God at work in the Church

Community Mennonite celebrates 25 years

Mike Martin (second from right) and his siblings (from left), Steve, Ron, Willard, Gloria and Terry Martin sang at the 25th anniversary celebration for Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on May 23, 2015. Mike, who is the chair of church council, wrote a special song for the event. (Photo courtesy of Community Mennonite Fellowship, Drayton)

Part of the anniversary event was a large quilt display at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on the weekend of May 22-24, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Community Mennonite Fellowship, Drayton)

The roots ran deep in both the Berea and Moorefield Mennonite Churches, north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Berea, first known as the Parker Mission, was founded in 1941 and joined the Ontario Mennonite Conference in 1947. That same year a congregation was founded less than 10 miles away at Moorefield, using a disused Anglican church building.

Emotions run high at MC USA convention

Prayer team member John C. Murray of Hesston, Kan., prays during a Pink Menno hymn sing outside the delegate hall July 4. (Photo by Paul Schrag, Mennonite World Review)

Pick a category of people at the Mennonite Church USA convention, and you could identify their pain.

It might have been the pain of exclusion due to sexual orientation. Or of feeling the church has agreed to tolerate sin. It might have been the pain of sexual abuse. Or of concern for the future of a church sharply divided on how to relate to sexual minorities.

Hutterites thank John J. Friesen for teaching courses

This painting by Victor Kleinsasser depicts John J. Friesen talking to Hutterite students after class. It was commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee and presented to Friesen as a gift.

A new artwork honouring a professor from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee was unveiled in CMU’s new library on June 3. It honoured John J. Friesen, professor emeritus of history and theology, for his contribution to the Hutterite community.

The Gathering Church celebrates ten years

Jim Loepp Thiessen and Catherine Gitzel stand in front of the Gathering Church’s store front offices on Activa Ave. in Kitchener, Ont., across the street from the W. T. Townshend Public School, where they gather on Sunday mornings. The congregation celebrated its tenth anniversary in February this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Two in three church plants don’t make it past the five-year mark. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been successful, but long life is not part of most church plants. The Gathering Church, a full member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, celebrated its tenth anniversary quietly in February this year.

Lebold dinner funds new pastoral training program

Rudy Baergen, interim pastor at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church (left) chats with Roberson Mbayamvula, pastor at Hagerman Mennonite Church. Baergen was the keynote speaker at the June 11 Lebold fundraising dinner at Conrad Grebel University College and Mbayamvula was last year’s speaker.

A new focus was announced this year at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment fundraising dinner, because last year it reached its goal of $1 million to fund pastoral training at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC). This fund, jointly supported by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Conrad Grebel, was founded in 1997 and is named after Ralph Lebold and his wife.

Nutana Park celebrates 50 years of God’s blessing

Under the direction of Duff Warkentin, the Nutana Park Mennonite Church Choir presents songs of praise and thanksgiving in both English and German to help mark the congregation’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Nutana Park Mennonite Church celebrates 50 years of God’s blessing with a special time of worship, led by Brent Guenther, on May 3, 2015. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Donning a party hat, worship leader Brent Guenther invited adults who had grown up in the congregation to join the children at the front of the sanctuary for a children’s time, complete with birthday cake. Seated behind the cake is Susan Ens Funk. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Children of Nutana Park Mennonite Church, assisted by their parents, create 50th birthday cards in celebration of the church’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Photos depicting the congregation’s history cover the walls of the hall. (Photo by Howard Giles)

At a coffee house, held April 25, members of Nutana Park Mennonite Church entertain one another with music and slides. Pictured, left to right: Susan Ens Funk, Peter Hooge, Ron Peters and Lynn Driedger. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Voices joined together in celebration for the opening hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” in a service of worship at Nutana Park Mennonite Church commemorating 50 years as a congregation.

