My partner Suzanne Braun and I spent three years as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) service workers in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho from 2011-14. As the connecting peoples coordinator and planning, monitoring and evaluation coordinator, we worked to support a wide variety of MCC partner organizations throughout the SwaLeSA area.
It takes Anna Chemar almost two hours to dress in her favourite style. The elaborate makeup alone requires 45 minutes. Carefully slipping into the clothes—bell-shaped skirt, blouse and corset—takes another 20 minutes. The rest of the time is devoted to final touches: wig, headdress and painted lips. When finished, she looks like a Gothic-styled doll.
“Mennonites talking about sex? That would probably make world news!”
So observes the latest original production by Ontario-based theatre company Theatre of the Beat. The hard-hitting play, This Will Lead to Dancing, tackles this “taboo” topic and encourages Mennonites to talk about lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) inclusivity at least in our congregations.
My mother Colleen Thiessen and I were out for a walk when I visited her a few months ago and we passed our church. I asked how she could attend every Sunday morning. She replied, “I don’t. That’s the problem. I barely even have enough strength to just get out of bed.”
Even walking is an obstacle for her these days.
I always knew growing up that I wanted to leave home and see the world. The thought of one day volunteering overseas, listening to people’s stories and learning new languages excited me all through my adolescence and young adulthood.
That’s now a reality.
Sleeping soundly with his legs pulled into his hunched frame, my grandfather was comfortable before I woke him.
For Beverley Winter, the Friendship Manor community includes teenagers from the Altona Mennonite Church (AMC) youth group. Winter looks forward to monthly Sunday morning breakfasts with the youth group, a tradition started in 2011.
“We become a ‘nutcase’ when we’re isolated,” Winter says. “But it’s been so nice since [the youth group] have been here.”
Javier and his family arrived in Winnipeg in November of 2013, on the brink of Winnipeg’s coldest winter since 1898, a bone-chilling change from their Colombian homeland, where the temperature rarely drops far below zero.
The cold was a small price to pay for safety, though. The family fled Colombia to save their lives.
A selection of thematically diverse prints constitute Rudolph’s contribution to “Tandem: Going Places Together.” (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Miriam Rudolph and Terry Hildebrand met 11 years ago while studying fine arts at the University of Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Rudolph is an accomplished printmaker currently working on her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Originally from Winkler, Terry Hildebrand earned a Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus on ceramics from the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudoph)
From Winnipeg to Minneapolis to Edmonton, Terry Hildebrand and Miriam Rudolph’s journey together as artists and life partners has taken them to a variety of different places.
Youth and young adults from all over the world went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from July 21 to 26 for a reunion with the global Mennonite family. We spoke with a handful of young Canadians who were at Mennonite World Conference assembly about their time in Harrisburg. Though, as one young person pointed out, MWC is something best witnessed first-hand.
Coming out to Charleswood Mennonite Church, the congregation in Winnipeg that he grew up in, was an emotional experience for Dustin Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)
John Braun, pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, says he was never concerned about how the congregation would respond to Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)
Growing up, Dustin Loewen was sometimes teased by his friends for being a “Mennonite poster boy.” He had a well-rounded Mennonite upbringing, attended Mennonite schools and has attended Charleswood Mennonite Church since he was two years old.
Then, at 27 years old, Loewen stood in front of his church community and told them he is gay.
Wilhelm (Will) Friesen, a Grade 5/6 student, does not have a voice. Will was born with severe cognitive and physical disabilities which prevent him from performing basic tasks, including speaking. Born in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia in 2004, he moved with his parents and two sisters to Manitoba in 2007.
Before they ate their fill of rollkuchen, watermelon, farmer’s sausage and other traditional Mennonite food, a group of Saskatchewan Mennonites cycled 43 kilometres in solidarity with those who have to leave their homeland in search of peace.
Imagine these words as pictures with no direct meaning. That’s part of what it’s like to have dyslexia.
Tyreese Hildebrandt is a 10-year-old who dreams of helping people to have clean drinking water. A while back, Hildebrandt read a book that touched him deeply. Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought them Together by Herb Shoveller is about a Canadian boy who raised money to dig a well in Uganda and a Ugandan boy who became his friend.
When people complete high school, they are often overwhelmed and stressed because there are so many career options. When Afonso Arrais graduated, his stress came from a lack of options.
Arrais, now a student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, was born in Portugal and attended high school in the capital city, Lisbon. He was constantly concerned about his future.
Look at a board of any institution, Mennonite or otherwise. They’re mainly made up of middle-aged or retired professionals. With that said, many boards are looking to expand their horizons by diversifying. They want more women, people from different ethnic and professional backgrounds, and younger people.
The view at the L’Abri branch in Huémoz, a small village surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Janzen spent two weeks there last year. (Photo by Tasha Janzen)
An accomplished musician, 20-year-old Tasha Janzen first got involved in her church as a child when her grandmother paid her $5 to play piano during the offertory. (Photo courtesy of Tasha Janzen)
The red piano in Janzen’s room represents the importance of music in her life. It also inspired the name of her Red Piano Rhapsody blog. (Photo by Tasha Janzen)
In addition to playing piano in church, Janzen has studied classical music, accompanied choirs and performed in rock bands. Last year, she performed with Abbotsford, B.C.’s Quinn and Tonic rock band. From left: Tasha Janzen, Rick Chappell, Savannah Quinn (foreground), Nick Kirby and Colin Hoock. (Photo courtesy of Tasha Janzen)
When Tasha Janzen thinks back to her time in Switzerland last year, learning the importance of life balance is one of the biggest things that sticks out for her.