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Walk for Common Ground puts faith into action

Local elders greet walkers at the Health Sciences Association of Alberta office in Calgary as part of the closing ceremony. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Allegra Friesen Epp carries the eagle feather at the head of the group as they walk along Range Road 11 between Airdrie and Calgary. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Caleb Kowalko (left) and Steve Heinrichs celebrate reaching their destination in Olds. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Cassidy Brown (right) and her mother Nola Brown walk along Highway 2A north of Olds, Alta., carrying the Treaty 7 flag. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Walkers approach the edge of Calgary. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Supporters welcome the walkers at their final destination. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Roger Epp of First Mennonite Church Edmonton), left, Kevin Guenther Trautwein of Lendrum MB Church, Werner De Jong of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, and Jake Froese of Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton join the first leg of the Walk for Common Ground in Edmonton. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Undaunted by the poor air-quality index due to the Alberta wildfires, Vic Thiessen, former Mennonite Church Canada staffer, braves the smoke-filled air to join the Walk for Common Ground. The walk began in Edmonton on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Led by Diana Steinhauer and her eagle staff, a group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends travel together on the Walk for Common Ground that began in Edmonton. The treaty walk is meant to nurture treaty understanding and relationship. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

A group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends kick off the Walk for Common Ground in Edmonton on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

A group of Indigenous, unionist and church friends complete the first 10.1-kilometre leg of the 350-kilometre Walk for Common Ground on May 31. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Friends and family huddled in light afternoon rain on June 14, waiting for about 30 participants in the Walk for Common Ground to arrive in Calgary. The walkers were led in by a Scottish bagpiper, then greeted with drumming and singing by local Indigenous elders. Tears of joy mixed with the rain as walkers were congratulated for finishing their 14-day journey from Edmonton to Calgary.

MCC B.C. celebrates World Refugee Day

Crowd participation was part of the dance presentations at the World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford on June 22. (MCC B.C. photo)

World Refugee Day was a colourful occasion. (MCC B.C. photo)

The Quach/Luu family attended the World Refugee Day celebration held June 22 in Abbotsford B.C.  Huu Quach came to Canada with his mother as the first government-sponsored refugee to the area in 1979. (MCC B.C. photo)

The anniversary cake was cut by Henry Braun, Abbotsford mayor; Wayne Bremner, MCC B.C. executive director; and Jennifer Mpungu, MCC B.C. refugee sponsorship coordinator. (MCC B.C. photo)

Many handmade crafts were on display at the World Refugee Day celebration held in Abbotsford on June 22. (MCC B.C. photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., along with other local organizations, celebrated World Refugee Day at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford on June 22. Over 200 people, some newcomers to Canada as well as refugee sponsors and community members, came to enjoy and live out this year’s theme “Choose Welcome.”

Arnaud Mennonite Church celebrates 75 years

Church members brought back the circle games they used to play at weddings and church events when they were young. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Over 150 people gathered to celebrate Arnaud Mennonite Church’s 75th anniversary. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Past and present members of Arnaud Mennonite Church revived the church choir, a feature that was a regular part of weekly worship in the past. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

The old circle games reminded participants of their youth. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Young and old  participated in church picnic activities after lunch. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

Arnaud Mennonite Church was built in 1944. It has outlived the Arnaud Mennonite Brethren and Lichtenau Mennonite congregations, which closed in the late 1990s. (Photo by Rick Friesen)

While many churches in rural Canada face closure, Arnaud Mennonite Church recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Located in the prairie town of Arnaud, Man., the church is home to a wide range of ages, from young families with children to seniors.

Deepening our walk by worshiping together

Sarah Johnson, of the Voices Together hymnal committee, displays the blank pages of the new hymnal mock-up, reminding participants at a regional worship service, held at Rosthern Mennonite Church, that the contents of the new hymnal haven’t yet been decided.

Anneli Loepp Thiessen, of the Voices Together hymnal committee, leads congregational singing at Rosthern Mennonite Church during the first of four regional worship services presented by MC Saskatchewan and Voices Together.

