God at work in the World

Meet the church in South Africa

Andrew and Karen Suderman, Mennonite Church Canada workers in South Africa, are hosting a Learning Tour Feb. 6-19. They have been in Pietermaritzburg since 2009 and their daughter, Samantha, was born there.

Spectacular water falls. A sweeping, ruggedly beautiful coastline. Exotic wildlife, sophisticated cities and an endless variety of cultures. These are some of the treasures attracting visitors to South Africa. But these treasures coexist with the long and painful history of South Africa’s people.

Taking his ‘fight for peace’ to the international stage

Bishop Ntambo Ntanda admires the Congolese dress that Pamela Courture, wears in solidarity with the Congolese people, while Mama Emman Selemani, another of the DRC leaders looks on. Courture is currently doing ethnographic research on the peace building efforts of indigenous Congolese persons.

“Our people have to walk 50 miles to buy an aspirin and pregnant mothers have to walk 100 miles for pre-natal and medical care in birthing,” Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) told reporters and students here at Emmanuel College as part of a tour to raise international awareness of the re-emerging war on its borders.

Edmonton thrift store grand opening

Store manager, Bryan Heidebrecht (L), and board member Harvey Friesen, hold a ribbon made of thrift store ties at the grand opening of the new location for Edmonton’s Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store.

Pastors from a variety of Mennonite churches read blessings as part of a service of dedication for the Edmonton Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop. Pastor Kerry Dyck, of the River West Christian Church, blesses store manager Bryan Heidebrecht in front of his office.

Even with a 50-percent-off deal store-wide, Edmonton’s Mennonite Central Committee Thrift store had record sales at its official grand opening. On an average day 60 customers walk through the door and spend about $550.00. On Sept. 15, 211 customers left $1,965.00 at the till. Operating in North Edmonton since 2003, the store moved to its current location at 9251, 34 Avenue, in June of 2012.

From refugees to church planters, Congolese Mennonites celebrate 50 years

Benjamin Mubenga Wa Kabanga, president of Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo, blesses one of the 16 pastors ordained during the Golden Jubilee celebration. White powder is a sign of spiritual blessing that family showered on the pastoral candidate during the celebration.

Willard Metzger, Executive Director of Mennonite Church Canada attended the Congolese Mennonite celebration.

Prime-time television news, amplified guitar riffs and deep-throated traditional drums announced to the city of Mbuji Mayi that Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Congo) was celebrating its 50th anniversary from July 23-27.

Welcoming the stranger in Jordan

Jameel Dababneh, Caritas Jordan’s emergency response coordinator, welcomes a young Syrian refugee. MCC partners with Caritas Jordan, one of the organizations that welcomes refugees, offers material resources and links them to services.

At the corner grocery in our Jabal al-Webdah neighbourhood of Amman, a Syrian man in his early 20s now runs the meat and cheese counter. Ahmed (not his real name) is one of more than 150,000 Syrians who have fled to Jordan since his country’s violence began in March 2011.

Young males seeking to avoid mandatory military service are one of the largest groups leaving Syria.

MCC material aid reaches Syrian refugees in Jordan

Basil Kaboushi, left, and Wajdi Haddad, volunteers with Caritas Jordan, an MCC partner, help to distribute MCC relief kits and comforters to Syrian refugees at the Latin Patriarchate School in Mafraq, Jordan, in June.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues to address needs of refugees fleeing from increasing violence in Syria. Caritas Jordan, an MCC partner, is distributing comforters, relief kits, school kits and hygiene kits in five governorates, similar to provinces or states. In the Mafraq governorate, milk powder and diapers also are distributed.

‘We’re sorry’

Josiah and Mona Neufeld and son Elias of Hope Mennonite Church participate in the I’m Sorry event, part of the Pride Winnipeg Parade last month.

On June 3, a small group from Little Flowers Community and Hope Mennonite Church joined a crowd of upwards of 20,000 people who came out for the Pride Winnipeg Parade. They carried a simple message: “We’re Sorry.”

Coalition celebrates 25 years of aiding refugees

Executive director Eunice Valenzuela, left, and board chair Marlene Epp pose at the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support’s anniversary banquet on April 21 at Knox Presbyterian Church, Waterloo, Ont.

With a swirl of skirts, the stomp of dancing shoes and the flourish of a flamenco guitar, Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support celebrated its 25th anniversary with a banquet on April 21. The banquet was just part of the celebrations this spring that included an open house at the coalition’s new office space in Kitchener on May 25.

Suspicious hospitality

Khadijah, Yehia and Bashar are refugees from Iraq who arrived in Ontario in 2010. Threats of kidnapping and death forced their family to flee Iraq.

According to the UN, there are 10.5 million “refugees of concern” in the world. These are people uprooted from their homes, fleeing conflict, natural disaster or persecution. While roughly 25,000 of these people will be allowed to settle in Canada this year, Mennonite refugee advocates worry about recent changes to immigration policy.

The world comes to the farm

Eric Dyck of 4-D Farms, Springstein, Man., explains how a combine works to a class of English-as-an-additional-language students who meet at Bethel Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.

Most often people think of crops from our prairie farms going abroad to feed the world. So it was a bit of a shift on June 15, when 20 women and 15 children representing 10 different countries of the world boarded a school bus in Winnipeg to visit one of these farms in Springstein.

Indigenous day school survivors initiate class action lawsuit

Henry Neufeld, right, a former day school teacher in Pauingassi, Man., presents a talking stick that he crafted to Joan Jack, who is heading up the National Day School Class Action Suit.

Elder Elmer Courchene of Sagkeeng First Nation addresses those who gathered for the first National Day School Class Action Conference in Winnipeg last month.

Official government apologies and the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process do not include all prior students of government-funded, church-run schools for Indigenous Peoples, a handful of which have associations with Mennonite communities.

Walking the talk on reconciliation

The opening ceremonies at the Meeting Place featured music and dance from various indigenous communities.

Brian McIntosh, centre, shares about the United Church’s work on reconciliation, while Jennifer Henry, executive director of Kairos, left, and Steven Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, right, listen.

How can Canada’s churches move past their residential school history into a positive relationship with Indigenous Peoples? That was one question asked during The Meeting Place conference in Toronto, hosted by the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre with support from the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) earlier this month.

‘You have blessed us’

Nick Blais of Fort Erie, Ont., right, and other MDS volunteers work in New Orleans, La., in January.

After spending seven years and $8 million responding along the Gulf Coast to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) has formally closed its last project in the region. About 70 MDS personnel, Mennonite leaders and local pastors, disaster response workers and community members gathered on May 16 at MDS headquarters in New Orleans for a commemoration ceremony.

‘As we forgive those who trespass against us’

Mark Bauman of St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, Ont., removes mouldy wood and materials before rebuilding a floor in an Attawapiskat First Nation home this spring.

Mark Bauman’s eyes still tear up when he recalls worshipping at the St. Francois-Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Attawapiskat. Most of the service in the First Nation community, located on the western shore of James Bay in northwestern Ontario, was in Cree, but the Lord’s Prayer was repeated in English.

MCC partners aid Afghans suffering from war, poverty

To deliver nutritional care to young children and expectant mothers in remote areas of Afghanistan, the staff of Medair, a Swiss faith-based nongovernmental organization and a Mennonite Central Committee partner, have to travel by horseback in the winter.

Despite war’s obstacles and disruptions, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partners in Afghanistan continue to provide life-enhancing and empowering services to Afghans.


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