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Hope and faith . . . even when things don’t go as planned

Prairie Mennonite Fellowship gathered for the first time at an outdoor worship service on June 28. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

Pastor Erin Morash speaks to Prairie Mennonite Fellowship at its first gathering. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

Prairie Mennonite Fellowship is located in the church building of former congregation Crystal City (Man.) Mennonite Church. Congregants and leaders are easily able to physically distance appropriately and are fine-tuning their worship to work during COVID-19. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)

There is a new church among the farmlands of southwestern Manitoba, but it has more than a hundred years of history.

This spring, Crystal City Mennonite Church and Trinity Mennonite Fellowship in Mather merged to create the new Prairie Mennonite Fellowship congregation.

‘Are you a pastor’s wife?’

Mennonite pastors Hieu Do and Hong Thi Nguyen, standing left and right, teach theological foundations in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

Mennonite pastors and leaders share a meal at training conference in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

Worship time at a Mennonite teaching conference in Daklak, Vietnam. Reverend Hong Thi Nguyen is wearing the purple T-shirt. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

Vietnamese Mennonite pastors, including Hong Thi Nguyen, right, receive bags of rice to distribute to those in need due to COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

Hong Thi Nguyen, with arms raised; Y Ya, on guitar; and Hieu Do, right, lead worship at a teaching conference in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

Pastor Hieu Do teaches theological foundations to pastors and local leaders in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)

In Vietnam it is still uncommon to see female pastors. But the president of the Evangelical Vietnamese Mennonite Church (EVMC) is a woman and also a pastor. Reverend Hong Thi Nguyen is the leader of 40 Mennonite congregations throughout the southern part of Vietnam.

‘Be on our side’

Johise Namwira, a human rights activist and member of Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, takes part in a MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

Participants in the MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church are pictured from left to right, top row: Dennis R. Edwards, Johise Namwira and Amy Gingerich; middle row: Chantelle Todman, Jerrell Williams and Leah Fulton; and bottom: Delonte Gholston. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

Acknowledging that “the church has been awakened and reawakened to racial injustice in our midst after the death of George Floyd,” MennoMedia, an agency of Mennonite Church Canada and MC U.S.A., dedicated one of its ‘adaptive church webinars’ to addressing racism in churches.

‘House church with a building’

Northgate Anabaptist Fellowship members meet in their church building on the second Sunday of Lent, shortly before the pandemic forced them to worship from home. Ernie and Eileen Klassen, facing the front of the church, listen as Wayne Plenert leads worship, with Delores Plenert at the piano. (Photo by Esther Klassen)

With eight members, Northgate Anabaptist Fellowship of Dawson Creek is the smallest congregation in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is also the most remote, located about 1,880 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, near the Alberta border.

From days gone by to ‘Richer Days’

Hilda Epp stands beside the Pleasant Point Mennonite Church cemetery gate. A portion of the cemetery houses the graves of early Moravian settlers. (Photo by Lorne Epp)

Pleasant Point Mennonite Church is the only MC Saskatchewan church building to boast a steeple and a bell. (Photo by Lorne Epp)

Like many rural congregations, Pleasant Point Mennonite Church isn’t as large as it once was. But, although small in number, the church enjoys a rich and interesting congregational life.

Pleasant Point also has an intriguing history. It’s the only Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregation with a building that boasts a steeple and a church bell.

Riverton Fellowship Circle closes its doors

Visitors to Riverton Fellowship Circle receive a mug “full of love.” Church leader Barb Daniels, centre, presents church mugs to translator Ed Toews, left; Brigido Loewen of Paraguay; Alina Itucama of Panama; and translator Liz Drewnisz. (CM 2010 file photo)

Riverton (Man.) Fellowship Circle decided on June 24 to close its doors, passing a motion to dissolve the church corporation and its assets.

