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Mennonite observes Lent with ‘Fast for Healing Justice’ and tweets to Trump

Daryl Byler, executive director of Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, began a 40-day fast on Ash Wednesday 2017. His daily thoughts, addressed to President Donald J. Trump, combine readings from the Presbyterian lectionary with meditation on the themes of justice and healing for the United States. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Mar 21, 2017

In preparation for his 40-day fast, which began on March 1, Ash Wednesday, Daryl Byler made a few changes to his recreational reading. This lawyer, ordained minister and executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University favors non-fiction and legal thrillers.

Recently, however, Byler has been meditating on the Presbyterian daily lectionary—the faith tradition of President Donald J. Trump—and listening to the thoughts and ideologies that Trump has expressed in his many books.

Is there room enough for hope?

Mary Jo Leddy, left, poses with Lorna Sawatzky at the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar lecture on March 3. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

Mary Jo Leddy asked those gathered on a cold Canadian evening in Waterloo what kind of Canada they want to be part of: one that is mean and nasty, with borders open for business but not for refugees? Or a Canada that is just, good, caring and decent with borders open to invite people to join in the responsibility for this place?

Leddy, the director of Romero House in Toronto, a transition house for refugees, was the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky visiting scholar at Conrad Grebel University College, who spoke on March 3, 2017.

‘Communities so full of love that it’s contagious’

Monday Night Peacemeal members meet weekly to share food, concerns and events in their personal lives, as a step towards living with each other in the vulnerability and accountability evident in true community. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nimz)

Web First | Mar 21, 2017

Trusting enough to be vulnerable and the willingness to be accountable are key intentional acts needed to build true community. In the extensively secularized culture of England, self-reliance and independence are seen as ultimate strengths, but being vulnerable is seen as a weakness. So how does one encourage true community there?

Ministry on a human scale

Mandy Smith leads Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors in an exercise delving into their fear and shame of not being enough to truly serve God at the annual School for Ministers on Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

“Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything) / That's how the light gets in.”

EMU alumnus among those kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official and former Mennonite Central Committee peace worker, has been reported kidnapped with five others by unknown assailants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this 2015 photo provided by MCC, he visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Jana Asenbrennerova, used with permission)

Web First | Mar 15, 2017

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official, was among six people kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a press release issued Monday by the Congolese government.

He was part of a UN panel of experts investigating ongoing civil conflicts in the country, according to Al Jazeera. A second UN worker, Zaida Catalan, was also kidnapped as well as four Congolese nationals, according to reports. Catalan’s nationality is variously reported as Swedish or Chilean.

‘Land rights apply to my church and my home’

Junia, seven months, and her mother Kandace Boos plan to walk the 600-kilometre Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. (Photo courtesy of Kandace Boos)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Mar 11, 2017

Nine-month-old Junia has just become the youngest participant to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600-kilometre walk through from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., to Ottawa, taking place from April 23 to May 14, 2017.

Kandace Boos, 28, Junia’s mother, will put in the grunt work of carrying Junia on her back, alongside her task of documenting the walk through her art. Boos is an urban sketch artist, part of a global community of artists who practise drawing in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to.

MC B.C. wrestles with tough issues

Discussing issues at the MC B.C. annual general meeting are, from left to right: Rob Brown of Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack, Henry Neufeld of Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver, and Mary Braun of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Despite meeting under the theme of “Building healthy connections,” many delegates who gathered for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting on Feb. 25, 2017, wondered how the future might look for their connections as an area church family when the day was done.

The meeting at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford was the third gathering in four months at which potentially divisive issues surrounding the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution were on the agenda, putting the future unity of MC B.C. in uncertainty.

WEW wows Waterloo women

Helen Loftin, senior vice-president of marketing and communications for Mennonite Economic Development Associates, tells the Waterloo chapter of Women Empowering Women that, by empowering women, whole families and communities benefit in ways that empowering men does not. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017

Exuding excitement and purpose, Nancy Mann, associate pastor of Floradale Mennonite Church, exclaimed “WEW!” for the newest chapter of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Women Empowering Women organization. The kick-off event, at which 75 women were in attendance, was held on Feb. 2, 2017, at 50 Kent Avenue, the “Mennonite hub” in Kitchener.

Personal-care home will fill gap in care for seniors

Construction will begin this spring on a 20-bed personal care home adjoining the existing Mennonite Nursing Homes facility. The architect’s rendering shows the chapel on the left. (Artist's rendering courtey of Mennonite Nursing Homes Inc.)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 08, 2017

Joan Lemauviel recalls her aging father needing more care than he received with assisted living, yet not qualifying for long-term care. “He was falling through the cracks,” she says.

