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‘We became Mennonites’

Lydia Grigoryevna, second from left, gets a birthday hug after worship at Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church on June 16. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, greets Mary Raber, who serves in Ukraine with Mennonite Mission Network. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Welcoming visitors from North America, Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, led his congregation of about 15 people in singing “For God So Loved Us” in Russian.

“There are no born Mennonites among us,” Kapelushniy said on June 16 as mission worker Mary Raber translated. “We became Mennonites.”

MCC partner serves people ‘society doesn’t want’

Natalia Mezentseva, second from left, director of New Life, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner in Ukraine, accepts an MCC centennial paperweight from North American visitors. Looking on are MCC board member Robert Enns of Calgary, left, and Viktoria Rab­chen­yuk, second from right, and Tatiana Yorzh, right, New Life women’s house residents. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Natalia Mezentseva oversees a household of “women in difficult circumstances.”

With an affirming and instructive place to live, thanks to a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner, their circumstances are better already.  

A group of visitors on an MCC learning tour heard their stories, cuddled a baby, applauded a child’s poetry recital and prayed with them on June 21.

Shackled together in perfect unity— ‘Blame it on God’

‘It takes every ounce of . . . love to cope with the success of God’s gathering,’ Tom Yoder Neufeld told delegates at this year’s MC U.S.A. conference in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Vada Snider)

God’s success is our problem. But it’s a good problem. From these thoughts of Tom Yoder Neufeld came a catch phrase of MennoCon19: “The church is a mess. Thanks be to God!”

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Organizer Martha Smith Good, left, chats with Amanda Witmer, instructor and lecturer who led a group of women in exploring biblical and Gnostic references to Mary Magdalene, at an event held at Wilmot Mennonite Church on July 22. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Who was Mary of Magdala? What impressions do people have of her, and where do those impressions come from?

Fairy tales at the Fringe

The play’s five-member cast performed The Mennonite Fairytale 13 times in under three weeks. (Photo courtesy of Real Live Entertainment)

Hansel and Gretel—I mean Peter and Tina—enter the woods and end up at a house made entirely of waffles and white sauce, where they are led by their evil stepmother to pick rhubarb. And when they need to find their way home, they follow Peter’s trail of knaczot (sunflower seeds).

Grounded and shaken

Shake participants gather for a photo on the Shekinah Retreat Centre deck. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

The afternoon at Stoney Knoll, Sask., included a hoop dance presentation and instruction by Lawrence Roy Junior of Saskatoon. (Photo by June Miller)

Before departing Stoney Knoll, youth representatives from across Canada helped plant a tree as a sign of reconciliation between Mennonites and the Young Chippewayan First Nation. (Photo by June Miller)

Kirsten Hamm-Epp, left and Kathy Giesbrecht led in prayer for each regional church just before the end of Shake. (Photo by June Miller)

Kirsten Hamm-Epp, far right, looks on as Andrea de Avila, holding the microphone, responds to a question during a panel discussion in response to the theme ‘Hol(e)y, healthy, hopeful.’ Also pictured, from left to right, are: Miriam Huebner, Phil Campbell Enns, Nathan Bartel, Zachary Stefaniuk and Madison Harms. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Youth sponsor Chad Miller, right, anoints Caleb Gartner with oil and the words, ‘The God who gave you life calls you beloved.’ Both are from Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Comedian Matt Falk provided some ‘hol(e)y’ laughter for Shake participants. (Photo by June Miller)

“We want to be shaken not by what the world throws at us, but by what Jesus throws at us.”

With these words, Kirsten Hamm-Epp welcomed participants to Shake: Rattled by the Radical.

From Golgotha to the Pembina Valley

Bill Tiessen, right, has played Jesus for 12 years in Manitoba’s Passion Play. (Photo courtesy of the Manitoba Passion Play)

Around 65 people make up the cast of Manitoba’s Passion Play. Pictured, the crowds welcome Jesus, played by Bill Tiessen, front right, as he enters Jerusalem. (Photo courtesy of the Manitoba Passion Play)

Jesus, played by Bill Tiessen, right, is led before Pilate. (Photo courtesy of the Manitoba Passion Play)

Manitoba’s Passion Play is set in the beautiful Pembina Valley at the Oak Valley Outdoor Theatre. (Photo courtesy of the Manitoba Passion Play)

Every summer, more than a hundred volunteers from across Manitoba gather in the rolling hills of the Pembina Valley to bring to life the most important event of the Christian faith: Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

‘Won’t you be my neighbour?’

Enjoying VBS craft time at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary are, from left to right: Arianna Toews, Kaylynn Toews and Zoe Willms. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

John Wiebe serenades the children with his harmonica during snack time at the Compassion Café. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Pastor Chad Miller of Foothills Mennonite Church, left, and Pastor Leng Nawn Thang of Calgary Chin Christian Church lead worship together at the annual VBS program held at Foothills Mennonite Church last month. (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Pastor Chad Miller, centre, introduces new neighbours Rabah Swaidek, left, and Mohammed Awada from the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary at this year’s VBS program, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (Photo by Ainsley Dunn)

Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbour?” every day for almost 40 years on Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood.

