People

‘What will happen to us now?’

Jake Buhler’s mother, Maria, top left, is pictured with her family before tragedy struck in 1918. (Photo courtesy of Jake Buhler)

COVID-19 has given Jake Buhler pause to reflect on his family history and how it has been shaped by pandemics.

In 1918, when both the Spanish flu and tuberculosis were wreaking havoc in South Russia, Buhler’s mother Maria was an 11-year-old girl growing up in the Mennonite village of Grigoriewka. She was the second of seven children born to Helena and Heinrich Pauls. 

When change is your only option

Chris Mullet Koop’s son Timothy works on the family farm, packing 30 eggs to a tray, that get stacked on skids. Six skids of eggs are picked up once a week. (Photo: Chris Mullet Koop)

When the pandemic hit in March, Chris and Laura Mullet Koop, who own and operate Elmwood Farms Inc., were profoundly impacted. Their farm, located in Jordan, Ont., in the designated green belt area on the Niagara escarpment, is an egg production and grape-growing enterprise, started by Chris’s family in 1932.

Mennonite milestones through an artist’s lens

Lynda Toews painted “Psalm 19” to commemorate the launch of Voices Together. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Toews)

Unintentional figures, like a fish and an eagle, appear in Lynda Toews’s painting. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Toews)

Lynda Toews created a quilt with Cheryl Warkentin, in honour of Mennonite Central Committee’s 100th anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Toews)

Lynda Toews is Bethel Mennonite Church’s artist-in-residence for 2020-21. (Photo courtesy of Lynda Toews)

The year 2020 featured some big moments in the Mennonite world. MennoMedia launched Voices Together, the new worship and song collection; and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) celebrated its centennial.

Canadian students come second, third in binational speech contest

Catherine Bergs, Conrad Grebel University College. Second place

Ronit Goswami, Goshen (Ind.) College. First place.

Jubilee Dueck Thiessen, Canadian Mennonite University. Third place.

Catherine Bergs, a student at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., and Jubilee Dueck Thiessen, a student at Canadian Mennonite University when she gave her speech earlier this year, came second and third in the 2020 intercollegiate C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest administered by Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Christmas pudding a long-time tradition

Ethel Draper copied her mother’s Christmas pudding recipe into her scrapbook of recipes. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Ethel Draper at age 20. (Photo courtesy of Barb Draper)

For many of us, sitting around the table with extended family is a very important part of our Christmas celebration. In my family of origin, the traditional menu included turkey and dressing, while dessert was always iced sugar cookies and fruit salad with cubes of red and green Jell-O. I’m sure each family has its own well-worn food customs.

Pastor uses medical assistance to die

Rennie Regehr and his wife Jenny are pictured with Rennie’s father, John. (Photo courtesy of the Regehr family)

Before his death in November 2019, John Regehr of Winnipeg said he wanted to start a discussion about death and dying.

Regehr, 93, a former Canadian Mennonite Brethren pastor and professor at Mennonite Brethren Bible College (a founding college of Canadian Mennonite University), did just that when he chose to die using medical assistance in dying (MAID).

‘We are going to need more of each other’

Leah Reesor-Keller, recently appointed executive minister of MC Eastern Canada, says regular opportunities to develop leadership gifts when she was growing up helped to prepare her for this role in the regional church. (Photo by Jacquie Reimer)

Leah Reesor-Keller, purple shirt in centre, jumps rope with friends in 1993, in Bwadelorens, Haiti, where she lived with her family for three years between the ages of 6 and 9. She credits her international experiences with helping to prepare her to take on the role of executive minister of MC Eastern Canada. (Photo courtesy of Leah Reesor-Keller)

Leah Reesor-Keller anticipated that her work as the new executive minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada would involve “a lot of talking to people at potlucks.” She was especially looking forward to going to Montreal to eat Haitian food.

‘Do you know any Mennonites?’

Pictured from left to righ: the Bena family is composed of Sephora, Sidney, Sikila with mother Mamissa, Stony, standing, and father Ben. (Photo courtesy of the Bena family)

In 2005, a Congolese Mennonite couple with a 15-month-old baby made a desperate plan to flee through Europe and fly to Calgary to safety. Even though the second Congo war had officially ended in 2003, a thousand people were still dying daily of disease, starvation and violence. Everyone was suffering and afraid.

‘Be bold! Make yourselves known!’

Steven Giugovaz, pastoral intern at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta., is pictured with his wife Emily and their children Luka, Walter and Lahna. (Photo courtesy of Steven Giugovaz)

Giugovaz is not a Mennonite name, but Steven Giugovaz is definitely an Anabaptist. Son of immigrants from Italy and with a Croatian heritage, he has been on a journey that has led him to embracing a Jesus-centred theology whose world isn’t flat, a commitment to peace and an admiration for the early “re-baptizers.”

