God at work in the World

MC Saskatchewan bids farewell to Jerry Buhler

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Jerry Buhler, outgoing area church minister for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, gets a hug from colleague Kirsten Hamm-Epp, area church youth minister. Buhler served MC Saskatchewan for nine years.

With appreciation and affection, participants at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions said thank you and farewell to Jerry Buhler, who served as area church minister for nine year years. It was clear from the standing ovation he received that he made many friends during that time.

Saskatchewan youth want to be in the loop

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SMYO Committee members Zachary Stefaniuk, left, area church youth minister Kirsten Hamm-Epp, Gabby Martin (back to camera) and Hailey Funk discuss proceedings at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions.

“We want a church that is for everyone, and we want to be part of making that happen.” This statement from a Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization (SMYO) report to the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions appeared to be borne out by the level of engagement witnessed in members of the SMYO Committee at the March 13 and 14 meetings.

‘Evangelism is dangerous’

Maciel Arias from Toronto New Life Mennonite Church, left, translates for Lili Hurtarte, lay leader at Toronto New Life Mennonite Centre, while Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite, Kitchener, listens with Lucy Roca of the Refuge de Pais congregations in Quebec. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Former MC Canada Witness workers Julie and Phil Bender visit with Sze-Kar Wan, keynote speaker at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Brian Bauman, MC Eastern Canada missions minister, left, and Pastor Jehu Lian of the Chin Christian Church in Kitchener, right, listen as Bernard Sejour, newly hired Ottawa Catalyst, shares during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Louam Vanhbyvang, left, and Liang Nay prepare the Lao-themed dinner for the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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Lori and Charlie Derksen, children of Kevin Derksen, one of the pastors at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, dance as Menno Valley Sound performs at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers fun evening. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Pastors Norm Dyck of Listowel Mennonite Church, left, Tim Reimer of Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto, and Steve Brnjas, interim pastor at Zion Mennonite Fellowship in Elmira, visit during an  optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Abate Bekele, pastor of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto, left; Fanosie Legasse, an Ethiopian who attends Bethel Mennonite Church near Elora Ont.; Tadesse Mekuria Aleme, pastor of Medahnialem Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Toronto; and Pastor Kassa Lemma of the Freedom Gospel Ethiopian Church in Toronto, visit during an optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Lois Guenther Reesor, left, takes part in a discussion with Sze-Kar Wan and Tom Yoder Neufeld at a public event held during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. Reesor used Wan’s material in her thesis in the master of theology program at Conrad Grebel University College, where the annual school was held. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

“Evangelism is dangerous,” Sze-Kar Wan said in conclusion of his three-day exegesis of the first three chapters of Galatians at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada School for Ministers. “When you evangelize, you include new people in your group and you have to expect change,” he said, noting that it’s possible “the insiders might become marginalized.”

A steep price for following his conscience

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Edgar Schmidt

Despite risk to his reputation and livelihood as a federal lawyer, for more than a decade Edgar Schmidt has consistently spoken out against the federal government’s practice of proposing bills to Parliament without taking adequate steps to ensure that the pieces of legislation don’t violate the Bill of Rights or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or, if they do, that Parliament is advised of t

Blankets for vets

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Retired Canadian Forces Captain Wayne Johnston received a warm welcome at 50 Kent, the home of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario and other Mennonite agencies in Kitchener last month. Invited by MCC Ontario director Rick Cober Bauman to make a noon-hour presentation, Johnston shared his story of harm and healing.

When vets mourn what should Mennos do?

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A new Sunday School peace curriculum in the U.S. pushes Mennonites in a direction very different than the predictable emphasis on the evils of war and the theological superiority of pacifism.

“Returning veterans, returning hope: Seeking peace together” encourages Mennonites to see veterans not as people with incorrect views, but as fellow human beings to be understood and embraced.

Countering Islamic State

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Peggy Mason of the Rideau Institute, left, talks with Nancy and Ernie Regehr after her presentation, ‘Countering ISIL: Why Canada needs to change course,’ at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., on Jan. 15.

“There is no military solution [to Islamic State [IS)], only possibly some short-term tactical gains that might give the illusion of success, but which pave the way for longer-term chaos, as we now see in Libya. There is no political solution without addressing the underlying local grievances that IS exploits and that will take time and concerted effort.”

Holy recklessness

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I recall saying in my youth that “Christianity does not come equipped with standard airbags and anti-lock brakes,” features commonly advertised for cars at the time. I felt society’s fixation on safety and security should not be adopted by Christians. Faith is risky.

I was young and idealistic then. Some older folks said I’d get over it.