Crokinole boards sold for China mission

Sales of custom-made crokinole boards from Yarrow (B.C.) United Mennonite Church are helping support Mennonite Partners in China. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Wooden game boards made in Yarrow, B.C., and a crokinole tournament at this summer’s Mennonite Church Canada Gathering 2019 have made a connection with modern-day Chinese Christians and a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist martyr.

Peacebuilding beyond borders

Theatre of the Beat actor Lindsey Middleton performs at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference in the Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

Theatre of the Beat actors Meghan Fowler and Brendan Kinnon perform at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference in the Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)

Silvie Kroeker speaks at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference in the Netherlands with her father, Gordon Zerbe. (Photo courtesy of Silvie Kroeker)

The second annual Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival took place in Elspeet, the Netherlands, between June 27 and 30. It brought people together with the aim of reflecting on Mennonite peacebuilding accomplishments, failures, opportunities and challenges in various settings.

Mennonites find warm welcome at Indigenous theological symposium

Daniel Dixon, left, and Adrian Jacobs take part in a Talking Circle following a plenary speaker at a recent NAIITS symposium held in Toronto in early June. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Terry LeBlanc, one of the co-founders of NAIITS, welcomes the 200 participants at the NAIITS symposium held in Toronto in early June. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Keith Starkengerg discusses his paper, “Falling and Standing: Learning a White Theology of Land in North America.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Cam Eggie, Adrian Jacobs and Ray Minieconn take part in a Talking Circle. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Danny Zacharias shares his paper, “Graceland: The Land as Relational Gift in the Bible.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Marilou Maissoneuve delivers her paper, “Being Christian and Innu: Is Reconnection with the Land Possible? A Historical and Anthropological Analysis.” (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Debby Krahn and Cam Eggie listen as Sara DeWeerd shares her reflections on the symposium. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Under the bright blue sky, on the grassy hill of Tyndale University in Toronto, situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat peoples, Casey Church performed an Anishinaabe pipe ceremony, acknowledging the Creator and the sacred directions. He gave thanks on behalf of the 200 or so people gathered in two large circles around him.

Not because they were male

Don Neufeld shares his reflections on the themes of masculinity and Anabaptism at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, Ont., on May 3. (Photo by Jonathan Seiling)

Don Neufeld shared his reflections on the themes of masculinity and Anabaptism at a “Probing the potential for peace” discussion series held at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines on May 3.

‘Working at home is over-rated’

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister), left, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), Sonia Halliday and Dena Harris (MMI insurance advisors) now share a common space in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta executive minister) and Donita Wiebe-Neufeld (MCC Alberta development coordinator), co-pastored First Mennonite Church in Edmonton for 15 years until 2017 and are now together again with only a wall between them at the new offices off Whitemud Drive in Edmonton. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

After years of dreaming of a Mennonite hub in Edmonton, it finally came to pass. Mennonite organizations that were formerly in basements, spare rooms and kitchens have come together to share space at the invitation of Mennonite Mutual Insurance (MMI).

A life-long journey for freedom

Daryl Redsky of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stands on a temporary bridge over the man-made channel that used to isolate his community but has now been replaced by Freedom Road. (2014 file photo by Will Braun)

Freedom Road is now officially open. (Churches for Freedom Road Facebook photo)

Workers construct the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct between 1915 and 1919. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

A worker stands on an incomplete section of the Greater Winnipeg Water District aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt’s dredge used to construct the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Klaas W. Brandt surveying for the aqueduct. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

For the first time in more than a century, the isolated island of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is now connected to the rest of mainland Canada.

The Indigenous community, located on the Manitoba-Ontario border, just celebrated the official opening of Freedom Road, a 24-kilometre, all-season road that links to the mainland via the Trans-Canada Highway.

Walk for Common Ground puts faith into action

Local elders greet walkers at the Health Sciences Association of Alberta office in Calgary as part of the closing ceremony. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Allegra Friesen Epp carries the eagle feather at the head of the group as they walk along Range Road 11 between Airdrie and Calgary. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Caleb Kowalko (left) and Steve Heinrichs celebrate reaching their destination in Olds. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Cassidy Brown (right) and her mother Nola Brown walk along Highway 2A north of Olds, Alta., carrying the Treaty 7 flag. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Walkers approach the edge of Calgary. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Supporters welcome the walkers at their final destination. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Roger Epp of First Mennonite Church Edmonton), left, Kevin Guenther Trautwein of Lendrum MB Church, Werner De Jong of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, and Jake Froese of Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton join the first leg of the Walk for Common Ground in Edmonton. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Undaunted by the poor air-quality index due to the Alberta wildfires, Vic Thiessen, former Mennonite Church Canada staffer, braves the smoke-filled air to join the Walk for Common Ground. The walk began in Edmonton on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Led by Diana Steinhauer and her eagle staff, a group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends travel together on the Walk for Common Ground that began in Edmonton. The treaty walk is meant to nurture treaty understanding and relationship. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

