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Century-old photos shed new light on Mennonites

Johann E. Funk took the cover photo for Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890–1940 in 1903.

Photographer Peter H. Klippenstein took this portrait in the 1910s. Subject unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Peter H. Klippenstein took this photo of the Altbergthal village road in the 1930s. Subjects unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Peter G. Hamm took this photo of a horse and wagon in the 1920s. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)

Hundred-year-old images on fragile glass negatives, discovered in a dusty barn in the heritage village of Neubergthal, Man., open a window to Mennonite life in Manitoba in the early 20th century.

CBC graduates class online

Ken Esau, professor of Old Testament at Columbia Bible College, blows a ram’s horn as he addresses the graduating class on what it means to seek first God’s kingdom. (Screen grab of Columbia Bible College 2020 commencement ceremony (YouTube))

Graduation for Columbia Bible College’s class of 2020 looked a little different this year. Rather than proudly walking across the stage in cap and gown to receive their diplomas, the graduates took part in a virtual online commencement ceremony on April 18. The college had dismissed classes earlier in the year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

‘We are one body’

Leah Reesor-Keller, the incoming MC Eastern Canada executive minister, is pictured at her computer while participating in the regional church’s annual gathering, this year via Zoom. (Photo by Luke Reesor-Keller)

Delegates to the MC Eastern Canada annual gathering voted electronically on motions presented as poll questions in the meeting held on April 25, through Zoom, a videoconferencing application. After the voting was completed, results were immediately available onscreen. (Photo by Virginia A. Hostetler)

“We are one body in Christ . . . even when scattered. We are members of one another. We can still encourage and pray for and learn from each other.”

Deepening their walk with each other in spite of social isolation

Terry Stefaniuk, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s moderator, welcomes delegates and guests to the regional church’s 2020 annual delegate sessions. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

Ryan Siemens, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s executive minister invites congregational representatives to share how their churches are coping with and adapting to social isolation. (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)

After a year spent exploring the theme, “Deepening our walk with each other,” Mennonite Church Saskatchewan continued, inadvertently, to ponder what this means during its annual delegate sessions (ADS).

When COVID-19 forced the postponement of the regional church’s annual general meeting, slated for mid-March, planners scheduled a virtual meeting, via Zoom, for April 25.

Kids talk COVID-19

Matoli and Zavi Braun deGroot enjoy the rhythms of farm life during the pandemic. (Photo by Will Braun)

COVID-19 has permeated the collective psyche. And although kids may not be watching The National or spending their coveted screen time on the Health Canada webpage, COVID-19 is on their minds. I asked several parents to ask their kids—aged 5 to 13—about the new reality. Below are some of their responses, verbatim. 

A new kind of ‘whiteout party’

The home windows of Moses Falco, pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, who started the #whiteoutMB movement with Karen Schellenberg. (Photo by Moses Falco)

Tracy Enns, Carman Mennonite Church, joined in by decorating the windows of her workplace with hearts. (Photo courtesy of Karen Schellenberg)

Karen Schellenberg, Interim Pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, came up with the idea for #whiteoutMB. (Photo courtesy of Karen Schellenberg)

Over the past two years, thousands of Manitobans have gathered in the streets of Winnipeg to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets in the hockey playoffs. Many were hoping to don their all-white outfits and join these “whiteout parties” again this spring, but the novel coronavirus prevented that.

Mennonites explore virtual worship

The Easter worship service of Cedar Valley Church in Mission, B.C., was livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. It included singers and instrumentalists performing from separate locations, a message from Pastor Rob Ayer, and information about a Minecraft Easter egg hunt for children. (Photo from YouTube video)

“We’ve been thrown out of the boat and now we’re learning to walk on water!”

MCC set to address COVID-19 threats

Thiciano Pareja Saucedo, 8, washes her hands at El Comedor de Niños, an after-school program for children in the Montero area of Bolivia, about an hour from Santa Cruz. One of its main goals is to improve nutrition and health outcomes in the community by teaching children about healthy eating, gardening and hygiene. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Middle East Council of Churches, an MCC partner, distributed MCC relief kits, which contain hygiene supplies, to the most vulnerable displaced people and host community members in a neighbourhood in the Syriac Orthodox diocese in Aleppo, Syria, in 2016. This year, MCC’s partners in Syria and Lebanon will distribute individual hygiene kits and food to help people protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Names are withheld for security reasons. (Photo courtesy of MECC)

As COVID-19 spreads and worsens, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues its worldwide work while attending to the health and well-being of its staff. 

Caring during COVID-19 crisis

House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre, usually a hub for a diverse range of community programs, is quiet, its programs cancelled or modified due to pandemic protocols outlined in the notices on the door. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre, usually a hub for a diverse range of community programs, is quiet, its programs cancelled or modified due to pandemic protocols outlined in the notices on the door.
Notices on the door of House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre in Waterloo, Ont., explain the pandemic protocols that have led to the closure of the centre and the cancellation or modification of its diverse range of community programs. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

How do you stay home when you don’t have a home? How do you physically isolate when you already seem invisible? How do you wash your hands frequently when public facilities are closed?

