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In a time of uncertainty

The sign outside Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., announces the stark reality of church closure due to health concerns. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus prompting provincial health authorities to recommend social distancing, including public gatherings not to exceed 250 people, Fraser Valley Mennonite churches scrambled to react appropriately for the third Sunday of Lent on March 15.

Heading home early

Siaka Traoré, a Mennonite Pastor of the Eglise Evangelique Mennonite in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

When Pastor Siaka Traoré packed his bags for his trip to Canada and the United States in early March, it never crossed his mind that almost every event and visit he had planned would be cancelled. 

‘I have hope now’

Participants in East Zorra Mennonite Church’s learning trip to the Philippines are pictured with MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja in front of the Coffee for Peace sign. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

The East Zorra Mennonite Church learning tour group gathers at the Davao City welcome sign, in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, where they visited tribal groups and witnessed the peacebuilding efforts of MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

(Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church gather with the Bagobo Tagabawa Tribe as part of celebrations that included dancing, music, prayer and food. The tribe hopes to establish itself as quality coffee producers. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church listen to an elder from the Talaandig Tribe. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Twelve people from East Zorra Mennonite Church, near Tavistock, Ont., knew they would be impacted by their 10-day learning tour to the Philippines in early January. What they didn’t expect was how much their visit would impact the Indigenous people they met.

“I have hope now,” one of the local coffee farmers told the group from East Zorra. 

Looking forward during a time of transition

The minutes, board actions, nominations slate and budget at this year’s MC Manitoba annual gathering were all approved. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Gerald Gerbrandt, MC Manitoba moderator, left, and Ken Warkentin are pictured at the regional 2020 annual gathering. Warkentin will be leaving his role as executive minister after nine years in the position. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

“Where are we headed? What are the challenges we are facing?” At the 2020 Mennonite Church Manitoba annual gathering, the regional church focused on these big questions it is addressing in the coming year.

A time to reminisce

John Friesen, one of the original founders of the Menno Simons Centre, speaks at the farewell celebration for the facility, held on March 14. (Photo by Evan Kreider)

The chapel at the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver has served as a meeting place for Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship since 1986. (Photo by Evan Kreider)

The Pacific Centre for Discipleship, which owns the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver, has decided to sell the student building and prepare to build a larger student residence on the edge of the University of B.C. campus. 

'Nunsense' cooks up laughs for Grebel audiences

Heather Agnew, left, Tracy Weber, Vicci Taylor, Sarrah Scott and Alison Enns perform in the ‘Little Sisters of Hoboken’ talent show during a performance of Nunsense, a fundraiser for Grebel’s kitchen and dining room expansion. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Vicci Taylor, who played Reverend Mother, teaches the audience how to be a proper nun in a performance of Nunsense. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Alison Enns, co-producer of Nunsense, plays Sister Mary Amnesia as she shows off her ventriloquism skills. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Alison Enns, left, Vicci Taylor and Tracy Weber cook up laughs in the convent kitchen during a performance of Nunsense. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Conrad Grebel University College presented Nunsense, an off-Broadway hit musical comedy, over four days in late February. This comical tale was mounted as a fundraiser for Grebel’s Fill the Table campaign for the college’s kitchen and dining room expansion.

‘In the end, we’re all neighbours’

Will Braun, Canadian Mennonite’s senior writer, left, makes a point to Marnie Klassen during the Face2Face panel discussion at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, on the theme ‘Us and them: How did we become so polarized?’ (CMU photo)

How do people respond to the strong rhetoric of polarization that is gripping the world? How can they listen and talk to people that are different from them? And why does it matter if they do?

MC B.C. explores ‘connections’

Lee Dyck, left, outgoing moderator of MC B.C., reads a final blessing along with Garry Janzen, the regional church’s executive minister, at the conclusion of the 2020 annual general meeting on Feb. 29. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Mennonite Church B.C. welcomed Vietnamese Grace Mennonite Church into fellowship at the regional church’s annual meeting on Feb. 29. Pictured with Kevin Barkowsky, MC B.C.’s church engagement minister, right, are Phuc Nguyen and Lam Son Tran. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

“Connections: God’s church in the 21st century” was the theme when 143 delegates gathered on Feb. 29 for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting at Cedar Valley Mennonite Church.

