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Walking and talking along the trail

Drummers welcome walkers at the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse, Fort Langley, B.C., to begin the Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation on May 31. (Photo by Ian Funk)

Walkers approach the former St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission, B.C., on the final day of the Walk for Reconciliation on June 2. (Photo by Deborah Dejong)

A group walks from the Fort Langley United Church to the Kwantlen Nation Longhouse to begin B.C.’s fourth annual Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation. (Photo by Ian Funk)

In solidarity with their First Nations neighbours, Mennonites in the Fraser Valley joined others in a Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation from May 31 to June 2.

The event was a partnership between Mennonite Central Committee B.C., Mennonite Church Canada, and several other denominations, including Anglican, the United Church and Christian Reformed Church. 

The women of Alberta rediscover Mary

Valerie Proudfoot of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, presents Irma Fast Dueck with a picture of a Mennonite Mary. Entitled ‘Mennonitische Madonna,’ the artwork by Helena Dueck of Pennsylvania was originally given to Proudfoot in 1986 as a gift of encouragement. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

“We grew up never talking about Mary. It was like the Catholics got Mary in the divorce settlement and Mennonites got a 30-minute sermon,” said Irma Fast Dueck in her opening talk at the annual Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat held from June 7 to 9 at the Sunnyside Retreat Centre in Sylvan Lake.

‘My place is right here’

Muriel Bechtel, right, and Dennis Flaming, organizers of the 'My Place is Right Here' play and joint fundraising event, are pictured with Alie Teetzel-Edmondstone and Yasmine Mohamed, representatives of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, who accepted the food donations. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was all about working together for the good of the local Cambridge community when Preston and Wanner Mennonite churches partnered with a local theatre group to support the work of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

Muslims learn about Mennonites

Over coffee and Turkish sweets at The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, Jim Loepp Thiessen, left, has an animated conversation with Faruk Ekinci and Mustafa Ustan while Mustafa Jr. listens in. These Turkish Muslims were interested to learn that many Mennonites also came to Canada as refugees. (Photo by Barb Draper)

On April 30, several Muslim families from Waterloo Region toured The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, in order to understand more about Mennonites.

Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church extended the invitation as part of his effort to foster respect and mutual understanding between Mennonites and Muslims, something he has been working at over many years. 

Rooted in community

Mary Funk stands in the community garden at Jubilee Mennonite Church’s Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Anna Marie Geddert, community minister at Jubilee Mennonite Church, and Serena Traa emcee the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

More than a hundred people gathered at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Winnipeg for the launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The ribbon cutting marked the official launch of the Community Roots Resource Centre, which has been more than a decade in the making. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

“If an alien ship were to come take our church away, would anyone notice?”

This is the question that members of Jubilee Mennonite Church asked themselves more than a decade ago. When they realized the answer might be no, they dedicated themselves to being an active presence in their community.

Exploring ‘flourishing congregations’ in secular society

The Flourishing Congregations Institute’s Joel Thiessen, holding the microphone, speaks at Columbia Bible College on May 4. The seminar was sponsored by the Mennonite Faith and Learning Society in conjunction with Columbia Bible College. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Key factors surrounding flourishing congregations in Canada, and how congregations can thrive and grow in an age of diminishing importance of the church in society, were the topics for a May 4 seminar entitled “Flourishing congregations: From understanding to practice.”

Coming in the front door

Charles Olfert, with white cane, participates in a simulation exercise as part of the Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification Program. Pictured with Olfert is classmate Cal Schuler and his service dog, Sierra. (ABE Factor, Inc. photo by Samantha Proulx)

Charles Olfert is enthusiastic about creating buildings that meet their users’ needs. A principal architect with AODBT Architecture + Interior Design, he recently applied that passion to the study of accessibility.

‘I am getting help now’

Guerres Lucien, outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, is a participant in an MCC-supported community mental-health project with partner Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian branch of Partners in Health. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Noel Derenis, centre, who has major depression, stands outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, with her team of community mental health workers Joseph Benissois, left, and Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, who have helped Derenis to regain energy to care for herself and her family. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

“Close your eyes and imagine you are walking to your garden,” says Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, a community mental-health worker. His calm, soothing voice carries over the din of the nearby street market and the curious chatter of the children watching nearby.

