‘I didn’t have any hope it could be played again’

MDS volunteer Mike Davis, left, presents the repaired banjo to Wesley Emmelot. (MDS Canada photo)

Wesley Emmelot and his wife, Maureen Parsley, lost almost everything when the Tulameen River overflowed its banks in the town of Princeton, B.C., in mid-November 2021.

“There was a foot of water in the house, and the basement was filled with water and mud,” Emmelot said.

Celebrating 50 years of MCC Thrift

In 2007, founders of MCC’s network of thrift stores (from left) Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, Susan Giesbrecht and Sara Stoesz, gathered at a celebration in Winnipeg, Man., to recognize their contributions to MCC. (MCC photo/Gladys Terichow)

In November 1975, Mary Thiessen displays items at a thrift store in Clearbook, B.C. (MCC photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is celebrating 50 years of thrifting with the anniversary of the opening of the first MCC Thrift shop in 1972. The MCC Thrift network provides financial support for the work of MCC around the world. Over the last 50 years, MCC Thrift shops have contributed over $305 million to help people in need.

Unity, positivity pervade MC B.C. meeting

Although Mennonite Church B.C. delegates had to meet virtually this year for their annual general meeting, pastors and families were glad to meet in person for a retreat at Harrison Lake last November. (Photos by Ken Dueck)

‘What gives us hope?’ was the theme for the annual gathering of Mennonite Church B.C., held by Zoom on Feb. 26.

With the theme taken from Romans 15:13, “What gives us hope?” Mennonite Church B.C. conducted its annual meeting on Feb. 26 via Zoom. This was the second year for the church gathering to be online instead of the pre-pandemic face-to-face gatherings. Delegates numbered 122.

MC Manitoba reflects on shared life together

Michael Pahl, executive minister of MC Manitoba, preached on I John 1:3, a text that calls Christians to a shared life together, with God. (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg donated enough to the World Health Organization’s COVAX fund so that 200 people could receive COVID-19 vaccines. A paper chain of people representing these recipients ran one-and-a-half times around the sanctuary. (Screenshot by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

For the second year in a row, the members of Mennonite Church Manitoba came together on Zoom screens, instead of in a church sanctuary, for their annual gathering, due to the risks of COVID-19.

MCC partners in Ukraine supply essential care

MCC partner, Kharkiv Independent ECB Churches, evacuated residents, housing them at a local Christian school and at the House of Hope, a seniors residence in a village community 50 kilometers from Kharkiv. (The names of the people pictured are not provided for security reasons.) (Photo courtesy of MCC)

Try to imagine hearing air raid sirens scream out their warning. In your panic, you seek shelter. Your freezing fingers remind you of the warm coat you’ve forgotten back home. Or maybe you pack the car full of blankets and food, planning to flee to a safer location. You hope you won’t get stuck in a kilometres-long line at a checkpoint.

MC Canada issues call to eco-mission

A small, clogged and polluted creek in an urban section of the Haldimand Tract in southwestern Ontario. (Mennopix photo by Ross W. Muir)

Leaders of Mennonite Church Canada are calling on the members, congregations and regional churches of the nationwide church to respond to the climate emergency.

“We must act, we must act together, and we must act urgently,” write the executive ministers of Mennonite Church Canada, in a four-page document published on Feb. 7.

Food waste a resource for change

Women carefully close one of the inner layers of a PICS bag, which is designed to protect contents against insect damage. (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture photo / Creative Commons 2.0)

Humanity wastes 931 million tonnes of food each year. This figure—from the 2021 United Nations Environment Programme Food Waste Index Report—is an estimate with an admittedly wide margin of error, but it is probably the best of the wildly varying estimates of food waste in the media.

A statistical look at global wealth and poverty

Canada Revenue Agency requires charities to provide a breakdown of the salary categories into which their 10 highest-paid employees fall.

We all inhabit a genuinely complicated world—a world of generosity and incomprehensible inequality.

