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An eerie calm: Iraqi Christians anxiously ponder their future

Afternoon prayer at the St. George Church in the historic Assyrian Christian town of Alqosh in the Nineveh Plain of Iraqi Kurdistan. Locals adhere to the Chaldean Catholic religion. The town was nearly overrun by Islamic fighters earlier this summer, when Peshmerga forces withdrew their forces, abandoning the Christian town. (Credit: Jodi Hilton/RNS)

Basima al-Safar retouches a picture of Jesus on an easel outside her house overlooking the flat Nineveh plains, 30 miles north of Mosul.

The murals she paints tell the story of her people, Christians in Iraq. But with Islamic State militants nearby, she is worried that life in Alqosh and towns like it could soon come to an end.

Cracked? Who’s cracked?

Liz Klassen felt the need to correct the rumour going around among the seniors that the play Cracked made fun of folk with dementia. Klassen, executive director of the Nithview Community in New Hamburg, operated by Tri-County Mennonite Homes, notes that the name of the play comes from Leonard Cohen’s 1992 song "Anthem" from his album The Future:

Six things you can do to prepare for PA 2015

Next year’s MWC Assembly will feature exuberant singing by people from around the world. (Credit: Merle Good)

In less than a year from now, our sisters and brothers from around the world, and from across North America, will be coming to Harrisburg to worship and fellowship with us. PA 2015, the Mennonite World Conference Assembly, will be held at the Farm Show Complex, July 21-26, 2015.

South Sudanese trained in trauma awareness in conflict zones

Babu Ayindo (standing, center) and Doreen Ruto, both Kenyan graduates of EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, co-facilitated the summertime training of USAID employees in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, along with CJP staff. (Photo courtesy of Elaine Zook Barge)

Nearly 100 people in South Sudan, all employees of the U.S. government, recently benefited from intensive trauma awareness and resilience trainings facilitated by Eastern Mennonite University.

Why the choice to die is not personal or private

Author and disability advocate Joni Eareckson Tada (Photo courtesy of Joni Eareckson Tada)

It has been heartbreaking these last few days to hear the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old, beautiful young woman diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor and given only a few months to live. The saddest part of the story for me, however, is not her prognosis, but her decision to end her life prematurely on Nov. 1 through physician-assisted suicide.

Mennonite Church Canada releases BFC video with seminary professor

Loren Johns

Mennonite Church Canada has added a new resource to the list of documents for study and discussion in the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process. The BFC Task Force asked Loren Johns, Professor of New Testament at Anabaptist Biblical Seminary, to share his thoughts on the topic of the scripture and sexuality. In a video presentation Johns addresses three main points:

Learning to be good neighbours in Nigeria

Jonathan Bornman met with Chief Imam Olarewaju on Friday, July 18, 2014. Standing outside the central mosque of the Anwar Ul-Islam Movement of Nigeria (front row, left to right): Rev. Dr. Daddy D.S. Ibulubo, Jonathan Bornman, Chief Imam Olarewaju, Aloysius Godfrey, and the assistant to the imam. (Photo provided by Jonathan Bornman)

More than 250 Bible school leaders met for “life-changing” seminars on building relationships with Muslims during the Africa Association of Bible Schools (AABS) annual two-day conference in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in July 2014. Jonathan Bornman and David Shenk of Eastern Mennonite Mission’s Christian/Muslim Relations Team led the seminars.

MLK’s daughter seeks nonviolent Ferguson response

The Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking at the Newseum on Aug. 22, 2013. (Credit: Adelle M. Banks/Religion News Service)

The youngest child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leaned toward the 30 students facing her inside the library at Riverview Gardens High School on Aug. 26. Many of them live near the epicenter of the chaos that erupted in Ferguson. It’s why Bernice King chose this school for this discussion.

Church takes tithing to a new level

Construction managers Herb Schaan left, and Gerry Harms stand in the renovated sanctuary of Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Credit: Deborah Froese)

When Douglas Mennonite Church decided to undertake an extensive renovation of their Winnipeg facility two years ago, they took tithing to a whole new level. They promised to donate 10 percent of the total construction funds raised to Mennonite Church Canada for a global building initiative.

Displaced Iraqis get food, supplies through MCC

Fourteen-year-old Yusuf Yahiat carries a food package distributed by MCC partner Zakho Small Villages Project at the Garmawa Camp for displaced people in northern Iraq. Like most people living in the camp, Yusuf and his family fled the city of Mosul after its takeover by the militant group that now calls itself Islamic State. (Photo: MCC / Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and partner organizations continue to meet the needs of families displaced by conflict in Iraq with a mid-July distribution of locally purchased food and personal hygiene items.

Gay, Christian and . . . celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate

Wesley Hill is a New Testament professor at the Trinity School for Ministry and author of "Washed and Waiting," a book on being gay and celibate. (Photo by Rebecca Murden, courtesy of Trinity School for Ministry)

When Julie Rodgers came out as a lesbian at age 17, her mom responded by taking her to an ex-gay ministry in Dallas. Rodgers had grown up in a nondenominational evangelical church where she assumed being gay wasn’t an option.

U.S. faith leaders testify in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Emily Wirzba, program assistant for energy and environment, held a sign to help people with the words as they sang in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2014. (RNS photo by Heather Adams)

More than two dozen faith leaders rallied at public hearings hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.A.) to testify in support of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gases.

Commemorating the 90th anniversary of Tiessens' arrival in Canada

Descendants of Peter and Elizabeth Tiessen gathered to celebrate 90 years since their ancestors arrived in Canada. (Photo: Martin Rahn)

On July 19, 2014, a “Dankfest” (festival of thanksgiving) was held at the farm of John and Janice Harder in New Hamburg, Ont., to commemorate the arrival to Canada of the Peter and Elizabeth Tiessen family from Blumstein, Ukraine. The event was also a thank-you to the Aaron Hoffman family from Heidelberg, Ont., who had hosted the Tiessen family when they arrived in Waterloo County in 1924.

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