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Web First

Hollywood feminism and the decline of cinema

Aside from the obvious flaws, there are two aspects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that disturb this reviewer.

Web First | By Vic Thiessen | Feb 17, 2016

Star Wars (the original by George Lucas) arrived in Winnipeg in the early summer of 1977. I went to the first screening of the day (around noon) and was so blown away by what I saw and heard (the score, not the banal dialogue) that I stayed in the theatre for four successive viewings, something I had never done before and would never do again.

What people want to know about Mennonites

Erwin and Angela Rempel serve as volunteers at Third Way, a portal to information about Mennonites and Anabaptists. They respond personally to questions that the website doesn’t answer directly. (MennoMedia photo)

Web First | Feb 08, 2016

The Third Way website was re-launched last April, and by late 2015 daily visitors were averaging 750 or more. Many are seeking information about Mennonites, their beliefs and practices.

Mennonites active in Ukraine

The Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Ukraine. Personnel from various Mennonite organizations are active in Ukraine, in economic support, education, health and social organizations, peace and justice concerns, seniors care, and evangelistic programs. (Photo courtesy of Victor Kliewer)

Web First | By Victor Kliewer | Feb 08, 2016 | 1 comment

Various Mennonite groups and agencies have been working in Ukraine since the late 1980s, and representatives of eight organizations met in Winnipeg on Jan. 25, 2016, for an annual review of their activities. Most of the work has been done in the area of Zaporizhzhya—the area of the former Mennonite Chortitza Colony—and in the area of the former Molotschna Colony.

Mennonite heritage tours of Ukraine during the past 20 years have made North American Mennonites aware of the great social needs.

Project Ploughshares begins a new furrow

Executive director Cesar Jaramillo sits in his Project Ploughshares’ office, located at the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 08, 2016

Cesar Jaramillo, executive director at Project Ploughshares since last July, knows first-hand the need for new ways of dealing with conflict and violence.

He and his wife Paula Cardenas arrived in Toronto in January 2005 as political refugees from Colombia. Cardenas’s father was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and held for ransom, and Jaramillo was the one who was sent to a remote mountain location with the money to secure his father-in-law’s release.

Video: Christ at the coffee shop

Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Web First | Feb 03, 2016 | 1 comment

In the spring of 2015, Pastor Kassa Lemma of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto invited Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director Willard Metzger to speak at an Ethiopian evangelistic conference. Metzger admits that his first response was hesitant. “We don’t do that anymore as Mennonites.” But he says the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Mennonites do engage in evangelism—they just go about it in different ways.

Worship plans connect churches across continent

A team from British Columbia developed the Mennonite worship resources for Lent/Easter 2016. Left to right: Rob Brown, Eden Mennonite Church; Chris Lenshyn, Emmanuel Mennonite Church; Tasha Janzen, Bethel Mennonite Church; Dave Bergen, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada; Emma Pavey, Langley Mennonite Fellowship; Elsie Rempel, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada. (Photo courtesy of Elsie Rempel)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

Twice a year many Mennonite congregations across Canada and the U.S. share a common worship experience. That’s because they use the same worship resources during the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.

Looking back with MCC

Esther Epp-Tiessen visits with Dave Neufeldt, chair of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta at the annual fall session held at Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary, Nov. 21, 2015. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 26, 2016

Kim Thiessen’s rendition of “Give Yourself to Love” was a perfect thematic opening to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta’s (MHSA) 2015 fall conference. The gathering highlighted the history of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada.

Love for God’s people underlies the work Thiessen, associate director of MCC Alberta, helps the organization accomplish. In an update on current projects, Thiessen showed how it has become well-known for helping refugees.

Learning a language not governed by grammar

Nicole, in the apron, and her friends Caroline and Linda help prepare brunch at Choices and Connections, a long-running Communitas program, while Jeevanjot looks on. (Photo by Angelika Dawson)

Web First | By Angelika Dawson | Jan 26, 2016

It’s a busy morning at Choices and Connections (CAC). They’re preparing brunch and the kitchen smells wonderful: sausages and eggs, pancakes and waffles, syrup and strawberries. Linda and Caroline are helping Nicole cut up the fruit for toppings as Jeevanjot watches. Sue sets the table with special napkins and cutlery. In the den, another group of friends play Wii bowling while others cheer them on.

