Volume 23 Issue 16

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The zucchini principle

(Image by Image by マサコ アーント/Pixabay)

A woman who was raised in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches is now a member of my congregation. When Shannon described what led her to the Mennonite church, she observed a few differences between how Mennonites and other traditions she knew practise their faith. She said that one difference was that “Mennonites hold on less tightly to their possessions.”

Giving in the digital age

Sandy Shantz holds out offering bowl for Callum Jarvis as he comes to the front of St. Jacobs (Ont.) Mennonite Church to give his gift to God. (Photo by Marcia Shantz)

(Photo © istock.com/halock)

We are now living in a full-blown digital world. With just one click or voice command we can ask Google for a chicken recipe, order office supplies or give to our favourite charity online. 

A collaborative leadership approach

"For Jesus... There would be no hierarchy, no coercive power, no one person ruling over and above another person. His model is mutual, shared leadership under one Lord." (Image by rawpixel/Pixabay)

We have a lot of pastoral transitions happening at the moment in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is a time that has given me pause to think about how we do church ministry and what our pastoral ministry positions look like.

‘Camps make church come alive’

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, left, with campers from her cabin at Camp Koinonia’s youth week. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, centre, with fellow Camps with Meaning staffers Matthew Sawatzky and Emma Berg. (Photo courtesy of Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe, right, with camper Carlynn Davidson at Camp Koinonia’s youth week. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

It’s 10:30 on a sunny August morning and the lodge at Camp Koinonia, near Boissevain, Man., is bursting with shouts and harmonies. People dance and laugh together. The group radiates energy.

If the church is the body, then camp is the heart that pumps life into every corner.

Building relationships with residential school survivors

Geronimo Henry, a survivor of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., says of his experience at the school, ‘I find it hard to forgive. It took my childhood from me.’ He is sitting at one of the new tables built by MDS volunteers from Mennonite congregations in Ontario and British Columbia. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Mennonite church youth groups from Kitchener, St. Jacobs, Listowel and Elmira, Ont., and Abbotsford, B.C., helped MDS restore this longhouse at the Woodland Cultural Centre over the summer. (Photo by John Longhurst)

The former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., is currently being refurbished. Over the summer, MCC, MDS and Mennonite congregations from Ontario and British Columbia helped with the work. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Carley Gallant Jenkins, the coordinator of the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence fundraising campaign, sits at a newly minted desk made by MDS volunteers from Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church in July. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Stella and Rebecca Liu of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church help file documents and shelve books in the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Timothy Khoo of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church stains a table top. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Jason Deng of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church sands a tabletop built by members of his congregation and MDS volunteers. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Matthew Deng of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church sands the base of a school desk built by members of his congregation and MDS volunteers. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Survivors of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., have returned to scratch messages into the bricks. There are hundreds at the back of the building where former students have left their marks, like this one from Franke, who served time at the school—‘11 years too many.’ (Photo by John Longhurst)

Crew leader Andrew Thiessen, right, of Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., and helpers from St. Jacobs Mennonite Church and Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., help move documents and books around the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (MDS photo by Nick Hamm)

Ontario volunteers from Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, and Avon Mennonite Church in Stratford. (MDS photo by Nick Hamm)

Markus Schroeder Kipfer and Jonah Willms of St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, Ont., sift for historical artifacts on the grounds of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (Photo by Nick Hamm)

Aidan Morton Ninomiya and Jonah Willms of St. Jacobs (Ont.) Mennonite Church, front row, and Christian Albrecht and Steve Manske of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., back row, sit in school desks they helped build at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (Photo by Nick Hamm)

Ontario volunteers from Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, St. Jacobs Mennonite Church and Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener help MDS build school benches at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., this summer. (Photo by Nick Hamm)

“It’s personal, there are names and faces. It’s not just textbook information now.”

That’s how Timothy Khoo, 16, describes what it was like to meet residential school survivors while volunteering with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford in July.

Picnics galore!

Springridge Mennonite Church tug-of-war at its annual picnic. (Photo by Del Willms)

Springridge Mennonite Church boot toss at its annual picnic this June in Pincher Creek. (Photo by Del Willms)

Springridge Mennonite Church egg toss with Chris Marten and granddaughter Claire. (Photo by Del Willms)

Springridge Mennonite Church traditional sack race. Pictured from left to right: Tany Warkentin, Kyle Janzen, Riley Diesty, Danika Warkentin, Andrew Janzen, Karl Janzen and Asher Warkentin. (Photo by Del Willms)

Springridge Mennonite Church sack race with Riley Diesty, left, and Jonas Anjo. (Photo by Del Willms)

Children participate in the sack race at this year’s church picnic at Trinity Mennonite Church in Okotoks, Alta. Pictured from left to right: Cole Schellenberg, Nate Lopaschuk and Ruby Loewen. (Photo by Jenna Hunsberger)

Springridge Mennonite Church congregants at their annual picnic this June in Pincher Creek, Alta. (Photo by Del Willms)

Many church programs eventually come to an end, but there’s one event that still remains after many decades—and that’s the church picnic!

Staging change behind bars

Johnny Wideman and Kimberlee Walker are members of Theatre of the Beat and co-facilitators of the restorative-justice drama program. (Photo courtesy of Kimberlee Walker)

Ontario’s Theatre of the Beat has a mandate of staging change and creating conversations around social justice issues, but that’s also happening in communities beyond the Mennonite enclaves the company brings its plays to.

Mixing friendship with fundraising

Nancy Mann, right, who helped to establish Women Empowering Women (WeW) in Waterloo Region, speaks to the group at one of its quarterly meetings. (MEDA photo)

The Waterloo Region chapter of Women Empowering Women (WEW) meets quarterly to nurture connections and friendships, to be inspired and to raise funds that support women in developing economies. As an auxiliary group of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), it supports MEDA’s international work of “helping women move into more valued and equitable roles in their economies.”

‘That school kit saved my life’

Ly Vang holds the MCC school kit bag she received as a teenager in a refugee camp in Thailand. ‘If the person who made this is still alive,’ she says, ‘I would like to say thank you.’ (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Ly Vang was 16 and stuck in a refugee camp in Thailand with a pair of shoes and two sets of clothes. She was lonely and sad. She struggled with suicidal thoughts.

“What is the meaning of living like this?” she complained to God. “Being dead would be better.”

‘Beyond expectations’ with the help of God

Children make planets at the VBS craft station, on the theme of ‘To Mars and beyond.’ (Photo by Barb Burkhard)

The intercultural Vacation Bible School planning committee from First Hmong and First Mennonite churches in Kitchener included, from left to right: Griselda Bevenborn, René Baergen, My Yang, Tina Heu, Charity Friesen, Dao Her and Gao Hlee; absent: Julie Lee. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

“I’m so sad that it’s over!” said one young participant after a week of high-energy Vacation Bible School (VBS) activities at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener last month. 

That is just what the eight-member intercultural planning committee wanted to hear after its first joint venture of leading VBS for children aged 2 to 11 each morning from Aug. 12 to 16.

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