God at work in the World

‘Living our values’

Michael Sambrook guides members of the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly in drafting a statement on medical assistance in dying based on the group’s values. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

When members of the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly gathered at Menno Place in Abbotsford in early November 2018 to discuss this year’s theme, “Living our values,” medical assistance in dying (MAiD) was on the agenda.

During the business session, members drafted the following statement:

‘Bring us beyond our own stories’

Case descriptions for thousands of Mennonites who disappeared in Ukraine are now available online. This one shows an Abram Klassen.

Among the voluminous lists of those disappeared during the dark times in what is now Ukraine, researchers have found roughly 400 pages of Mennonite names, with five or six names per page. That is just for Zaporizhzhia province. The lists for all Ukrainian provinces are available online, though printed in Cyrillic script.

Christian-Muslim dialogue expands to Calgary

Pictured from left to right: Zaid Al Rawni, CEO of Islamic Relief Canada; Donna Entz, Mennonite Church Alberta’s North Edmonton Ministry; Salwa Kadri, a committee member of A Common Word Alberta; and Wes Thiessen, who holds a doctorate in Islamic history. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)

For the first time in its six-year history, the annual Christian-Muslim dialogue in Alberta held an event in Calgary as well as in Edmonton.

‘The more we get to know each other’

Uzbekistan hosts Mr. and Mrs. Karimov, standing, share warm hospitality with a TourMagination group visiting Serabulak. Mr. Karimov is a descendant of a merchant who gave Mennonite pilgrims a farewell gift of money and other gifts. (TourMagination photo by John Sharp)

The Kyk-Ota Mosque in Serabulak, Uzbekistan, was used by Mennonites as a church during the winter of 1881-82. (TourMagination photo by John Sharp)

Historical experiences of ordinary people living out their faith were shared at a travelogue presentation of Russian Mennonite migrations in Europe and Central Asia.

‘It’s time for the next generation to step up’

Dave Burkholder, left, and other members of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society prepare pork shoulder to be seasoned, ground and made into fresh sausages. (Photo by Joelle Kidd)

About 1,600 people attended this year’s Toronto Mennonite Festival at Pioneer Village on Sept. 15. Money raised goes to support the work of Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Joelle Kidd)

Leonard Dyck, left, and Len Friesen display quilts during the Toronto Mennonite Festival auction on Sept. 15. Seventy-eight were sold for a total of $27,065. (Photo by Joelle Kidd)

Dennis Grey and Anne Nikkels have been helping out at the Toronto Mennonite Festival fundraiser for Mennonite Central Committee for about 15 years. (Photo by Joelle Kidd)

Despite summer temperatures, the leaves on the trees surrounding Black Creek Pioneer Village were tipped with autumn red on Sept. 15, the day of the annual Toronto Mennonite Festival.

Traditionally known as the Black Creek Pioneer Village MCC Relief Sale, the event began in 1967 and has raised more than $1.3 million.

Equipping leaders at home and around the world

Peace campers practise their listening skills by responding to commands during an ice-breaking session. (YSPP photo by Alouny Souvolavong)

Lydia Cheung was a participant in MCC’s Summerbridge program last year. She helped with children’s programming, including a carnival and two weeks of day camp at her home church, South Vancouver Pacific Grace Mennonite Brethren Church, where she also helped with youth devotions and worship. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

Rorisang Moliko, 27, is a former IVEPer currently working as the demonstration farm manager at Growing Nations Trust in Maphutseng, Lesotho. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Participants from several African countries are pictured at the 2017 Africa Peacebuilding Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the eMseni Christian Conference Centre. (MCC photo by Zacarias Zimba)

Youth from Soroti Town, Uganda, learn about pig farming at Arapai Agricultural College. (Photo courtesy of APED)

People often say that young people are the future. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working with partners in Canada, the United States and around the world to invest in opportunities for young people to serve. It is committed to nurturing and developing the leadership skills of a new generation, with a focus on Anabaptist values such as peacebuilding and servant leadership.

Grand opening for Edmonton MCC Thrift Shop

The new Edmonton MCC Thrift Store is located at 12343 149th Street, Edmonton. (Photo by Wally Friesen)

Thrift store manager Edmund Lee, left, and staff person John Francis work the till as approximately 350 customers made the Edmonton store location’s grand opening a success. (Photo by Wally Friesen)

Board member Gordon Baergen entertains the crowd in the entrance of the new Edmonton MCC Thrift Store during its grand opening celebration on Sept. 1, 2018. (Photo by Wally Friesen)

On Sept. 1, 2018, the Edmonton Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop held the grand opening for its new location at 12343 149th Street. In a busy area across from a Costco, the new location includes extra space for sorting and storage, as well as a larger display area, while cutting previous rental costs in half.

