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A leader of leaders

Ralph Lebold

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 15, 2017

Born into a Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (WOM)—formerly the Amish Mennonite Conference of Ontario—family, Ralph Lebold grew up with strong leaders in a congregational polity. Each congregation had a bishop, minister and deacon working together, although with separate roles. While ordained, these leaders were unpaid and often untrained, although many Amish Mennonites attended the Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute held in Kitchener, Ont., for many years, with sponsorship from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario.

Where do we go from here?

Mennonite Church Canada’s General Board met for the final time just before the start of Special Assembly 2017 on Oct. 13 in Winnipeg. Now, the new regional churches are trying to understand the ramifications in the wake of decisions made there. (Mennonite Church Canada photo by Dan Dyck)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Nov 15, 2017

On Oct. 14, 2017, delegates at a special assembly in Winnipeg approved a restructuring plan to shift the centre of ministries from the nationwide church office to each of the five regional churches. A 94 percent vote gave a clear mandate for change, but how clear is the way forward for a new Mennonite Church Canada? (See more at “Overwhelming vote in favour of new MC Canada structure.”)

Focus groups hear of restructuring plans

Interested members of Mennonite Church B.C. listen as MC Canada executive minister Willard Metzger, left, explains how the new nationwide structure will affect giving and programs in the national church. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 15, 2017

How the new structure of Mennonite Church Canada will affect congregations in B.C. was the topic for focus groups in Richmond and Abbotsford late last month. Donors who have been supporting both MC Canada and MC B.C. were invited to attend the meetings with Willard Metzger, the nationwide church’s executive minister, along with the regional church’s leadership and financial personnel.

In search of a collective narrative

MC Manitoba delegates who met for their fall gathering in Grunthal earlier this month express concern, wondering how they will be able to make the regional church budget when they can’t even make their own church budgets. (Photo by Katrina Woelk)

God at work in the Church | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Nov 15, 2017

In October, congregants from across Canada gathered for Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg, where they voted to implement a new structure, ushering in a new era for the new nationwide church and regional churches. Less than a month later, Manitobans met to discuss the implications of this change for them.

‘Strike while the iron is hot’

Ly Vang and Toua Vang, both of First Hmong Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., and David Martin, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s executive minister, discuss the results and plans coming out of Special Assembly 2017 at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener on Oct. 17, the first of seven such regional meetings. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 15, 2017

The ink on the new covenant document between the five regional (formerly area) churches was scarcely dry before Mennonite Church Eastern Canada began to describe to its congregations what this new reality means now and could mean in the future.

Before MC Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 took place in Winnipeg in mid-October, MC Eastern Canada had arranged seven regional meetings to gather congregational representatives.

Staff changes at MC Eastern Canada

Norm Dyck, the newly appointed Mennonite Church Eastern Canada mission engagement minister, says, “The face of the church is rapidly changing! What appears to be emerging is the possibility of living into an intercultural witness as the church. In a time when racial tensions and violence often dominate the news, God has provided the church with an opportunity to model another way.”

Fort Garry Mennonite’s first five decades

Children enjoy their story at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship’s 50th anniversary service on Oct. 15, 2017. (Fort Garry Mennonite Photo)

God at work in the Church | By John and Dorothy Friesen | Nov 15, 2017

On Oct. 15, 2017, more than 300 excited and exuberant members and guests gathered at Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship to celebrate the congregation’s 50th anniversary. Many had already enjoyed a delightful coffee house and artisan display the night before, celebrating the artistic gifts within the community.

Winding down

‘Realizing how far we’ve come is a highlight,’ Laura Carr-Pries, second from right, says of her involvement with EVI, a group that also included Alex Tiessen, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Jonas Cornelsen and Tim Wenger. (Canadian Mennonite photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 15, 2017

A group of young adults who formed in response to proposed changes to Mennonite Church Canada (now dubbed the nationwide church) has disbanded.

The Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) announced its closing in a statement posted to its website on Oct. 31, two-and-a-half weeks after MC Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg.

Fifteen years after inspiration struck

Far Beyond Inspired album cover

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 15, 2017

Attention, music fans: Next month marks the 15th anniversary of the release of an album you’ve likely never heard of. Let me tell you about it.

On Dec. 8, 2002, at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, we began selling copies of Far Beyond Inspired, a CD featuring original compositions by nine musical acts from the congregation. The 16 songs on the CD encompassed an eclectic range of genres, including rock, folk, praise and worship, rap, children’s, pop and punk music.

