Volume 24 Issue 4

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Church stories

Young and old from Arnaud (Man.) Mennonite Church participate in church picnic activities last June. Almost every issue of Canadian Mennonite carries at least one story of a Mennonite Church Canada congregation. (Canadian Mennonite file photo by Rick Friesen)

“The congregation is the foundational unit and expression of God’s work in the world.” That was a key affirmation in the Future Directions process that led to the 2017 re-organization of Mennonite Church Canada. In this issue’s feature starting on page 4, MC Canada’s executive minister, Doug Klassen, calls for a strengthening of our denomination’s core: the congregations. 

Dear MC Saskatchewan:

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called 'Deepening our walk.' (Image by ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay)

In 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan began a three-year journey called “Deepening our walk.” In year one, we opened ourselves to encounters with God’s presence by “Deepening our walk with Christ.” This theme grew out of an awareness that, if we desire to live well in this day of turmoil and uncertainty, we need to re-centre ourselves on Jesus Christ, the one who invites us to the table and tr

David Neufeld

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Archives / David P. Neufeld Fonds

You can find all kinds of things in the archives, including humour.  In a report dated Jan. 25, 1963, Rev. David P. Neufeld wrote, “During the course of the last year I have come to sympathize with a man who was called to be the executive secretary of one of our larger denominations [U.S. Protestant Episcopal Bishop, Stephen F. Bayne Jr.]. . . .

‘Unusual kindness’

'I thought of the Sunday brunch that this tiny Lutheran congregation creates annually. Church that day becomes a time for frying sausages and scrambling eggs.' (Image by Holger Langmaier/Pixabay)

On Feb. 2, I attended a worship service that mattered.

It was an ecumenical service, held as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Here in Laird, Sask., population somewhere south of 300, three churches participated. All are, by most standards, laughably small. And yet, there we were, crowded into tiny St. John’s Lutheran Church. 

Slow down for nature

'If we pay attention to creation, we have to move at slower paces, paces more amenable to being gentle and caring in all our relations.' (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

One of the most profound experiences of my life was when I bought a bicycle at the police auction at the precise midpoint of my two-year term of service with Mennonite Central Committee.

Lessons from the wheel

'My best friend, Mike, is a potter. Our friendship has afforded me the occasional opportunity to sit at his wheel and try my hand at pottery. I’ve learned that it isn’t easy.' (Image by Pexels/Pixabay)

My best friend, Mike, is a potter. Our friendship has afforded me the occasional opportunity to sit at his wheel and try my hand at pottery. I’ve learned that it isn’t easy.

‘Mennonite’ ministry flourishes

The reception area at the new Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers location in downtown Edmonton. (Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers photo)

Newcomers learn English at the new Language Learning Centre in Edmonton. (Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers photo)

In May 1981, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers opened its doors with 1.5 full-time-equivalent employees, one classroom and a little office. It was started by six Mennonite churches in Edmonton that saw settlement services for newcomers were inadequate and felt convicted that God called them to welcome the stranger.

Compelled by Christ to serve

An interior view of a refugee train with a family of Mennonites from Schoenwiese, southern Russia (present-day Ukraine). (MCC photo by A.W. Slagel)

Mennonite refugees leave the harbour at Bremerhaven, Germany, on the Volendam in 1947. The group, led by Peter and Elfrieda Dyck, was the first of three groups of Mennonite refugees transported by the Volendam to South America in 1947 and 1948. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, MCC helped resettle thousands of Mennonite refugees from Europe. (MCC photo)

MCC U.S. executive director Ron Byler and MCC Canada executive director Rick Cober Bauman stand in front of the former Jakob Dyck lumber mill, the site of MCC’s first relief kitchen in Khortitsa, Ukraine. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

“At the railroad stations, the sight was appalling. The moment the train halted it was besieged by living skeletons. From out of the rags were lifted bare arms, the wasted fingers extended toward the car windows in entreaty for food. 

“‘Bread, in God’s name, bread!’ ”

Sharing stories that spell MCC

Kathy Braun, left, tells the children at Osler Mennonite Church that it takes a lot of people to do the work of Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Adeline Cox)

Holding up letters that spell Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), members of Osler Mennonite Church demonstrate that the work of MCC is a group effort. (Photo by Adeline Cox)

During the Sunday school hour, Jake Buhler recalls the 20 years he and his wife Louise, spent under MCC in Vietnam and Thailand. (Photo by Adeline Cox)

Loretta Sawatzky reflects on her year of service under the Intermenno Trainee Program with her husband Lloyd in Switzerland. (Photo by Adeline Cox)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and one Saskatchewan congregation got off to an early start in celebrating it.

Osler Mennonite Church chose Jan. 26 as “MCC Sunday,” inviting MCC Saskatchewan executive director Eileen Klassen Hamm to be its guest speaker. 

