God at work in the World

More viewpoints: Smudging

To celebrate its 50th anniversary Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba planned an event to be held on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg, a venue MCC was renting for the large event. But days before, MCC cancelled the event based on objections the congregation’s leadership had to an indigenous smudging ceremony that was to be held on church grounds.

MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals

‘It seems to me that a generosity of spirit is at the heart of both Christian and Canadian aboriginal beliefs, so there should be a strong mutual interest in demonstrating mutual respect.’--Former prime minister Joe Clark (Photo by Will Braun)

Ron Janzen

The landmark event was intended, in part, to promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. That goal will likely be achieved to a far greater extent than organizers ever imagined, but the path will be circuitous and theologically bumpy.

Peace brings local community together

Participants pause by the Morden, Man., cenotaph to offer prayers concerning civil justice during their Peace Prayer Walk on Nov. 9. Michael Pahl, who came up with the idea for the walk, is pictured facing the camera with white papers in his hand. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pahl)

“Regardless of our perspectives on ‘just war’ and pacifism, as Christians we are all united in our desire for peace and justice in our community and around the world,” says Michael Pahl of his idea to hold an annual Peace Prayer Walk in Morden, Man., last year.

How will we walk together?

Adrian Jacobs, right, responds to questions and concerns from Rudy Friesen and Gerhard Neufeld.

Michael Champagne, left, participates in a table discussion of opportunities and barriers to indigenous people and settler populations working together in the city.

Michael Champagne speaks with energy and passion about indigenous youth and young adults in the city.

Adrian Jacobs, left, addresses the gather circle at Circle of Life Thunderbird House while Michael Champagne looks on.

Instead of the usual small, intimate gathering that has characterized previous fall Partnership Circle meetings, more than 85 northern indigenous people, Mennonite Church Manitoba representatives, people from other denominations and social service agencies gathered on Nov. 1 to form a vastly expanded circle at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House.  

Faith groups lament for the killed and wounded

We share in the grief and shock our nation is feeling. We honour Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who were killed. Our prayers for comfort and healing are offered for the families of Cirillo and Vincent, those wounded, and those who were the first responders on the scenes. We offer our prayers for the families of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau.

‘They are not alone’

Melanie Kampen camped out at the Native Women’s Protest site near the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg earlier this month, to protest the government’s lack of response to the 1,182 missing and murdered indigenous women from across Canada. (Photo by Chris Swan)

Flowers are laid out on the Manitoba Legislature steps in Winnipeg in the pattern of a butterfly at the annual Oct. 4 vigil honouring the 1,182 missing and murdered indigenous women from across Canada. It was one of 130 vigils held this year. (Photo by Kira Burkett)

On a very windy, cold and dark Oct. 3 night, Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, and a few others strung 20 dresses on fishing line on both sides of the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge that spans the Red River near The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.

Committed, supportive. . . and ‘just plain tired’

Volunteer exhaustion and the difficulty recruiting more and younger volunteers are a big part of the reason the Morris MCC Relief Sale is shutting down after 33 years, but George Klassen, chair of the now defunct board, identifies other reasons as well: ‘People do not need “stuff” as much as they used to.’ (Credit: Kristian Jordan)

Mennonite Central Committee relief sales began in Manitoba in 1963, and for the first 18 years they moved from one rural community to another before finding a permanent home in Morris. (Photo: Kristian Jordan)

“It almost felt like a huge sigh of relief coming from the volunteers,” said George Klassen as he closed the books of the Morris (Man.) Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale. On Sept. 13, about 250 volunteers served their last perogies, knitted their last slippers, baked their last pies and directed traffic for the very last sale in Morris. 

‘Each day was a joy’

Team members of the MEDA Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb celebrate as they reach the summit on July 14 after beginning that morning at 5 a.m., which required wearing headlamps to see. (Photo: Duane Eby)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: courtesy of Allan Sauder)

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest peak at 5,895 metres. (Photo: Duane Eby)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: Tom Bishop)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: Tom Bishop)

After 27 years with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), the last 12 as president and chief executive officer, Allan Sauder of Waterloo felt that he needed a professional development leave to both freshen his energies and to give him a new perspective on his work.

