Irene Baergen (left) of Edmonton and Hilda Baergen of Coaldale, along with siblings Alice Klassen of Coaldale and Margaret Froese of Canmore, have an eight-year tradition of getting together to make a quilt for the sale. “The highlight is to get together and have a project and a cause,” said Irene. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Pianist Phyllis Geddert remembers singing with her father when he asked her to “promise me that you will help people to remember the old songs.” Ten years after he passed away, friends helped Geddert record favourite hymns from old Mennonite hymnals. Her condition was that any money raised would be donated to MCC in memory of her parents, Frank L. Friesen who always supported MCC, and Katherine Zacharias Friesen, one of the people who began the Thrift store in Morris, MB. The CD is entitled Joyful. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Josh Poland and Greg Sanderson of The Rosehill Auction Service pose with Bob Janzen (middle). Sanderson, who grew up in the Didsbury area, said; “I love selling and helping people, it’s fun to watch their face when they’ve got something.” Poland was keen to donate his time to the sale saying; “Everybody knows where the money is going.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

The Mennonite Central Committee Relief sale is a more than a fundraiser for Alberta Mennonites, it is an anticipated social event. Creating an atmosphere of fellowship and common purpose, the annual sale unites Mennonites from LaCrete to Pincher Creek (a distance of 1,176 kms) as well as inviting local communities to join the fun.

Faith and fixing at the Repair Café

Dan and Erin paint the Repair Café trailer outside the Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Five-year-old Summer watches volunteer fixer Bennett McCardle fix the broken clasp on her purse that her grandma gave her. (Photo by Julie Trinh)

Pastor Brian Quan leads by example as he repairs a bicycle. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church held a Repair Café on Earth Day. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Jason Yuen watches as volunteer fixer Kenny Fong examines a broken bathroom scale. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Paul Magder, one of the founders of Repair Café, fixes a Magic Bullet blender. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Four years ago, my father Albert Kiang passed away. He was the ultimate Mr. Fix It, whether it was cars, computers or electronics. He was always tinkering away.

Good neighbours, good food

Volunteers Sheila Harder, left, Eileen Flath and Hariette Melin sort through donated produce at the Good Neighbours Food Centre. Whatever isn’t good enough to go into a food hamper will be placed in the food bank’s vermicomposting tower. Nothing is wasted. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Lawrence Schmidt bags loaves of bread at the Good Neighbours Food Centre in Rosthern. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wilmer Froese hopes the Good Neighbours Food Centre will become a place where the marginalized are incorporated into the community. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Volunteers Elaine Janzen, left, and Sheila Harder arrange groceries in preparation for assembling food hampers at the Good Neighbours Food Centre. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Larry Epp talks with Grade 3 students at Rosthern Elementary School as part of Planting, Picking and Preserving for Students and Seniors (P3/S2), a program of the Good Neighbours Food Centre in which experienced gardeners partner-teach students about growing food. (Rosthern and District Food Bank photo)

Eric Yoder and a Grade 3 student from Rosthern Elementary School plant onions at the Good Neighbours Food Centre garden as part of the P3/S2 program. (Rosthern and District Food Bank photo)

“In my walk with the food bank,” says Wilmer Froese, “I feel like I am putting my faith into action, and doing so in a more deliberate way than I ever have before.”

He and his wife Barb spent many years co-pastoring a number of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregations. Now retired from both farming and pastoral work, they have found a new calling—feeding the hungry.

True connections

A Grade 3 class at Hagar Association made signs for International Tolerance Day to promote ethnic and religious tolerance in the region. Hagar is a bilingual MCC-supported school educating 330 Arab and Jewish children from age 1 to Grade 6 in Be’er Sheba, Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Tal Dayan, right, and Lev Zemer Gilboa-Oppenheim, left, attend Hagar Association, a bilingual MCC-supported school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel. (Photos courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Walk into Hagar Association, a school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel, and it looks like almost any other school. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear children speaking both Hebrew and Arabic, and see them playing together—uncommon sounds and sights in the region.

Kindred partners with Rockway to serve the community

John Klassen, a Rockway alumnus and board member and Kindred’s finance and compliance chief, right, helps a Rockway student mulch flower beds at Mennonite Central Committee Ontario’s building in Kitchener, where Thrift on Kent is located. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Rockway principal Ann L. Schultz sorts donations at Thrift on Kent in Kitchener with a group of students. ‘All in all, students witnessed first-hand how, when we work together with shared values, we come closer to the peaceful, just communities to which we all aspire.’ (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Rockway alumnus Ben Janzen, left, now Kindred’s values integration director, loads wheelbarrows with earth for the planting of kale at Hacienda Sarria Market Garden, along with a Rockway teacher and students. ‘Looking back, I can see how Envirathon Servathon helped to shape my view of the community and what the purpose of education is,’ Janzen says. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Kathy Clemence, right, a Rockway alumna and Kindred’s member support manager, helps with the gardening at the Steckle Heritage Homestead in Kitchener. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

As the presenting partner of this year’s Rockway Mennonite Collegiate Envirathon Servathon, Kindred Credit Union had its staff join 300 students and teachers, who fanned out across the region on May 7, 2018, to do everything from planting trees and preparing garden beds, to sorting clothing donations and serving meals.

Winnipeggers take to the street in support of Nakba survivors

Around a hundred people gathered at a busy intersection in Winnipeg on May 15, 2018, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Protesters held signs with the names of villages that were destroyed when the State of Israel was created. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Around a hundred people gathered at a busy intersection in Winnipeg on May 15, 2018, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic. The Nakba refers to the dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands that followed the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

MC Canada working groups call for sanctions against Israel

Gaza, 2015. (Photo from Pixabay.com)

The following letter was drafted by representatives of the Mennonite Church Canada network of regional working groups on Palestine and Israel, and sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, on May 2, 2018. It is being published in Canadian Mennonite at the request of the working groups.