Calgary church offers space for community events

The group Hymn performs at the Bright Lights Festival at Theatre 1308 in Calgary on Feb. 24. (Theatre 1308 photo)

Dale Taylor, Calgary Inter-Mennonite Church’s congregational chair, is pictured in the basement reception area of Theatre 1308. (Photo by John Longhurst)

“Light up the church.”

That’s what members of Calgary Inter-Mennonite decided they wanted to do when asked about ways to engage with their local community.

What that meant for the congregation of about 40 households was making their building, located in the northeast part of the city, available for use by others during the week—not only on Sunday mornings by congregants.

Tuesdays at Faith

Tuesday’s Book Club at Faith Mennonite Church includes, from left to right: Sonja Kuli, Joan Enns, Anne Reimer, Nancy Hogendyk and Rita Unrau.

Tuesday’s Book Club at Faith Mennonite Church includes, from left to right: Anne Reimer, Nancy Hogendyk, Rita Unrau and Linda Thiessen-Belch.

Rita Unrau shows off one of the many ‘encouragement cards’ that have been distributed in Faith Mennonite Church’s pews.

McKayla and her grandma, Marianne Dyck, pose for a shot while making vegetarian chili in Faith Mennonite Church’s kitchen.

Like at many Mennonite churches, the back of any given pew at Faith Mennonite in Leamington includes a blue hymnal, an offering envelope, and, for the lucky few, a small, colourful, hand-made encouragement card. These one-of-a-kind cards are something new and they point to a wily group of seniors who are helping to bring new energy into the life of the congregation.

‘It’s all worship’

Refuge de Paix, Sherbrooke, Que., a Spanish-speaking congregation ministering to Hispanic refugees are welcomed into full membership in MC Eastern Canada by MC Eastern Canada moderator Arli Klassen, left, and Henry Paetkau, right, MC Canada interim executive minister. (D. Michael Hostetler)

Markham Christian Worship Centre, Markham, Ont., a Tamil-speaking congregation with roots in Sri Lanka. (CM photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Representatives of 107 congregations from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick gathered at Steinmann Mennonite Church for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering on April 26 and 27, framed around the theme of “Deepening our relationship with God.” 

Finding the balance between grace and responsibility

Friends and neighbours join residents at The Vine and Table for a birthday celebration. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

It’s been eight months since Thomas and Terri Lynn Friesen opened their Saskatoon home as The Vine and Table intentional community. For Terri Lynn, those eight months have been “an interesting season . . . of challenge and great joy.”

Breaking through the screen

WMEMS Bedson students in grades 6 to 8 participate in a coding club, where they learn to write code for building websites. (Photo by David Stoesz)

Screens.

They are what many people look at to check the time, talk to their friends, prepare for meetings and unwind at the end of the day. But it’s not just those who can buy devices for themselves who are using them. Children are now figuring out how to work phones and tablets before they can even walk or talk. 

What to expect at MC Canada’s annual general meeting?

Q. What is the purpose of the delegate session at Gathering 2019?
A.
 Delegates will review and ratify Joint Council actions; receive and review reports from our programs—International Witness, Indigenous-Settler Relations and CommonWord—as well as the regional churches; and act on any recommendations coming from Joint Council or regional churches.

Two centuries of worship, a century of service

Rainham Mennonite Church has been worshipping for more than two centuries. (Rainham Mennonite Church file photo)

For more than a century, the women of Rainham Mennonite Church—a tiny congregation just off of Highway 3 near the north shore of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario—have continued a sewing circle, one that is now augmented by women from the community. The group still quilts regularly during the fall and winter. 

‘Queer and quirky and profoundly worthy of wonder’

Tamara Shantz, left, and Thea Andres lead the ‘Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church’ event at Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. (PiE photo)

The gathering hymn, “God Welcomes All,” called some 120 people to worship at the opening of the “Beyond binaries: Creating an affirming church” event hosted by Waterloo North Mennonite Church on April 6. 

Sharing muffins and friendship

Muffins and fruit, supplied in part by members of MC Saskatchewan churches, greet students at the University of Saskatchewan Faith Leaders Council breakfast program on Thursday mornings. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

In 2017, when Kirsten Hamm-Epp was appointed to the newly formed Faith Leaders Council at the University of Saskatchewan, she likely didn’t imagine she would be hosting breakfast for up to 50 students every week.

MC Canada primer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

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