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Writing that 'really, really works'

Winnipeg teacher Justin Rempel is publishing his first book next year. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Justin Rempel has been making up stories ever since he learned to write. The animals on his parents’ hobby farm near Gretna, Man., and the stories he heard while attending Sunday school at Blumenort Mennonite Church in Rosetown, Man., were his initial inspiration.

“Very naturally, the first stories that came to me at 6 were an amalgamation of those things,” he says. “All the biblical figures would be swapped out for pigs and sheep and all the things we had on the farm.”

From Mexican Quaker to Canadian Mennonite

Andrea De Avila enjoys her role as associate pastor at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Ask Andrea De Avila when she first wanted to become a pastor and her answer is simple: “I didn’t.”

While studying at Hesston College in Kansas, and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va., De Avila became involved with Mennonite Church U.S.A. As part of her biblical studies at EMU, she participated in the Ministry Inquiry Program, which allows young adults to explore pastoral ministry. At the same time, she enjoyed attending MC U.S.A. conventions, and had a hand in organizing the 2013 gathering in Phoenix, Ariz.

Quito Mennonites pray and work for peace

The Quito Mennonite Church Project with Refugee People offers workshops on peace education and values that are directed towards refugee and Ecuadorian children. (Photo by Daniela Sánchez)

Web First | By Daniela Sánchez and Alexandra Meneses | Oct 17, 2017

Ana (not her real name), came to Ecuador from Medellin, Colombia, in 2016 after escaping from paramilitaries who had taken and kept her hostage for two years. She was subjected to various kinds of abuse and violence, the result of which was pregnancy. In addition, she was forced to commit a number of crimes. Although this woman fled the violence in her country, the pain and rage accompanied her during her stay in Ecuador.

Mennonite Historical Bulletin now online

Web First | Oct 17, 2017

The entire run of the Mennonite Historical Bulletin is now available online. Over the summer, the Mennonite Church USA Archives collaborated with Goshen College’s Mennonite Historical Library and the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary to digitize and publish every issue through the Internet Archive, as part of the Digital Mennonite Periodicals project.

Supporting alternate rites of passage for African girls

Ana Laizer, right, poses with Paulina Sumayani, director of TEMBO. Laizer participated in the Sara and Juma program at her school and decided she didn’t want to undergo female genital mutilation or be married at a young age. (MCC photo by Tiffanee Wright)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Oct 16, 2017

Ana Laizer is a grade nine student in Longido, Tanzania, and she dreams of going to university to become a successful businesswoman.

For many girls Laizer’s age, this dream might never become reality. Access to education isn’t just limited by school fees and uniforms, but also by cultural expectations that girls stop attending after grade six and instead take part in cultural rituals to prepare them for marriage.

Anti-racism is a ‘lifelong pursuit’

Drew Hart discusses his public presentation with Noramy Gonzalia Diaz, the youth worker at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, during Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s 2017 Spiritual Emphasis Week. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 16, 2017

“It’s taken us four hundred years to get to here,” said Drew Hart at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s 2017 Spiritual Emphasis Week, held over three days in late September 2017. The assistant professor of theology at Messiah College, a private Christian college founded in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church, in Mechanicsburg, Pa., was speaking of his lived reality as an African-American man in a racially divided country.

Harvesting ideas for a new Mennonite Church Saskatchewan

Craig Neufeld, standing, and Bruce Jantzen brainstorm ways of making the dream of ‘deeper spirituality’ a reality at MC Saskatchewan’s Refresh, Refocus, Renew mini-retreat. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 04, 2017

It’s harvest time on the Prairies for farmers on their combines, and this year for members of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan as they met for their second Refresh, Refocus, Renew mini-retreat.

About 75 participants, representing 24 MC Saskatchewan congregations, gathered at Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon on Sept. 15 and 16, 2017. Betty Pries, a managing partner with Credence & Co. (formerly L3 Group), based in Kitchener, Ont., led the weekend workshop.

Saskatchewan congregation adopts new English name

Members of Fields of Hope Mennonite Church gather around their new church sign. Celeste Wright, far right, is the congregation’s pastor. (Photo by Alan Laughlin)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 04, 2017

Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church has a new name. Now known as Fields of Hope Mennonite Church, the congregation once met in three neighbouring communities: Glenbush, Rabbit Lake and Mayfair, Sask., about 195 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Today, although the three churches still exist as legal entities, services are primarily held at the Glenbush church.