I have compiled various numbers and statistics that relate to the wealthy and the poor, and the efforts to bridge the divide—topics of interest to biblical writers.

Numbers, too, are complicated, and they are both informative and deceptive.

The wealthy

Sowing for peace in multicultural Toronto

Hyejung Jessie Yum, left, and Junggyu Anthony Yang work with Korean and other Canadians through Sowing for Peace in Toronto. They are members of Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto and licenced pastors through Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo courtesy of Hyejung Jessie Yum and Junggyu Anthony Yang)

“The Mennonite tradition has a very precious heritage as a peace church,” says Junggyu Anthony Yang. “If we focus more and more on peace in our daily lives, then we truly become the children of God.”

Prince Albert church holds its final service

Church members look at the property where the new church building was later constructed. (Grace Mennonite Church photo)

The original Grace Mennonite Church building located on 15 Street West in Prince Albert, Sask. (Grace Mennonite Church photo)

Children participate at Daily Vacation Bible School held at Camp Kinasao. (Grace Mennonite Church photo)

Volunteers, many of whom were members of Grace Mennonite Church, take part in a Person to Person visitation evening. (Grace Mennonite Church photo)

Sunday morning worship at Grace Mennonite Church during Covid-19. (Grace Mennonite Church photo)

After 80 years, Grace Mennonite Church held its closing service on Jan. 31. The service marked a months-long discernment process and a bittersweet celebration of all that God has done through the church.

Grace Mennonite began with a mission, and the church’s legacy of mission in the community will continue.

Restorative justice program faces uncertain future

Parkland Restorative Justice staff and volunteers take part in a simulated CoSA meeting between a core member (offender) and volunteer supporters. (Parkland Restorative Justice photo)

“There’s certainly a sense of urgency and immediacy to our request,” says Kerry Reimer, director of Parkland Restorative Justice, based out of Prince Albert, Sask.

One of Parkland’s main programs, Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), has been sustained largely through a federal funding initiative, but that funding is set to expire on March 31.

Training course helps navigate difficult COVID-19 conversations

Mediation Services in Winnipeg launched a new training program on Dec. 6 to help people learn how to navigate difficult conversations and maintain relationships when they disagree. (Unsplash photo by Graham Ruttan)

Right now it feels hard to believe, but eventually the COVID-19 pandemic will end. What will last longer are the strained and hurt relationships the virus has created.

Mediation Services in Winnipeg launched a new training program on Dec. 6 to help people learn how to navigate difficult conversations and maintain relationships when they disagree.

Pandemic parameters during the fifth wave

Fill the Bus campaign was held in December 2021 when the United Mennonite Home residents, families, staff, suppliers and community members filled the home’s bus with toys, personal-care items, non-perishable food, clothing and gift cards to support the local Community Services Village of Hope. (United Mennonite Home archives photo)

At the beginning of this pandemic, long-term-care homes were hit hard, with residents contracting the COVID-19 virus and many of them died of it.

Walter Sguazzin, executive director of the United Mennonite Home in Vineland, Ont., is happy to declare that not one resident had contracted, or died, of COVID-19 and its variants during the first four waves of the pandemic.

MCC sends food and relief to Cubans in crisis

Clara Rodríguez holds two cans of MCC canned meat that she received through the Brethren In Christ Church of Cuba. (BICCC photo by Ramon Guisa)

Rafaela Fuentes Duarte with the items from the MCC hygiene kit and canned meat she received through the Brethren in Christ Church of Cuba. (BICCC photo by Ramon Guisa)

The situation in Cuba was incredibly dire when a shipment of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) relief kits and canned food arrived.

Thriving at Thrift on Mill

Alfred Driedger, 87, refurbishes the sewing machines at Thrift on Mill. (Photo by Charleen Jongejan Harder)

Cindy Epp, general manager of Thrift on Mill in Leamington, Ont., assumed her role three weeks before the pandemic hit in early 2020. (Photo by Charleen Jongejan Harder)

It may be a pandemic, but Thrift on Mill in Leamington, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift store, had its highest grossing month of all time in November 2021.

