MC Alberta ends fiscal year with $95K surplus

Werner De Jong was the plenary speaker at this year’s MC Alberta annual delegate sessions, held on Zoom this year. His messages focused on the theme ‘Love one another,’ as part of the regional church’s launch of its Year 2 vision: ‘Encountering, Embracing, Embodying Christ in Community.’ (Screenshot by Joanne De Jong)

Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, Mennonite Church Alberta’s moderator, said “Wow!” Peter Za Zor Sang, the secretary of the Calgary Chin Christian Church, kept repeatedly asking, “How blessed were we?” And Werner De Jong, pastor of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, declared, “Grace danced!” when describing what God has done this past year in the regional church.

‘Think of others first’

Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., advertises that worship services are to remain online for the time being, as churches in the province remain closed. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With some Fraser Valley congregations insisting on their right to meet for public worship during the current pandemic, Mennonite Church B.C. leadership is encouraging its churches to follow current COVID-19 guidelines for gathering.

Allowing God’s light to shine ‘out of us’

During a memorial service held as part of MC Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions, Kirsten Hamm-Epp lights a candle for three congregations that, in 2020, made the difficult decision to close. Superb Mennonite closed in May 2020. Hanley Mennonite and Zoar Mennonite in Waldheim will close in 2021. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

“We hear God’s voice from a place of knowing who we are,” said Kirsten Hamm-Epp. In her meditation that opened Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions, the regional church minister talked about how Mary heard God’s voice and responded.

MC Manitoba looks to the future amid a pandemic

Rick Neufeld, MC Manitoba’s director of leadership ministry, gave his report from the ice. A lively hockey team debate ensued in the Zoom chat room! (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

MC Manitoba’s annual gathering began with the installation of Michael Pahl, right, as the regional church’s new executive minister. Also pictured, left to right: Doug Klassen, executive minister of MC Canada; Gerald Gerbrandt, moderator of MC Manitoba; and Lisa Bueckert, church council chair of Morden Mennonite Church. (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Mennonite Church Manitoba’s 74th annual gathering was confined to screens this year due to the ongoing pandemic, but reports of the regional church’s work came from all over the province, like a small-town ice rink and the Camp Assiniboia lodge.

A life-altering gospel and simple faith

A church-planting map of the Nazret Regional Church in Ethiopia. (Photo by Norm Dyck)

Jeanette Hanson, director of International Witness, left, and Norm Dyck, MC Eastern Canada mission minister.

The church building for the Wooliso congregation. (Photo by Norm Dyck)

Fanosie Legesse, MC Eastern Canada’s intercultural mission minister, points to information about the Nazret Regional Church in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of Fanosie Legesse)

Over Zoom, Norm Dyck shares a photo of a church-planting map from the Nazareth-Adama region of Ethiopia. At the top is the mother church established in 1948 with the help of Mennonite mission workers.

Chin congregation celebrates 10th anniversary, opening of new building

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, executive minister of MC Alberta, preaches via Zoom at the 10th anniversary and grand opening of Calgary Chin Christian Church on March 14. (Calgary Chin Christian Church photo)

“God is so good to us,” said Pastor Leng Nawn Thang excitedly as he spoke about all the ways God has taken care of Calgary Chin Christian Church, a member of Mennonite Church Alberta, over the last 10 years. “When we came to Canada, we asked, ‘How can we sing a new song in a strange land?’ Now we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary and the grand opening of our new church building!”

Race explored in 2021 Bechtel Lecture

Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely perform ‘This Little Light of Mine’ as part of the Bechtel Lecture on blackness and whiteness in Anabaptist print and mission. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

Timothy D. Epp, left, describes Black and Mennonite relationships in the Shiloh community of Saskatchewan in the 1930s as part of his presentation at Conrad Grebel’s 2021 Bechtel Lecture on blackness and whiteness in Anabaptist print and mission. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

This year’s virtual Bechtel Lecture, “Blackness, whiteness and the Anabaptist ‘imagined community’ in print and mission,” featured two speakers:

Diana Braithwaite, an accomplished blues, gospel and jazz performer, and founder and director of the Rella Braithwaite Black History Foundation, where she researches, preserves and shares the story of Blacks in Canada.

