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Saskatoon churches hold communion service on election day

When Christians partake in communion they are asserting the Lordship of Christ. This takes on added significance on election day. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Attending a communion service on election day is not at the top of most voters’ priority lists, but for those who gathered at Mount Royal Mennonite Church on Sept. 20, it proved to be the right way to start the day.

Small church offerings

Erie View United Mennonite Church, not far from the shores of Lake Erie, held its annual canoe paddle in September.

Erie View United Mennonite Church has always been a small congregation. (Photo courtesy of Betty Wiebe)

In 1926 a small group of immigrant Russian Mennonite families settled near Port Rowan, a small town in rural southern Ontario, half an hour’s drive from the bigger towns of Simcoe and Tillsonburg. Worship services were started, with families initially meeting in their homes, then renting space, and finally owning their own building in 1940.

Outdoor MCC festival fundraiser a success

Volunteers dish out watermelon with rollkuchen at the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Plates of vareniki with sausage and gravy were a popular choice for attendees at the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief on Sept. 18. Thousands attended the event on the MCC Centre parking lot. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The parking lot of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Centre on Gladys Avenue was filled with 400 volunteers and thousands of attendees on Sept. 18 for the annual MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief.

Second year of Common Read begins

‘Tongue-Tied: Learning the Lost Art of Talking about Faith’ is the Common Read title for fall 2021. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

In September 2020, Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Church U.S.A. and Herald Press began encouraging Mennonites to engage in a “common read,” a shared reading experience focused on specific books written to nurture Christian faith in this cultural moment.

MDS launches effort to help drought-affected farmers

Bales of hay at Flynn Farms in Clinton, Ont., are being loaded onto a truck owned by Hutton Transport of Paisley, Ont. MDS hopes to send 50 truckloads of hay to Saskatchewan. (Mennonite Disaster Service Canada photo)

Nine years ago, farmers in Saskatchewan sent hay to drought-stricken livestock producers in Ontario through Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada. Now farmers in Ontario are preparing to repay their generosity the same way.

Toronto-area leaders reflect on virtual worship

Churches across Canada are sharing online services. Here Moses Falco leads worship at Sterling Mennonite in Winnipeg. (Screenshot from MC Canada website)

“It is important to let go of perfectionism and the desire to get things right. We will make mistakes. People forget to go on mute, there is background noise, videos don’t work. Despite all this, it is still worship,” says Peter Haresnape, a pastor at Toronto United Mennonite Church.

B.C. churches kick off new church year

Anne Herridge (director of children’s ministry) and Gerry Binnema (lead pastor) enjoy some lighthearted moments as they help launch the church year at Crossroads Community Church in Chilliwack, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Community Church)

Mennonite Church congregations in B.C., most of whom are just resuming in-person worship, are celebrating the beginning of the church year in various ways.

Youth and young adults from Chinatown Peace Church in Vancouver started off the year in August with tent camping on Mt. Seymour.

Preserving history

The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church building in Mayfair, Sask. is no longer open for regular services, but a small group of members and former members still want to see it maintained. (Photos courtesy of Laura Toews)

Former members and friends of Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church in Mayfair, Sask. gather for a fundraising barbecue on the church grounds.

The Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church, near the village of Mayfair, Sask., needed new siding and windows, but there was no money left in the operating fund. So the Toews family decided to hold a barbecue.

“Our family has been part of that church from when it was first built,” says Laura Toews. “My grandfather was a lay minister.”

Coming from a place of love

Donavan Arcand, kneeling centre, teaches participants how to play Indigenous hand games. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Chief Sylvia Weenie speaks at a friendship gathering hosted by the Young Chippewayan people at Stoney Knoll recently. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Delano Kennedy, standing right, gives last-minute instructions as Randy Klassen, on the ground left, and Logan Janzen prepare to face off in a rope tug-of-war. This game is one of many that Indigenous children and youth used to play to test their skills and strength. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

One by one, they slipped inside the large tent, out of the drizzle. They came from far and near to hear stories, share a meal, play games and enjoy each other’s company.

On Aug. 24, the Young Chippewayan First Nation welcomed Mennonites and Lutherans from Laird and the surrounding area to a gathering of friendship at Stoney Knoll, the fourth gathering of its kind.

Fun in the sun

Kenai Warkentin participates in a ladder-ball-toss game at this year’s Springridge Mennonite Church picnic. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Finley Anjo, left, and his mom, Hilary Janzen, share a big bag of peanuts at this year’s Springridge Mennonite Church picnic. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Springridge Mennonite Church of Pincher Creek, Alta., begins its annual picnic with worship in Fishburn Park. The speaker was Bev Janzen, standing. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

The all-day annual Springridge Mennonite Church picnic was held this year at Fishburn Park on Aug. 15. Beginning with worship in the morning, the day included a potluck lunch; games in the afternoon, including an intergenerational baseball game, a ladder-ball-toss game, badminton, frisbee throwing and football; and ended with a barbecue supper. 

Community outreach successful with summer VBS

Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School program in August, with half the children attending coming from the community. (Living Hope Christian Fellowship photo)

In a summer when many public activities, including church services, were curtailed, Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program from Aug. 9 to 13. Last year, Living Hope’s VBS had only 10 children attending in person, with seven online. By contrast, this year 38 children came, all in person.

