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Web First

Mennonites respond to Ecuador earthquakes

People from the Mennonite church of Guayaquil, Ecuador, load relief materials on a truck to take to Manta for those effected by recent earthquake. (Mennonite Mission Network photo)

Web First | Apr 25, 2016

Mennonites are responding to the recent earthquakes in Ecuador, where members of multiple Mennonite congregations are among 100,000 people affected by the disaster. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador on April 16, 2016, followed by a second earthquake on April 20. At least 570 people have been killed and more than 7,000 injured or missing. Currently, responders are attending to the wounded and survivors, and searching for those still missing beneath rubble.

How climate change threatens farmers in Bangladesh

Rice farmer Masum Khandakar is pictured in front of his home in Bangladesh. With other farmers in his community, he is worried about the health of the soil in his community. (Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

Web First | By J. Neufeld | Apr 21, 2016

Masum Khandakar is a Bangladeshi rice farmer with a craggy face and a jutting white beard that flares as wide as the wings of his collared shirt. His voice goes high when his emotions overwhelm him. That is what happened one day in late December when he stood up during a community meeting inside a dimly lit schoolhouse in the town of Kotalipara and described what Koinonia had done for him. “Before Koinonia came, I could not eat one full meal a day,” he said, his voice cracking. “My fields were under water. There was no work.”

Elmira ends Hawkesville’s Bible quiz reign

The 2016 Bible Quizzer-of-the-Year Award went to Julianna Suderman from East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock, Ont. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Apr 20, 2016

The team from Elmira Mennonite Church ended the Hawkesville and Markham church dynasties at this year’s Bible quizzing competition, held on April 9, 2016, at Steinmann Mennonite Church near Baden.

It has been nine years since a team other than from the Hawkesville or the Markham-Stouffville youth groups won the competition organized by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC). For the past three years, it was Hawkesville’s name on the plaque, and in the three years before that, Markham won the competition. In 2008 and 2009 the wins also went to Hawkesville and Markham.

Retired farming couple uses centrepieces to fight hunger

Last year barley centrepieces like this raised more than $2,000 to fight world hunger. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Web First | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Apr 18, 2016

When Henry and Hilda Schulz of Sanford, Man., were still farming, one of the crops they grew was barley.

As friends at their church—Sargent Avenue Mennonite in Winnipeg—learned this, they asked them for barley seed to make Easter centrepieces, as a way to bring a little spring and new life into their homes.

Hilda initially gave the barley away. But since Henry was involved in a Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing project in nearby Domain, she realized it might make an excellent fundraiser for the Foodgrains Bank.

A little experiment in ordinary reality

Lauren Wallis and Dylan Siebert, foreground, engage in deep discussion at the “Winter Camp for Grown-ups,” a joint effort of Pastors in Exile (PiE) and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, located near Sauble Beach, Ont. Playing table tennis in the background are David Celis (right) and Chris Brnjas, co-founder of (PiE). (Photo by Elle Crevits)

Web First | By Chris Brnjas | Apr 18, 2016

Marketed “for twenty- and thirty-somethings who wish they could do camp again,” Pastors in Exile (PiE) and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp near Sauble Beach, Ont., ran what they called “Winter Camp for Grown-ups” from March 4 to 6, 2016.

So why would two pastors—Jessica Reesor Rempel and I—have any interest in leading a winter camp with no explicit religious or spiritual language in the advertising. Shouldn’t our job be to lead Bible studies, prayer groups and spiritual retreats?

Uncovering a historic Mennonite costume collection

History major Amanda Bartel displays some of the clothes she has catalogued as part of a historic Mennonite costumes collection. (Bluffton University photo)

Web First | Apr 06, 2016

From plain coats to lace-covered wedding dresses, Amanda Bartel, a history major from Iowa City, Iowa, is cataloging Bluffton University’s historic clothing collection to learn more about what it means to dress like a Mennonite. She explained the cataloging process for students, faculty, staff and community members on March 1, 2016, at Bluffton University.