‘A community event’

Canoes and kayaks arrive at their final destination after a successful paddle-a-thon down the Fraser River. The $51,000 raised will support summer staff volunteers pay for post-secondary education. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Weather was again the main story at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon held on April 18 and 19, but this time—unlike some years—for all the right reasons. Sunny skies, warm weather, little wind and no major mishaps meant that the 31 paddlers who finished their two-day sojourn down the Fraser River arrived energized and in great spirits.

MCC pre-sale fundraiser exceeds expectations

MCC Alberta supporters add pocket change to a growing spiral, netting more than $550 to go toward paying the costs of the annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6. (Photo by Gordon Baergen)

The popular pocket change spiral spreads onto a second table. (Photo by Gordon Baergen)

“I thought if we could do $3,000 to $4,000, that would be what we’ve done in the past. When I was off by $10,000, I was elated.”

These words came from Gordon Baergen, a member of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton who helped to organize a May 21 pre-sale fundraiser in preparation for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta’s annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6.

Why Mennonites love their gardens

Susie Fisher holds a handful of heritage cucumber seeds given to her by a Mennonite couple in Winkler, Manitoba. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

Bean seeds from the 1930s found in an attic near Mitchell, Manitoba. (Photo by Susie Fisher)

Women shelling beans in their garden in the 1930s near Horndean. (Photo courtesy of Carol Penner)

In the village of Neubergthal in southern Manitoba, gnarled cottonwoods with deeply grooved trunks line the village streets and cluster along the edge of farmyards. Cottonwoods here and in nearby towns bear nostalgic meaning for many Mennonites.

Chin Christians receive Mennonite teaching with joy

David Martin, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada executive minister, centre, poses with the baptismal candidates from the addictions recovery group in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Pastor Jehu Lian Ching, left, and David Martin of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, right were accompanied on their trip through Myanmar by Sui Sui, centre.

Pastor Teichum Lian Ching stands in front of the church he used to pastor in Hakha, Myanmar.

David Martin was invited to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in March 2015 to preach two or three times and to teach from the book of Galatians in four sessions over two days. By the time he returned he had also performed two graveside memorial services, baptized six, preached at a wedding, and took part in many more services in Myanmar and Malaysia.

MCC 50th full of historic symbolism

Elder Margaret Harris and Donna Roach flew in from Vancouver to celebrate with MCC Manitoba at Knox United Church in Winnipeg. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

MCC Manitoba executive director Ron Janzen, left, presents a gift of handmade moccasins to Joe Clark, a former prime minister of Canada, in gratitude for his participation in the celebration of MCC Manitoba’s 50th anniversary last month in Winnipeg. The moccasins bear the MCC logo on the top in intricate beadwork. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

As the choirs’ final note of “Die Zeit ist Kurz” hung sublimely in the sanctuary of Knox United Church on April 18, the indigenous drums began to beat and the Buffalo Gals started into the “Wolf Song.” Once they were done, it was back to the Faith and Life choirs and the University of Manitoba Women’s Chorus for “Come Let Us All Unite to Sing.”

MC Eastern Canada gathering hears stories of faith

Chris Brnjas, left, Dimitri Faludy, Rachel Brnjas and Esther Kissor talk about their work at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. The Brnjases work in churches in Kitchener, Ont., and attend The Gathering Church. Faludy and Kissor are from the Jane Finch Faith Community in Toronto. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Brandon Leis, music director at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., leads singing. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada executive minister David Martin, with hand raised, prays for the Jane Finch Faith Community Church during the area church’s annual church gathering on April 25 after church members learned of a fire in the building where the church meets to worship and where many members live. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Paul Wideman, moderator of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, challenged the 28th annual church gathering, saying, “How can we encourage one another by sharing our faith?” The day-and-a-half event was filled with faith stories and had little actual business.