As administrator of Mennonite Nursing Homes, Lemauviel knows that her father’s experience is far from unique. “About eight to 10 years ago it became evident that people in assisted living who didn’t qualify for long-term care were really living at risk,” she says. “We were able to keep them in assisted living with increased homecare.”

Signs of welcome in Ontario

Laila and Zafar Ismaili stand in their print shop in UpTown Waterloo, Ont., printing a large sign to give as a gift to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

“No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour.”

Kitchener (Ont.) First Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada are promoting “welcome signs” with this message in English, French and Arabic in the community and beyond.

Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite first saw the sign in Elkhart, Ind., last November. A trip to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in January by a group from the church galvanized their desire to bring the signs to the area church.

Trump reality spills over into Mennoland

A fallen blanket on the U.S. side of a path taken by asylum seekers headed to Canada near Emerson, Man. The border lies just beyond the buildings barely visible in the background. (Photo by Jennifer DeGroot)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

The potent Trump phenomenon is rippling around the globe and Mennonites in southern Manitoba are not immune.

Waves of mostly Somali asylum seekers, driven in part by fear of deportation under the Trump administration, cross covertly from the U.S. into a region of Manitoba heavily populated by Mennonites.

Field of dreams

Kalynn Spain's  interest in agriculture led her to visit 130 small farms throughout Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

What are the risks and rewards for people who choose a life on the farm? Young Voices spoke with three young Canadian Mennonites who work in agriculture to find out.

Jedidiah Morton, 23
Didsbury, Alta.

Jedidiah Morton isn’t the first person in his family to work in the dairy industry. His great-grandfather, Abram Lowen, settled in the Beaverlodge area in northern Alberta in the late 1920s and shipped cream.

“I guess you could say I’m bringing dairy back to my family,” Morton says.

Finding belonging

Katrina Woelk is looking for a new church home in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Katrine Woelk)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

Finding a new church to belong to can be difficult. Just ask Katrina Woelk.

Woelk grew up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, Man., but now lives in Winnipeg, where she is studying social work at the University of Manitoba. After four years of commuting home for weekends, the 22-year-old is ready to deepen her roots in Winnipeg, and that includes finding a church home in the city.

Famine ‘a tragic reality’ in South Sudan, according to UN

An internally displaced family in Mundri, South Sudan, prepares their dinner for the night. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey)

Web First | Mar 07, 2017

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where about 100,000 people are facing starvation, says a United Nations release dated February 20, 2017. In addition, a further one million people are on the brink of famine.

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan, now in its third year, has devastated the country’s economy, disrupting normal food transportation chains, and preventing countless small-scale farming households from growing their crops and tending their herds.

From Myanmar to Canada with dreams, gratitude and hope

A family Christmas 2016 photo in Canada. Pictured from left to right, front row: Htaw Meh and Mi Meh; and back row: Poe Reh, Su Reh, Lee Reh, Pleh Meh and Pheh Meh. (Photo by Arlene Hoke)

Web First | By Ferne Burkhardt | Mar 07, 2017

Settled in their new home in New Hamburg, Ont., Lee Reh and Pheh Meh constantly think of family members still in Ban Mai Nai Soi Refugee Camp in Thailand who the couple and their five children left behind when they came to Canada in April 2016. They wish their relatives could join them here and enjoy the safety and good life they have found in Canada.

Good news by the numbers in Botswana

Children play on a round-about in Bontleng Park, a local initiative supported by the energy and initiative of Mennonite Church Canada workers Nathan and Taryn Dirks. (Photo by Gonna Lewis)

Web First | By Deborah Froese with files from Nathan Dirks | Mar 07, 2017

For Nathan and Taryn Dirks, ministry in Gaborone, Botswana, is all about relationships. But ministry by relationship is hard to measure, so they’ve creatively translated some of their good news into numbers.

For almost five years, the Dirkses have served youth and young adults from local African Initiated Churches (AICs) through their role as Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers, in partnership with Mennonite Mission Network and local churches. Following community needs and initiatives, they focus on development and Bible teaching.