Members of at least six congregations gathered at Rosthern Mennonite Church to worship and sing together. The service was part of a series of four regional worship services presented jointly by MC Saskatchewan and the Voices Together hymnal committee.

The people of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan love being together. In particular, they enjoy singing and worshiping with one another. This apparent enjoyment sparked the idea of holding regional worship services.

 

Quilt auction goes digital

The 2019 feature quilt, “Little Brown Church.” (Photo by St. Jacobs Printery)

Bids are tracked on a large screen at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and quilt auction on May 25. This was the first year for online bidding, with six quilts going to buyers who placed their bids electronically. (MCC photo by Jesse Bergen)

Over the last 53 years, the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale has raised more than $12 million for relief, development and peacemaking efforts around the world by Mennonite Central Committee. In that time, in addition to favourites like doughnuts, strawberry pies and spring rolls, more than 10,000 quilts have been pieced, quilted, donated and auctioned off at the New Hamburg sales.

Finding hope in the midst of the climate crisis

Zoe Matties and Scott Gerbrandt work for A Rocha Canada. Zoe is the Manitoba program manager and Scott is the Manitoba director. (Photo courtesy of Zoe Matties)

The Boggy River flows right through the property at the Boreal Ecology Centre. (Photo by Scott Gerbrandt)

Pink lady slippers only bloom in the area in late June. (Photo by Zoe Matties)

During an early morning walk on a recent Discovery Day, bird-watching participants spotted the elusive American three-toed woodpecker, a rare sight in the area. (Photo by Zoe Matties)

Climate change is doing more than triggering environmental disasters. It’s also triggering mental health crises and a sense of impending doom for some people.

Walking and talking along the trail

Drummers welcome walkers at the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse, Fort Langley, B.C., to begin the Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation on May 31. (Photo by Ian Funk)

Walkers approach the former St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission, B.C., on the final day of the Walk for Reconciliation on June 2. (Photo by Deborah Dejong)

A group walks from the Fort Langley United Church to the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse to begin B.C.’s fourth annual Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation. (Photo by Ian Funk)

In solidarity with their First Nations neighbours, Mennonites in the Fraser Valley joined others in a Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation from May 31 to June 2.

The event was a partnership between Mennonite Central Committee B.C., Mennonite Church Canada, and several other denominations, including Anglican, the United Church and Christian Reformed Church. 

The women of Alberta rediscover Mary

Valerie Proudfoot of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, presents Irma Fast Dueck with a picture of a Mennonite Mary. Entitled ‘Mennonitische Madonna,’ the artwork by Helena Dueck of Pennsylvania was originally given to Proudfoot in 1986 as a gift of encouragement. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

“We grew up never talking about Mary. It was like the Catholics got Mary in the divorce settlement and Mennonites got a 30-minute sermon,” said Irma Fast Dueck in her opening talk at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat held from June 7 to 9 at the Sunnyside Retreat Centre in Sylvan Lake.

‘My place is right here’

Muriel Bechtel, right, and Dennis Flaming, organizers of the 'My Place is Right Here' play and joint fundraising event, are pictured with Alie Teetzel-Edmondstone and Yasmine Mohamed, representatives of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, who accepted the food donations. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was all about working together for the good of the local Cambridge community when Preston and Wanner Mennonite churches partnered with a local theatre group to support the work of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

Muslims learn about Mennonites

Over coffee and Turkish sweets at The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, Jim Loepp Thiessen, left, has an animated conversation with Faruk Ekinci and Mustafa Ustan while Mustafa Jr. listens in. These Turkish Muslims were interested to learn that many Mennonites also came to Canada as refugees. (Photo by Barb Draper)

On April 30, several Muslim families from Waterloo Region toured The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, in order to understand more about Mennonites.

Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church extended the invitation as part of his effort to foster respect and mutual understanding between Mennonites and Muslims, something he has been working at over many years. 

