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‘It’s all worship’

Refuge de Paix, Sherbrooke, Que., a Spanish-speaking congregation ministering to Hispanic refugees are welcomed into full membership in MC Eastern Canada by MC Eastern Canada moderator Arli Klassen, left, and Henry Paetkau, right, MC Canada interim executive minister. (D. Michael Hostetler)

Markham Christian Worship Centre, Markham, Ont., a Tamil-speaking congregation with roots in Sri Lanka. (CM photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Representatives of 107 congregations from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick gathered at Steinmann Mennonite Church for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering on April 26 and 27, framed around the theme of “Deepening our relationship with God.” 

Finding the balance between grace and responsibility

Friends and neighbours join residents at The Vine and Table for a birthday celebration. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

It’s been eight months since Thomas and Terri Lynn Friesen opened their Saskatoon home as The Vine and Table intentional community. For Terri Lynn, those eight months have been “an interesting season . . . of challenge and great joy.”

Breaking through the screen

WMEMS Bedson students in grades 6 to 8 participate in a coding club, where they learn to write code for building websites. (Photo by David Stoesz)

Screens.

They are what many people look at to check the time, talk to their friends, prepare for meetings and unwind at the end of the day. But it’s not just those who can buy devices for themselves who are using them. Children are now figuring out how to work phones and tablets before they can even walk or talk. 

What to expect at MC Canada’s annual general meeting?

Q. What is the purpose of the delegate session at Gathering 2019?
A.
 Delegates will review and ratify Joint Council actions; receive and review reports from our programs—International Witness, Indigenous-Settler Relations and CommonWord—as well as the regional churches; and act on any recommendations coming from Joint Council or regional churches.

Two centuries of worship, a century of service

Rainham Mennonite Church has been worshipping for more than two centuries. (Rainham Mennonite Church file photo)

For more than a century, the women of Rainham Mennonite Church—a tiny congregation just off of Highway 3 near the north shore of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario—have continued a sewing circle, one that is now augmented by women from the community. The group still quilts regularly during the fall and winter. 

‘Queer and quirky and profoundly worthy of wonder’

Tamara Shantz, left, and Thea Andres lead the ‘Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church’ event at Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. (PiE photo)

The gathering hymn, “God Welcomes All,” called some 120 people to worship at the opening of the “Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church” event hosted by Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. 

Sharing muffins and friendship

Muffins and fruit, supplied in part by members of MC Saskatchewan churches, greet students at the University of Saskatchewan Faith Leaders Council breakfast program on Thursday mornings. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

In 2017, when Kirsten Hamm-Epp was appointed to the newly formed Faith Leaders Council at the University of Saskatchewan, she likely didn’t imagine she would be hosting breakfast for up to 50 students every week.

MC Canada primer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

Seeking to fulfill God’s mission in the world

Participants at the MC Canada mission consultation gather for a group photo at Calgary’s Chinese Cultural Centre. (Photos by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

“To be clear, this is not a missions consultation.”

So said Ryan Siemens, executive minister of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, in his opening address to key regional leaders on March 29. From opening statements to the closing benediction two days later, MC Canada’s mission consultation was more about being a people with a mission than about “doing” missions.

Into the wilderness with hope

As part of the Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s Spring Enrichment Day, Gloria Bauman, left, reflected on her journey with cancer, and Rita Bauman spoke of moving from her home in Abbotsford, B.C., to a dairy farm in Ontario. Journey and wilderness were themes for the April 13 event at Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Barb Draper)

There were rich experiences and mixed emotions at the Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s Spring Enrichment Day, hosted by Floradale Mennonite Church on April 13. Along with inspiring worship and powerful storytelling, discernment about the future was on the agenda. 

Mennonite organizations help Montreal church with renovations

Peter Kroeker, a Mennonite Disaster Service volunteer from Vineland (Ont.) United Mennonite Church, works on the exit stairs during renovations at Hochma Mennonite Church to bring its basement homeless shelter up to code. (Photos by Nicholas Hamm)

Silvain L’hereault, Hochma Mennonite Church’s shelter coordinator, gives a thumbs-up in thanks for the 30 quilts from Mennonite Central Committee Ontario that will be enough to carry the ministry through the season and allow it to discard some of its threadbare bedding. (Photo by Nicholas Hamm)

Every night, from November to April, volunteers from Hochma Mennonite Church in Montreal open its doors as a warming centre for some 40 people who are experiencing homelessness. The church wants to become a licenced shelter operating year-round, but its building needs roughly $200,000 worth of renovations to bring it up to code. 