Building houses and learning to serve

Participants in the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s recent trip to Mexico mix cement for the foundation of the house they built. Pictured from left to right: Brandon Wurtz, Holly Epp,  and Dawson Dueck. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)

Holly Epp, volunteer coordinator for Youth Farm Bible Camp, in the blue ball cap, enjoys communicating through pictures with the neighbourhood children in Tijuana, Mexico, where a group from the camp built a house. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)

It may not be typical summer camp staff training, but Mark Wurtz says the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s annual trip to Mexico is “probably more worthwhile than orientation.” The camp has been taking senior staff members and youth on short-term mission trips for the past eight years, and Wurtz sees the trips as highly valuable in developing camp staff.

God is at work in the church in China

George and Tobia Veith, left and centre, visit with Denise Epp following one of the Veiths’ presentations on the church in China held at Rosthern Mennonite Church recently. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

A carving underscores the fact that the church in China is in God’s hands, say missionaries George and Tobia Veith. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“This is about what God’s doing,” said George Veith. “We want all the glory to go to God.”

Learning from each other

Charles Simard holds a timber wolf hide as he explains to the Partnership Circle participants in Manigotagan, Man., their relationship with the land along the eastern shores of Lake Winnipeg that has been their home for many generations. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Members of Manigotagan Community Fellowship, Charles Simard, left, Chris Martin, Shirley Smith, Norman Meade, Dennis Sinclair and Danny Moneyas, host the spring Partnership Circles meeting on March 14, 2015. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Manigotagan Community Fellowship prepared a feast of moose stew, caribou stew, smoked lynx meat, delicate slices of moose nose, smoked fish and fresh bannock for their visitors from Winnipeg. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Charles Simard shows off a beaver pelt. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Mark MacDonald, the Anglican Church of Canada’s indigenous bishop, reads from his Ojibway Bible at a Partnership Circles meeting in Manigotagan, Man., last month. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Although less than a three-hour drive from Winnipeg, Manigotagan seemed a world away. This Metis community of about 200 lives in the dense forest along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg. It abuts the much larger reserve community of Hollow Water (population 1,200) whose border has become more porous since the passing of Bill C-31 which returned treaty status to some of the Métis.

Western Christians need to ‘get out of the way’

Mark MacDonald, the Anglican Church of Canada’s first national indigenous bishop, speaks at the annual Building Bridges event at Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on March 13, 2015. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Mark MacDonald is convinced that “it is the time for something great to happen and that the best thing we can do is get up and wait. There is no stopping it.” But the Anglican Church of Canada’s first national indigenous bishop admits that the church has likely stood in the way of God’s work at times and it may need to step aside.

‘We weren’t on the same page’

Hague Mennonite Church has voted to leave Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, choosing, instead, to become an independent congregation. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

A stone cairn outside Hague Mennonite Church commemorates the congregation’s 100th anniversary, celebrated in 2003. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“We have not left. Maybe the [area church] leadership has left, but we have stayed with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.” With these words, Artur Esau, Hague Mennonite Church’s pastor, spoke of his congregation’s withdrawal from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan.

Mennonite Church Alberta ‘in the black’

Dancers perform to a song of praise at the opening of Mennonite Church Alberta’s 86th annual delegate sessions hosted by Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Vietnamese Mennonite Church in Edmonton may seem small, but it is a hosting powerhouse! On March 20 and 21, 2015, the congregation of about 70 adults and 23 youth welcomed pastors, delegates and visitors to the 86th annual session of Mennonite Church Alberta.

‘Our truth has been discovered’

‘We wish it was over,’ says Wilma Derksen, who, along with her husband Cliff, waited 27 years to learn what happened to their daughter. ‘I waffle about a new trial.’ (Photo courtesy of Cliff and Wilma Derksen)

“God has given us a toolkit,” said Wilma Derksen. First it was forgiveness when Wilma and Cliff’s daughter Candace was murdered in 1984. Then it was learning to love when they learned that Mark Edward Grant was arrested and charged with her murder in 2007, and then truth and justice as they sat through his trial in 2011.

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