Rooted in community

Mary Funk stands in the community garden at Jubilee Mennonite Church’s Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Anna Marie Geddert, community minister at Jubilee Mennonite Church, and Serena Traa emcee the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

More than a hundred people gathered at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Winnipeg for the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

“If an alien ship were to come take our church away, would anyone notice?”

This is the question that members of Jubilee Mennonite Church asked themselves more than a decade ago. When they realized the answer might be no, they dedicated themselves to being an active presence in their community.

Exploring ‘flourishing congregations’ in secular society

The Flourishing Congregations Institute’s Joel Thiessen, holding the microphone, speaks at Columbia Bible College on May 4. The seminar was sponsored by the Mennonite Faith and Learning Society in conjunction with Columbia Bible College. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Key factors surrounding flourishing congregations in Canada, and how congregations can thrive and grow in an age of diminishing importance of the church in society, were the topics for a May 4 seminar entitled “Flourishing congregations: From understanding to practice.”

Coming in the front door

Charles Olfert, with white cane, participates in a simulation exercise as part of the Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification Program. Pictured with Olfert is classmate Cal Schuler and his service dog, Sierra. (ABE Factor, Inc. photo by Samantha Proulx)

Charles Olfert is enthusiastic about creating buildings that meet their users’ needs. A principal architect with AODBT Architecture + Interior Design, he recently applied that passion to the study of accessibility.

‘I am getting help now’

Guerres Lucien, outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, is a participant in an MCC-supported community mental-health project with partner Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian branch of Partners in Health. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Noel Derenis, centre, who has major depression, stands outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, with her team of community mental health workers Joseph Benissois, left, and Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, who have helped Derenis to regain energy to care for herself and her family. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

“Close your eyes and imagine you are walking to your garden,” says Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, a community mental-health worker. His calm, soothing voice carries over the din of the nearby street market and the curious chatter of the children watching nearby.

Calgary church offers space for community events

The group Hymn performs at the Bright Lights Festival at Theatre 1308 in Calgary on Feb. 24. (Theatre 1308 photo)

Dale Taylor, Calgary Inter-Mennonite Church’s congregational chair, is pictured in the basement reception area of Theatre 1308. (Photo by John Longhurst)

“Light up the church.”

That’s what members of Calgary Inter-Mennonite decided they wanted to do when asked about ways to engage with their local community.

What that meant for the congregation of about 40 households was making their building, located in the northeast part of the city, available for use by others during the week—not only on Sunday mornings by congregants.

Tuesdays at Faith

Tuesday’s Book Club at Faith Mennonite Church includes, from left to right: Sonja Kuli, Joan Enns, Anne Reimer, Nancy Hogendyk and Rita Unrau.

Tuesday’s Book Club at Faith Mennonite Church includes, from left to right: Anne Reimer, Nancy Hogendyk, Rita Unrau and Linda Thiessen-Belch.

Rita Unrau shows off one of the many ‘encouragement cards’ that have been distributed in Faith Mennonite Church’s pews.

McKayla and her grandma, Marianne Dyck, pose for a shot while making vegetarian chili in Faith Mennonite Church’s kitchen.

Like at many Mennonite churches, the back of any given pew at Faith Mennonite in Leamington includes a blue hymnal, an offering envelope, and, for the lucky few, a small, colourful, hand-made encouragement card. These one-of-a-kind cards are something new and they point to a wily group of seniors who are helping to bring new energy into the life of the congregation.

‘It’s all worship’

Refuge de Paix, Sherbrooke, Que., a Spanish-speaking congregation ministering to Hispanic refugees are welcomed into full membership in MC Eastern Canada by MC Eastern Canada moderator Arli Klassen, left, and Henry Paetkau, right, MC Canada interim executive minister. (D. Michael Hostetler)

Markham Christian Worship Centre, Markham, Ont., a Tamil-speaking congregation with roots in Sri Lanka. (CM photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Representatives of 107 congregations from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick gathered at Steinmann Mennonite Church for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering on April 26 and 27, framed around the theme of “Deepening our relationship with God.” 

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