Global gifts

Mennonite Church Canada’s history of engaging our global neighbours in mission and international church relations began more than 100 years ago. Since that time, the worldwide church has grown significantly. Almost two-thirds of the global Anabaptist community today is African, Asian or Latin American.


Tribes are good (essential, I said in my last column). And yet there is danger when tribal extremes become virulent tribalism. Such tribalism takes what is good and life-giving about a bounded group and morphs it into a destructive, negative force. It proclaims the superiority of one group over another.

Staying put

My family and I moved from Vancouver to Regina in July and are slowly searching for a faith community. So far we’ve attended two churches close to where we live, and with which we would feel comfortable, theologically. When we arrived (late) at both services, the first thing I noticed was that there were mostly older folks sitting in the chairs.

Anna Thiessen, Winnipeg missionary

Photo from Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies/Mennonite Archival Image Database

Missionary to the city of Winnipeg, Anna Thiessen, is seated with some girls she worked with in 1919. Rural life has been an important part of Mennonite life and self-understanding. The city was seen as dangerous and unhealthy and therefore shunned. Mennonite Brethren missionary Anna Thiessen was one of the first Canadian Mennonites who chose to work in the city, beginning in 1915.

Gathering footprints of faith at Mennonite World Conference assembly

The Mennonite Women Canada quilt gathered 160 footprints at MWC assembly. (Photo by Liz Koop)

Antje van Dijk stopped by the Mennonite Women Canada display to chat with Liz Koop. Van Dijk coordinates women’s groups in the Netherlands. (Photo by Liz Koop)

Liz Koop met Ekien-E-Kiag Baudouin, who is planting a Mennonite Church in Durban, South Africa. He wants to connect women from South Africa with women from Canada. (Photo by Liz Koop)

I can hardly find words to describe the experience of worshipping, singing, eating and fellowshipping with about 7,500 others at Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly, held in Harrisburg, Pa., this summer. We came from so many different countries, speaking so many different languages, yet connected to each other by a common confession of faith. What an amazing and inspiring week it was!

The future of MCC

In 1967 Gary Dewarle of Saskatoon (in the checked shirt) helped to build a road at a refugee camp near Saigon, South Vietnam. (Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has long been part of the DNA of the North American Anabaptist church, linking us to the world and providing a sense of relation to “the least of these.” It has served as an informal seminary, immersing thousands of us in realities that have enriched us and, in turn, enriched our friends, family and the church. But that is changing.


On a recent visit to extended family, I greeted my nephew’s wife Emily and their year-old son Kenneth. She immediately thrust her child out to me, introducing him to his “auntie from away.” Like a thirsty desert traveller, I drank in the sweetness of the youngest family member, who settled without protest into my eager arms, stranger though I was to him.


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