Online theology education opens doors

Spanish Anabaptist educators from Latin America and the United States during the gathering at SEMILLA. Back, left to right: Floyd Saner, Marco Alfredo Mahecha, Fernando Pérez, Linda Shelly, Luz Estela Cortes, Marco Guete, Willi Hugo Pérez, Oscar Jaime Dominguez. Front, left to right: Carlos Martínez, Rebeca González, Pablo Pérez, Joaquín Zazueta. (Photo by Jerry Higueros)

Web First | By Kelsey Hochstetler | Mar 07, 2017

Nora Marleni Martínez of Metapan, El Salvador, is in the first group of students in a regional Peace and Justice Institute program of the Seminario Anabautista Latinoamericano (SEMILLA). Many SEMILLA courses are taught in local centers across Central America and Mexico, but this program was designed for students from multiple countries to study together, so traveling to Guatemala for classes was still a requirement.

Mennonites plan pilgrimage for indigenous rights

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Feb 27, 2017

Houses. Toilets. Schools. These are basic human rights to which Canadians feel entitled—and which many vulnerable and disenfranchised indigenous people do not have.

Indigenous leader Leah Gazan says the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is really just the floor for human rights. The activist, policy analyst and educator at the University of Winnipeg says UNDRIP outlines “the minimum human rights to be healthy.”

New name, different ownership

The Mennonite Heritage Centre, including its archival and art gallery programs, is being reorganized. The Mennonite Heritage Archives will operate under a new partnership, while Canadian Mennonite University will take over the art gallery. (Canadian Mennonite University photo)

The Mennonite Heritage Centre, including its archival and art gallery programs, is being reorganized under a new partnership and name.

Is Future Directions a First-World problem?

Dann Pantoja, left, Joji Pantoja and Tim Froese pose for a photo when the Pantojas visited the Mennonite Church Canada offices in Winnipeg. Froese, the executive minister of MC Canada Witness, wears the ‘tubao,’ a head gear of the Maguindanao tribe in the southern Philippines. (Peacebuilders Community Inc. file photo)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Feb 22, 2017

The Future Directions process is moving slowly and surely forward with a specific restructuring proposal and a timeline for downsizing proposals. Meanwhile, the notion of refocussing on the local congregation, which is central to the transition narrative, is generating vital questions about the importance of global perspectives in an increasingly nationalistic world.

An historical treasure

Holding the 1930 volume of the Saskatchewan Valley News, Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan members, from left, Jake Buhler, John Reddekopp and Susan Braun, pose with Terry Jensen, the paper’s owner. Jensen is donating all of the paper’s archival material to the society’s Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Feb 22, 2017

Jake Buhler knows an historical treasure when he sees one. That’s why he’s so excited that the Saskatchewan Valley News is donating all of its back issues to the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan Archives in Saskatoon.

The Valley News, as it has been simply known, quit publishing after 114 years. The final edition rolled off the presses on Jan. 26, 2017. Owner Terry Jensen, who purchased the weekly community newspaper in 2014, cited a lack of advertising revenue as the major reason for the paper’s demise.

Biblical response to colonial legacy

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 22, 2017

Last November, Vic Bartel and John Ilg pulled into the northern Manitoba Cree community of Cross Lake with a thousand Bibles. The Bibles had been requested by the local Pentecostal church and supplied by Canadian LifeLight Ministries. Neither Bartel nor Ilg had made such a delivery before.

Talking with our cousins

Karl Koop

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 22, 2017

A public panel discussion on the relationships between the three Abrahamic religions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, occurring as it did on the heels of the opening of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery’s showing of “Synagogues in Germany: A virtual reconstruction” and the recent Quebec City mosque shooting. (See more on the exhibit at “‘Never again’?”)

Matt Epp helps ‘grow hope’

Matt Epp sings at a fundraising concert at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on Feb. 3, 2017, for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta’s Grow Hope campaign to assist the Canadian Foodgrains Bank with its food security initiatives. (Photo by Angela Bennett)

God at work in the World | By Allison Goerzen | Feb 22, 2017

The soulful voice of Matt Epp serenaded a crowd at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on Feb. 3, 2017. Epp partnered with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta and Canadian Foodgrains Bank for a fundraising concert to launch the Grow Hope campaign.

A kidney for a guitar

Gerald Neufeld prepares to donate one of his kidneys in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program last year. (Photo courtesy of Gerald Neufeld)

God at work in Us | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 22, 2017

Gerald Neufeld of B.C. and Russ Sawatsky of Ontario have several things in common: they both served as missionaries in Japan, where they met their wives; and they both attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg at the same time. But the donation of a kidney for one and the receiving of a kidney for the other gives the two a life-transforming connection like no other.

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