On a journey towards reconciliation

The new sign in Conrad Grebel University College’s garden, unveiled on Sept. 22, 2017, acknowledges the history of the land in relationship to Indigenous peoples. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 04, 2017

Twelve years ago, Conrad Grebel University College planted a black walnut tree and erected a sign marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival in 1805 of the first Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania and the establishment of the “German Company Tract.” But time has a way of altering understandings of events and history. On Sept. 22, 2017, a new sign was erected beside the old one, acknowledging the larger and longer history of the land.

‘For Christ’s sake, we better do something about it’

Walkers hold signs advocating for Bill C-262 on their way to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

God at work in the World | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Oct 04, 2017

“Walk the talk of nation to nation. Implement the declaration!”

More than a hundred people chanted these words as they walked for Indigenous rights in Winnipeg, situated on Treaty 1 land, on Sept. 23, 2017.

The group met at Stephen Juba Park and walked 12 kilometres to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in support of Bill C-262, a private member’s bill that, if passed, would begin the process of harmonizing Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Faces and places in an aging China

This man is 102 years old. I couldn’t resist capturing his image as he gazed out a window. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

God at work in the World | By Anita Bergen, Cameron Nicolle | Oct 04, 2017

Like Canada, China is facing an aging population. There is a growing need for elder-care homes, as families shift away from the cultural norm of taking care of their aging loved ones. Churches have stepped in and have begun to build elder-care homes to address the need. These churches have reached out to faith communities in North America that have a long history of running nursing homes, to hear about their experiences.

Serving students and learning from mistakes

Niamh Reynolds wants to see students at Columbia Bible College ‘going on a journey with God.’ (Photo courtesy of Niamh Reynolds)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

In addition to faculty and staff, student council members can play a key role in shaping campus life at colleges and universities. By advocating for their peers, planning social events and organizing service projects, these young leaders have a big impact on what goes on between and after classes.

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes and dreams for the 2017-18 school year.

The kids are all right ... aren’t they?

‘I would say this to older Christians: Don’t be afraid to offer guidance,’ Gil Dueck says. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Bible College)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

Gil Dueck doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all plan for how churches can better engage with the young adults in their congregations, but he has some ideas.

While questions about “how the kids are doing” can quickly become cliché, he says, ultimately, they are healthy.

MCC responds to Irma’s devastation in Caribbean

Osa Jonmarits, a community health organizer in La Chapelle, Haiti, receives a comforter, a Mennonite Central Committee relief bucket and water purification tablets after his home and property were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irma. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Web First | Oct 03, 2017

Haiti 

Osa Jonmarits and his family were awakened in the middle of the night as water rushed into their mud-and-stone house on the mountains of La Chapelle, Haiti, and covered them in their beds.

The flash flooding came from Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that passed to the north of Haiti on Sept. 7. It caused flash floods and heavy winds from the country’s northern shores to its deep interior, where La Chapelle is located.

Viewpoint: Why we change hymn texts

Each new hymnal committee assesses and edits hymns. Pictured are notes concerning textual changes for the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal. (Photo by Adam Tice)

Web First | By Katie Graber | Oct 03, 2017 | 1 comment

Should hymns be sung in their original form or should they be updated? This is a more complicated question than it may seem. Take “Be Thou My Vision,” for instance. Hymnal Companion discusses three versions of this song: the Old Irish poem from the eighth century, a 1905 English translation, and a later “versified” or metered version. If someone wanted to be true to the original, which version would they believe we ought to sing? Or, if someone wanted to update the language, could they do so without losing the stately poetry?

Annual relief festival raises $1 million

More than 1,200 volunteers of all ages help make the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief possible. (Photo by Katrina Grabowski)

Web First | Oct 03, 2017

More than 20,000 people attended the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia Festival for World Relief over two days in mid-September at the Abbotsford TRADEX, helping to raise more than $1 million to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work locally and around the world.

The annual Bread of Life auction, which raises funds for food security projects, contributed more than $230,000 to the festival’s fundraising total. This year, these donations will support food security projects in Kenya, assisting more than 9,000 households.