Pastoral misconduct investigation mishandled, says complainant

Doug Johnson Hatlem, former co-pastor at Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., believes Mennonite Church Eastern Canada ‘persistently mishandled’ its investigation into Wilmer Martin. (Photo courtesy of Doug Johnson Hatlem)

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada terminated Waterloo resident Wilmer Martin’s ministerial credentials last month, citing ministerial misconduct and ministerial sexual misconduct. (Facebook photo)

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada conducted its investigation fairly and in good faith, says David Martin, the regional church’s executive minister. (MC Eastern Canada photo)

Wilmer Martin was the pastor at Erb Street Mennonite Church from 1978 until 1991. (Facebook photo)

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada should have taken action against Wilmer Martin at least two years ago, says one of the people responsible for bringing complaints against him to the regional church.

MEDA supporters across North America plan August move-a-thons

Jonathan and Jennifer Dick, along with their children Amelia and Gavin, and their dog Remy, are among families across North America who will be getting outdoors to raise money and awareness for MEDA in August. (Mackenzie Derksen Photography photo)

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) supporters, whose efforts to create business solutions to poverty, enjoy getting together. In normal years, groups across North America have regular meetings throughout the year, and annual barbecues in the summer to raise funds for MEDA projects.

Prayer ‘keeps us going’

Hotel staff wear protective equipment to distribute lunches to hospital workers in quarantine. (Photo by Tris Suyitno)

As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mennonite community in Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia, joins hands and works with the local government to mitigate the risk and manage the spread of cases in the city of more than 800,000 residents.

COVID-19 outbreak in Bolivian colonies

Boys in a store on the Pinondi Colony in Bolivia in 2018. The first reported COVID-19 death on a Mennonite colony in Bolivia happened at Pinondi, when Isaak Wiebe, aged 45, died on June 5. (Die Mennonitische Post photo)

Although precise data does not exist, Die Mennonitische Post reports numerous presumed COVID-19-related deaths on several Mennonite colonies in Bolivia. Kennert Giesbrecht, the Post’s editor, who is highly regarded among colony Mennonites in Latin America, is in regular contact with people on many colonies. 

Keeping the arts alive during the pandemic

Cedric Martin, artistic producer and actor for Theatre of the Beat, records his part in Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama in his closet. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

Johnny Wideman, playwright, actor and co-founder of Theatre of the Beat, records his part in Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama from his home. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

The cast of Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama records altogether through a Zoom call. Pictured from left to right, top row: actor Johnny Wideman, actor Cedric Martin and musician Joe McLellan; and bottom row: actor Kimberlee Walker and director Sukhpreet Sangha. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

The historical photo, left, that inspired the visual, right, for Yellow Bellies, the original play produced as live theatre and now as an audio drama by Theatre of the Beat. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

A promotional poster for Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

Cedric Martin, artistic producer of Theatre of the Beat, knows that live theatre “will be one of the last gatherings to be allowed again” as businesses reopen in the shadow of COVID-19. That reality forced the staff of the Canadian touring company to get creative.

 

Engaging with ‘people not like us’

Dayna Goerzen of Bergthal Mennonite Church, Didsbury, Alta. (Photo courtesy of Dayna Goerzen)

Ethan Haluza-DeLay of Edmonton First Mennonite Church makes his voice heard at the climate-change protest in Ottawa in September 2019. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Haluza-Delay)

A group of Mennonite young adults from Alberta has been gathering on Zoom for six Sundays in a row to learn about engaging with “the other.” Topics included “Engaging the religious other,” with a focus on Islam, and “Engaging the culturally other,” with a focus on connecting with people from other races and cultures, and exploring cross-cultural

Churches cautiously resume worship together

Members of Sherbrooke Mennonite in Vancouver met for an outdoor worship service on July 5. They followed provincial protocols by encouraging masks and discouraging strong singing, and with worship leaders behind plexiglass. The parking lot location allowed sensitive members to stay in cars. (Photo by Garry Janzen)

With most churches remaining closed four months into the pandemic, some in Mennonite Church British Columbia are finding innovative ways to worship together—with limitations.