Rockway celebrates 75 years

Current faculty and staff pose at the photo booth as part of the festivities celebrating the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Sarah Kathleen Johnson, class of 2003, speaks at the Founder’s Day Chapel on Feb. 9, celebrating the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Neveen Antoun)

Jane Schultz-Janzen, left, Patty Klassen and Marcia Shantz, all from the class of 1981, joined the Alumni and Friends Choir that sang at the Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Founder’s Day Chapel on Feb. 9, celebrating the school’s 75th birthday. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Pearl Wideman, class of 1956, centre, celebrates with her daughters Louise Wideman, class of 1982, left, and Janice Klassen, class of 1982, right, at the Founder’s Day Chapel marking the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

There was cake, balloons, confetti and a photo booth with goofy props. There was singing in harmony, and prayers of gratitude and blessing—all of it to celebrate the 75th birthday of a “small school for a big world.” 

75 Candles for 75 Years

David Martin, right, executive minister of MC Eastern Canada, announced a $250,000 grant from the regional church for tuition assistance for students from the regional church’s first-generation Canadian congregations, at the Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Founder’s Day Chapel, celebrating the 75th birthday of the school. The grant was gratefully received by Ann L. Schultz, left, Rockway’s current principal, on behalf of the school. (Photo by Yuanpei (Robin) Xiang)

Citing a “strong history of pitching in” at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, David Martin, executive minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, announced a $250,000 grant to Rockway, with the vision of making the school more accessible for students from the regional church’s first-generation Canadian congregations. 

Workshop explores land, community, reparation

At ‘The cost of colonialism: Joy of jubilee’ workshop in Vancouver last month, a breakout group discusses what jubilee might look like in relation to Indigenous-Settler relations. (Photo by Henry Krause)

An interfaith workshop drew more than 80 registered participants to Peace Church on 52nd on Feb. 7 and 8 to learn about “The cost of colonialism: The joy of jubilee.”

Coming together over Deuteronomy

Some participants in Gerald Gerbrandt’s short course on Deuteronomy opt to be part of a choir, led by Richard Janzen, that performed during the joint morning worship service on Feb. 9. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Gerald Gerbrandt presents a Portable CMU short course on Deuteronomy to participants from five MC Saskatchewan congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Gerald Gerbrandt presents a Portable CMU short course on Deuteronomy to participants from five MC Saskatchewan congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Table discussion gave participants in Gerald Gerbrandt’s short course on Deuteronomy an opportunity to dig a little deeper. Pictured, from left to right: Curtis Wiens, Claire Ewert Fisher, Eldon Funk and Denise Epp. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Participants in Gerald Gerbrandt’s short course on Deuteronomy take a closer look at what the Old Testament book has to say about loving God and loving neighbours. Pictured, left to right: Delilah Roth, Brian Roth, Les Regier and Lil Regier. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Participants in Gerald Gerbrandt’s short course on Deuteronomy hear one another’s ideas during table discussion. Pictured, foreground from left to right: Ike Epp, Ted Janzen, Bev Janzen and Ric Driediger. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Julie Handel, at right holding the microphone, asks a question of Gerald Gerbrandt during his short course on Deuteronomy, held at Rosthern Mennonite. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Worshippers from Aberdeen, Eigenheim, Rosthern, Tiefengrund and Zoar Mennonite churches gather at Rosthern Mennonite for worship on Feb. 9 as their weekend with Gerald Gerbrandt draws to a close. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Five Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregations collaborated recently to provide a weekend of learning for their members. 

‘Who will answer the call?’

South Sudanese Mennonite Church women lead worship in the Gambela region in Ethiopia in January. (Photo by William Tut)

Pictured from left to right are the leaders from the South Sudanese Mennonite Church in Edmonton: Gatroup Mut, William Tut and Pastor Reuben Tut. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Mennonite children from South Sudanese refugee camps in Ethiopia smile for the camera after a church service. (Photo by William Tut)

South Sudanese Mennonites prepare to worship and beat their drums. (Photo by William Tut)

Leaders from Edmonton’s South Sudanese Mennonite Church are serving as connectors between refugees in Ethiopia and other Mennonites in Alberta.

Planting seeds in their community

Congregants walk a labyrinth set up in the church, a rich tradition at Seeds. (Photo by Ted Enns-Dyck)

Darlene Enns-Dyck, co-lead pastor of Seeds Church, reads a story at children's time. (Photo by Ted Enns-Dyck)

Seeds Church celebrates its 20th anniversary in a low-key way, with birthday cake. (Photo by Ted Enns-Dyck)

Seeds Church celebrated its 20th anniversary on the first Sunday of 2020. But instead of throwing on party hats and revelling in the past two decades, the congregation faced forward and asked the question, “What about the next 20 years?”

