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Committee invites input for Resonate music project

Web First | Aug 11, 2017

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee in inviting congregations and individuals to give input toward a new hymnal scheduled for release in 2020.

“We want to hear what is giving life to worship across the denomination,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director. “It is essential to hear from these voices – people whose investment will deeply inform our work toward a successful collection.”

A witness for nonviolence from Nigeria

Rev. Daniel U. Mbaya (centre) was the first candidate to successfully complete research in the doctoral program of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey. (Photo by Michel Grandjean)

Web First | Aug 11, 2017 | 1 comment

A doctoral thesis focusing on the nonviolent witness of a peace church in Nigeria was recently completed at the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The candidate, Rev. Daniel Y. Mbaya, who is general secretary of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, or EYN), defended his thesis on the witness of nonviolence of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

Obituary: ‘Dan has left us’

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Aug 02, 2017 | 2 comments

The four short words of this obituary’s title, sent to Mennonite Church Alberta’s area church minister Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, heralded a large impact for the province’s churchgoers, for the Jack family, and for the many friends of Dan and Marguerite Jack.

Jack, the moderator of MC Alberta, died peacefully on July 17 after a medical emergency precipitated by a 15-year struggle with Crohn’s disease.

Immersive experience

Jim Brown, Tavistock (Ont.) Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, emerges from the dunk tank during the congregation’s 75th-anniversary celebration on June 25, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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

On June 25, 2017, Tavistock Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, Jim Brown, got his feet—and more—wet, as the congregation acknowledged three-quarters-of-a-century of worship and mission in the village, and had fun dunking him in the process.

The congregation also offered a free chicken dinner to the first 400 who signed up. While some of those were former members and from neighbouring churches, the hope was to open the doors to the community at large. A service filled with music and trivia helped celebrate what God has done over the years.

Creating a we-centred world

Cassie Bobbitt, Richella Li, Olivia Atherton-Reimer and Kate Boyer bag dehydrated vegetables at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

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

As far as David Epp is concerned, the 2016-17 school year was “a real success.” His first year of teaching at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) was also the first year of the school’s Imagine program for Grade 10 students.

A social-justice initiative offering integrated learning in English, history, Spanish and Christian ethics, Imagine also provides experiential-learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom.

‘Your joy becomes my joy’

Muslim students from the University of Waterloo sit with Conrad Grebel University College students as they participate in an interfaith fast-a-thon, ending in an iftar dinner. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

God at work in the World | By Jennifer Konkle | Jul 18, 2017

For Muslim students at the University of Waterloo, long spans of fasting during the longest days of the year are over and may already feel like a distant memory. However, it was just a few weeks ago that students were stretching the limits of their bodies as they refrained from eating or drinking each day while the sun was up. This religious practice during Ramadan becomes even more difficult for university students living away from the support of their families for the first time.

World Refugee Day celebrated in B.C.

Children of the Kabala and Djumaine families of Mission, B.C., perform a dance at the celebration of World Refugee Day in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

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

“We are here to celebrate with you,” said Melissa Giles, director of programs for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., as she praised the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world at a World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017, that included speakers, song and dance.

“At MCC, refugee sponsorship is so important to our work,” she added, lauding newcomers to Canada and those who have welcomed them.

Breaking the silence

While living in Cambodia, Jaymie Friesen, centre, coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade. (Photo courtesy of Jaymie Friesen)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 18, 2017

For Jaymie Friesen, responding to abuse and preventing it in communities of faith is a personal calling. As the abuse response and prevention coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba, Friesen supports churches and individuals, and works to raise awareness of abuse and trauma.

Prior to beginning her position with MCC, Friesen worked with survivors of abuse in Southeast Asia through an organization called Daughters of Cambodia, where she coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade.

The odd couple

Mike Wiebe, Raya Cornelsen, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Lauren Harms visit with Erwin Cornelsen in his kitchen. (Photo of Jonas Cornelsen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jonas Cornelsen tells people he spent the last year living with, and caring for, his grandfather in Vancouver, they often praise him.

While Jonas appreciated his time with his grandfather, the praise makes him uncomfortable.

