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Coming from a place of love

Donavan Arcand, kneeling centre, teaches participants how to play Indigenous hand games. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Chief Sylvia Weenie speaks at a friendship gathering hosted by the Young Chippewayan people at Stoney Knoll recently. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Delano Kennedy, standing right, gives last-minute instructions as Randy Klassen, on the ground left, and Logan Janzen prepare to face off in a rope tug-of-war. This game is one of many that Indigenous children and youth used to play to test their skills and strength. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

One by one, they slipped inside the large tent, out of the drizzle. They came from far and near to hear stories, share a meal, play games and enjoy each other’s company.

On Aug. 24, the Young Chippewayan First Nation welcomed Mennonites and Lutherans from Laird and the surrounding area to a gathering of friendship at Stoney Knoll, the fourth gathering of its kind.

Fun in the sun

Kenai Warkentin participates in a ladder-ball-toss game at this year’s Springridge Mennonite Church picnic. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Finley Anjo, left, and his mom, Hilary Janzen, share a big bag of peanuts at this year’s Springridge Mennonite Church picnic. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Springridge Mennonite Church of Pincher Creek, Alta., begins its annual picnic with worship in Fishburn Park. The speaker was Bev Janzen, standing. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

The all-day annual Springridge Mennonite Church picnic was held this year at Fishburn Park on Aug. 15. Beginning with worship in the morning, the day included a potluck lunch; games in the afternoon, including an intergenerational baseball game, a ladder-ball-toss game, badminton, frisbee throwing and football; and ended with a barbecue supper. 

Community outreach successful with summer VBS

Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School program in August, with half the children attending coming from the community. (Living Hope Christian Fellowship photo)

In a summer when many public activities, including church services, were curtailed, Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program from Aug. 9 to 13. Last year, Living Hope’s VBS had only 10 children attending in person, with seven online. By contrast, this year 38 children came, all in person.

MCC responds to bombing in Gaza

Mohamed Al-Attar, at right in blue, lost his wife, children and his home during the violence in Gaza in May. Rifqa Hamalwai, far left, and Khaled Abu Sharek, centre back, staff members from Al Najd, MCC’s local partner, visited Mohamed and his nephews, Yaser Dia Al Attar, bottom left, and Ali Tamim Al Attar, back left. All local COVID-19 protocols were followed in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Al Najd)

Mahmoud Alhalimi, and sons Kareem, centre, and Anas, right, are pictured in front of their still-standing house. (Photo by Sanabel Alhalimi)

A Gazan home that was destroyed during the bombardment. (Photo courtesy of Near East Council of Churches)

Nighttime was the hardest for Mahmoud Alhalimi. With the electricity cut and bombs falling, the hours were dark and loud, as he tried in vain to help his two young children fall asleep.

MennoCon21 goes hybrid to amplify message of peace, inclusion

The MennoCon21 crowd responds to worship leaders and musicians in Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. (Mennonite Church U.S.A. photo)

Mennonite Church U.S.A.’s smallest and first hybrid convention, “Bring the peace!” drew more than 1,000 people—608 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at least 495 online —over five days in early July, with programming to strengthen the denomination’s peace witness.

Conference on aging and spirituality broadens international participation

A photo collage of screenshots, including all 19 live speakers for the 2021 aging and spirituality conference held on Zoom.

This past June, scholars, practitioners, support workers, health-care experts and interested parties from across the globe gathered together virtually over the course of three weeks to advance the connections between spiritual practice and the effects of aging, at the ninth International Conference on Aging and Spirituality.

MCC volunteers worked at boarding school being probed

The Timber Bay Children’s Home at Montreal Lake, Sask., as it appeared in 1974. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) supported an Indigenous boarding home that is under investigation by the Saskatchewan RCMP.

The Mounties say a complaint was made in 2020 about a death that potentially occurred at the Timber Bay Children’s Home at Montreal Lake, Sask., in 1974.

Grassroots podcast aims for connections across nationwide church

The hosts of The MennoCast, pictured clockwise from top left, are: Carrie Lehn, pastor of Ottawa Mennonite Church; Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg; and Ryan Dueck, pastor of Lethbridge (Alta.) Mennonite Church. (Screenshot courtesy of Moses Falco)

The MennoCast, a new podcast aimed at connecting Mennonites across Canada, launched on June 23.

