Volume 23 Issue 12

Between 'Pure' and Mennonite Heritage Week

'Pure' purports to be “based on true events of the Mennonite mob.” (Photo courtesy Facebook.com/PureWGNA)

On the last week of May, season 2 of the crime show, Pure, started airing on the Super Channel. The show’s promotional material shows women in conservative Mennonite dress wielding rifles and filling packets with cocaine. Men in overalls, plaid shirts and straw hats intimidate a victim.

The gifts of grey hair

Photo © istock.com/ninamalyna

“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come” (Psalm 71:17-18).

I have grey hair; this is where life has placed me. I am getting older. 

Church relations on so many different levels

'If we look far enough we can all find similarities among each other.' (Image by Christine Schmidt/Pixabay)

You are what you eat, or can it be said you are who you work with? There’s also the phrase, “two peas in a pod,” but this time there’s three of us.

On the surface, it could be said that Kevin Barkowsky, Garry Janzen and I are nothing alike, but, as Mennonite Church British Columbia staffers, we certainly can relate to each other in our personal lives.

Namaka cutting wheat

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives

A farmer cuts wheat on a farm in Namaka, Alta., in the 1920s. Food and its production continues to be a central driving force in society, affecting our health, quality of life and where we live. Forces such as mechanization, urbanization, and globalization have impacted the food matrix and our connection to the food we grow and eat.

No 'happy clappy Christians' for Blake

"Blake’s history didn’t allow him to give much respect to the work of Christian ministry... A frequent derisive term was 'happy clappy Christians.'" (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

My friend Blake Rooks died in early May. 

He was large, unkempt, unhealthy, opinionated and occasionally rude. He was an atheist. His kidneys didn’t work. He loved people. He carried a measure of English charm. All of these were qualities, along with others, that made him important in my life.

Layers of faithfulness

Intergenerational hands are layered at Waterloo North Mennonite Church. (Photo by Carmen Brubacher)

A mentor once told me that, in her view, a female preacher should wear “straight lines” behind the pulpit. That is, a suit. Straight lines command greater authority, which means people are more likely to give your words credit. As someone who has never worn a suit in her life, this didn’t sit well with me and would make me feel like an imposter.

Muslims learn about Mennonites

Over coffee and Turkish sweets at The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, Jim Loepp Thiessen, left, has an animated conversation with Faruk Ekinci and Mustafa Ustan while Mustafa Jr. listens in. These Turkish Muslims were interested to learn that many Mennonites also came to Canada as refugees. (Photo by Barb Draper)

On April 30, several Muslim families from Waterloo Region toured The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, in order to understand more about Mennonites.

Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church extended the invitation as part of his effort to foster respect and mutual understanding between Mennonites and Muslims, something he has been working at over many years. 

Rooted in community

Mary Funk stands in the community garden at Jubilee Mennonite Church’s Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Anna Marie Geddert, community minister at Jubilee Mennonite Church, and Serena Traa emcee the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

More than a hundred people gathered at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Winnipeg for the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

“If an alien ship were to come take our church away, would anyone notice?”

This is the question that members of Jubilee Mennonite Church asked themselves more than a decade ago. When they realized the answer might be no, they dedicated themselves to being an active presence in their community.

Exploring ‘flourishing congregations’ in secular society

The Flourishing Congregations Institute’s Joel Thiessen, holding the microphone, speaks at Columbia Bible College on May 4. The seminar was sponsored by the Mennonite Faith and Learning Society in conjunction with Columbia Bible College. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Key factors surrounding flourishing congregations in Canada, and how congregations can thrive and grow in an age of diminishing importance of the church in society, were the topics for a May 4 seminar entitled “Flourishing congregations: From understanding to practice.”

Coming in the front door

Charles Olfert, with white cane, participates in a simulation exercise as part of the Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification Program. Pictured with Olfert is classmate Cal Schuler and his service dog, Sierra. (ABE Factor, Inc. photo by Samantha Proulx)

Charles Olfert is enthusiastic about creating buildings that meet their users’ needs. A principal architect with AODBT Architecture + Interior Design, he recently applied that passion to the study of accessibility.

Extending the table

People from different cultural and religious backgrounds enjoy food and conversation around tables at the Iftar meal hosted by Breslau Mennonite Church on May 14. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

On May 14, Breslau Mennonite Church hosted an iftar meal after sunset, marking the end of the daily fast for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan, a season of fasting, prayer, reflection and charity observed by millions of Muslims around the world. 

Worshipping across cultures

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate students, from left to right, Ramtha Lensung, Jennifer Dawthleipar, Naomi Joy and Rachel Weber visit after a church service at the Kitchener, Ont., Chin Christian Church on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Marlys Neufeldt)

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s senior choir performed at the Kitchener, Ont., Chin Christian Church on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Marlys Neufeldt)

Every year, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., facilitates worship services at churches in the area, to build bridges between the school and its constituency.

This year, the senior choir students had a particularly moving experience when they sang and led worship at Kitchener’s Chin Christian Church, a member congregation of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, on April 28.

Giving back

Thang Dinh, owner of Calsask Granite in Saskatoon, cites gratitude to the Mennonites who sponsored him 40 years ago as one of the reasons he likes to give back to his community. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“We’ve experienced a lot of humbling stories,” says Phyllis Roth of her participation in the Saskatchewan Valley Hospital home-building project, but one story in particular stands out.

Vegan Mennos

Jan Carrie Steven, centre, and her husband Laur, right pose with their pastor, David Brubacher, during a 2016 Ride for Refuge event. (Photo courtesy of Jan Carrie Steven)

Type the words “Mennonite vegans” into your search engine and you likely won’t come up with much. But being a Mennonite vegan is very doable, whether you are culturally Mennonite or not. And with a birth name of Carrie and a married name of Steven, I am clearly not culturally Mennonite.

An indoor yard sale says a lot about St. Clair O’Connor

It’s the morning of May 10 at about 11 a.m., and in the large meeting room of the St. Clair O’Connor Community in Toronto there are about 10 residents examining a myriad of cardboard boxes containing both “gently used items” and others that could charitably be called junk. The former are being placed on sale tables and the latter are being disposed of as quickly as possible.

In sickness and in health

Bill and Ena Van Dam take a walk on the Menno Place campus. (Menno Place photo by Karen Baillie)

When Bill and Ena married, it was the obvious next step for two best friends. Working together as teachers, they saw their love blossom. After retirement, Bill and Ena headed to China to bring their teaching skills to a new set of students.

Making every day matter

Nithview housekeepers Donna, Judy, Debbie and Wendy have fun as they make every day matter for Nithview residents. (Nithview Community photo)

Santa Claus came to Nithview Community one Christmas Day. This may not seem like a big deal since Santa goes to lots of places at Christmas. But this Santa did not fit the usual stereotype. He was short, clean-shaven and not overweight. He was also known as Owen and was only five years old.

Learning from her elders

Lacey MacKenzie works as the activities coordinator at Bethany Manor’s personal-care home in Saskatoon. (Photo courtesy of Lacey MacKenzie)

For Lacey MacKenzie, working with seniors is a faith calling.

The 33-year-old attends Osler Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan and has worked as the activities coordinator for Bethany Manor’s personal-care home in Saskatoon since December 2017.

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