Workshop challenges participants to move from multiculturalism to antiracism 

Stacey Swampy, the Micah Mission’s Indigenous Awareness Program facilitator, tells his story of life within the system and of healing, at a two-day workshop entitled, “The awakening: Indigenous voices in restorative justice.” (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Group 2 has all the advantages in assembling its Lego set, including the participation of the presenter’s 11-year-old daughter! (Photo by Donna Schulz)

As part of an exercise to mirror the experience of Indigenous children in the residential school system, Group 1 must try to assemble the Lego set without instructions and without speaking. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Group 2 succeeds in assembling its Lego set. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Becky Sasakamoose-Kuffner believes that racism can be overcome with a ‘concentrated and deliberate change of policies.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

There were two Lego sets and two groups of participants. The first group to assemble its toy would be the winner, but it quickly became apparent that the playing field was not level.

‘A place to belong’

Members of the Sherbrooke Mennonite Church’s food-bank outreach ministry enjoy a Christmas celebration together. Participants say the gatherings help them feel like a family. (Photo by Yohan Sanchez)

Food may be what draws people to the basement of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church every Thursday morning, but it’s not what keeps them coming. It’s a feeling of family, a place to call home.

Come to the table

Sarah Kathleen Johnson, far right, talks with participants, from right to left, Eva Cressman, Carl Bear and Carrie Martens, at the two-part Anabaptist Learning Workshop worship clinic she led on communion at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., in March. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

For two evenings in March, Sarah Kathleen Johnson led an Anabaptist Learning Workshop focused on the ritual of communion, at Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Considering bylaws and budgets

Delegates cluster for small-group discussions at MC Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions, held at Zoar Mennonite Church in Waldheim. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

At the 2019 annual delegate session of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, Joel Ens explains a graphic he designed for his congregation, Eigenheim Mennonite Church, in Rosthern. As congregants explored questions around their church’s outreach, they had challenged themselves to list the various connections they have in their community and beyond, which are represented by interconnected circles. This illustrated a point made by guest speaker David Fitch, who encouraged listeners to seize opportunities for building relationships in the community in which they live and work. (Photo by Virginia A. Hostetler)

“We looked at the bylaws and asked, ‘Is this what we’re actually doing?’” said Tim Wiens. “Usually the answer was ‘No.’ ”

MC Alberta embraces new life, hope and possibilities

During a litany of release and embrace, MC Alberta delegates lit candles to remember and release individuals who have passed away, churches that have left MC Alberta, and programs no longer present in the regional church. Candles also celebrated and embraced new and hopeful baptisms, churches who have joined MC Alberta and vibrant programs. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, MC Alberta’s executive Minister, left, prays for Doug Klassen as Klassen prepares to leave pastoral ministry at Calgary’s Foothills Mennonite Church to become executive minister for MC Canada. The prayer was part of the blessing and commissioning of staff and volunteers at the MC Alberta annual delegate sessions at Bergthal Mennonite Church, Didsbury, on March 15 and 16. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

It was an unusual delegate session, with the bulk of the time dedicated to discussion rather than business. “Discerning God’s call,” Phase 3 of Mennonite Church Alberta’s Vision 20/20 process, engaged participants in reflection on what was heard in congregations during the previous phase, “Season of prayer.”

Impacting the universe with the sounds we make

Ysaÿe Barnwell, visiting scholar for the Sawatsky Lecture, teaches a clapping rhythm to her audience at Conrad Grebel University College during an interactive presentation filled with demonstrations of the power of music to create inclusive communities. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

With her powerful, resonant voice, Ysaÿe Barnwell, composer, vocalist, speaker and former member of the African-American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, began to sing “Amazing Grace,” stretching out the length of each phrase. Members of the audience started to hum along. Soon she invited everyone to sing in full voice.

Hope Mennonite Church navigates growing numbers

Hope Mennonite Church worships in its new space that is rented from Thomson Funeral Home. (Photo by Heidi Nighswander-Rempel)

At Thomson Funeral Home on Sunday morning, you won’t find a hearse, or the building filled with mourners. Instead, it is bursting with life.

The space is home to Winnipeg’s Hope Mennonite Church, a thriving community of around 200 active participants and members. The congregation moved into the funeral home last September because it faced a unique problem. It was growing.

Vintage hockey card auction nets over $13,000 for MCC

Gary Jantzi, left, from Jantzi Auctions Ltd., calls for bids on a vintage Darryl Sittler rookie card, held by volunteer, John Snider, right. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was standing room only in the community room at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira, Ont., for an auction of vintage hockey cards, hosted by the local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift and Gift store on March 16.

Potential buyers lined up early to view the cards and other memorabilia, including rookie cards for Tony Esposito, Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr.

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