“It’s been a dream for years. I’m just so happy that it’s out!” says Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, and one of The MennoCast hosts. “It’s like we accomplished the goal! But it’s just the beginning.”

Rockway community fosters safe and healthy learning spaces

‘Austin’ stands ready to filter the air in a classroom at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., and keep it circulating. Rockway supporters donated enough funds to purchase all the ‘Austins’ the school needs for September. (Rockway Mennonite Collegiate photo)

In April, prior to Ontario schools returning to online learning, two Rockway Mennonite Collegiate families set out to make the learning spaces in the school safer for students. They introduced “Austin,” a HEPA-air-filtration system that improves air circulation and quality in indoor spaces.

Mennonite organizations look to help with B.C. forest fires

A July 1 satellite image of the forest fire that destroyed much of the village of Lytton, B.C., this summer. (Antti Lipponen image / Creative Commons Licence (http://bit.ly/cclicence2-0))

When the village of Lytton, B.C,. was nearly destroyed by wildfires in mid-August, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C. was among those that moved to help. This is one of more than 260 fires in the province this summer that have burned 650,000 hectares, with hot temperatures, dry conditions and high winds exacerbating the situation.

Gutter cleaning fundraiser for Wi-Fi boosters

Florence Irasubiza of the Democratic Republic of Congo, left, and Helena Chokpelleh, a Liberian who attends Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, clean gutters as a fundraiser to buy Wi-Fi boosters for low-income newcomer families. Community connector Emmanuel Mbonimpa is in front of the ladder. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Helena Chokpelleh of Holyrood Mennonite Church, left, and Goanar Tut of South Sudanese Mennonite Church, hold up the certificates they received in July 2021 after completing the Civic Engagement by Newcomer Youth program at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. Tut’s dog is named “Scottie.” (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Two Mennonite high school students from African countries were interviewed and accepted into the Civic Engagement by Newcomer Youth program last fall through the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. One of the requirements for the participants is to identify a problem or issue in the community they care about and come up with a plan to address that issue in some way.

Staying strong

Dear to the hearts of congregants at Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church over the past year of the pandemic are two prayer books used for the weekly midday prayers, the children’s prayer boxes and a bookshelf quilt. (Photo by Alissa Bender)

At a time when many churches are dealing with declining numbers in their pews, Hamilton (Ont.) Mennonite Church has grown. Membership in 1965 was 28; before the pandemic attendances averaged about 70 each Sunday; then, in 2020, attendance more than doubled.

Plaque honours Mennonite maids of Vancouver

Young Mennonite women served as domestics to help their families repay debt. (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Mennonite women pose in front of the Mary Martha Home. (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

A group of young women from the earliest Mennonite Brethren Girls’ Home (Bethel Home). (Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Women enjoying some music at the General Conference Girls’ Home (Mary Martha Home)(Photo courtesy of Ruth Derksen Siemens)

Wearing stiff, uncomfortable uniforms was expected of the Mennonite girls and women who worked as house maids in Vancouver from the 1930s to the ’60s. (Mennonite Historical Society of B.C. photo)

A new plaque honours the young Mennonite women who worked as domestic help in Vancouver in the mid-20th century.

An initiative of The Places That Matter, this is No. 89 of 125 commemorations erected by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation plaque project, launched in 2011 with a grant from the Government of Canada’s Celebrate Vancouver 125.

Renewing life on the stage

Henry Schroeder, chair of the Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre board, began acting with the troupe in 1974. ‘Our productions these days are much more modest efforts, but the creative energy and the love of theatre are still there,” he says. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre cast on the set of Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) presented in 1979 at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre, which, at that time, seated more than 1,600 people. On opening night, the box office had to put up the SRO (sold right out) sign. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

‘Our productions these days are much more modest efforts, but the creative energy and the love of theatre are still there,” says Henry Schroeder, chair of the Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre board. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Catherine Enns, right, acts in Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre’s production of Hamlet, presented in 1984 at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre. It was a full-length production, performed all in German. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Mennonites are sometimes associated with their four-part harmony rather than their acting, but one group has been making a name for Mennonites in the theatre for decades. Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre, a not-for-profit amateur community theatre company, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.