‘Jesus Christ: Our hope’

Local participants in the Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday service in St. Catharines, Ont., included, from left to right: Louise Wideman, Ben Falk, Bounnho Phommaseng, Herb Sawatzky, Jim Friesen, Rob Patterson, Michael VandenEnden, John Rempel, Ed Willms, Mike Sherbino and Kenol Bernard. (Photo by Rob Patterson)

César García, general secretary of Mennonite World Conference (MWC), preached the Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday sermon at Scott Street Mennonite Brethren Church in St. Catharines to a diverse group of Anabaptist worshippers. Entitling his sermon, “Jesus Christ: Our Hope,” he said, “On this Sunday [Jan.

‘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.”

Preacher calls mission and service workers to Jesus-centred discipleship

Bruxy Cavey addresses the Council of International Anabaptist Ministries at its annual conference, held from Jan. 14 to 16 at The Meeting House in Oakville, Ont., where he is the senior pastor. Cavey called for Jesus-centred, relational discipleship as the way to engage new missional church leaders. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Bruxy Cavey’s message to mission and service leaders in Anabaptist organizations was plain. “We have lost a younger generation of leaders because the church has been so divided,” he said. “To fight for unity will be one of the most powerful things this next generation of leaders, young and old, can do together.”

MCC celebrates 100 years of global ministry

This feeding centre in Trans-Volga, Russia, circa 1922, was one of 140 MCC-supported centres in southern Russia that distributed 38,600 rations daily at the peak of the relief effort in 1922. This kitchen excelled most other kitchens in cleanliness and orderliness. (MCC photo)

A Spanish child benefits from an MCC feeding program in Lyon, France, in 1941. MCC began work with Spanish refugees who had fled to France in the wake of the Spanish Civil War. This relief work continued into the early years of the Second World War. Throughout 2020 MCC is celebrating 100 years of global service. (Photo: Mennonite Central Committee)

Marlene Epp, left, Shirley Froese, Katie Harder and Betty Brown tie a comforter at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta. (Photo by Veronica Morales)

Comforter knotters at First Mennonite Church in Edmonton were joined by members of the Islamic Family and Social Services Agency. Pictured from left to right: Joan Perrott, left, Dolly Jeffares, Marah Rafih, and Sana Almotlak. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sharlene Christie, Jeanette Thiessen and Barb Goosen work on a comforter at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary. Twenty-eight people worked together to complete eight comforters. Three men made lunch for the 25 women and one child who worked on the comforters. (Photo by Linda Dickinson.)

MCC’s Great Winter Warm-up in B.C. drew several generations of volunteers to work together on blanket-making at Ross Road Community Church in Abbotsford. The youngest were Brielle, 5, and Hannah Balzer, 8, who helped their parents and grandparents tie comforters . Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond held its own event the same day. Altogether, B.C. stitchers completed 615 blankets. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Many hands came together to pin, stitch and fold material into comforters and blankets for MCC’s Great Winter Warm-up Jan. 18 at Ross Road Community Church in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Volunteers at the MCC Christian Benefit Thrift Shop in St. Catherines, Ont., show customers how to knot comforters. (Photo by John Himes)

Tim Albrecht, general manager of the Christian Benefit Thrift Store in St. Catharines, Ont., third from left, helps volunteers knotting comforters for MCC’s Great Winter Warm-up event. Over three days, 18 comforters were created with the help of 21 volunteers. (Photo by John Himes / Text by Maria H. Klassen)

Clockwise from left, Tracy Wright, Rebecca Janzen, Daniela Stahl, Isaac Wright and Lena Regier tie a comforter together at North Kildonan Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, where 350 participants and volunteers made 210 comforters. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Participants learned each step of the comforter making process, from cutting squares to sewing edges to proper knot-tying etiquette, with this sample comforter. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

During a break from the annual meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada on Jan. 18 at Camp Peniel, north of Montreal, Alain Després and Richard Lougheed take time to tie a few knots in a comforter for Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Barb Wolfe ties a quilt at Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College during MCC’s Great Winter Warm-up. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

One hundred years ago, calls for help came from Mennonites in southern Russia, where war, disease and famine had left them in desperate straits.

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