Paying attention to the invisible

Six women from Charleswood lead a Bible study for the inmates at the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley, Man., on the first Wednesday of every month. (Government of Manitoba photo)

Every month, several women from Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg go to jail. But unlike the women they meet with behind bars, they get to walk out of the barbed wire fences and go safely to their homes at the end of the night.

Growing hope through partnerships

Olympic gold medallist Cindy Klassen, right, stands with farmers Nathan and Jeanette Janzen and their sons Evan and Bradley at the Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day. The canola lying in swaths behind them will soon be harvested for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Farmer Nathan Janzen displays some of Cindy Klassen’s Olympic medals while Klassen holds stalks of canola. (Photo by Marian Hooge Jones)

Olympian Cindy Klassen addresses Canadian Foodgrains Bank supporters at the Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day held in Rosthern recently. Seated beside Klassen are Rick Guenther, director of communications and donor relations for MCC Saskatchewan, and Rick Block, the Foodgrains Bank’s Saskatchewan coordinator. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Food security is an issue locally as well as globally. Anita Bergen, interim chair of the Rosthern and District Food Bank, left, and Nadine Ens, the food bank’s community catalyst, tell Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day participants about efforts to alleviate hunger in the Rosthern area. One of the food bank’s projects has been a community garden where Grade 3 students work with seniors to plant, tend and harvest the produce that will feed many. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“I’ve never been this close to agriculture before,” said Ingrid Lamp. “It’s quite exciting.” Lamp and her husband travelled four hours from their home in Swift Current to attend the Grow Hope Saskatchewan Field Day.

Creation care is a sacred trust

Sam Dueckman, left, and Emmanuel Denguessi, who helped organize the Emmanuel Mennonite summer cleanup day, survey the bags of garbage collected by church members. (Photo courtesy of Sam Dueckman)

Leane Winger, pictured with son Steven, work together to clean up the garbage on Blueridge Drive near Emmanuel Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of Sam Dueckman)

Nikki Rekman, a Crossroads church member and president of the Chilliwack/Vedder River Cleanup Society, believes that looking after the environment is a sacred trust for Christians. (Facebook image)

One plastic cup, one can, one disposable diaper at a time, Mennonite residents of B.C.’s Fraser Valley are trying to make a difference by cleaning up their environment. Crossroads Community Church of Chilliwack and Emmanuel Mennonite Church of Abbotsford are among those congregations that are supporting the Mennonite Creation Care Network through community cleanup initiatives.

Buildings crumble but faith remains

Ibrahim Nseir, pastor of the National Presbyterian Church of Aleppo in Syria, stands at the site where his church building once stood. In 2015 a new building was erected and the church continues to distribute MCC aid, including comforters and kits. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Rev. Ibrahim Nseir (left) holds an MCC comforter made in Europe, ready to be distributed by the National Presbyterian Church in Syria. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

In the old city of Aleppo, Syria, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir stands on the pile of rubble that used to be his church. The building where his congregation once worshipped is now a pile of broken stones and dust.

Mennonites attend Indigenous theological studies symposium

During an Indigenous theological studies symposium, held in Wolfville, N.S., the presenters sang a traditional Christmas hymn in English while drumming. Many of the audience members sang along. (Photo by Kathy Thiessen)

The 20-or-so Mennonites who attended the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) symposium were humbled by the grace of their hosts who welcomed them, without hesitation, into the conversation.

Edmonton store to contribute to Ten Thousand Villages sustainability plan

Board members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages store met on June 27 to decide whether to contribute $100,000 toward a TTV sustainability plan. The board includes (from left) Adrienne Wiebe, Alexandra Ketchum, Robert Proudfoot, Helen Mc Cabe, Kurt Sawatzky, Ghenette Houston, Phyllis Schneider. Not pictured: Kari Morton and Irma Stickland. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On June 27, 2018, supporters of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) store voted overwhelmingly to grant its board the authority to gift $100,000 to the TTV program of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), in a one-time attempt at a sustainability plan.

UNDRIP: Good news for everyone

Around 70 people gather to listen to a panel of speakers at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Geraldine ‘Gramma’ Shingoose speaks to those gathered at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. Marcus Rempel (left) was part of a panel. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Canada has violated the rights of its Indigenous peoples ever since the country was born, from forcing thousands of children into residential schools to disrespecting treaties and stealing land. In 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and Canada announced its support for the declaration in 2010.