Mennonite helps Lutherans commemorate the Reformation

Mennonite Willard Metzger shares a sermon with delegates to the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada photo)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Oct 03, 2017

Serving communion at the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) was a profoundly humbling experience for Willard Metzger.

“I felt as though I was surrounded by a huge cloud of Anabaptist witnesses from the past,” says Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director.

The significance of that statement is deeply rooted in history.

General Board confession

Web First | Sep 29, 2017 | 12 comments

As the General Board of Mennonite Church Canada anticipates potential change following the Special Assembly, we are reminded of things done, and not done. We are deeply aware of weakness and strength. We are aware of successes and failures. We are aware that the journey is not over, and significant challenges remain.

Tears shed over the closing of Riverdale Mennonite

Troy Watson, former pastor of Riverdale Mennonite Church, points out into the congregation, naming congregants who had welcomed and discipled him when he began to ministry there 19 years ago. Watson was one of the guests speaking at the congregation’s closing service on Aug. 20, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 20, 2017

After 71 years of faithful service, Riverdale Mennonite Church closed its doors on Aug. 31, 2017. The building is being taken over by the Berean Community Church, which assumed ownership and took over the charter of the congregation on Sept. 1.

Meeting the Creator in creation

Wendy Janzen at one of the locations Burning Bush Forest Church has worshipped in Breithaupt Park in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 20, 2017

Imagine deciding on Saturday that you want to begin a new congregation the next day. Then add to that the plan to meet outdoors in Canada on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s.

To Wendy Janzen’s surprise, an enthusiastic group of 15 was ready to do just that on Dec. 29, 2014. Janzen was finishing up a sabbatical from her half-time position at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church at the time and had become intrigued by the idea of worshipping in nature.

Fast for Indigenous human rights

Steve Heinrichs, director of MC Canada’s Indigenous relations, is fasting in support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through Bill C-262. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Sep 20, 2017

Bill C-262 is a big deal. So big, that some are taking up a fast in the days leading up to the bill’s debate in the House of Commons.

One of those people is Steve Heinrichs. As director of  Indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, Heinrichs began a fast on Sept. 13, 2017. Choosing Sept. 13 to start the fast is no accident. That’s the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the UN General Assembly.

Raising peacemakers

Children, along with their leaders Gabby Martin, far left, and Kerstyn Liddle, far right, participate in MCC Saskatchewan’s 2017 Raise the Peace 2017. (Photo by MCC Saskatchewan)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Sep 20, 2017

Summer camp is a great experience for many children. For participants in Raise the Peace Camp, it is an opportunity to have fun while learning about peacebuilding.

Raise the Peace is a day camp for children between 9 and 13. It’s offered by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan, and is primarily for children from Saskatoon’s Meadowgreen neighbourhood.

Principal hits mid-life, takes to pulpit

Cheryl Braun (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Braun)

God at work in Us | By Will Braun | Sep 20, 2017 | 2 comments

After 23 good years as a teacher and principal, Cheryl Braun asked herself a simple question: “What does the last part of my career look like?” Would she stay the course or risk change?

As Braun (no relation to the author) considered this over several months with a small support group, she eventually asked herself, “If I’m going to make a change, why not explore a big change?”

Last January, she resigned as principal of Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) in Gretna, Man., effective in July. She was excited, nervous and committed. Possibilities and uncertainty lay ahead.

Hard work pays off

Chloe Penner competed in mountain bike and road bike competitions at the 2017 Canada Summer Games. (2017 Canada Summer Games photo by Paul Reimer)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 20, 2017

One of the biggest events in Winnipeg in recent months was the 2017 Canada Summer Games. From July 28 to Aug. 13, 2017, 4,000 young athletes from across the country competed in a variety of sports. It was the 50th anniversary of the Games, and drew an estimated 20,000 visitors to the city. Canadian Mennonite spoke with three young people from Winnipeg about their involvement.

Chloe Penner
Chloe Penner represented Manitoba in both the mountain bike and road bike competitions at the Games.

‘Over and over again, day by day’

Sarah Moesker, front row right, and her fellow companions share the daily rhythm of the sisters’ life. (Photo courtesy of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 20, 2017

When Sarah Moesker began asking herself how she could deepen her faith, living in an Anglican convent for almost a year was the answer.

Moesker, a student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, spent September 2016 to the end of this past July in the Companions on the Way program, during which she and a group of other young women lived in residence alongside members of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto.

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