A group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends kick off the Walk for Common Ground in Edmonton on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

A group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends complete the first 10.1-kilometre leg of the 350-kilometre Walk for Common Ground on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Friends and family huddled in light afternoon rain on June 14, waiting for about 30 participants in the Walk for Common Ground to arrive in Calgary. The walkers were led in by a Scottish bagpiper, then greeted with drumming and singing by local Indigenous elders. Tears of joy mixed with the rain as walkers were congratulated for finishing their 14-day journey from Edmonton to Calgary.

MCC B.C. celebrates World Refugee Day

Crowd participation was part of the dance presentations at the World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford on June 22. (MCC B.C. photo)

World Refugee Day was a colourful occasion. (MCC B.C. photo)

The Quach/Luu family attended the World Refugee Day celebration held June 22 in Abbotsford B.C.  Huu Quach came to Canada with his mother as the first government-sponsored refugee to the area in 1979. (MCC B.C. photo)

The anniversary cake was cut by Henry Braun, Abbotsford mayor; Wayne Bremner, MCC B.C. executive director; and Jennifer Mpungu, MCC B.C. refugee sponsorship coordinator. (MCC B.C. photo)

Many handmade crafts were on display at the World Refugee Day celebration held in Abbotsford on June 22. (MCC B.C. photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., along with other local organizations, celebrated World Refugee Day at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford on June 22. Over 200 people, some newcomers to Canada as well as refugee sponsors and community members, came to enjoy and live out this year’s theme “Choose Welcome.”

Arnaud Mennonite Church celebrates 75 years

Church members brought back the circle games they used to play at weddings and church events when they were young. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Over 150 people gathered to celebrate Arnaud Mennonite Church’s 75th anniversary. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Past and present members of Arnaud Mennonite Church revived the church choir, a feature that was a regular part of weekly worship in the past. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

The old circle games reminded participants of their youth. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Young and old  participated in church picnic activities after lunch. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Arnaud Mennonite Church was built in 1944. It has outlived the Arnaud Mennonite Brethren and Lichtenau Mennonite congregations, which closed in the late 1990s. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

While many churches in rural Canada face closure, Arnaud Mennonite Church recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Located in the prairie town of Arnaud, Man., the church is home to a wide range of ages, from young families with children to seniors.

Deepening our walk by worshiping together

Sarah Johnson, of the Voices Together hymnal committee, displays the blank pages of the new hymnal mock-up, reminding participants at a regional worship service, held at Rosthern Mennonite Church, that the contents of the new hymnal haven’t yet been decided.

Anneli Loepp Thiessen, of the Voices Together hymnal committee, leads congregational singing at Rosthern Mennonite Church during the first of four regional worship services presented by MC Saskatchewan and Voices Together.

Members of at least six congregations gathered at Rosthern Mennonite Church to worship and sing together. The service was part of a series of four regional worship services presented jointly by MC Saskatchewan and the Voices Together hymnal committee.

The people of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan love being together. In particular, they enjoy singing and worshiping with one another. This apparent enjoyment sparked the idea of holding regional worship services.

 

Quilt auction goes digital

The 2019 feature quilt, “Little Brown Church.” (Photo by St. Jacobs Printery)

Bids are tracked on a large screen at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and quilt auction on May 25. This was the first year for online bidding, with six quilts going to buyers who placed their bids electronically. (MCC photo by Jesse Bergen)

Over the last 53 years, the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale has raised more than $12 million for relief, development and peacemaking efforts around the world by Mennonite Central Committee. In that time, in addition to favourites like doughnuts, strawberry pies and spring rolls, more than 10,000 quilts have been pieced, quilted, donated and auctioned off at the New Hamburg sales.

Finding hope in the midst of the climate crisis

Zoe Matties and Scott Gerbrandt work for A Rocha Canada. Zoe is the Manitoba program manager and Scott is the Manitoba director. (Photo courtesy of Zoe Matties)

The Boggy River flows right through the property at the Boreal Ecology Centre. (Photo by Scott Gerbrandt)

Pink lady slippers only bloom in the area in late June. (Photo by Zoe Matties)

During an early morning walk on a recent Discovery Day, bird-watching participants spotted the elusive American three-toed woodpecker, a rare sight in the area. (Photo by Zoe Matties)

Climate change is doing more than triggering environmental disasters. It’s also triggering mental health crises and a sense of impending doom for some people.

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