MCC responds to bombing in Gaza

Mohamed Al-Attar, at right in blue, lost his wife, children and his home during the violence in Gaza in May. Rifqa Hamalwai, far left, and Khaled Abu Sharek, centre back, staff members from Al Najd, MCC’s local partner, visited Mohamed and his nephews, Yaser Dia Al Attar, bottom left, and Ali Tamim Al Attar, back left. All local COVID-19 protocols were followed in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Al Najd)

Mahmoud Alhalimi, and sons Kareem, centre, and Anas, right, are pictured in front of their still-standing house. (Photo by Sanabel Alhalimi)

A Gazan home that was destroyed during the bombardment. (Photo courtesy of Near East Council of Churches)

Nighttime was the hardest for Mahmoud Alhalimi. With the electricity cut and bombs falling, the hours were dark and loud, as he tried in vain to help his two young children fall asleep.

MennoCon21 goes hybrid to amplify message of peace, inclusion

The MennoCon21 crowd responds to worship leaders and musicians in Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. (Mennonite Church U.S.A. photo)

Mennonite Church U.S.A.’s smallest and first hybrid convention, “Bring the peace!” drew more than 1,000 people—608 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at least 495 online —over five days in early July, with programming to strengthen the denomination’s peace witness.

Conference on aging and spirituality broadens international participation

A photo collage of screenshots, including all 19 live speakers for the 2021 aging and spirituality conference held on Zoom.

This past June, scholars, practitioners, support workers, health-care experts and interested parties from across the globe gathered together virtually over the course of three weeks to advance the connections between spiritual practice and the effects of aging, at the ninth International Conference on Aging and Spirituality.

MCC volunteers worked at boarding school being probed

The Timber Bay Children’s Home at Montreal Lake, Sask., as it appeared in 1974. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) supported an Indigenous boarding home that is under investigation by the Saskatchewan RCMP.

The Mounties say a complaint was made in 2020 about a death that potentially occurred at the Timber Bay Children’s Home at Montreal Lake, Sask., in 1974.

Grassroots podcast aims for connections across nationwide church

The hosts of The MennoCast, pictured clockwise from top left, are: Carrie Lehn, pastor of Ottawa Mennonite Church; Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg; and Ryan Dueck, pastor of Lethbridge (Alta.) Mennonite Church. (Screenshot courtesy of Moses Falco)

The MennoCast, a new podcast aimed at connecting Mennonites across Canada, launched on June 23.

“It’s been a dream for years. I’m just so happy that it’s out!” says Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, and one of The MennoCast hosts. “It’s like we accomplished the goal! But it’s just the beginning.”

Rockway community fosters safe and healthy learning spaces

‘Austin’ stands ready to filter the air in a classroom at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., and keep it circulating. Rockway supporters donated enough funds to purchase all the ‘Austins’ the school needs for September. (Rockway Mennonite Collegiate photo)

In April, prior to Ontario schools returning to online learning, two Rockway Mennonite Collegiate families set out to make the learning spaces in the school safer for students. They introduced “Austin,” a HEPA-air-filtration system that improves air circulation and quality in indoor spaces.

Mennonite organizations look to help with B.C. forest fires

A July 1 satellite image of the forest fire that destroyed much of the village of Lytton, B.C., this summer. (Antti Lipponen image / Creative Commons Licence (http://bit.ly/cclicence2-0))

When the village of Lytton, B.C,. was nearly destroyed by wildfires in mid-August, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C. was among those that moved to help. This is one of more than 260 fires in the province this summer that have burned 650,000 hectares, with hot temperatures, dry conditions and high winds exacerbating the situation.

Gutter cleaning fundraiser for Wi-Fi boosters

Florence Irasubiza of the Democratic Republic of Congo, left, and Helena Chokpelleh, a Liberian who attends Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, clean gutters as a fundraiser to buy Wi-Fi boosters for low-income newcomer families. Community connector Emmanuel Mbonimpa is in front of the ladder. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Helena Chokpelleh of Holyrood Mennonite Church, left, and Goanar Tut of South Sudanese Mennonite Church, hold up the certificates they received in July 2021 after completing the Civic Engagement by Newcomer Youth program at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. Tut’s dog is named “Scottie.” (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Two Mennonite high school students from African countries were interviewed and accepted into the Civic Engagement by Newcomer Youth program last fall through the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. One of the requirements for the participants is to identify a problem or issue in the community they care about and come up with a plan to address that issue in some way.

Staying strong

Dear to the hearts of congregants at Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church over the past year of the pandemic are two prayer books used for the weekly midday prayers, the children’s prayer boxes and a bookshelf quilt. (Photo by Alissa Bender)

At a time when many churches are dealing with declining numbers in their pews, Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church has grown. Membership in 1965 was 28; before the pandemic attendances averaged about 70 each Sunday; then, in 2020, attendance more than doubled.

Plaque honours Mennonite maids of Vancouver

Young Mennonite women served as domestics to help their families repay debt. (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Mennonite women pose in front of the Mary Martha Home. (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

A group of young women from the earliest Mennonite Brethren Girls’ Home (Bethel Home). (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Women enjoying some music at the General Conference Girls’ Home (Mary Martha Home)(Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Wearing stiff, uncomfortable uniforms was expected of the Mennonite girls and women who worked as house maids in Vancouver from the 1930s to the ’60s. (Mennonite Historical Society of B.C. photo)

A new plaque honours the young Mennonite women who worked as domestic help in Vancouver in the mid-20th century.

An initiative of The Places That Matter, this is No. 89 of 125 commemorations erected by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation plaque project, launched in 2011 with a grant from the Government of Canada’s Celebrate Vancouver 125.

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