The collection is currently stored in Berky Hall at Bluffton University and was originally used by students in the fashion design major that is no longer offered.

How fear and mistrust gave way to friendship

Wilmer and Barb Froese reflect on the meaning of the land. Their farm is on what once was Reserve 107. (Photo by Rebel Sky Media)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Apr 05, 2016

First nations, Lutheran and Mennonite movie-goers crowded into Saskatoon’s Roxy Theatre on March 13, 2016, popcorn in hand, to watch the premiere of Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies.

The 30-minute documentary, directed by Brad Leitch and produced by Adrienne Leitch of Rebel Sky Media, tells the story of the Young Chippewayan First Nation, the community of Laird, Sask., and a special gathering that brought the two groups together in 2006.

European Mennonites reject violence against Syrian refugees

Dutch churches put peace into action, as participants in a weekend conference last year packed a shipping container full of Mennonite Central Committee relief kits for Syria at the Dutch fellowship centre Dopersduin in Schoorl. (Photo by Johan Tempelaar)

Web First | Apr 05, 2016

Mennonite churches in Europe are responding to the violence and displacement in the Middle East that is affecting their society.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Gemeiden (AMG, Mennonite Church in Germany) and Algemene Doopsgezind Societeit (ADS, Dutch Mennonite Society) each wrote a letter to their governments urging peace.

Sir James MacMillan finds ‘the spiritual in music’

The University of Waterloo Chamber Choir, the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Choir 21 present ‘The Music of Sir James MacMillan’ as the culmination of MacMillan’s visit to Conrad Grebel University College on March 1, 2016. Conducted by MacMillan, left, the music on the program included his own works (‘The Gallant Weaver’ and ‘Miserere’), ‘Immortal Bach’ by Knut Nystedt, and works by Murray Schafer and James Rolfe. (Conrad Grebel photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Web First | By Nicole Simone | Apr 05, 2016

Conrad Grebel University College hosted Sir James MacMillan as the 2016 Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar. The Scottish composer and conductor, best known for his sacred choral works, gave his Sawatsky Lecture address, “The spiritual in music,” on March 1, 2016.

My taxes for peace, not war

Emily Mininger developed this infographic as part of her role as an intern with Conscience Canada.

Web First | By Emily Mininger | Mar 30, 2016

Because I grew up in the Mennonite tradition, conscientious objection is not a foreign concept to me. I was raised to value peace over violence and to treat every human life as sacred and precious. These values have stayed with me throughout my life.

I furthered my passion for finding nonviolent resolutions to conflict through studying peace and conflict courses at Conrad Grebel University College (Waterloo, Ont.), and upon graduation I continued to look for opportunities to work with organizations doing this important work.

MC Canada provides resource on indigenous-settler reconciliation

A special edition of the magazine Intotemak explores how churches can respond to the TRC’s Call to Action No. 48. (Design by Matt Veith, Mennonite Church Canada)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Mar 28, 2016

Steve Heinrichs is passionate about healing broken relationships between indigenous and settler peoples. As Mennonite Church Canada’s director of indigenous relations, he is committed to responding positively to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action No. 48: Adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

But he also wrestles with how to do that.

I feel it’s my country now

Fatoum Al Kurdi at her family’s new apartment in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They arrived in November 2015 as refugees from the conflict in Syria, sponsored by River East Mennonite Brethren Church with support from MCC. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Web First | By Emily Loewen | Mar 22, 2016

The greeting you get when visiting Yhya Al Kurdi’s apartment is full of excitement. Before you actually reach the door, Al Kurdi has opened it and stands at the end of the long corridor, waiting as you walk the rest of the way. Though he doesn’t know much English yet, he’ll give an enthusiastic, “Hello, hello, hello!” as he ushers you inside. It’s been a long time since he had a safe home to invite anyone into.