Springridge Mennonite considers the birds of the Bible

American robin (Photo by Asher Warkentin)

Pigeon (Photo by Asher Warkentin)

American avocet (Photo by Asher Warkentin)

Black-capped chickadee (Photo by Asher Warkentin)

Great horned owl (Photo by Asher Warkentin)

Pelican with broken wing photo, taken in Frank Lake, Alta. (Photo by Lois Everett)

Pelican, taken in Frank Lake, Alta. (Photo by Lois Everett)

Who knew that ostriches are mentioned multiple times in the Bible? Job 39:13 says: “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and the feathers of the stork.”

An Indigenous woman’s journey and advice to Mennonites

Tree Bird stands with her youngest son, Morrison, at the memorial service held by Osler Mennonite Church in response to the findings of unmarked graves at residential school sites. (Photo by Susan Braun)

She was born Danielle Dubois and placed in foster care at age three. She stayed in five different foster homes until, shortly before her fifth birthday, the Loewen family adopted her and gave her a new name.

Now known as Theresa Loewen, she grew up on a farm west of Saskatoon and says she “was immersed in the Mennonite world.”

Congregation holds memorial service for graves at residential school sites

Osler Mennonite Church gathers in the local cemetery on Canada Day for a memorial service in honour of children who died at Indian Residential Schools. (Photo by Susan Braun)

Osler Mennonite Church congregants gathered on Canada Day, July 1, in the local cemetery next door, to sing some hymns, share their sorrow and pray together. But it wasn’t one of their own they were grieving. The congregation met instead to grieve in solidarity with its Indigenous neighbours on the finding of unmarked graves at Indian Residential School sites.

Summer camping returns to Squeah

With a modified program, B.C.’s Camp Squeah is welcoming campers again this summer. (Photo courtesy of Camp Squeah)

Camp Squeah is open for business this summer, although in a modified format. (Photo courtesy of Camp Squeah)

After a too-quiet 2020, when summer camps were cancelled due to the pandemic, Camp Squeah of Hope, B.C., is once again a place to hear the sounds of children’s laughter and families gathering this summer.

Bake sale, borscht and bouncy castles

Crowds will be back for the 2021 Festival for World Relief sponsored by MCC B.C., to be held on Sept. 17 and 18. (Photo courtesy of MCC B.C.)

Vereniki remains a popular food choice for those attending the annual MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief, to be held on Sept. 17 and 18. (Photo courtesy of MCC B.C.)

A September tradition in British Columbia is returning with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C. Festival for World Relief, scheduled in Abbotsford on Sept. 17 and 18.

MDS Canada, MCC complete office renovation project in Timmins

MDS Canada volunteers Joe Bless and Nic Hamm of Vineland United Mennonite Church, and Dave Brubacher of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, with the special mitts given them by the MCC Indigenous Neighbours program as a token of thanks for their work on the MCC office in Timmins, Ont. (Photo by Lyndsay Mollins Koene)

In light of the news about the unmarked graves of children at former residential schools in B.C., Saskatchewan and other parts of the country, the work of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Indigenous Neighbours office in Timmins, Ont., took on new resonance for volunteers.

Toronto church podcast offers a ‘call to rest’

TUMC On Air

A proposal made by Toronto United Mennonite Church’s worship committee has evolved into a new podcast project called “TUMC On Air.”

Hosts Peter Haresnape and Michele Rizoli, the church’s pastors, explore new ways of conducting church solely through audio. The podcast encourages congregational members to disengage their eyes and focus on listening.

Former Mennonite church building vandalized

The former meeting place of Horse Lake Mennonite Church had some unwelcome visitors on the evening of June 21. Vandals threw rocks and bricks and broke every window of the historic site. (Photo courtesy of Patty Neufeld)

Every window in the former Horse Lake Mennonite Church building was broken when vandals threw bricks and rocks through them, both from the inside and the outside. (Photo courtesy of Patty Neufeld)

Shards of broken glass litter window sills and floors in the former Horse Lake Mennonite Church building. (Photo courtesy of Patty Neufeld)

“When I first saw it, I thought, ‘We might as well burn it down.’” says Patty Neufeld, of the former Horse Lake Mennonite Church building. “It was really depressing.”

The church building was vandalized sometime during the evening of June 21. Though nothing appears to have been stolen, every window in the 111-year-old building was broken.

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