“The set-up sounds pretty [idyllic], like a good family movie,” says the 23-year-old, who returned to his home city of Winnipeg last month. “You know, the grandson spends time listening to his wise old grandfather, and they go to church together and do all these wholesome things. But internally I was struggling with anxiety and loneliness.” 

MC USA acknowledges ‘suffering’ of Jews, Palestinians

Web First | Jul 15, 2017

Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando earlier this month adopted a resolution entitled “Seeking peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution addresses the injustices of military occupation as well as the suffering caused by antisemitism.

The resolution notes that “the suffering of [Palestinians and Jews] has too often been set against the other. We recognize, rather, that the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians.”

A man worthy of his calling

Darrell W. Fast

Web First | By Ross W. Muir | Jul 15, 2017

Darrell W. Fast, born in Mountain Lake, Minn., passed away at the Leamington (Ont.) Mennonite Home, leaving Loretta Fast, his wife, his children Douglas (Michelle) Fast and Larissa Fast, two grandchildren, and many friends, relatives and former colleagues to mourn his passing.

After graduating from Mennonite Biblical Seminary (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary), Elkhart, Ind., in 1966, he began a life of service to the church on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border for the next 40 years.

MWC says farewell to a faithful servant

Glenn Fretz is pictured with the initial planning map and some of the hallway signage he designed for Assembly 16 in Harrisburg, Pa., in 2015. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder)

Web First | By Karla Braun | Jul 15, 2017

You may not have heard of one of the longest-serving workers for Mennonite World Conference (MWC) who is retiring this year, but many will be familiar with his work.

Glenn Fretz was at the beginning of his career as a designer when Paul Kraybill, a former MWC general secretary, contacted the resident of Waterloo, Ont., to do all the design work related to Assembly 10 in 1978. He designed the publications in multiple languages, created signage that features pictorial symbols to communicate across cultures without using words, and he created the organization’s logo.

Walking together for peace in Colombia

Colombians gather to demand peace in October 2016 after a plebiscite to ratify the peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was narrowly defeated. MCC partners organized ecumenical services for peace and participated in marches in Bogotá. The group in front holds a sign that says (in Spanish): ‘They kill the walker, but not the path. What are the paths of liberation today?’ (MCC photo by Anna Vogt)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 15, 2017

Months after a peace accord was signed between the government and the country’s largest rebel group, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partners in Colombia are walking with people affected by more than 50 years of violence.

Canada 150: Facing the long divide

Image courtesy of www.pixabay.com. CCO Public Domain. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Jun 30, 2017 | 1 comment

On July 1, 1867, the concerted efforts of 36 male, ethnic-European politicians came to fruition, and the Dominion of Canada was born. At the time, they celebrated, and for more than a century, Canadians continued to commemorate that day.

A vision for growth

As Pastor Yared Seretse, right, prays, Josef and Teddy Ekle sing and play during a time of contemplation after Seretse’s hour-long sermon on seeking, finding and obeying God’s guidance during the Meheret Evangelical Church worship service at St. Marks Lutheran Church on June 11, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 28, 2017

Meheret Evangelical Church has been meeting for worship in Kitchener for 20 years. Founded by four families, the church of about 15 saw slow growth over the years, as refugees from Ethiopia—who dispersed to South Africa, Greece, Sudan, Egypt and elsewhere—made their way to Canada.

But after hiring Pastor Yared Seretse directly from Ethiopia a couple years ago, the congregation has seen growth in many ways. Currently, about 20 percent of the congregation is made up of people who have recently accepted Christ.

Fostering dialogue in the body of Christ

Mennonite Church B.C. participants Jon Nofziger, left, and Artur Bergen pause for discussion during a break at the Anabaptist theology conference at Trinity Western University on June 8, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 28, 2017

Creating more dialogue between the 16th-century Anabaptist tradition and the context of the Global South, and learning about how Mennonite women “do” theology, were two of the keynote addresses at this year’s “Anabaptist theology: Methods and practices” conference, held in early June 2017 at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley.

An adventurous junior-high retreat in Saskatchewan

Derek Neufeld, foreground, does his best during the coffee house at SMYO junior-high youth retreat. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Say yes, and get out of your comfort zone. These were the two main take-aways from the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan junior-high retreat, held from May 26 to 28, 2017, at the Shekinah Retreat Centre.

