Volume 23 Issue 14

The Spirit is moving our body

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Katie Doke Sawatzky is communications officer for Mennonite Church Canada.

I knew everything would be okay as soon as the singing started. As I sat at a table positioned behind a small tower of crates half covered in cloth—a makeshift platform for the room’s main projector—I looked up from my detailed program schedule and smiled. Right, this is why we’re here.

Holy Spirit fire and imagination

Pictured from left to right: Darryl Neustaedter Barg; Bruno Cavalca; John Briner, hidden behind the music stand; and Anneli Loepp Thiessen lead the congregation in songs new and old. The other Gathering 2019 worship team members were Moses Falco, Sarah Johnson, Kathy Lumsden and Glenn Sawatzky. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

Many hands were needed to display a 10-metre banner with the theme of Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019. Witness worker Bock Ki Kim presented it to the assembly as a gift from their Mennonite sisters and brothers in South Korea. Throughout the gathering, attendees wrote their blessings and prayers on the banner. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Many hands were needed to display a 10-metre banner with the theme of Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019. Witness worker Bock Ki Kim presented it to the assembly as a gift from their Mennonite sisters and brothers in South Korea. Throughout the gathering, attendees wrote their blessings and prayers on the banner. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

During the worship service on July 1, newly installed executive minister Doug Klassen, left, serves communion to Calvin Quan, moderator of MC Canada, and Lee Dyck, moderator of MC British Columbia. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

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At the Xáy:tem Longhouse Interpretive Centre in Mission (Hatzic), B.C., tour members enter the replica of a pit house, a traditional dwelling of local Indigenous people. The bus excursion took visitors along the Fraser River, where Indigenous tour guide Sonny McHalsie (Naxaxalhts’i) identified traditional territories of the Stó:lō Nation. Visitors also had a brief visit at the former St. Mary’s Residential School. (Photo by Virginia A. Hostetler)

Four youths and an equal number of leaders went on retreat at Camp Squeah in Hope, B.C., during Mennonite Church Canada’s nationwide Gathering 2019. Pictured in front: Rachel Onsorge, a young adult leader from B.C.; and back row from left to right: Liam Kachkar, a young adult leader from Alberta; Sara Ehling and Christine Lee, youth from B.C.; Mike Wiebe, a Canadian Mennonite University representative from Manitoba; Mykayla Turner, a Conrad Grebel University College representative from Ontario; Aidan Morton Ninomiya, a youth from Ontario; and Caleb Friesen Epp, a youth from Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Liam Kachkar)

Mike Wiebe, left, a youth leader at the Gathering 2019 youth retreat, and youth participant Aidan Morton Ninomiya of Ontario make a fire for the others to enjoy at Camp Squeah. (Photo courtesy of Liam Kachkar)

An intergenerational crokinole tournament on the evening of June 28 pitted 48 participants against each other for a time of fun. Teams played on 10 boards custom-made by Christopher Epp, Andrew Kornelson and Darnell Barkman of Yarrow (B.C.) Mennonite Church. Three boards, embellished with the MC Canada logo, were sold in a silent auction and raised $700 towards the work of Mennonite Partners in China. (Photo by June Miller)

“Sing a new church into being,” sang the 300-plus people gathered for the first nationwide meeting of Mennonite Church Canada since its restructuring in 2017. Behind the blended voices was the vision, “Igniting the imagination of the church,” the theme of Gathering 2019, held in Abbotsford, B.C., from June 28 to July 1.

Things I noticed at Gathering 2019

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Members of the worship team lead the singing at Gathering 2019. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

I didn’t used to get nervous leading singing. There were times before leading at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019 when I was nervous. I was less nervous leading 6,500 youth and sponsors at the St. Louis ’99 Youth Convention than some points before leading a few hundred in Abbotsford, B.C., last month.

Centennial celebration

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Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / Lawrence Klippenstein photo collection

New Canadian initiatives around multiculturalism in the 1970s—celebrating anniversaries like Canada’s centennial in 1967, Manitoba’s in 1970, and the arrival of Mennonites in Manitoba in 1974—created a new energy and appreciation for history in Canada. During these years, the Mennonite Heritage Centre and the Archives of Ontario hired permanent staff.

Good news of Jesus in a traumatized world

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At Gathering 2019's Leadership Day, Elaine Heath encourages Mennonite Church Canada leaders to be good neighbours in a traumatized world. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

The way of the missional God is that the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood, Elaine Heath told church leaders on June 28 at Gathering 2019’s Leadership Day. Heath is a former dean of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

Mennonite Women dissolve national ministry

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Mennonite Women Canada executive members met for one last time at Gathering 2019 in Abbotsford, B.C. Pictured from left: Shirley Redekop, president; Elsie Rempel, secretary; and Liz Koop, past president. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With tears, hugs and 67 years of memories, participants at the Mennonite Women Canada annual luncheon meeting, held on June 30, said goodbye to each other and to their national organization.