You might even know a few of the musicians involved.

Putting goals into practice

At the MC Saskatchewan Equipping Day Abby Heinrichs and her father Steve tell their personal stories in a workshop entitled ‘In your light, we see light: The church and Indigenous solidarity.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Nov 14, 2017

Setting goals is a good practice, but how does a faith community translate those goals into reality? 

Mennonites in Montreal aid refugees

Hochma’s worshipping space was repurposed as a donation centre for refugees. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 14, 2017

Not feeling safe in the United States, a young woman climbed on a plane and flew to Montreal with her children. But the U.S. is considered a safe country for refugees, so she was forced to return. Still afraid, she crossed the border into Quebec and ended up at Coalition d’aide aux réfugiés à Montréal (Coalition to aid refugees in Montreal), housed in the Hochma church building.

Dick Benner: A man who loved the church

Web First | By Barb Draper | Nov 06, 2017 | 1 comment

Richard (Dick) Benner, the recent editor/publisher of Canadian Mennonite, passed away on Nov. 4, 2017, at his home in Ruckersville, Va. Upon his retirement in March 2017, he moved from Ontario to his Virginia home near Charlottesville, where his wife Marlene was in long-term care. Dick began his final journey with cancer not long after that move and was undergoing cancer treatment when Marlene passed away on July 13, 2017.

Injera and Somali stew

Somali injera and maraq: a symbol of community. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | Nov 01, 2017 | 2 comments

For Ardith Frey, injera, a flatbread eaten in northeastern Africa, is a symbol of community. It is served on a large shared platter, along with a sauce. See Ardith’s story at “Injera: A symbol of community.”  

Both recipes below are from Extending the Table, Revised Edition. ©2014 by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. Used with permission.


Injera (Ethiopian Flat Bread)
This recipe makes 20 (12-inch / 30-cm) injera.

Community: ‘The easiest way to live the Christian life’

Chan Yang, Sue Kim and Caleb Yang provide an insight into their communal living arrangement during a recent service at Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Henry Neufeld | Nov 01, 2017 | 1 comment

After 11 Koreans—two families plus two teenagers—began attending Point Grey in late 2016, interest in their intentional communal living was piqued. The 11, ranging in age from 11 to middle age, live in one home in Vancouver. They share meals, household tasks, money (one adult handles the finances), and all major decisions. They operate several home-based businesses, mostly of a high-tech nature, along with book publishing.

A hundred years of helping others

Founding directors of the Mennonite Union Waisenamt represented three Mennonite conferences. To learn more, visit (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Trust Ltd.)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 01, 2017

For many Saskatchewan Mennonites, the name Mennonite Trust is synonymous with wills and estate planning, but executive director Cory Regier is quick to point out that the company has not forgotten why it was founded a century ago.

Pastoral, vocational transitions in Alberta

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Nov 01, 2017
  • Donna Dinsmore began a one-year term as interim pastor of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, on Oct. 1, 2017. Dinsmore is an ordained United Church minister who has served in various congregations. Most recently she was in Bella Coola, B.C., ministering to Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Dinsmore has a master’s degree in Christian studies from Regent College in Vancouver, as well as a master’s degree in music education.

Celebrating a legacy of respect

Jeremiah Ross (1909-2002), left, was a Cree from Cross Lake First Nation in Manitoba and a long-serving pastor of Elim Mennonite Church there. (Mennonite Church Canada file photo)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Oct 31, 2017

Among the many memories shared at a reunion of past and present Mennonite Church Canada Indigenous Relations workers, several included references to the late Jeremiah Ross (1909-2002).

A Cree man from Cross Lake First Nation in Manitoba, Ross served as pastor of Elim Mennonite Church there for 30 years. He was able to successfully bridge respect for Christ while honouring the Indigenous spirituality of his community. As he carried out his role in the church, he served as a traditional elder and continued to make his living as a hunter and trapper.

Open the Islands campaign seeks to prevent refugee deaths

A poster calls attention to the plight of refugees waiting on the island of Lesvos; it is part of a campaign to prevent refugee deaths due to the winter cold. (Christian Peacemaker Teams photo)

Web First | Oct 30, 2017

As winter sets in, over 100 solidarity groups and organizations—including the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) project on the island of Lesvos—are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold.

