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MDS in Shenandoah Valley celebrates creativity of volunteers during pandemic

MDS executive director Kevin King thanks volunteers from the Shenandoah Valley MDS Unit at an outdoor picnic. (Photo by Phil Helmuth)

Dozens of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers in Harrisonburg, Virginia gathered for a picnic in May to celebrate the creative ways they had responded to community needs during the pandemic.

Watch: MCI students express hope through dance

Students at Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna, Man. dance on top of their school in a new video. (YouTube/Screenshot)

Set aside those tired clichés about Mennonites and dancing, and enjoy an inspired performance by the dance class at Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna, Man.

To mark the end of the school year, the class released a video of one of its pieces. Set to the song “Lovely” by Billie Eilish and Khalid, the theme of the piece is languishing.

One piece at a time

Anju Shaw, 41, is a client of MCC partner Barrackpore Avenue Women's Cultural & Social Welfare Society. (Photos courtesy of Barrackpore Avenue)

Susmita Badiya, right, fills out her abuse report with the help of a counsellor from MCC partner Barrackpore Avenue Women's Cultural & Social Welfare Society.

There was no peace in Anju Shaw’s life.

For 20 years, she endured constant abuse and neglect at the hands of her husband and then her husband’s parents. She had no support, no one to speak for her or listen to her. She didn’t think the police would care about her—if they believed her at all. The ideas of peace, safety or stability were as far from her as the sky itself.

God works in digital ways

The Executive Committee of Mennonite World Conference, pictured here in November 2020, met online last month.

“The growth of digital platforms has increased the awareness of what our [Mennonite World Conference] family is doing during the pandemic,” said Carlos Martínez García, Executive Committee member for Latin America and the Caribbean at the triannual Executive Committee meeting in April. “I realize a greater awareness that we are a global community.”

MC Canada and CPT send team to Unist’ot’en

Team members, from left to right: (Back row) Josiah Neufeld, Steve Heinrichs and Allegra Friesen Epp; (front row) Emily Green and Rachelle Friesen. (MC Canada photo)

Mennonite Church Canada, together with Christian Peacemaker Teams, has responded to an invitation to accompany Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en Territory. This past Friday, May 28, a group comprised of CPTers and members of MC Canada arrived at the camp in northern B.C.

The team members are:

Exploring ‘Germinating Conversations’

Marta Bunnett Wiebe is the editor of ‘Germinating Conversations: Stories from a Sustained Rural-Urban Dialogue on Food, Faith, Farming and Land.’ (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

In 2012, A Rocha Manitoba, Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba and Canadian Mennonite University hosted two events with the purpose of bringing together Manitoba farmers and urban eaters to listen to each other’s perspectives on food and faith.

Investigation reveals misconduct by influential Mennonite leader

Frank H. Epp (Photo by David L. Hunsberger, Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Two Mennonite organizations have reported findings of inappropriate sexual behaviour by influential leader Frank H. Epp.

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) announced on May 27 that they cooperated on an investigation conducted by an independent team, based on a disclosure that was decades old and was recently brought forward again.

Witness workers embrace Indigenous names, identities

Lakan Sumulong (Dann Pantoja) and (Joji Pantoja) have served as Witness workers in the Philippines since 2006. (Photo courtesy of Lakan Sumulong and Lakambini Mapayapa)

Dann and Joji Pantoja, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in the Philippines, are embracing their Indigenous names and identities. In a statement published on their website Waves.ca in March, the Pantojas explained the colonial history their birth names represent and why their Indigenous names are significant to them.

Called to care, equipped to serve

YAMEN participant Dr. Ela Castro, left, worked as a doctor at Casa del Migrante in Guatemala City, Guatemala. (Casa del Migrante photo by Samuel Gaitan)

Dr. Ela Castro and her mother, Domicila Castro, prepare to distribute medication in December 2020. (Photo courtesy of Adalina Castro)

Dr. Ela Castro always knew she wanted to spend her life serving those in need. By all outward appearances, this is what she was doing.