Doing justice in a pandemic

Prison visits through Person to Person aren’t happening in person right now. Volunteers are encouraged to write letters to inmates instead. (Photographed simulation featuring restorative justice staff and volunteers.) (Photo by Amy Smith)

COVID-19 has altered the lives of most Canadians, but for those in prison and those reintegrating into society after prison terms, the pandemic’s impact is enormous.

Musician offers online singalong

Singing into an iPad propped on top of a stack of books, Bryan Moyer Suderman leads an online singalong from his home, to help people connect and find encouragement and hope during days of physical distancing. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

“A little bit of yeast makes the whole dough rise . . . you do your part; I’ll do mine,” sings Bryan Moyer Suderman, using his body as a percussion instrument. But instead of singing at a concert or a worship service, the itinerant musician is at home singing into an iPad propped up on a stack of books, doing his part to practise physical distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan health-care professionals reflect on COVID-19

Erik and Cara Epp are shown with their daughter. (Photo courtesy of Cara Epp)

While many people are staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some, like Erik and Cara Epp, continue to work because their jobs are considered essential. The Epps, who live in Rosthern, both work in health care. 

As a pharmacist, Erik divides his workdays between Rosthern’s two pharmacies. 

Mennonite Church Alberta holds virtual AGM

A screen shot of participants at this year’s MC Alberta annual general meeting, held online using the Zoom platform. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

With COVID-19 limiting the ability to connect in person, virtual meetings now seem to be the wave of the future. Mennonite Church Alberta had already been using the Zoom platform to hold small provincial committee meetings online, but when its annual general meeting (AGM) was cancelled, the regional church decided to explore whether a larger meeting with Zoom could work as well.

Nourishing body, mind and spirit

Realizing the interconnectedness of mental health and wellness may be key in coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced Canadians to learn to cope with forced isolation, loss of work and social events, and an uncertain future. For a church community accustomed to weekly worship services and small group gatherings, learning how to maintain a sense of community and foster wellness among members presents an unprecedented challenge.

Grebelites continue in community amid COVID-19 separation

At Grebel, students are craving community connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured, apartment dwellers visit with Grebel’s director of operations, Paul Penner, outside their window, and with the director of student services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr, via video chat. (Photo by Anna Kuepfer)

Most people’s lives have shifted dramatically in the past few weeks, as they grapple with social isolation, educational upheaval, job changes, pandemic preparations and health-care emergencies surrounding COVID-19. Conrad Grebel University College is no different.

COVID-19 has significant impact for MDS

Curtis and Heather Funk of Winkler, Man., work on a house in Marianna, Fla., one of the Mennonite Disaster Service projects now shut down due to COVID-19. (Photo by Paul Hunt)

For Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), COVID-19 has had a significant impact on operations.

It started on March 13, when the organization closed all current projects in locations across the United States due to the coronavirus; there were no projects in operation in Canada. A week later, it suspended all summer programs in both countries.

In a time of uncertainty

The sign outside Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., announces the stark reality of church closure due to health concerns. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus prompting provincial health authorities to recommend social distancing, including public gatherings not to exceed 250 people, Fraser Valley Mennonite churches scrambled to react appropriately for the third Sunday of Lent on March 15.

Heading home early

Siaka Traoré, a Mennonite Pastor of the Eglise Evangelique Mennonite in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

When Pastor Siaka Traoré packed his bags for his trip to Canada and the United States in early March, it never crossed his mind that almost every event and visit he had planned would be cancelled. 

‘I have hope now’

Participants in East Zorra Mennonite Church’s learning trip to the Philippines are pictured with MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja in front of the Coffee for Peace sign. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

The East Zorra Mennonite Church learning tour group gathers at the Davao City welcome sign, in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, where they visited tribal groups and witnessed the peacebuilding efforts of MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

(Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church gather with the Bagobo Tagabawa Tribe as part of celebrations that included dancing, music, prayer and food. The tribe hopes to establish itself as quality coffee producers. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church listen to an elder from the Talaandig Tribe. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Twelve people from East Zorra Mennonite Church, near Tavistock, Ont., knew they would be impacted by their 10-day learning tour to the Philippines in early January. What they didn’t expect was how much their visit would impact the Indigenous people they met.

“I have hope now,” one of the local coffee farmers told the group from East Zorra. 

Looking forward during a time of transition

The minutes, board actions, nominations slate and budget at this year’s MC Manitoba annual gathering were all approved. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Gerald Gerbrandt, MC Manitoba moderator, left, and Ken Warkentin are pictured at the regional 2020 annual gathering. Warkentin will be leaving his role as executive minister after nine years in the position. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

“Where are we headed? What are the challenges we are facing?” At the 2020 Mennonite Church Manitoba annual gathering, the regional church focused on these big questions it is addressing in the coming year.

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