Vietnam Mennonite Church ordains 26

Pastor Lee, Pastor Khoa, Pastor Nghia, Pastor Hong An, Pastor Tuyen Nguyen, Gerry Keener, and Pastor Trung pray for newly ordained Pastor Lung from Hai Phong, Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Gerry Keener and Tuyen Nguyen)

Web First | By Emily Jones and Gerry Keener | Mar 22, 2016

After six years of training and preparation, the Vietnam Mennonite Church (VMC), a Mennonite World Conference member, ordained 26 pastors in Ho Chi Minh City on 5 December 2015.

Pastor Nguyen Quang Trung, president of VMC, officiated at the ordination service for 26 Mennonite pastors who had come from provinces and cities all over Vietnam. Approximately 120 Mennonite leaders and believers joined the festivities.

Prairie Meadow Place is ‘a wonderful place’ for seniors

Resident Erna Kreiter, standing, visits with guests at an open house held at Prairie Meadow Place on March 5. From left are Cookie Esperance, Irene Kortko, Della Klaassen and Shirley Otterbein. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Mar 22, 2016 | 1 comment

Dorine Russell sits in a comfortable armchair in her new room at Prairie Meadow Place, a cup of coffee by her side. “This is a wonderful place,” she says. “I love it here.” Russell moved to Rosthern, Sask., from Ontario a year ago to be near her daughter, who lives in Waldheim.

She’s one of 17 residents who moved into the new assisted-living facility from the old Home for the Aged in December 2015. When every room is occupied, the residence will be home to 20 seniors.

Learning firsthand about hunger in Nicaragua

Albóndigas soup was made and enjoyed by study tour participants and members of a local partner of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Presbyterian World Service and Development in San Antonio, Nicaragua. (Photo courtesy of Karla Fehr)

Web First | Mar 22, 2016

Karla Fehr, a member of Blumenort Mennonite Church in Gretna, Man., was part of a food study tour group organized by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. They travelled to Nicaragua for about two weeks earlier this year to learn about the link between global hunger and small-scale farmers.

Participants saw how the Foodgrains Bank is responding, what local and national organizations are doing, and learned about global hunger firsthand from the people whose lives it affects.

Growing up strong and healthy in India

Tarijmana Bibi prepares vegetables for the women’s group gathering in her community. About 20 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers receive a nutritious breakfast and learn about nutrition through a local partner of MCC. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Web First | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Mar 08, 2016

It’s only 8:30 a.m., but the temperature in the Sundarbans region of India is already hovering around 35 degrees Celsius.

If Tarijmana Bibi, 20, is bothered by the heat she isn’t showing it. She’s crouched low to the ground in the shade of her father-in-law’s compound, humming as she chops a mix of fresh vegetables with an old knife, pausing every few minutes to stir a large metal pot of boiling rice.

Janzen explores Mennonite representation in Mexican culture

Lecturer Rebecca Janzen’s research focused on the Low German speaking Mennonites of Mexico and their relationship to the Mexican government. (Photo courtesy of Bluffton University)

Web First | Mar 08, 2016

“We see them, but we do not know them.” That was an observation a Mexican friend made to Rebecca Janzen, about the Low German speaking Mennonites in Mexico. Recently Janzen was the 2016 C. Henry Smith Peace Lecturer at Bluffton University, speaking on the topic “Small Signs of Pluralism in Mexico: Identification Cards and Other Images of the Low German Mennonites.”

MEDA honouree formed by faith, for service

Jono Cullar

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2016

Jono Cullar of Waterloo, Ont., was honoured with a 20 under 35 award from Mennonite Economic Development Associates late last year for exemplifying “MEDA values: faith, service and an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Although his mother married an American and lives in Ohio, Cullar remembers many trips to Ontario through his growing up years to visit his maternal grandparents, Rod and Doris Weber, and Mannheim Mennonite Church that he now attends with his fiancée Sarah Steiner.