She’d studied for years to earn her medical degree. She was working at a health-care clinic. She was helping people—but something was missing. She felt her heart calling her to serve, not just to work for a steady paycheque.

Resettled refugees offer front-line support during COVID-19

Shadi Alkhannous runs the take-out and delivery counter at the Alnoor Halal Food Market in St. Catherines, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Shadi Alkannous)

Refugee resettlement provides a new start for the families and individuals who have had to flee their homes due to conflict or disaster. Each of the 13,000 refugees who have been resettled in Canada through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada over the last 42 years has been offered a new opportunity.

Watch: 100 years of MCC in Europe

This feeding centre in Trans-Volga, Russia, circa 1922, was one of 140 MCC-supported centres in southern Russia that distributed 25,000 rations daily at the peak of the relief efforts. (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/MCCpeace)

A video published on YouTube last month chronicles Mennonite Central Committee’s 100-year history in Europe.

The 11-minute video, which you can watch below, tells the MCC story, beginning with its first beneficiaries: refugees and families affected by war and famine in southern Russia in 1920.

Let’s talk about our generosity

Lori Guenther Reesor is a speaker, writer and consultant on stewardship practices for churches and charities.

Lori Guenther Reesor, a speaker, writer and consultant on stewardship practices for churches and charities, released her first book this spring. Growing a Generous Church: A Year in the Life of Peach Blossom Church is a story of a fictional church that learns the spiritual discipline of giving.

During the pandemic, MDS-MCC project ‘shows God’s leading’

MDS volunteers work on renovations at the Mennonite Central Committee Indigenous Neighbours office in Timmins, Ont.

Doing Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteer work in Canada during a pandemic isn’t easy—as members of the MDS Ontario Unit know only too well.

Volunteers in that province were excited last December to start working with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to renovate its Indigenous Neighbours office in Timmins, Ont., about seven hours north of Toronto.

Making connections through paska

Sisters Marlene Froese, left, and Hedie Harder, right, with a few of the 401 paska buns they baked to share with Nutana Park Mennonite Church. (Photo by Denelda Fast)

Elisabeth Reimer, left, and Ruth Wiens, right, ice and decorate paska buns in preparation for delivery to each home in their congregation. (Photo by Denelda Fast)

Marlene Froese and Hedie Harder baked 401 paska buns to share with their congregation. (Photo by Denelda Fast)

Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon came up with a creative way to celebrate Easter and care for their congregation at the same time.

Peace Africa nurtures relationships between Christians and Muslims

Peace Africa’s hearse project will enable Muslim and Christians in Burkina Faso to share a vehicle similar to the one pictured. (Photo by Siaka Traoré)

“Peace Africa explores how the global Mennonite community can support peacebuilding initiatives between Christians and Muslims in African countries,” says Tany Warkentin, Mennonite Church Canada’s liaison to ministry in Africa.

How to join the MWC family

MWC stands in solidarity with its member churches in joy and struggle. Pablo Stucky, left, speaks with members of Iglesia Hermanos Menonitas Peruana on a Deacons delegation visit after a severe flooding event. (MWC photo by Henk Stenvers)

“Hello. How can I join you?”

This question often comes through the social media accounts of Mennonite World Conference (MWC).

But what does it mean to be a member of MWC?

New MCC dignity kits offer support for vulnerable women and girls

Students at the Bishop Mazzolari Secondary School, near Rumbek, South Sudan, all received dignity kits—Mennonite Central Committee's newest resource kit. (Photo courtesy of Loreto School)

The newest Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) resource kit will support vulnerable women and girls with dignity. The new dignity kit contains hygiene and sanitary items tailored for women and girls who don’t have ready access to the items they need, including eco-friendly, washable menstrual pads and liners.

Watch: Jane Philpott shares lessons from detours

‘It does not fall to me to judge the journey of others,’ Jane Philpott says in her TEDx talk.

In a talk posted on YouTube earlier this month, university dean and former member of parliament Jane Philpott reflects on two detours that changed her path.

During the 18-minute presentation, which you can watch below, Philpott recounts two life experiences—a personal tragedy and a professional crisis—and what she learned from them.

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