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Green burials reflect a shift to care for the body and soul

Jeff and Suzanne Becker buried father and husband Gilbert Becker naturally, in a hand-carved log casket after his death in Sept. 2013. (Photo by Sally Morrow, RNS)

Growing up in small-town Georgia, John B. Johnson had family friends who ran the funeral home down the street, so the particulars of a typical American funeral — the embalming, the heavy casket and remarks about how great the deceased's hair looked — were all familiar to him.

When the time came, he assumed, his funeral would look much the same.

Funds, Syria peace talks raise hope

In Damascus, a woman accepts a box of food supplied by MCC through its partner, the Syrian Orthodox Church. People in the photo are not identified for security reasons. (Photo courtesy of the Syrian Orthodox Church)

As international efforts are under way to convince warring parties in Syria to gather for peace talks in Geneva on Jan. 22, 2014, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is releasing an additional $200,000 to help Syrian families get through the winter.

Micah Mission offers restorative justice to ex-offenders

Ex-offender Ryan Grills, who chairs the Forward Step support group, left, chats with Dave Feick, coordinator of the Micah Mission.

Sporting a bright orange T-shirt and a shaved head, Ryan Grills is an imposing presence, but his handshake is warm and his voice enthusiastic as he speaks about Forward Step, a support group for ex-offenders that he chairs. Forward Step is a program of the Micah Mission, an inter-church agency committed to restorative justice in Saskatoon.

Congregations turn to compost for lessons on life, death and the environment

Ashley Goff, minister for spiritual formation at Church of the Pilgrims, compares her time in her church’s backyard to making lasagna -- spreading vegetable scraps in one layer, straw in the next. (RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks)

The wheelbarrow outside the sanctuary was overflowing with vegetable scraps; decomposing matter filled the baptismal font; and a pile of rich brown soil replaced the Communion table.

COMMENTARY: The Christmas Wars are over, and Christmas won

If there is indeed a "War on Christmas," those on the anti-Christmas side of the war have lost — big time.

The television pundits, conservative politicians and talk-radio loudmouths who believe there is a "War on Christmas" should look around, withdraw their troops and quit screaming. Because if there is a war on Christmas, Christmas has won.

Mandela as Messiah

The world seemed very different when I awoke last Friday morning and heard the news: “Mandela is dead.” I first heard about it in an e-mail from a friend in Canada who, so he told me, saw the headline while reading an article I had written in 1994 at the time Mandela was inaugurated as president of the new South Africa.

Storytelling used to teach peace

Presenter David Neufeld chats with Leonard Doell, a member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan, at the ‘Peace Saturday’ event at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon on Nov. 9. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“Peace Saturday,” a time of storytelling at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon on Nov. 9, 2013, featured four presenters with diverse points of view on the theme.

Mennonites asked for Mandela’s release


Mandela in prison

As the world remembers Nelson Mandela today, Walter Bergen, an organic farmer from Chilliwack, BC, recalls a moment in July, 1986, when the Conference of Mennonites in Canada stepped forward to “officially encourage the Canadian government to release Mandela and to send a letter of support to Bishop Desmond Tutu for his work against apartheid,” according to a report by Brenda Suderman in the Me

Christians lend a hand to West Bank farmers

American evangelicals help plant and harvest grapes for Israeli settlers in the West Bank settlement of Dolev on the morning of Oct. 27, 2013. Photo by Debbie Hill, courtesy of USA Today

Sitting in the shadow of a row of leafy grapevines, 26-year-old Zac Waller grabbed his guitar and started playing a hymn.

The soulful sounds tripped down the hillside adjacent to the Jewish settlement of Dolev, west of Jerusalem, bringing a smile to the volunteers harvesting grapes in the warm October sun.

Francis creates commission to deal with sexual abuse

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley celebrates Sunday Mass with other American cardinals at the Pontifical North American College March 3, 2013. Photo by Gregory L. Tracy/The Pilot

Pope Francis is creating a special commission to deal with the clergy sexual abuse crisis on a global scale, a step that comes amid growing criticism that Francis had not given sufficient attention to the scandal.

The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal

During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, a U.S. diplomat presented this griffin-shaped chalice to an Iranian counterpart. (Photo credit: Mehdi Moazen, Islamic Republic News Agency)

Many paths led to the international agreement to temporarily curb Iran's nuclear program: secret meetings in Oman, formal negotiations in Geneva, and a quiet encounter in New York involving two diplomats and an exquisite silver chalice in the shape of a mythical winged creature.

Prosperity gospel televangelist dead at 79

Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79. Photo courtesy Trinity Broadcasting Network

 Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79.

His death was announced on the network’s website.

“We are grateful for the life of this amazing servant of God,” it said. “Please pray for the Crouch family during this time.”

MEDA receives grant for innovative water solution

Women in Ghana will benefit from the new water project.

Mennonite Economic Development Associates announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MEDA will pursue an innovative global health and development research project in Ghana, Water Catchment, Storage and Irrigation for Women.

MCC active in relief on Leyte Island, Philippines

Anthony Coralade stands in front of what is left of his concrete house in Carmen, Hernani, in Eastern Samar. His house was completed last month after painstakingly building it for seven years. Before the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, he hired men to find the cash he had buried under the floor. (Photo by ACT Alliance/Christian Aid)

As the devastation from Typhoon Haiyan continues to unfold in the Philippines, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is increasing its response to meet crucial needs for people on the eastern side of Leyte Island and working with partners to assess next steps for relief and recovery.


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