Women supporting women across borders

Pamela Obonde has worked with women and children in Kenya for the last 17 years. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Pamela Obonde came to Winnipeg from Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2019 to study in the master of arts in peacebuilding and collaborative development program at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba in March, it threatened to foil all her plans.

Minority Mennonites organize a support group

Gabby Martin (left) and Andrea De Avila (right). (Supplied photos. Composite by Betty Avery)

When Gabby Martin mentions that she’s a Mennonite, she’s often met with, “Okay, but where are you from?” Her father is Black and her mother is Syrian; she was adopted by Mennonites. Martin grew up in Langham, Sask., and has been Mennonite her whole life, yet, because of her appearance, it feels like she’s expected to prove it.

Zwiebach from Saint Johanna

Elfrieda Schroeder has become an expert zwiebach maker. (Photo courtesy of Elfrieda Schroder)

My earliest memories of food go back to my childhood in the Chaco, Paraguay, where my family lived from 1947 to 1952. Our family, like the others in our village, were refugees from Ukraine. We had arrived from Germany on the the S.S. Volendam, a Dutch freighter, with nothing but the clothes on our backs.

‘There is always a way’

Pictured from left to right: Grace Ho, Lauren Kong, Michelle Quan and Christen Kong work in the community garden begun by the outreach team of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. The garden became a place of healing and connection in the community. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)

Christen Kong, 27, was part of the community outreach team at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church when the group started a local butterfly garden to encourage pollinators. Kong marvels at how that small garden project became a “community connector” and a place of healing and wholeness.

Friends celebrate Leonard Doell’s long service with MCC

Leonard Doell speaks with Young Chippewayan Chief Sylvia Weenie during the Treaty Six 140th anniversary celebration at Stoney Knoll in 2016. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Leonard Doell (far left) stands with Ray Funk, Jason Johnson, George Kingfisher and Marshall Williams at the Spruce River Folk Festival near Spruce Home, Sask. in 2019. The five men were all part of the film, Reserve 107, which depicts the coming together of Mennonite, Lutheran and Young Chippewayan people in 2006. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

When Leonard Doell was hired as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan’s Native Concerns program coordinator in 1996, he was told his job was “to drink tea with elders.” It was a job description he took to heart. 

Young reader likes story about seniors

Miles Kirkaldy reading Canadian Mennonite (Photo by Jennifer Kirkaldy)

Miles Kirkaldy, who is six years old and just started grade one, enjoys reading Canadian Mennonite. When a new copy comes in the mail, he reads bits and pieces and asks questions about what he reads. When the Sept. 14 issue arrived he asked, “Where does Canadian Mennonite magazine come from? Does our church really make the magazine?” 

From pew to pulpit

Valerie Alipova never imagined that one of the Bethel Mennonite Church offices would be hers when she first came to Canada with Mennonite Voluntary Service in 2015. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Valerie Alipova arrived in Canada for the first time five years ago, on a one-year Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) assignment. In September, she became an associate pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.

An eye for beauty

One of the first photographs that Natalie Stevanus took more than 15 years ago. The early-season snow storm inspired her eye for beauty. She has been taking award-winning photographs ever since.` (Photo by Natalie Stevanus)

Natalie Stevanus loves taking landscape and nature photographs, including birds and flowers. (Photo by Natalie Stevanus)


Natalie Stevanus, 36, of
Bloomingdale, Ont., likes
how her photographs bring
joy to people, which inspires
her to take even more.
(Photo by Jane van Pelt)

‘I can see this church coming’

Fanosie Legesse, right, is pictured in Ethiopia with Norm Dyck, MC Eastern Canada mission minister, left, and Desalegn Abebe, president of Meserete Kristos Church. Their traditional Oromo clothing was a gift from the Waajjira Waldaa Meserete Kristos Regional Church. (Photo courtesy of Norm Dyck)

Fanosie Legesse, right, chats with Aaron Martin at Zion Mennonite Fellowship in Elmira, Ont., where Legesse formerly served as pastor. (Photo by Marilyn Brubacher)

Part educator, part listener, part mentor and part bridge-builder. The mandate for Fanosie Legesse, appointed as Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s intercultural mission minister in March 2020, is broad.

Jill’s Oven Omelette

When I serve omelettes to my bed and breakfast guests, I usually complete their plates with one slice of bacon, one piece of locally made “Mennonite sausage,” a small bowl of fresh fruit with yogurt and granola, and either a slice of whole grain toast or a small portion of homemade hash browned potatoes.

I developed this original recipe as part of a school nutrition program. Read the story behind the recipe here.

Ingredients

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