A dehydrator and a dream

The pulp from these coffee cherries can be ‘upcycled’ into cascara tea. (Coffee for Peace photo)

A young coffee tree. (Coffee for Peace photo)

A variety of vegetables grown around Coffee for Peace’s coffee farm. From her visit to Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church and the local Southwestern Ontario Gleaners facility a few years ago, Joji Pantoja got the idea that a vegetable dehydrator could reduce waste, help feed the hungry following natural disasters, and provide additional income for her and her husband’s PeaceBuilders Community ministry. (Coffee for Peace photo)

When the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago, global food security networks were put to the test. In the Philippines, where Dann and Joji Pantoja serve as Mennonite Church Canada International Witness workers, the people in the city were suddenly cut off from their food supply as the country locked down.

‘Making plans, but holding them lightly’

Masks and distanced desks are two of the changes students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have had to adjust to this past year. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

As the academic year draws to a close, students and staff at Columbia Bible College are reflecting on how the college has successfully navigated offering in-person learning despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These have included reduced class sizes, mask fatigue, teaching behind plexiglass, and keeping resident and commuter students apart.

Making the Bible come alive

John Braun is pictured in 2010 by the ancient steps that lead from the upper city of Old Jerusalem down to the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. (Photo courtesy of John Braun)

Ken Quiring is a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers and pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Brandon, Man. (Photo courtesy of Ken Quiring)

Deuteronomy urges people to “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds,” and Ken Quiring has dedicated himself to this call. Telling Scripture by heart is an integral part of daily life for the pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Brandon, Man.

Celebrating 10 years of spiritual friendship

Members of the Edmonton Menno-Catholic dialogue pose for a picture in the remains of the city of Ephesus during a two-week study tour in Turkey, sponsored by Edmonton’s Intercultural Dialogue Institute. Pictured from left to right: Roger Thiessen, Eleanore Woollard, Marvin Bloos, Ibrahim Cin, Bob Thiessen, Doreen Bloos, Julien Hammond and John Woollard. (Photo courtesy of Marvin Bloos)

A Mennonite-Catholic hymn sing directed by Johanna Dietrich held in 2019 at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Edmonton. (Photo by Julien Hammond)

The Roman Catholic Church has a global baptized membership of 1.3 billion parishioners. Mennonite World Conference (MWC), on the other hand, has just over 0.16 of one percent of that number, with a global baptized membership of 2.13 million. What reason or benefit could there possibly be for an elephant and mouse to be friends? 

Archivist shares ‘a sweet and true tale’ 

A sample of cookies baked as evidence in ‘the cookie war’ were preserved at the Amish Historical Library and donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. In Laureen Harder-Gissing’s virtual archive tour, they helped to document one of the food stories from Mennonite history. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Edna Staebler, author of Food That Really Schmecks, is shown holding the cookies in question, in an article she wrote for Saturday Night Magazine in 1987 about ‘the cookie war.’ The photo was shown as part of the virtual archives tour by Laureen Harder-Gissing, far right, describing a patent dispute over a cookie recipe that drew Mennonite women into the conflict. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

Big city lawyers paid Old Order Mennonite women $20 an hour to bake cookies, all in an effort to gather evidence in “the cookie war.” This “sweet and true tale” was shared recently as part of “The Anabaptist Story lives on: Virtual museum and archive tour,” sponsored by TourMagination, in which archivists and historians show unique artifacts, photos and documents as they share parts of the Anab

New directions for MC B.C.

Despite the reality of COVID-19 this year, the 2021 annual general meeting of Mennonite Church B.C. took place virtually on Feb. 27 with participation exceeding that of previous years. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The 2021 annual general meeting of Mennonite Church B.C., held virtually on Feb. 27 ‘worked out very well,’ according to moderator Gerry Grunau, lower left. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Although faces on screens had to replace in-person contact, participants at the 2021 Mennonite Church B.C. annual general meeting, held on Zoom on Feb. 27, managed to create a sense of connection for participants and allowed them to transact business as in previous years.