‘We have to begin by crying out for justice’

Naim Ateek speaks to an audience at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his new book on Palestinian liberation theology. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Palestinian author Naim Ateek addresses a Winnipeg audience at one stop on his cross-Canada tour. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

“We have to begin by crying out for justice. You build peace on justice.”

Naim Ateek uttered this plea on April 25 2018, before more than 150 people gathered at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg to hear him speak about his new book, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict.

When strangers become neighbours

Ben Pauls of Zoar Mennonite in Waldheim, Sask., leads an ensemble of 15 singers from a number of MC Saskatchewan congregations during a joint worship service at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation on April 22, 2018. (Photo by Jason Gooding)

A ‘blessing dance’ opens a joint worship service at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan on April 22, 2018. (Photo by Todd Hanson)

Music continues to be the catalyst for growth in the relationship between Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and its Indigenous neighbours.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2018, Mennonites and members of the Muskeg Lake community gathered for An Afternoon of Song at Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church in Marcelin on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.

Caring for creation, one ice cream pail at a time

The Heppner Mueller family with their waste from 2017. Pictured from left to right: Kaija, Aria, Connie, Rick and their dog Juno. (Photo courtesy of Connie Heppner Mueller)

The Heppner Mueller family’s 2017 waste, contained in one garbage bag. (Photo courtesy of Connie Heppner Mueller)

Juno with the family’s ice cream pail designated for garbage. (Photo courtesy of Connie Heppner Mueller)

Connie Heppner Mueller stands behind an extra pile of garbage that amounted to more than all the rest of their 2017 waste, due to garbage left behind by workers during a small renovation and a downsizing of old keepsakes. She says that without it, the first picture isn’t quite truthful. (Photo courtesy of Connie Heppner Mueller)

People hear every day about garbage mountains growing, icebergs melting and species going extinct. With every plastic bag and old cell phone people throw away, they are contributing to the problem. The average Canadian produces 777 kilograms of garbage a year, as of 2009.

Foodgrains Bank brews climate storm on Twitter

Kenyan farmer Mary Mutua uses conservation agriculture principles promoted by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Her fields are healthier and more advanced than neighbouring crops. These methods are a way to increase resilience to climate change. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo by Valerie Gwinner)

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank walks a fine line on climate and walks it well. A recent and rare slip demonstrated the tensions it, like the rest of us, must navigate.

Full Cupboard provides emergency help in Wellesley

Kara Carter, pastor of Wellesley Mennonite Church, left, stands with Christa Gerber, chair of Wellesley and Community Food Cupboard Committee and of the Wellesley Mennonite Church Mission Committee. (Wellesley Mennonite Church photo)

Four years ago, while part of a missional leadership group, Kara Carter, pastor of Wellesley Mennonite Church, received news from the local school parents advisory group that there were children who were coming to school hungry.

Selling thrift by the pound

MCC’s rePurpose Centre opened in March 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Staff member Barratt Bender, left, and volunteer Virginia Kreitz sort clothing that has been shipped from another thrift store to MCC’s new rePurpose store in Elmira, Ont., where it is sold by the pound. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

MCC’s new rePurpose Store is located in Elmira, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Volunteers who work at any of the many Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift stores know the sorrow of unsold goods: clothing that hangs around for more than a month or dishes that don’t move out the door to grace someone’s table.

Bridging Borders in the ‘City of Bridges’

As depicted in Wavelength Entertainment’s series, Bridging Borders, a group of friends from Saskatoon’s Nutana neighbourhood sponsors a family from Sudan. Sponsors and newcomers quickly become friends. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In the third episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, connects a Syrian woman with a sponsorship group who help her family come to Canada. Kushel and the woman laugh together at the airport as they await the arrival of the woman’s family. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In each episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, welcomes sponsored families and tells them they are no longer refugees but permanent residents of Canada. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

A new television documentary series featuring the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is currently airing on City-Saskatchewan TV.

Strengthening faith and soccer skills

Teammates Stiven Castro and Jose David Lopez Herrara face off during soccer practice in Cali, Colombia. Offering soccer camp for youth who want to be professionals provides an opportunity to share Christ and to give purpose to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Teammates Johan Esteban Carvajal Motoa, Duvan Rodriguez and Stiven Castro hone their skills after a soccer practice in Cali, Colombia. They are part of an MCC-supported soccer school that reaches out to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Soccer player Stiven Castro, 16, meets with instructor Sigifredo Godoy after a practice in Cali, Colombia. MCC supports the work of Godoy, a former professional soccer player, who runs a soccer school that reaches out to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Goalkeeper Duvan Rodriguez, 18, reaches to grab a field marker used to teach specific skills during soccer practice. Rodriguez says that being part of the soccer school, at which players are also taught how to manage their anger, has helped him resolve conflicts with words instead of violence. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

When Sigifredo Godoy talks about living out his faith, he’s talking sweat and strategy—the commitment, knowledge and skills that shaped him as a professional soccer player. That’s what he’s now passing on to young men from some of the most violent areas of his home city, Cali, Colombia.

‘Let no walls divide’

Seminar participants and Mennonite Central Committee staff gather in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Photo by Nadia García)

Students enjoy their time together at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ottawa Office seminar. Pictured from left to right: Ennet Bera, Cooper William, Marnie Klassen and Rizwan Shoukat. In the back: Esther Epp-Tiessen, MCC’s public engagement coordinator. (Photo by Nadia García)

Right before winter reading break, 30 university students from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to learn about the current conflict in Palestine and Israel at a seminar hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada Ottawa Office. From Feb. 15–17, students attending “Palestine and Israel: Let no walls divide” explored issues of advocacy, peace and justice.

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