AMBS recognized for focus on faith and ecology

Participants in ‘Rooted and grounded: A conference on land and Christian discipleship’ at AMBS last fall gatherered for worship throughout the event. Elements on the altar designed by Julia Baker include soil from the St. Joseph watershed; local prairie grasses, fresh flowers and honey; a feather; acorns from red oak and burr oak trees, in recognition of the Potawatomi who are indigenous to the land in the Elkhart area; a Bible and corn, representing the 13 hectares of the seminary that was once farmland and is now a “seed bed”; a history book on industry in Elkhart; a basin and pitcher of water from the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers; and a candle representing the flame of God's Spirit. (Photo by Tyler Klassen)

Web First | Mar 08, 2016

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development has named Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) as 12th in a list of 28 seminaries in North America that excel in offering courses on faith and ecology. The list is based on the number of courses that each school offers that focus primarily on environmental, ecological, creation-care or nature-based themes and their relation to faith teachings.

Murray to speak at Rosthern

Author Stuart Murray

Web First | Mar 07, 2016

Stuart Murray, British author of the popular book The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, is the featured speaker at a fundraising dinner for Canadian Mennonite, to be held at the Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church on Saturday evening, April 23, 2016, at 6 p.m. The event follows two days of the annual meeting of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service. Murray will speak on the future of the church.

Healing wounds through art: A YAMEN experience

As part of her YAMEN! experience Keila Viana helped to organize an art parade in the main streets of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. (Photo by Keila Viana)

Web First | By Aharón González | Feb 23, 2016

For Keila Viana, seeing how art can heal wounds deepened her understanding of God and God’s love during her international service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“I believe that during this time God worked a lot in my life,” says Viana, a 22-year-old young adult from the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Camino de Santidad, in Honduras.

Anabaptist movement flourishing in South Korea

A participant comments at the first-ever Korean Anabaptist conference in January 2016. (Photo by Austin Headrick)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016

On January 30, 2016, nearly 100 people gathered in downtown Seoul, Korea, to participate in the first Korean Anabaptist conference. The goal of the gathering, according to Bock Ki Kim, director of the Korea Anabaptist Center and co-sponsor of the event, was “to introduce Anabaptist theology and values in a public, academic setting” and to “challenge ourselves as Korean Anabaptists to see who we are and what we have to do in South Korea.”

Biker club Christians de-escalate conflict

(Photo from

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Feb 23, 2016

Violating the conventions of biker culture landed the United Kingdom Christian motorcycle club, God’s Squad, in hot water. With the help of its president Joseph (pseudonym), who is a member of the Anabaptist Network, they kept their cool and found a peaceful path to resolution.

Biker culture often operates with a military-style hierarchy. Rules and codes of conduct support the chain of command and ensure due respect is paid to members and clubs. Clubs are identified by vest patches that are closely regulated for colour, images and the territory governed.

Hugo Friesen and Ted Regehr receive MHSC Awards of Excellence

Hugo Friesen, left, and Ted Regehr receive Awards of Excellence from Lucille Marr, president of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, on Jan. 16, 2016. In the background is a painting from the “Along the Road to Freedom” exhibit that is on display at the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Richard Thiessen)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016

Meeting at the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C., gave the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada the opportunity to see this new facility that tells the faith story of Mennonites in the Fraser Valley and is also the new home of the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C.  Representatives from Mennonite historical societies and organizations from across Canada met Jan. 13-16, 2016.

Music camp nurtures faith and supportive community

Music camp involves hours of music-making. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016 | 1 comment

Back in 2009, when I was 12 years old, I remember being crammed into the back row of a standing-room-only crowd at the final concert of the annual Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. To be honest, I don’t remember much of it, except a couple moments from the musical The Troubbable of Zerubbabel, when they knocked down something that looked like a temple, and a guy (who looked so old, like, 16) hit a super-low note.

That’s how I decided to go to music camp at Conrad Grebel University College.