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MDS Canada closes response in Cape Breton

Local MLA Fred Tilley (second from left) presents a Nova Scotia flag to Ross Penner, executive director of MDS Canada; Ike Epp, MDS project director; and Roman Heuft, Cape Breton response coordinator.

For Amanda McDougall-Merrill, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada did more than repair homes damaged by Hurricane Fiona in Cape Breton. 

Angola settlement big step for colonies

The new settlement started by Low German-speaking Mennonites from Mexico is near Malanje, Angola. (Google Maps)

Several families from a Mennonite colony in Campeche, Mexico, arrived in Angola earlier this year to begin a new settlement in the African nation. 

It is believed to be the first settlement developed by Low German-speaking Mennonites in Africa and could be the first such organized migration away from North and South America.  

Historical society apologizes to Semá:th First Nation

Sumas Lake, known as Semá:th Lake to the local Stó:lō people, prior to it being drained by government in the 1920s. (City of Vancouver Archives)

“The draining of [Sumas Lake] and our settlement on your ancestral lands was devastating and demoralizing and disrespectful.”

That was part of an apology offered to Semá:th First Nation Chief Dalton Silver and his people by Richard Thiessen, president of the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C.

Singing to Ukraine

Carol Ann Weaver (left) and Nataliia Kurhan at Hawkesville Mennonite Church in May, 2022. (Photo by Ingrid Bauman)

Road barricades in Dnipro, Ukraine. August 2022. (Photo by Nataliia Kurhan)

February 23, 2022, was a relatively ordinary day on our planet. Until 10:30 p.m. Ontario time—early morning of February 24 where Nataliia Kurhan lives—when I heard a reporter announce breathlessly, “Missiles are being fired; the invasion has begun.”

I saw streaks descending behind the reporter on the screen and heard the sound of rockets.

The facility of faith

The pipe organ at Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of John Enns)

Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church. (WKUM Church Photo)

(Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church Photo)

John Enns remembers a time when 200 children filled the Sunday school classrooms at Waterloo Kitchener United Mennonite Church (WKUM).

Currently, the congregation has 225 registered members, but less than half attend. The majority are in their 70s. Enns, who chairs the vision team at the church, says most newly retired members prefer to spend their Sunday mornings elsewhere.

Grassroots reconciliation at Spruce River Folk Fest

Cree elder, Harry Lafond, offers the opening prayer at the Spruce River Folk Fest as Ray Funk (centre) and members of the bluegrass band O’Kraut look on. (Photo by Emily Summach)

The Spruce River flows past a teepee where the opening pipe ceremony was held. (Photo by Emily Summach)

Music is a universal language. In Saskatchewan, music is also the language of reconciliation. On August 15, the Spruce River Folk Fest was held to encourage friendship and understanding between Mennonites and Indigenous neighbours.

Musical sharing at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation

A group of Indigenous people and Mennonites gather under the arbor at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. (Photo by Randy Klassen)

About 75 people gathered at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, located an hour’s drive north of Saskatoon, on August 6 for the Singing in the Arbor event. The event, which included music, food and relationship-building, was sponsored by the Cree Nation and Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Walking the Path initiative.

Art gallery nurtures connections with the past

“Gate to the Past” by Renate Dau Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

Marjorie Wall Hofer admires Leah Klassen’s painting “In the Garden.” (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

“Memory of Home” by Martin Klaassen. (Photo courtesy of Renate Dau Klaassen)

An art gallery lines the hallway between the sanctuary and the auditorium of the Niagara United Mennonite Church near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The art hanging there reminds viewers of God’s guidance through difficult times, including separation, loss and escape.

Jam

Hans Juergen Wiens and his jars of jam. (Photo by Maria H. Klassen)

In 2004, at the age of 70, Hans Juergen Wiens sold his business, including several farms, a feed business, and his last pig, all in one year. He was unemployed and restless. But then, one night, he remembered his mother’s resourcefulness.

All or none 

Jakob Rempel and his family a few years before he was arrested and sent to the Solovky prison camp in 1929. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Heritage Archives)

While Jakob Rempel was being transferred by train from one Gulag camp to another, he jumped from the train in a snowstorm. Ultimately, he ended up in Uzbekistan, near the town of Ak Metchet, made famous in Sofia Samatar’s celebrated 2022 book, The White Mosque.

Growing in the right direction: Grebel’s pollinator garden

Eva Booker (left) painting the pollinator garden's picnic table with student volunteers Anna Miller-Buza and Claire Treacy. (Photo by Margaret Gissing)

Black-eyed Susans growing in Grebel's pollinator garden. (Photo by Tim Saari)

On a bright morning in April, Eva Booker and a team of student volunteers rolled out a 25-foot-wide tarp across Grebel’s front lawn in preparation for the College’s recent green initiative: a pollinator garden.   

Consider the birders

An eastern bluebird prepares to feed its chicks. (Photo by Merri-Lee Metzger)

Birders flock to the bus windows during an excursion as part of the 2023 Camps with Meaning birding retreat. (Photo by Christina Janzen)

A Nashville warbler. (Photo by John Pries)

When Gordon Janzen was searching for a way to unwind, he found it by looking up.

Around 10 years ago, the Winnipegger realized he was working a lot and didn’t have many hobbies. Looking to develop his interests outside of work, Janzen got a pair of binoculars and started birding.

The gift of limited options

Springridge Mennonite Church attendees sing together on Christmas morning last year. (Supplied Photo)

Tany Warkentin (Supplied Photo)

This past spring, Mennonite Church Alberta held its first in-person annual delegate sessions in four years. Representatives from across the province were in attendance. Who hosted this grand gathering? One of the smallest churches in the province: Springridge Mennonite.

Anabaptism at 500 seeking story ideas for book

John D. Roth, project director of Anabaptism at 500. (Jace Longenecker photo for MennoMedia)

Anabaptists around the world are gearing up to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Anabaptist movement in 2025. To mark this historic occasion, MennoMedia’s Anabaptism at 500 project has announced the creation of a commemorative story book that will capture the diverse and inspiring stories of Anabaptist witness from around the globe.

Bus tour visits Stó:lō sites in B.C.

Sonny McHalsie (in red) tells stories of Kawkawa Lake, or Q’owqewem Lake, to Mennonites on an Indigenous tour in B.C. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

A nine-hour bus tour gave 30 participants a taste of the history of places that Indigenous people had inhabited for 10,000 years prior to the arrival of Mennonites in B.C. in the 1930s. The July 14 tour was guided by Sonny McHalsie, a cultural advisor and historian at the Stó:lō Nation’s Research and Resource Management Centre located in Chilliwack, B.C.

CMU launches master’s program in spiritual care

(Supplied Photo)

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) has added a new master of arts degree to its Graduate School of Theology and Ministry (GSTM) programming. As of fall 2023, students will be able to earn a Master of Arts in Spiritual Care, in addition to the three pre-existing master’s options: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Theological Studies and Master of Arts in Christian Ministry.

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