Kids make friends at Gathering 2019

Children at Gathering 2019, enjoys fresh bubblegum ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

Maeve Goertzen, one of eight children at Gathering 2019, enjoys fresh bubblegum ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in Abbotsford. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

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Children at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019, held in Abbotsford, B.C., roast marshmallows over an open fire. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

Elliot Siemens, Isaiah Siemens, Leo Doke-Sawatzky and Ian Fehrmoore paint Canadian flags—one to give to Menno Place, a seniors residence in Abbotsford, and one to keep—during Gathering 2019. (Photo by Hilda Bergen)

“Our God is a God who makes friends,” sang children from three provinces while playing a clapping game with a partner, laughing as the refrain and the clapping got faster. The words of this song by Bryan Moyer Suderman were ignited into action at Gathering 2019 as they participated in a weekend packed with relationship-building activities, excursions and service.

Mennonites find warm welcome at Indigenous theological symposium

Daniel Dixon, left, and Adrian Jacobs take part in a Talking Circle following a plenary speaker at a recent NAIITS symposium held in Toronto in early June. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Terry LeBlanc, one of the co-founders of NAIITS, welcomes the 200 participants at the NAIITS symposium held in Toronto in early June. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Keith Starkengerg discusses his paper, “Falling and Standing: Learning a White Theology of Land in North America.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

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Cam Eggie, Adrian Jacobs and Ray Minieconn take part in a Talking Circle. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Danny Zacharias shares his paper, “Graceland: The Land as Relational Gift in the Bible.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Marilou Maissoneuve delivers her paper, “Being Christian and Innu: Is Reconnection with the Land Possible? A Historical and Anthropological Analysis.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Debby Krahn and Cam Eggie listen as Sara DeWeerd shares her reflections on the symposium. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Under the bright blue sky, on the grassy hill of Tyndale University in Toronto, situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat peoples, Casey Church performed an Anishinaabe pipe ceremony, acknowledging the Creator and the sacred directions. He gave thanks on behalf of the 200 or so people gathered in two large circles around him.

Not because they were male

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Don Neufeld shares his reflections on the themes of masculinity and Anabaptism at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, Ont., on May 3. (Photo by Jonathan Seiling)

Don Neufeld shared his reflections on the themes of masculinity and Anabaptism at a “Probing the potential for peace” discussion series held at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines on May 3.

‘Working at home is over-rated’

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister), left, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), Sonia Halliday and Dena Harris (MMI insurance advisors) now share a common space in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

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Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister) and Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), co-pastored First Mennonite Church in Edmonton for 15 years until 2017 and are now together again with only a wall between them at the new offices off Whitemud Drive in Edmonton. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

After years of dreaming of a Mennonite hub in Edmonton, it finally came to pass. Mennonite organizations that were formerly in basements, spare rooms and kitchens have come together to share space at the invitation of Mennonite Mutual Insurance (MMI).

A life-long journey for freedom

Daryl Redsky of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stands on a temporary bridge over the man-made channel that used to isolate his community but has now been replaced by Freedom Road. (2014 file photo by Will Braun)

Freedom Road is now officially open. (Churches for Freedom Road Facebook photo)

Workers construct the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct between 1915 and 1919. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

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A worker stands on an incomplete section of the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt’s dredge used to construct the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt surveying for the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

For the first time in more than a century, the isolated island of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is now connected to the rest of mainland Canada.

The Indigenous community, located on the Manitoba-Ontario border, just celebrated the official opening of Freedom Road, a 24-kilometre, all-season road that links to the mainland via the Trans-Canada Highway.

‘The hands and feet of Jesus’

Pictured from left to right: MVS volunteers Rudy Moyer-Litwiller, Sophia Amstutz, Tjorven Lichdi and Michelle Moyer-Litwiller. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Amstutz)

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Joanna Loepp Thiessen is pictured at the Street2feets annual five-kilometre fundraiser, where she worked as an assistant race director, taking the opportunity to raise awareness about addictions and homelessness in the area. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Loepp Thiessen)

This year, Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) is celebrating 75 years of placing young adults in service positions across Canada and the U.S. 

A bouncer for Jesus

Streets Alive and Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure volunteer Simon Crelerot, left, and his girlfriend, Cathy Oberli, travel around Lethbridge, Alta., offering sandwiches, clothing and encouragement to people living on the streets. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

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Pictured from left to right, this year’s Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure Unit in Lethbridge, Alta.: Birte Quiring, Melissa Schwaerzel, Simon Crelerot, Cornelia Heidebrecht and Lilli Wehner. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

Simon Crelerot, Lethbridge volunteer, explores Crowsnest Mountain in Alberta. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

So how did a 22-year-old Mennonite from France end up volunteering on the streets of Lethbridge as a bouncer for Jesus? Even he’s not sure, but he’s loving it, and when he returns to France in September, he plans to continue working with street people if he can find an opportunity.

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