Making food stories meaningful

Paul Plett, right, whose documentary Seven Points on Earth was featured at this year’s Bechtel Lectures at Conrad Grebel College, chats with Lester Bechtel, who funds the annual lecture series as a way to make the academic world accessible to a broader audience. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

As part of the 2020 Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies, Conrad Grebel University College hosted a farmers breakfast (pictured) and panel discussion, focusing on the way farming, food, family and faith come together in our various lives. The panelists sparked lively conversation as participants shared their stories and experiences. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Mennonite farmers have a lot in common. They see themselves as stewards of the land, they live with uncertainties, and they take pride in what they produce, but they farm in dramatically different ways. 

At the annual Bechtel Lectures at Conrad Grebel University College, on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, Mennonite farmers shared their diverse stories of food production.

Who do you support when a community is divided?

‘As people who believe in nonviolence, we cannot stand silent as the RCMP uses force and threat of force against people,’ says Rachelle Friesen, CPT's Canada coordinator. (Photo courtesy of CPT)

“The province of British Columbia alongside Coastal GasLink are continuing their plans to build a pipeline through the unceded territories of the Wet’suwet’en.

Mennonite Women Canada disburses its final assets

Mennonite Women Canada executive members met for a final time at Gathering 2019 in Abbotsford, B.C. Pictured from left to right: Shirley Redekop, president; Elsie Rempel, secretary/treasurer; and Liz Koop, communications coordinator. (CM file photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

In spite of the sadness involved in bringing the Mennonite Women Canada (MW Canada) organization to a close, Shirley Redekop, the final president, expressed confidence that “God is still at work in our midst—bringing forth new shoots, new growth and renewed purpose among women of faith.”

Teaching peace across Asia and around the world

Wendy Kroeker, third from left, is pictured with the Mennonite World Conference Peace Commission The others, from left to right, are: Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Joji Pantoja, Neal Blough, Andrew Suderman, Garcia Domingo, Adriana Belinda Rodriguez, Kenneth Hoke and Jeremiah Choi. Kroeker and Pantoja were part of the delegation to Hong Kong. (Photo by Marijne Stenvers)

Name any region in Asia and chances are that Wendy Kroeker has done peace work there.

Lighting a fire in children’s faith

Huxley Phillips, left, Mason Avery and De’Sean Burnette enjoy a campfire at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp, New Hamburg, Ont. (Photo: Aaron Lantz / Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp)

Advanced Camper Experience (ACE) campers Seth Bowman, left, Adam Roth, Carter Cochrane, Philip Cressman, I.J. Bellamy, ‘Speegon’ and Gabriel VanDyk learn about leadership through canoeing. (Photo by Aaron Lantz)

Sitting around the campfire after saying goodbye to our final group of campers on the last night of the summer, the staff spent the evening reflecting on the summer and all that happened.

We told stories and laughed about all of the hilarity that ensued over the previous 10 weeks. Sometimes we cried as we reminisced about the impact that our experiences had on us.

Living sanctuaries

Leaders-in-Training Isabelle Netherton and Micah Peters-Unrau, standing left and right, are pictured with LiT leader Joanna Loepp Thiessen. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Every night at Ontario Mennonite Music Camp we sing a closing song around the campfire to send campers off to bed.

A path towards reconciliation

Willowgrove added the blanket exercise to its program in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, more specifically the call to educate Canadians. (Willowgrove photo)

“Now I know what I should have been teaching.”

These are the words of a retired history teacher after participating in a Kairos blanket exercise. As a blanket exercise facilitator, I am often struck by the insights of participants, adults and children alike. 

Jeremy Wiens goes to Snow Camp

Jeremy Wiens.

Mikka Kostanecki and Katrina Janssen roast hot dogs at the final campfire at MC Alberta’s Snow Camp 2020, held at Camp Valaqua. (Photo by Jon Olfert)

There are extreme weather warnings throughout the province as the wind chill dips to -40C. Yes, it’s cold, but nothing is going to stop Jeremy Wiens from going to Mennonite Church Alberta’s Snow Camp, held this year from Jan. 10 to 12 at Camp Valaqua in Water Valley.

‘Hi, let’s go join the rest of the group’

This is Fraser Lake Camp’s 65th year in operation. It serves 300 campers each summer on 110 hectares in the Canadian Shield. (Photo by Janien Reesor)

Stepping off that bus for the first time can be scary; it can be a big deal. The minds of many are on the edge of uncertainty and fear. If those steps take you into the embrace of a healthy community that welcomes you as you are, some magical things can happen. The way I see it, the community of summer camp provides two things for children: independence and belonging.

Rhythm and Song Camp breaks into rap

Laura Moolenbeek rehearses a rap written by the boys cabin at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp. By the end of the week, campers were ready to perform the rap they prepared at the banquet before the whole camp. It was amazing to see kids coming out of their shells, and finding common ground in music. (Photo by Karen Cornies)

According to camp counsellor Laura Moolenbeek, Silver Lake Mennonite Camp’s first Rhythm and Song Camp was an incredible week for campers and staff. Seven- to 16-year-olds came with a huge range of musical experience. They brought a wide range of perspectives to each session. The boys cabin chose to write and perform a rap for their counsellors. 

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