Several places woke up on Oct. 12 to find their neighbourhoods plastered with the emblematic picture of Moria Camp on Lesvos, covered in snow last winter, while the collective has also launched a campaign on social media with the hashtag #opentheislands.

‘Menno(comedy)nite’ keeps audience in stitches

Matt Falk, left, and Orlando Braun answer questions from the audience at the ‘Menno(comedy)nite’ in Abbotsford, B.C., on Sept. 30, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Web First | By Amy Dueckman | Oct 30, 2017

An advertised “evening of hilarity” on Sept. 30, 2017, delivered plenty of jokes, humour and laughs to delight the gathered audience at the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C-sponsored event.

“We need to laugh. There are enough tears in the world,” said emcee Danny Unrau, a pastor, storyteller and author who opened the evening with humorous tales from his personal life and ministry in the Mennonite Brethren church.

Pioneer Park celebrates 175 years of change

Elgin Shantz gets the first piece of cake at Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship’s 175th-anniversary celebration. Watching him are Carolyn Baechler and Lisa Yantzi. (Photo by Erin Yantzi).

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

When Ed Snider left Kitchener to farm in the Hanover-Chesley area of southwestern Ontario, Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship, then known as the Weber Mennonite Church, was nearly five kilometres from the city limits.

On Oct. 1, 2017, at Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship’s 175th-anniversary celebration, he could see the houses of the Pioneer Park subdivision through the church windows, now fully inside the city boundary.

‘We need legislated protection’

Sylvia McAdam listens as Leah Gazan answers an audience member’s question about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Oct 18, 2017

“My people don’t believe in coincidence,” Sylvia McAdam told her audience, “so you’re meant to be here today.” McAdam was speaking at a teach-in at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.

Billed as Let’s Walk the Talk Saskatoon, the Oct. 6, 2017, event was co-sponsored by Mennonite Church Canada, MC Saskatchewan and the college. It featured the teachings of Leah Gazan, an educator at the University of Winnipeg and a member of the Wood Mountain Lakota Nation; and McAdam, co-founder of the Idle No More movement and a member of the Big River Cree Nation.

Bringing people and food together

Gord Enns leads a bicycle tour of five farms in the Osler, Sask., area that sell meat, vegetables, fruit and baked goods directly to consumers. (Photo courtesy of Gord Enns)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Oct 18, 2017

On a sunny Saturday in early September, 13 cyclists set out to explore the Local Food Trail near Osler, Sask. Gord Enns, who is executive director of the Saskatoon Food Council and who lives on a farm in the Osler area, organized the tour in conjunction with the town of Osler and the rural municipality of Corman Park.

The four-hour trek took cyclists to five farms: Farmyard Market, Petter Farms, Pine View Farms, Anna’s Orchard and Floating Gardens. They ended their excursion at Enns’s home, where they savoured a meal made from food purchased at each of the farms.

Mennonites walk for reconciliation

B.C. Mennonites gather with a Menno Folk banner to march in the Walk for Truth and Reconciliation in Vancouver Sept. 24. (Photo courtesy of Garry Janzen)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Oct 18, 2017

The 2017 Walk for Reconciliation recognizing First Nations peoples drew an estimated 50,000 people in Vancouver on Sept. 24. Some two-dozen Mennonites from several Lower Mainland congregations walked together under a “Mennonite Folks” sign organized by Garry Janzen, Mennonite Church B.C.’s executive minster.

As an encouragement to join the walk, at least one MC B.C. congregation cancelled regular morning services.

Remembering the ‘forgotten people’

Ghada Ageel, a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and still has many friends and family trapped there. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Oct 18, 2017

As a teenager, Ghada Ageel had heated debates with her grandmother at their home in the Khan Younis refugee camp in South Gaza.

“I asked my grandmother many questions: Why didn’t you stay in Beit Daras and die there? Why do I have to be a refugee and live this misery?” Her grandmother was forced to flee in 1948, when Israel occupied and destroyed her village.

‘Participation, not performance’

Brandon Leis, the new music director for Menno Singers, in his studio in the Music Building at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 18, 2017

Like most musicians and artists, Brandon Leis uses his gifts in many places and in many ways to make a living.

Most recently, he was appointed as the new music director of the Menno Singers, a Waterloo Region choir founded in 1955 by Abner Martin. Besides that, since 2003 he has been the music director at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener and a voice instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University. He also has a private studio of students, consults with congregations about “music problems,” and is an avid promotor of “community arts,” particularly music.