Hands-on learning

Jess Klassen sews her own clothes. During the pandemic she also picked up crocheting and punch needle skills.

Nadya Langelotz displays one of the pottery pieces she created. (Photo courtesy of Nadya Langelotz)

Tara Epp, left, Anna Goertzen Loeppky and Katrina Woelk Balzer worked together to create clothing using only local fibres and dyes.

Matthew Froese’s paska follows his grandmother’s style: loaf pan, glazed with rainbow sprinkles and served with cheese spread. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Froese)

During the pandemic, Emily Stobbe-Wiebe is learning how to quilt.

Matthew Froese

Throughout COVID-19, schools and universities across the country have moved between learning in the classroom and online remotely. But what about education happening outside of traditional academic settings?

Many people have taken the different rhythm of life the pandemic has created as an opportunity to start learning and teaching in new ways.

Building connections in Japan

Gerald and Rie Neufeld, pictured at his ordination celebration at Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship in 2019, are seeking to build reciprocal relationships with churches in Japan and Canada. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Finding ways to help Japanese and Canadian churches connect with each other is one goal of a pastoral couple serving in Japan after years of ministry in British Columbia.

When Gerald Neufeld, pastor of Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship in Surrey, B.C., and his wife Rie felt a call to return to Japan, their family moved there last year.

MDS responds to flooding in Princeton, B.C.

Alvin Klassen, Keith Rudance and Joy Dougans take a load to the dump in Princeton. Read about the efforts of Mennonite Disaster Service to help clean up the town in December, a month after severe flooding and mudslides wreaked havoc in British Columbia. (Photo by John Longhurst)

As part of the clean-up in Princeton, B.C., Mennonite Disaster Service volunteer Alvin Klassen emerges from a basement with a damaged chair.(Photo by John Longhurst)

Joy Dougans, left, Alvin Klassen, right, and Keith Rudance, in the back, discuss their next move in the cleanup operations. (Photo by John Longhurst)

The MDS trailer parked in Princeton, B.C. (Photo by John Longhurst)

A sign in Princeton, B.C., lists the locations where the water is contaminated and should not be consumed. (Photo by John Longhurst)

“The Mennonites are coming!”

That was the buzz around the town of Princeton, B.C., in early December 2021, when the first 16 Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers arrived to help residents hard hit by flooding in mid-November.

People in the town are “so exhausted,” said Spencer Coyne, Princeton’s mayor. But knowing help was arriving put “a glimmer of hope in their eyes.”

Baptism in a barrel

Pastor Desalegn Abebe, president of Meserete Kristos Church, baptizes a new believer in a barrel during a ceasefire in the Ethiopian civil strife. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite World Conference)

It is very difficult to go to the northern part of Ethiopia after the war broke out. Despite the security concerns, when I heard that members of our church in western Tigray were in difficult conditions, I organized a team. We would go there to show our love for Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) members in the area.

‘Courageous Imagination’

Cathrin van Sintern-Dick, MC Eastern Canada’s regional minister, centre, talks with Faith Glover, left, and Rielly McLaren at at Faith Mennonite Church in Leamington, Ont., at one of eight regional ‘Courageous Imagination’ gatherings last fall. (Photo by Yeabsra Agonfer)

Leah Reesor-Keller, MC Eastern Canada’s executive minister, standing at the mic, addresses a ‘Courageous Imagination’ regional gathering held at Ottawa Mennonite Church last fall. (Photo by Mollie Moua)

Participants discuss draft MC Eastern Canada vision and mission statements and priorities at Meheret Evangelical Church in Kitchener, Ont., at one of eight ‘Courageous Imagination’ regional gatherings held last year. (Photo by Yeabsra Agonfer)

It is “progress report” time, partway through Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s year-long discernment process.

“Courageous Imagination: A journey together listening for God” was initiated last spring by the executive council of the regional church, noting that the last strategic plan was developed in 2014, and the current vision and mission statement was written in 2005.


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