Blooming Positive Project responds to theft

When ten floral hanging baskets were stolen from the Communitas Supportive Care Society office, the organization responded by creating flowers using materials that were recycled or repurposed. Through creativity, the negative experience was turned into a positive celebration. (Photo courtesy of Communitas Care Society)

In the early summer the staff at Communitas Supportive Care Society arrived at work to discover that someone had stolen the floral hanging baskets from the front of their office building. All ten of them. The discovery was met with anger, outrage, frustration, and disbelief: We should totally do a social media post about this! Who would do such a thing?

MDS Canada moves to new location

Cutting the ribbon at the dedication of Mennonite Disaster Service Canada’s new office on June 15 are: (from left) Harold Friesen (MDS Canada board chair), Ross Penner (director of Canadian operations), Kevin King (MDS executive director), Grace Loeppky (MDS Canada board secretary and volunteer) and Gerald Loeppky (MDS volunteer). (Photo by Kelsey Friesen)

On June 15, 2018, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada hosted a dedication for their new office space located on the second floor of 600 Shaftesbury Blvd. at the Canadian Mennonite University campus, followed by a lunch and open house.

MDS Canada decided to move to a bigger space when they added several staff to their team and their lease at 1325 Markham Rd. was coming to an end.

Faces and stories from the Alberta MCC relief sale

Sisters Jessica and Samantha Friesen enjoy having their faces painted in the children’s entertainment area at the MCC Alberta relief sale. The sisters are from Abbeydale Christian Fellowship in Calgary. The congregation donated half of the pies needed for the sale and the Friesen family delivered them to Didsbury. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Friday night’s auction opened with bids for a special peace quilt which cannot be taken home. The winning bid went to Rudy Wiens who made a $2,200 donation to MCC. He intends to display the quilt at Camp Valaqua this summer before it returns to MCC to be sold again next year. Wiens is a repeat camp volunteer who has warm friendships with staff and campers. He likes to offer a listening ear and encouragement to young people. “I connect well with the kids…they are ready to tell an 80-year-old things,” he said. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Three years ago Joyce Doran was working for Ten Thousand Villages in Calgary when she heard Abe Janzen (then MCC Alberta director) share some of his stories. “I was so touched by the work that was being done and I knew it was an organization I wanted to get involved with,” Doran said. In April 2018, Doran began working as thrift shop coordinator for MCC Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Two years ago, Bergthal Mennonite Church worked through MCC to sponsor a Syrian family, the Al Husseins, to come to Canada. On June 2 the family volunteered at the sale, wiping tables in the dining area and sorting coins. Pictured are: (from left) Nasayem, Delores Peters (Bergthal church), Mothana, Mariam, Jawaher, and Hatem. (Hatem was sponsored through the Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary). (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sarah Neufeld of Didsbury (left) and Neve Jeffery of Calgary met and visited while tying knots in a comforter. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Doris Veirgutz made a double donation when she had her hair cut. “God has given me this long hair, I can donate it for wigs for people [Locks of Love] and raise money for MCC.” Stylist Brittany Derksen donated her talents to the effort. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

For almost 40 years, John Wiebe’s welded art has raised thousands of dollars for relief work. The dove candle holder was inspired by well-known pastor Menno Epp (1932-2011). In the mid-1990s, Epp sent Wiebe a sketch of something he saw in Guatemala, asking if Wiebe could make it as an MCC project. Wiebe’s unique bookends, candle holders and other items can be found in many homes and churches across Alberta and beyond. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Matthew (5) and Aaron Friesen (6) are two of the youngest volunteers, taking turns pulling the school bus to collect change. Asked why they are helping, Matthew said, “because I like it.” Aaron added, “it is going to donate to other people.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sisters Irene Baergen (left) of Edmonton and Hilda Baergen of Coaldale, along with siblings Alice Klassen of Coaldale and Margaret Froese of Canmore, have an eight-year tradition of getting together to make a quilt for the sale. “The highlight is to get together and have a project and a cause,” said Irene. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Pianist Phyllis Geddert remembers singing with her father when he asked her to “promise me that you will help people to remember the old songs.” Ten years after he passed away, friends helped Geddert record favourite hymns from old Mennonite hymnals. Her condition was that any money raised would be donated to MCC in memory of her parents, Frank L. Friesen who always supported MCC, and Katherine Zacharias Friesen, one of the people who began the Thrift store in Morris, MB. The CD is entitled Joyful. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Josh Poland and Greg Sanderson of The Rosehill Auction Service pose with Bob Janzen (middle). Sanderson, who grew up in the Didsbury area, said; “I love selling and helping people, it’s fun to watch their face when they’ve got something.” Poland was keen to donate his time to the sale saying; “Everybody knows where the money is going.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

The Mennonite Central Committee Relief sale is a more than a fundraiser for Alberta Mennonites, it is an anticipated social event. Creating an atmosphere of fellowship and common purpose, the annual sale unites Mennonites from LaCrete to Pincher Creek (a distance of 1,176 kms) as well as inviting local communities to join the fun.