Responding to terrorism: a Christ-centred approach

David Shenk, fourth from right; Pastor Jeremiah Choi, sixth from right; and Pastor Crystal Nana Lee, fifth from left, discuss relationships between Muslims and Christians at Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong in September 2013. (Photo courtesy of David Shenk)

The Christian/Muslim Relations Team, from left to right: David Shenk, Grace Shenk, Jonathan Bornman, Sheryl Martin and Andres Prins. (Photo: Tammy Evans)

Iraqi refugee Dawoud Dawoud, left, and Jonathan Bornman at the Connection Center in Lancaster, Pa. Bornman served as a consultant for Light of Hope Ministries to offer English-as-a-second-language and Arabic language classes. (Photo: Jonathan Bornman)

“Are Muslims trying to take over America?” “Who are the ‘true Muslims’—the peaceful ones or the violent ones?” “How should Christians respond to jihadi Muslims?” “Isn’t force the only effective way to respond to Islamist terrorism?”

‘People can do this’

Stacey and Matthew Vandermeer stand in their backyard with a 77-litre garbage bag like the one they filled from July 1, 2013 to June 30 of this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Friends would apologize for throwing things out when they visited. People posted nasty notes on the CBC and CTV websites in response to “the challenge.”

‘An energizing event’

Frank Elias, left, president of the Carman Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop, welcomes Ron Janzen, director of MCC Manitoba, as he arrives on his 600-kilometre bicycle tour of the 16 thrift shops in Manitoba. Each store was given a rebuilt bicycle to raffle off during the celebrations when Janzen arrived.

It only took a few seconds for Ron Janzen to catch his breath as he dismounted his bicycle and entered the Carman Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop to greet volunteers and shoppers.

Righting an historical wrong

Ilda Bauman in the early 1940s in front of The House of Friendship for all the Nations on King Street in Kitchener, Ont.

From left to right, flanking the Joseph Cramer cut-out are: Shelley Holmes, HoF stewardship officer; Martin Buhr, former HoF director; and, Sharon Reimer, Mary Lynn Dedels and Ken Bauman, who received the Buhr Friendship Legacy Award on behalf of the late Ilda Bauman. (Credit: Dave Rogalsky)

A paper cut-out of Joseph Cramer has stood prominently at the many House of Friendship (HoF) events during the Kitchener-based social agency’s 75th-anniversary year.

Listening to those being served

Executive director John Neufeld, left, and board president Trent Bauman stand with the Joseph Cramer cut-out at House of Friendship’s 75th annual meeting on June 17. Behind them is a quilt designed by Judy Martin and sewed by Arlene Martin, to be auctioned off to help fund House of Friendship.

When John Neufeld took the reins as director of Kitchener’s House of Friendship (HoF), he was confused by the 19 separate programs it was running: shelters, a food bank, addiction programs, a youth program, work in community centres, and on and on. How to make sense of it all?

Building friendship through music

Sol Sanderson, former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, addresses festival-goers at the Spruce River Folk Festival.

The Joy Singers—left to right: Wilf Buhler, Art Zacharias, Gordon Martens and Ben Buhler—perform at the Spruce River Folk Festival. Three of the four singers are members of Osler Mennonite Church.

Roland Ray, left, of the Mathias Colomb First Nation, Sandy Bay, Sask., shows festivalgoer Les Hurlburt how ancient rock paintings depict the land that once belonged to the band.

George Kingfisher, Young Chippewayan hereditary chief, addresses festival-goers at the Spruce River Folk Festival.

Prince Albert singer/songwriter Violet Naytowhow performs traditional and original compositions at the Spruce River Folk Festival.

It may be a blip on the radar compared to other events of its kind, but what it lacks in size the Spruce River Folk Festival more than makes up for in heart.

Ears to earth, eyes to God

The land at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in downtown Winnipeg was too important as an inter-tribal meeting and trading place to be held by any one people, says Clarence Nepinak, a learning tour leader at Native Assembly 2014. (Photo: Moses Falco)

Steve Heinrichs, director of indige-nous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, leads in singing during one of Native Assembly 2014’s worship services. (Photo: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

In the Blanket Exercise, quilts covering the floor are Turtle Island—aka North America. The blankets are folded and removed to represent the insidious ways that land and control were taken from Indigenous Peoples through colonialism. Participants are crowded into smaller and smaller areas, or sent back to their seats to represent those who died from disease or imposed malnutrition. (Photo: Moses Falco)

An early morning fire and smudging ceremony started each day of Native Assembly 2014 that met from July 28 to 31 at the edge of the Assiniboine Forest on the Canadian Mennonite University campus.

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