Reclaiming Ethiopia

A way of life is being dramatically changed as the pastoralist people learn to grow crops. The Foodgrains Bank and Canadian World Lutheran Relief are working through the Support for Sustainable Development organization on food-for-work projects that build irrigation systems. They provide training on how to grow and market crops. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ethiopia is a country undergoing transformation. Stu Clark, senior policy advisor for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, writes, ‘The challenge now is to ensure that rural Ethiopians enjoy the same rapid growth as those in Addis Ababa [pictured]. While food aid expenditures have declined, Foodgrains Bank expenditures for agricultural development in Ethiopia have increased over the past decade to about $1 million a year.’ (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ginjo struggles to support his family of 10 on a hectare of land. But by adopting new conservation methods of farming this past growing season he was able to dramatically increase the yield of his maize crop, which he harvested from the field in the foreground. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

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Mogite is a widow, but being part of one of the self-help groups that the Terepeza Development Association and the Foodgrains Bank have supported, she is able to support herself and her family. The women have established a cooperative garden on her property, where vegetables and seedlings are grown for their families and the surplus is marketed. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

MCC Ethiopia and Meserete Kristos Church have partnered with the Foodgrains Bank in the Boricha District, where farmers are being paid to work on soil- and water-conservation activities, building terraces and check-dams to catch the rain, and planting trees to stabilize the soil. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Elias Tola has been part of the food-for-work and cash-for-work programs that have helped to restore his farmland and bring roads into the Boricha District. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ahimed, head of the water user association in his community, stands near the channel that diverts water from the river and brings life to his community. He speaks with pride about the difference this six-kilometre channel has made to their lives, bringing not only water, but food security, a school, a clinic and dignity. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Manitoba correspondent Evelyn Rempel Petkau journeyed to Ethiopia last fall as part of a Canadian Foodgrains Bank-sponsored learning tour and reports her findings of the NGO’s work with Mennonite Central Committee, Meserete Kristos Church, and other relief and development agencies

Remembering Mandela

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Photo © Pep Hernandex / bit.ly/1wheB9Z

Nelson Mandela passed away a year ago last December, at the age of 95. Although we knew this time was coming, it does not alleviate the sorrow experienced by South Africa and indeed the world. Mandela—or Madiba, as he was lovingly called—lived as an incredible example of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Chiara House officially opens

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From left to right: Norm Voth, director of evangelism and service for MC Manitoba; Orly Friesen, volunteer site manager; Jon Owen, caretaker and resident; Alvin Thieseen, supporter and volunteer; Pearl Plohman, resident; and Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community, cut the ribbon to officially open Chiara House in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Jon Owen).

“When one of our members suffered from untreated mental illnesses and committed suicide quite publicly five years ago, we realized how critical it is to provide community supports and affordable housing in order for people to have a chance at healthy living,” said Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community in Winnipeg’s downtown West End, at the official opening of Chiara House.

More viewpoints: Smudging

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To celebrate its 50th anniversary Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba planned an event to be held on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg, a venue MCC was renting for the large event. But days before, MCC cancelled the event based on objections the congregation’s leadership had to an indigenous smudging ceremony that was to be held on church grounds.

MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals

‘It seems to me that a generosity of spirit is at the heart of both Christian and Canadian aboriginal beliefs, so there should be a strong mutual interest in demonstrating mutual respect.’--Former prime minister Joe Clark (Photo by Will Braun)

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Ron Janzen

The landmark event was intended, in part, to promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. That goal will likely be achieved to a far greater extent than organizers ever imagined, but the path will be circuitous and theologically bumpy.

Peace brings local community together

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Participants pause by the Morden, Man., cenotaph to offer prayers concerning civil justice during their Peace Prayer Walk on Nov. 9. Michael Pahl, who came up with the idea for the walk, is pictured facing the camera with white papers in his hand. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pahl)

“Regardless of our perspectives on ‘just war’ and pacifism, as Christians we are all united in our desire for peace and justice in our community and around the world,” says Michael Pahl of his idea to hold an annual Peace Prayer Walk in Morden, Man., last year.

How will we walk together?

Adrian Jacobs, right, responds to questions and concerns from Rudy Friesen and Gerhard Neufeld.

Michael Champagne, left, participates in a table discussion of opportunities and barriers to indigenous people and settler populations working together in the city.

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Michael Champagne speaks with energy and passion about indigenous youth and young adults in the city.

Adrian Jacobs, left, addresses the gather circle at Circle of Life Thunderbird House while Michael Champagne looks on.

Instead of the usual small, intimate gathering that has characterized previous fall Partnership Circle meetings, more than 85 northern indigenous people, Mennonite Church Manitoba representatives, people from other denominations and social service agencies gathered on Nov. 1 to form a vastly expanded circle at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House.  

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