Faith and fixing at the Repair Café

Dan and Erin paint the Repair Café trailer outside the Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Five-year-old Summer watches volunteer fixer Bennett McCardle fix the broken clasp on her purse that her grandma gave her. (Photo by Julie Trinh)

Pastor Brian Quan leads by example as he repairs a bicycle. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church held a Repair Café on Earth Day. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Jason Yuen watches as volunteer fixer Kenny Fong examines a broken bathroom scale. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Paul Magder, one of the founders of Repair Café, fixes a Magic Bullet blender. (Photo by Frank McKinney)

Four years ago, my father Albert Kiang passed away. He was the ultimate Mr. Fix It, whether it was cars, computers or electronics. He was always tinkering away.

Good neighbours, good food

Volunteers Sheila Harder, left, Eileen Flath and Hariette Melin sort through donated produce at the Good Neighbours Food Centre. Whatever isn’t good enough to go into a food hamper will be placed in the food bank’s vermicomposting tower. Nothing is wasted. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Lawrence Schmidt bags loaves of bread at the Good Neighbours Food Centre in Rosthern. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wilmer Froese hopes the Good Neighbours Food Centre will become a place where the marginalized are incorporated into the community. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Volunteers Elaine Janzen, left, and Sheila Harder arrange groceries in preparation for assembling food hampers at the Good Neighbours Food Centre. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Larry Epp talks with Grade 3 students at Rosthern Elementary School as part of Planting, Picking and Preserving for Students and Seniors (P3/S2), a program of the Good Neighbours Food Centre in which experienced gardeners partner-teach students about growing food. (Rosthern and District Food Bank photo)

Eric Yoder and a Grade 3 student from Rosthern Elementary School plant onions at the Good Neighbours Food Centre garden as part of the P3/S2 program. (Rosthern and District Food Bank photo)

“In my walk with the food bank,” says Wilmer Froese, “I feel like I am putting my faith into action, and doing so in a more deliberate way than I ever have before.”

He and his wife Barb spent many years co-pastoring a number of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregations. Now retired from both farming and pastoral work, they have found a new calling—feeding the hungry.

True connections

A Grade 3 class at Hagar Association made signs for International Tolerance Day to promote ethnic and religious tolerance in the region. Hagar is a bilingual MCC-supported school educating 330 Arab and Jewish children from age 1 to Grade 6 in Be’er Sheba, Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Tal Dayan, right, and Lev Zemer Gilboa-Oppenheim, left, attend Hagar Association, a bilingual MCC-supported school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel. (Photos courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Walk into Hagar Association, a school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel, and it looks like almost any other school. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear children speaking both Hebrew and Arabic, and see them playing together—uncommon sounds and sights in the region.

Kindred partners with Rockway to serve the community

John Klassen, a Rockway alumnus and board member and Kindred’s finance and compliance chief, right, helps a Rockway student mulch flower beds at Mennonite Central Committee Ontario’s building in Kitchener, where Thrift on Kent is located. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Rockway principal Ann L. Schultz sorts donations at Thrift on Kent in Kitchener with a group of students. ‘All in all, students witnessed first-hand how, when we work together with shared values, we come closer to the peaceful, just communities to which we all aspire.’ (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Rockway alumnus Ben Janzen, left, now Kindred’s values integration director, loads wheelbarrows with earth for the planting of kale at Hacienda Sarria Market Garden, along with a Rockway teacher and students. ‘Looking back, I can see how Envirathon Servathon helped to shape my view of the community and what the purpose of education is,’ Janzen says. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

Kathy Clemence, right, a Rockway alumna and Kindred’s member support manager, helps with the gardening at the Steckle Heritage Homestead in Kitchener. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe)

As the presenting partner of this year’s Rockway Mennonite Collegiate Envirathon Servathon, Kindred Credit Union had its staff join 300 students and teachers, who fanned out across the region on May 7, 2018, to do everything from planting trees and preparing garden beds, to sorting clothing donations and serving meals.

Winnipeggers take to the street in support of Nakba survivors

Around a hundred people gathered at a busy intersection in Winnipeg on May 15, 2018, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Protesters held signs with the names of villages that were destroyed when the State of Israel was created. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Around a hundred people gathered at a busy intersection in Winnipeg on May 15, 2018, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic. The Nakba refers to the dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands that followed the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.


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