Erin Brandenburg plays at Toronto’s Summer Works

A scene from Petrichor includes (from left): Andrew Penner (Dick), David Tompa (Peter), Monica Dottor (Susan), Shannon Taylor (Mary).

Erin Brandenburg with her husband Andrew Penner and their son Jack.

The theatre was dim. A projection screen showed an animated scene of a farm yard by night. The wind rippled through the trees and grass. Clouds blew across the moon. Crickets chirped in the background as the low voices of the patrons sounded like the voices of farm dwellers on the porch in the cooling evening after a hot day on the fields.

Art exhibit to tell ‘Road to Freedom’ stories

This painting by Ray Dirks tells the story of Agatha Harms Reimer who escaped from the Soviet Union with three sons after World War 2. It is part of the “Along the Road to Freedom” collection which opens at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery on Sunday, Oct. 14. Agatha, the grandmother of Dirks’ wife, lived to be 103.

Ray Dirks, curator and artist, has embarked on a project to paint as many as twenty canvasses to tell the stories of Mennonite women who brought their families out of the Soviet Union amid the confusion and turmoil of the waning months of World War 2. The first selection will be ready for an opening on Oct. 14, at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery where Dirks is the curator.

Kreiders bring prophetic voice to the church

Alan and Eleanor Kreider, recently “retired,” have had a full life of ministry, mostly in the United Kingdom, but with influences throughout the world. Working in post-Christendom and postmodern Europe has given them foresight into what has been developing in North America. Some would see this as God preparing North American Christians with the prophetic and pastoral voice of the Kreiders.

Rempel launches her new book, Please Pass the Faith

Elsie Rempel was available to sign her new book at MC Canada Assembly in Vancouver.

Elsie Rempel, Mennonite Church Canada Formation Consultant, launched her new book, Please Pass the Faith, at Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2012 in Vancouver. The book explores “spiritual grandparenting” as an intentional way to share faith with the next generation in a world full of distractions and busy schedules.

Joining the Doxology

Taking a bow after Theatre of the Beat’s Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft are John Wideman, left, who starred as Sam Steiner; Sam Steiner himself; his wife Sue Clemmer Steiner; and Kim Walker, who played Sue Clemmer.

Those who had the opportunity to see Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft will recall that this drama—based on the 1960s lives of Sam Steiner and Sue Clemmer—ends with the cast singing the Doxology. “Sam” joined in part way through the hymn. Some observers thought this an abrupt ending, and wondered how a draft dodger, alienated from his church of birth, returned to faith.

Draft dodger Doxology

Kim Walker (as Sue Clemmer), left, John Wideman (as Sam Steiner), and other Goshen College students played by Rebecca Steiner and Ben Wert work on the college’s student paper in Theatre of the Beat’s Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft.

gad·fly - [gad-flahy]

1. any of various flies, as a stable fly or warble fly, that bite or annoy domestic animals.

Unveil your heart

Rohina Malik plays a veiled Muslim woman in her one-woman show, Unveiled, performed at Conrad Grebel University College on March 30.

Rohina Malik was 14 when her family moved from London, England, to Chicago. It was there that she lived through—and continues to live through—the misunderstandings about Muslims, veiled Muslim women in particular.

From print to podcasts

Canadian Mennonite is at an exciting place in its history, Larry Cornies told board members of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) at their annual meeting and fundraiser on March 24 at Toronto United Mennonite Church. “We’ve come to the intersection of Christendom’s decline, the rise of new communication tools and a new paradigm in leadership,” he said.

Reading Mennonite novels as works of art

Paul Tiessen , English and film studies prof at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Although sailing troubled waters over the past 50 years, Mennonite novelists have taught Mennonite readers how to approach their texts with boldness and humility as “we learn more about ourselves through their works of art,” Paul Tiessen said last month in wrapping up a nine-week series of lectures by Mennonite writers at Conrad Grebel University College.

Beauty from loss

‘6.5 Weeks’ by Cliff Derksen (clay with patina finish). The artist tried to sculpt his murdered daughter’s bound hands, but couldn’t bear to. Instead, he sculpted his own because he wishes they would have been his hands bound, instead of hers.

‘70 x 7’ by Odia Derksen (100 percent felted wool, detail). The hanging represents tears and giving up hatred.

‘Evidence of a trial’ by Odia Derksen (100 percent felted wool, detail). Derksen crocheted nearly every day of the trial. Every time she felt a new emotion, she would change colours. Cream represents feeling neutral or doing fine. Red represents pain and black represents anger.

‘The Last Walk’ by Odia Derksen (series of photographs, detail). A patron of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery views the collection of photos Derksen took as she walked her murdered sister Candace’s route from school to where she was abducted and then to where her body was eventually found.

Wilma Derksen poses beside husband Cliff Derksen’s sculpture, ‘Escape: Jonah’ (clay with a patina finish). While the artist was unhappy with life, wishing to escape just like Jonah, he felt peace knowing that he has a patient, understanding and forgiving God.

It is indescribable, the feeling of losing a loved one, especially when that person is lost as the result of a murder.

Poet struggles with Mennonite identity

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, the Rod and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar, spoke to staff and students at Conrad Grebel University College and members of the public last month.

Ancestral worship for Mennonite writers is a great temptation, Julia Spicher Kasdorf told a faculty forum at Conrad Grebel University College on Feb. 17 as part of the award-winning Mennonite poet’s three-day presence on campus as a visiting scholar sponsored by the Rod and Lorna Sawatsky Fund.

Mennonites can dance

Émilie Durville (Claudel) and Marcin Kaczorowski (Rodin) dance in Peter Quanz’s ballet Claudel/Rodin at Les Grands Ballets Canadien in the fall of 2011.

Choreographer Peter Quanz, centre, sits in the kitchen of the home of his parents, Ken and Lil, in Baden, Ont. His parents have posted the clippings of his latest dance on the fridge.

At the age of 17, dancer Peter Quanz of Wilmot Mennonite Church was already living in Winnipeg on his own. Before heading to Winnipeg, he commuted to an arts high school in nearby Kitchener, instead of attending his local high school. His parents had always supported his interest in dance, although they all kept it quiet in the congregation and community.


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