Fellowship is stronger than lockdowns

Celebration of Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday at Bethel Mennonite Church, Balodgahan, India. (Photo courtesy of Ashish Milap)

Rajnandgaon Mennonite Church in India shared a meal together after its Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday service. (Photo by Preshit Rao)

“Together on [Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday], we feel connected to our brothers and sisters all over the world,” said Jannie Nijwening, pastor at Doopsgezind Gemeente Zaanstreek in the Netherlands. 

Join the crowd

Rachel Siemens, pastor of Carman (Man.) Mennonite Church, created her congregation’s website. It launched in August 2020 as part of Mennonite Church Canada’s website hub. (Photo by Mary Anne Falk)

Fifteen congregations have launched new websites through the Mennonite Church Canada congregational website hub. 

“On the one hand, it’s hard work but it’s creative work,” says Rachel Siemens, pastor of Carman (Man.) Mennonite Church, whose website launched in August 2020. “What kind of images do we use, what do we say about us, what are the words we use to talk about ourselves?”

Saskatoon man teaches gardening online

Jared Regier displays some of the fruits of his labour: winter squash and garlic, ready for storage. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)

As Jared Regier worked in his market garden plots, people walking by would stop and ask him questions about gardening. This led to the creation of the Vegetable Academy. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)

Jared Regier holds a tray of seedlings ready for transplant into his market garden. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)

Jared Regier harvests summer squash in his market garden, Chain Reaction Urban Farm. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)

The seed that eventually grew into the Vegetable Academy was planted when Jared Regier was a boy working, somewhat reluctantly, in his parents’ garden.

“Good food was always part of our home,” he says, and gardening was “an essential part of being human.”

Mennonite leaders weigh in on vaccination

Stephen Kriss, executive minister of the Mosaic Mennonite Conference in the United States, poses for a selfie after getting his COVID-19 vaccination in January. (Photo: Stephen Kriss)

Should Mennonite Church Canada leaders promote vaccines during this public health emergency?

That question arose in January when Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, met with over 1,300 Canadian faith leaders, including from MC Canada, to encourage them to promote vaccines to their members.

What is appropriate humour?

Brian Froese, associate professor of history at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), takes a break from his walk along the Walls of Avila, Spain. He recently led a CMU Portable titled ‘You had to be there: A history of humour, laughter, and comical Christianity.’ (Photo by Lorelee Froese)

It may seem obvious when humour crosses the line, but Christians have not always agreed when it is appropriate and when it is not. In fact, throughout many periods of history, Christians have felt that laughing and comedy were terrible sins.

CMU Xplore program ventures into new territory

Marlene Janzen

Aubrey Hemminger

When Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) moved its Xplore classes online for the fall 2020 semester due to COVID-19, Marlene Janzen was thrilled. Janzen lives in Ottawa, so the new format meant she could participate for the first time.

“This was really interesting to me, to access these resources from CMU,” she says, adding that she had a great experience in her course.

‘We had a huge spike’

A meal at Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask. (Photo courtesy of Grovenland)

Bacon and sausage from Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask. (Photo courtesy of Grovenland)

When COVID-19 struck last March, farmers who sell food directly to customers saw a rush on their products.

“It seemed like people were just googling farms to go right to the source,” said Sarah Martin-Mills of Growing Hope Farm in Cambridge, Ont.

“We had a huge spike,” said Ben Martens Bartel of Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask.

Living in the moment (during COVID-19)

The current Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure unit hikes in Waterton Park for the first time, together with some of the members of Lethbridge Mennonite Church. Pictured from left to right: volunteers Maj-Britt Becker, Sven Kobel, Evelyn Bechtold, Hanna Schacher, Johannes Roesch and Noah Sommer. (Photo by Elaine Klassen)

Even in the midst of a pandemic, six young adults from Germany and France chose to continue with their plans to serve with Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure in Lethbridge. They arrived last fall, and one more youth was to join them at the end of January after quarantining for two weeks.


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