Colombian churches call for prayer

The countryside around the community of La Esperanza, Colombia, where land mines have been planted. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

“We know that in many places throughout the world there is war, violence and hunger.” With this acknowledgement, Mennonite partners working for peace and justice in Colombia call on Anabaptist-related brothers and sisters around the world to pray for La Esperanza community in Colombia—and “that God’s salvation and peace become a reality throughout the world.”

Training, persistence lead to new income

Obed Nkundagenzi trims the hair of Uwase Laissa in the barbershop he started after getting technical training at Mwana Nshuti, a program supported by MCC’s Global Family education program in Rwanda. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Web First | By Linda Espenshade | Jan 14, 2016

In the Rwandan barber shop where Obed Nkundagenzi works with three friends, he is surrounded by pictures of success—mansions with lavish green lawns, beautiful models and full-size posters of sports teams and their heroes.

American rap stars have their spots on the wall gallery, although the music in the barber shop is the rat-a-tat of the rain on the tin roof, the buzzing of the razors and low-pitched conversations in Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda.

Gospel Herald and The Mennonite available for online searches

As part of the project to digitize volumes of The Mennonite and Gospel Herald, Lois Longenecker, a volunteer for Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, snips threads of tightly-bound volumes so that pages could be scanned in their entirety. (AMBS photo)

Web First | Jan 13, 2016

Readers can now search online, for free, in the denominational magazines of Mennonite Church Canada’s and Mennonite Church USA’s two predecessor organizations, the Mennonite Church (MC) and the General Conference Mennonite Church (GCMC).

Within each volume of the MC Gospel Herald (1908–1998) and the GCMC The Mennonite (1885–1998), researchers can conduct a full-text search to quickly locate topics and articles.

European Anabaptist leaders release statement on refugees

Twenty-one leaders of nine European Mennonite conferences, Mennonite World Conference, and two international agencies gathered for annual meetings in France, October 2015. (MWC photo)

Web First | Jan 13, 2016

Leaders of Mennonite conferences in Europe and international guests met in Buhl, France, for their annual gathering of planning and fellowship October 23-25, 2015. The assembled leaders drafted a statement to express their concern about the refugee crisis in Europe.

Professor reflects on Mennonite hymns and their influence

Kenneth J. Nafziger

Web First | By Melodie Davis | Jan 12, 2016

Dr. Kenneth J. Nafziger, long-time and noted professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University—plus a key figure in putting together a hymnal and two song supplements—spoke at a recent breakfast meeting of the Eastern Mennonite University Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society. His topic: How our hymns influence and reflect our changing theology.

Personnel sought for Mennonite song collection

Web First | Jan 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Looking for a way to use your musical and worship talents in the new year? Want to be part of shaping what Mennonites sing?

MennoMedia, in close partnership with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, began accepting applications for various committee and staff positions for a new Mennonite song collection on January 1, 2016.

Top 10 online stories in 2015

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jan 07, 2016 | 1 comment

Stories about Mennonite identity, sexuality, politics, and music attracted visitors to the Canadian Mennonite website last year. Here are the top stories, based on the number of page views.

10.  “Being Mennonite 101” featured a young adult who uses light-hearted YouTube videos to educate people about Mennonite beliefs and culture.  About Mennonites of many nationalities and cultural backgrounds, she quips, “It’s awesome, because that just means the food keep getting better!”

St. Jacobs Mennonite celebrates 100 years in the village

Chuck Kruger (left), Larry Shantz and Marcia Shantz, play “Johnny Be Good” for the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church variety show on Nov. 14, 2015, exactly 100 years after the building was dedicated. In this version Johnny is the horse pulling the Good family buggy to the Heidelberg auction. Members of the congregational prayer shawl ministry sit behind them. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Jan 07, 2016

In 1915, in the midst of the First World War, the Swiss Mennonite congregation that had been meeting at the Conestoga Meetinghouse moved to the village of St. Jacobs. Founded in 1834, the congregation had been meeting in a simple structure at 2035 Three Bridges Road, where St. Jacobs Mennonite Church still maintains a cemetery.

Loving life, befriending death

Paul Chamberlain gave the keynote address, “Getting a Handle on Ethics,” at the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly 2015 conference.

Web First | By Sherri Martin-Carman | Jan 06, 2016 | 4 comments

“The ability to keep people alive longer has created new ethical questions around deciding to die. This has, in ways, driven the conversation around euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Paul Chamberlain spoke these words in his opening address at the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly, which met in Waterloo in October 2015.