On July 5, members of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver held an outdoor service in the church parking lot, their first physical gathering since March.

CM awarded 12 CCCA certificates

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)

Feature photo

Original Artwork

Photo Essay

In the inaugural awards ceremony of the new Canadian Christian Communicators Association (CCCA), Canadian Mennonite received 12 awards for writing, photography, design and original art for work published in 2019.

 

First-place entry

Coins count, and so do bottles

Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church members meet in Brian and Delilah Roth’s farm shop to sort and crush bottles donated through their bottle drive. Pictured from left are Brenda Isaak, Brooklyn Isaak, Denise Epp, Jeanette Hanson, Todd Hanson, Lloyd Schmidt and Cheryl Schmidt. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Four pick-up trucks laden with bottles and other refundable items prepare to leave the Roth farm for the recycling depot in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Brenda Isaak, Ashtyn Isaak and Larry Epp carry bags of bottles to the recycling depot in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Delilah Roth)

Every Saturday in May, Rosthern Mennonite Church members drove the streets of Rosthern, picking up bottles and other refundable beverage containers.

Global Mennonite enviro task force established

Joyce Ngumbao and her husband Pius Kisumo stand in a corn and bean field on their farm in Kwa Kavisi, Kenya, that is not planted using conservation agriculture techniques, but was prepared using conventional methods of plowing and scattering seed. These crops are stunted and not growing well. When they can afford to hire help, they want to plant this field with conservation agriculture methods too. (Photo by Matthew Lester)

The water pump at MCC partner Sembrandopaz’s experimental farm just outside of Sincelejo, Colombia. The Montes de María region of Colombia is suffering a shortage of water due to a combination of factors, including aggressive land clearing and droughts worsened by climate change, as well as poor infrastructure. The experimental farm is home to one of the only functional water pumps in the surrounding area, and throughout the day local residents come to the farm to fill up containers. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Sibonokuhle Ncube of Zimbabwe is a member of the new MWC creation-care task force. (MCC photo by Brenda Burkholder)

The mandate of a new Mennonite World Conference (MWC) creation care task force states that, “MWC is a global communion of Anabaptist churches that are together facing the climate crisis.” It then asks:  “What does it mean to follow Jesus into this crisis?”

The task force is to: 

Pandemic shifts Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue online

Members of the Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue met online this year because of COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic on congregations in the two denominations were front and centre in the discussions. (Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue screenshot)

The Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue scrapped plans for a meeting at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., this spring, due to pandemic restrictions but met electronically on May 29 and 30.

Embracing disequilibrium

Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaks during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

Sharon Schultz maintains that the quality that should characterize the church of the future is hope. Speaking during a local power outage, her words seemed to offer a light in the darkness during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

“We have to embrace the disequilibrium we feel right now and let it teach us what it needs to teach us,” said Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaking at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s virtual town hall event, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.”

Albertans raise money in creative ways for MCC

Sierra Janzen, two-year-old granddaughter of Abe Janzen, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Alberta, is swinging for 100 minutes to raise money for this year’s Go!100 challenge (Photo by Abe Janzen)

Deb Kirkpatrick from Edmonton First Mennonite Church is praying 100 times through prayer labyrinths to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. On this day she is praying with a hand-held clay labyrinth. (Photo by Deb Kirkpartrick)

One hundred homemade tarts were made by 12-year-old Kai Willms from Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary to raise money for MCC’s Go! 100 challenge. (Photo by Deanna Willms)

The Harder family in High Level, Alta., commit to collectively “move” 100 kilometres by biking, hiking, walking and skateboarding before the end of June to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. Pictured from left to right: Khyrin, Tyrell and Josiah. (Photo by Ashley Harder)

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld and her horse CD trot for 100 kilometres around Sherwood Park, Alta., during MCC's Go!100 fundraiser. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

No soup and pie fundraiser in Rosemary. No Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta relief sale in Sherwood Park. No golf fundraisers with barbecued lunches.

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