A field of a million prayers

A million praying South Africans gathered on 800 hectares of farmland on April 22, 2017, to pray for healing of the nation. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada.)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Jun 28, 2017

They were called and they came, a million people from every corner of South Africa. They gathered on April 22, 2017, in an expanse of field near Bloemfontein for the largest prayer meeting the country had ever seen.

“[Bloemfontein] is the centre, or the heart, of the nation,” said organizer Angus Buchan as the event began. “And we are asking God to change the heart of our beloved nation, beginning with our own hearts. . . . We will ask the Lord to bring justice, peace and hope in our beloved South Africa.”

Edmonton church experiences blanket exercise

At the beginning of the blanket exercise, the floor is covered and people walk freely over the “land.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jun 28, 2017

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017, a spirit of truth and reconciliation filled the fellowship hall and sanctuary of Edmonton's First Mennonite Church. Instead of the regular Sunday School time, adults and youth gathered for a “blanket exercise.” Developed by KAIROS (an ecumenical movement for ecological justice and human rights) in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the exercise is a participatory journey through 500 years of history, paying attention to the stories of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

Walking for equality

Abby Heinrichs speaks at a rally in Ottawa, where the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights ended. (Photo by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen.)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

This past spring, while her Grade 6 peers were in class writing spelling tests and working on their multiplication tables, Abby Heinrichs was doing something completely different: walking 600 kilometres in support of indigenous rights.

The 11-year-old Winnipegger was one of more than 50 people who participated in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a journey co-organized by Mennonite Church Canada and Indigenous Solidarity of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Cyber security underdog

David Dyck began programming computers when he was 12 years old. He is largely self taught. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Computer programming is a language foreign to most, but not to David Dyck. The 17-year-old Winnipegger is passionate about computers and knowing how they operate.

“I really like understanding how it all works and being able to make a computer do the things I want it to do,” says Dyck, who recently graduated from Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. “It’s always really satisfying to watch a program run . . . or find a bug and realize why something didn’t work.”

Working group tackles tasks of advocacy on Palestine and Israel

Star Street in the Old City of Bethlehem. The Mennonite Church Canada resolution on Israeli-Palestine calls for Mennonites to support nonviolent efforts for peace there. (Photo by Melita Rempel-Burkholder)

Web First | By Byron Rempel-Burkholder | Jun 14, 2017

When delegates to the July 2016 assembly of Mennonite Church Canada passed a resolution on Palestine and Israel with an almost unanimous vote, reactions varied widely from within the denomination and from outside. 

Growing leaders in five years

Jean Lehn Epp, centre, leads youth pastors/workers through a visioning process within their church or support group, drawing congregational leaders, youth sponsors and youth together.

God at work in the Church | By Lisa Williams | Jun 14, 2017

“Kenda Creasy Dean writes in one of her books that youth ministry is a spiritual discipline,” says Jean Lehn Epp, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s youth pastor/worker coach. “To me, that was eye-opening—my ‘aha!’ moment. I was not just doing youth ministry, but it felt to me that I was embracing ministry.”  

Lehn Epp has been involved in youth and family ministry throughout the area church as an ordained minister.

PhD student saves ‘history’ from the shredder

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1–3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. (Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies photo)

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 14, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1-3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. Using his computer programming skills and an offer from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies to take care of transportation to Winnipeg, storage and shipping, Wiebe established a web store with e-commerce capabilities that went live on April 12, 2017.

Saskatchewan youth honour the earth all night

Ric Driediger, right, leads participants in the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s Honouring the Earth event in solving a murder mystery. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Honouring the Earth, an annual Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization event, took place April 18 and19, 2017, in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan and Rosthern Junior College (RJC).

The event started at MCC Saskatchewan in Saskatoon with workshops and discussion around what it might mean to be a refugee, and how to make choices when the cost is something greater than money. Youth were then challenged by Jamal Tekleweld from the Sanctuary Saskatoon Alliance to take these lessons and consider what it might mean to make Saskatoon a “sanctuary city.”

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