Volume 27 Issue 17

Tell us what you think

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

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A blended family

(Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

In December 1924, this family was starting a new life in more ways than one. Katharina (Enns Rempel) and Jacob P. Braun, both widowed, separately emigrated from the Soviet Union to Ontario. A few weeks after their arrival, they were married in the Waterloo region. Here the newly blended family prepares to move from the home of their first Ontario Mennonite hosts.

Deconstructing or reconstructing?

(Photo by Betty Avery)

I heard some strong language this summer about church from various extended family members. I’m sure this is not just in my family! Conversation at family gatherings is not usually conducive for more thoughtful or caring conversations, but these phrases caught my ear and attention.

“I’m done with church.”

“I’m done with denominations.”

“I’m deconstructing my faith.”

Organic architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house. (flickr photo by Mariano Mantel)

This is the first summer I haven’t gone camping for at least 25 years, maybe my entire life. Since Tammy and I got married 23 years ago, our family holidays have focused on hiking, kayaking and sleeping in tents. Often in the rain. My family suggested we try something different this year, and I found myself connecting with God and nature in a new way—through architecture.

Stepping overboard

Curtis Wiens leads a forest church service the first Sunday of every month at Shekinah Retreat Centre. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Aberdeen Mennonite Church at Trinity Place. (Gameo photo by Bert Friesen)

Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg. (Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship Photo)

Florence Driedger turns to look out the window before she replies to my question. “Well, we never know from one year to the next who and how many . . . whether we’ll still be functioning. We think we will be, but you never know.”

Historical society apologizes to Semá:th First Nation

Sumas Lake, known as Semá:th Lake to the local Stó:lō people, prior to it being drained by government in the 1920s. (City of Vancouver Archives)

“The draining of [Sumas Lake] and our settlement on your ancestral lands was devastating and demoralizing and disrespectful.”

That was part of an apology offered to Semá:th First Nation Chief Dalton Silver and his people by Richard Thiessen, president of the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C.

Singing to Ukraine

Carol Ann Weaver (left) and Nataliia Kurhan at Hawkesville Mennonite Church in May, 2022. (Photo by Ingrid Bauman)

Road barricades in Dnipro, Ukraine. August 2022. (Photo by Nataliia Kurhan)

February 23, 2022, was a relatively ordinary day on our planet. Until 10:30 p.m. Ontario time—early morning of February 24 where Nataliia Kurhan lives—when I heard a reporter announce breathlessly, “Missiles are being fired; the invasion has begun.”

I saw streaks descending behind the reporter on the screen and heard the sound of rockets.

The facility of faith

The pipe organ at Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of John Enns)

Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church. (WKUM Church Photo)

(Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church Photo)

John Enns remembers a time when 200 children filled the Sunday school classrooms at Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church (WKUM).

Currently, the congregation has 225 registered members, but less than half attend. The majority are in their 70s. Enns, who chairs the vision team at the church, says most newly retired members prefer to spend their Sunday mornings elsewhere.

Grassroots reconciliation at Spruce River Folk Fest

Cree elder, Harry Lafond, offers the opening prayer at the Spruce River Folk Fest as Ray Funk (centre) and members of the bluegrass band O’Kraut look on. (Photo by Emily Summach)

The Spruce River flows past a teepee where the opening pipe ceremony was held. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Music is a universal language. In Saskatchewan, music is also the language of reconciliation. On August 15, the Spruce River Folk Fest was held to encourage friendship and understanding between Mennonites and Indigenous neighbours.

Musical sharing at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation

A group of Indigenous people and Mennonites gather under the arbor at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. (Photo by Randy Klassen)

About 75 people gathered at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, located an hour’s drive north of Saskatoon, on August 6 for the Singing in the Arbor event. The event, which included music, food and relationship-building, was sponsored by the Cree Nation and Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Walking the Path initiative.

Art gallery nurtures connections with the past

“Gate to the Past” by Renate Dau Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

Marjorie Wall Hofer admires Leah Klassen’s painting “In the Garden.” (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

“Memory of Home” by Martin Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

An art gallery lines the hallway between the sanctuary and the auditorium of the Niagara United Mennonite Church near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The art hanging there reminds viewers of God’s guidance through difficult times, including separation, loss and escape.


Hans Juergen Wiens and his jars of jam. (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

In 2004, at the age of 70, Hans Juergen Wiens sold his business, including several farms, a feed business, and his last pig, all in one year. He was unemployed and restless. But then, one night, he remembered his mother’s resourcefulness.

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