Anabaptist schools, Scripture and spiritual awakening

Sara Wenger Shenk, president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, reflects on the most urgent work for Anabaptist Mennonite schools in these troubled times. (Photo by Jason Bryant)

Web First | By Sara Wenger Shenk | Dec 21, 2015

In late September 2015, many of us were enthralled by a rare celestial display: a super moon in total eclipse, also known as a blood moon because of its reddish glow—clearly a reference to the apocalyptic vision from Revelation 6.

I talked about the blood moon on the phone with my 93-year-old mother, who said, “Oh Sara, I remember a night in Ethiopia, when you were a little girl. The night watchman woke us all in a panic, banging on our bedroom window, crying: “The moon burned up! The moon burned up!”

MDS project directors deeply rooted in service

Canadians Peter and Susan Thiessen bring a tradition of service and years of experience to their current roles with Mennonite Disaster Service. (Mennonite Disaster Service photo)

Web First | By Susan Kim | Dec 21, 2015

When Peter Thiessen was a teenager, one of his neighbors, a farmer, was injured so badly he couldn’t do the harvest. “It was Halloween night,” recalled Peter, “and my father got all the guys in the community together, and we worked for that farmer all through the night.”

As he was growing up in Manitoba, Peter’s family and his neighbors consistently showed him what it meant to live a life that was focused on helping others.

Welcoming refugees in Germany

A local church in the city of Halle, Germany, serves as a storage facility and sorting area for the many donated goods for refugees. (Eastern Mennonite Missions photo)

Web First | By Stephanie Hanna | Dec 21, 2015

“Above all, we want the refugees to receive what they need in the name of Jesus, for his glory and fame. They need him more than they need clean bedsheets, but we want to give them both!” say Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) workers in Halle, Germany. As Germany continues to wrestle with Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, EMM workers in Halle have joined in the emergency relief efforts. (Names are omitted due to a growing backlash against refugees and those assisting them.)

Updated edition of The Naked Anabaptist released

Web First | Dec 19, 2015

Five years ago, Stuart Murray’s book The Naked Anabaptist made waves with its look at the central beliefs of Anabaptism and their relevance for Christians today. Now Herald Press has released a new edition of the book, drawing in stories and perspectives from North America and the global church.

WCC calls for climate justice and care of creation at COP21

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, South Africa, presents Christiana Figueres with the interfaith petition for climate justice. Figueres heads the United Nations body dealing with climate change. (Photo © Ryan Rodrick Beiler/LWF)

Web First | By From World Council of Churches reports | Dec 10, 2015

“We believe that you will serve the world by showing the best of human creativity and capacity,” said Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in his December 8 address to the High Level Segment of the COP21 international climate conference in Paris. The conference, sponsored by the United Nations, is being held in Paris, France, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, 2015.

A labyrinth of Advent blessing

Pastor Gordon Allaby blesses his grandson in an Advent labyrinth created at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., last year. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe,

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Dec 09, 2015

At Waterloo North Mennonite Church, the 2014 Advent season began on Nov. 24 with a special labyrinth of blessing for the congregation’s children and youth.

A labyrinth of freshly cut pine, spruce and cedar boughs spiralled through the fellowship hall. Decorated with foil stars, apples and cranberry-like garlands, the labyrinth brought a festive appearance and a seasonal scent to the darkened room. Christmas carols played in the background.

‘Africa is for babies’

Taryn and Nathan Dirks, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in Gaborone, Botswana, with their baby Malakai. (Photo by Robyn Chew)

Web First | By Nathan Dirks | Dec 08, 2015

“Africa is for babies.” That’s what Andrew and Karen Suderman, our Mennonite Church Canada colleagues in South Africa, assured us before we first left for Botswana in 2013.

Churches of all stripes call for freedom of religion

Leaders from a variety of Christian denominations met in Albania to discuss religious discrimination, persecution and martyrdom. They called on governments and churches globally “to respect and protect the freedom of religion” as a fundamental human right. (Photo from the Global Christian Forum website) 

Web First | By Karla Braun | Dec 08, 2015

Representatives of every stream of global Christianity met in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 1 to 5, 2015, for a consultation on Discrimination, Persecution, Martyrdom: Following Christ Together, convened by the Global Christian Forum.

Together, these 145 Christian leaders recognized the continued persecution of Christians, repented of the times Christians have persecuted those of other faith, and called on governments and churches globally “to respect and protect the freedom of religion” as a fundamental human right.