People

Music builds bridges to Africa

Heidi Epp leads a workshop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo about peace and conflict transformation.

Heidi Epp rehearses a duet with a student in DRC for a concert held in June.

Heidi Epp says farewell to the Peace Foundation team in DRC after spending two weeks training leaders and sharing resources on music and peace.

A chance connection on social media led Heidi Epp, a music teacher from B.C., to travel to Africa this summer to teach music and peace and conflict transformation.

 

Biking and hiking raise funds for Alberta organizations

Cyclists (left to right) Ernie Engbrecht, Edgar Dueck, Dave Neufeldt, Doug Wiebe, Ken Esau, Zachary Wirzba and Ron Esau raised $10,000 for MCC on July 15. (Photo by Annie Dyck)

The annual Hike-a-thon for Camp Valaqua involved walking the north end of Jumpingpound Ridge on June 11. (Photo by Jon Olfert)

This summer, Alberta supporters of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Camp Valaqua got physical to raise funds.

Emmaus House concludes decade of intentional community living

Susan and Rod Reynar founded Emmaus House, an intentional community for university students in Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Fifty-six different people lived at Emmaus House over its eight years of operation. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Rod and Susan Reynar made a huge life change in 2014 when they moved from Alberta to Manitoba and started Emmaus House, an intentional community for university students in Winnipeg. This spring, they said goodbye to their last group of students and closed their doors.

Missionary to Argentina dies

Frieda and Delbert Erb retired in Argentina more than 20 years ago. (Mennonite Board of Missions file photo)

Delbert Erb, who served God in Argentina for more than seven decades, died June 14, in Buenos Aires. “He decided that his heart and ashes would remain in Choele Choel, [Argentina],” said Rafael Stábile, pastor of the Mennonite church where Delbert and his wife Frieda Schellenberg Erb were members.

Bursary helps recipients develop and explore

Alongside his degree work, Bryant Neufeldt has been working at CMU’s Folio café. It has been a great way for him to engage with friends, fellow students and faculty, and to find a joy and love for making coffee and non-caffeinated beverages. (Photo courtesy of Bryant Neufeldt)

Danika Warkentin

In 2021, there were three recipients of Mennonite Church Alberta tuition bursaries, which offer an incentive for young people who attend an MC Alberta congregation and have enrolled in a Mennonite/Anabaptist post-secondary institution.

A gift to share

Reuben Unger poses next to one of his wildfowl carvings at the World Carving Championship in Ocean City, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Reuben Unger)

Unger’s most recent sculpture depicts a roadrunner chasing down a Texas horned lizard. (Photo courtesy of Reuben Unger)

A meadowlark created by Unger. (Photo courtesy of Reuben Unger)

Unger created this winter sculpture with two puffy chickadees for a woman’s 85th birthday. Chickadees were her lifelong favourite. (Photo courtesy of Reuben Unger)

"Well, I am a strong believer that all people have been given a gift,” says Reuben Unger of Clavet. “Whatever it is, everyone has a gift. If you have a gift, you use the gift, and don’t be afraid to tell people that you think it is a gift.”

Humble confessions, compelling stories

Norman Meade and his late wife Thelma, left, are pictured with Neill and Edith von Gunten along the Manigotagan River in 2010. (Photo courtesy of the von Guntens)

Walking Together: Intercultural Stories of Love and Acceptance (book cover)

As Neill von Gunten and his Black companions departed an increasingly volatile Chicago rally at which Martin Luther King Jr. had taken a brick to the head, KKK members and other whites attacked their bus at a red light. Bricks flew through windows. Rioters rocked the bus.

 

‘She cared a lot about everybody’

Members of Gail Schellenberg’s family gathered at IJC’s new training centre named in her honour, for its dedication. Pictured from left to right: Bob Schellenberg, Jesse Wolfe, Selenna Wolfe, Kim Thiessen, Byron Thiessen and Brenda Schellenberg. (Photo courtesy of Initiatives for Just Communities)

A newly renovated training centre at Initiatives for Just Communities was dedicated to its former executive director and lifelong educator, Gail Schellenberg. (Photo courtesy of Initiatives for Just Communities)

Gail Schellenberg influenced the lives of thousands of people during her career as a teacher and principal in Mennonite high schools across Canada, and later as executive director of Initiatives for Just Communities (IJC). She died from cancer in 2020, but her legacy lives on in people’s memories.

Rural remnant, earthy sensibilities

Ernie Hildebrand on his farm south of Crystal City, Man. (Photo courtesy of Ernie Hildebrand)

Ernie Hildebrand, standing, with his brother David and the farm dog on Cypress Creek. (Photo courtesy of Ernie Hildebrand)

Ernie Hildebrand intended to spend his life farming along the banks of the Cypress Creek, where he grew up in south-central Manitoba. And while Hildebrand, now 80, and his wife Judy currently live less than a mile from where Ernie played as a boy, a pastoral calling took them on a 23-year journey away from those creek-side sheep pastures.

‘A positive presence in Montreal’

Luke Martin (left) hears accolades from Dora-Marie Goulet, whom he has mentored at Maison de l’amitié in Montreal.

In the middle of Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood is a small and much-loved community centre, the Maison de l’amitié (MA) or House of Friendship. This unassuming brick building is a bustling place, fueled by the desire for community and social change. On any given day you will see people wandering in to volunteer or to benefit from the variety of services that this centre offers.

Two MKS graduating students share their stories

Tinsae Negusu is graduating from Meserete Kristos Seminary this year. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Graduating student Ermako Awano enjoys bringing shalom to Meserete Kristos Seminary by tending the seminary’s garden. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Werner De Jong teaches at Meserete Kristos Seminary (MKS); his classes are mostly made up of third- and fourth-year students. Fourth-year students in the English program are required to do a research paper, which they must defend at the end of the term. Two of the graduating students are profiled below.

Ermako Awano

Peacebuilding and relationship building go hand in hand

For Ben Borne, his work is not only professional, it’s also deeply personal, as he is both Saulteaux from Yellow Quill First Nation and Mennonite. (Photo courtesy of Ben Borne)

It’s hard to imagine when Ben Borne finds time to sleep.

“I have four jobs,” he says with an easy laugh. “It’s busy, but I love what I do.”

Borne works for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan, teaches at First Nations University of Canada, and is the co-president/co-founder of Symmetry Public Relations.

Pastor reaches out to young adults using social media

Members of the ‘40 Minutes’ group include Pastor Anna-Lisa Salo, top left, Danika Peters, Cassidy Brown, Taylor Derksen and Dayna Goerzen. (Screenshot by Anna-Lisa Salo)

Anna-Lisa Salo, pastor of Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, has taken advantage of Zoom’s free 40 minute limit. Two years ago, she reached out to four young women from her congregation who were heading off to post-secondary institutions.

Local artists make Stations of the Cross public

(Photos by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

(Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

        

  

During Holy Week, bright pops of colour appeared in a downtown alley amid the brown slush and litter of a Winnipeg spring.

Deborah Lynn Sprunger

Deborah Lynn Sprunger (1950-2022)

Deborah Lynn Sprunger, 71, of Lancaster, Pa., passed away on March 27, 2022, at Lancaster General Hospital surrounded by her loving family. Deborah was the loving wife of Rev. JW Sprunger.

She was born in Presque Isle, Maine, on April 17, 1950, to Clayton and Lynette Coffin.

International Witness workers arrive in Ethiopia after delays

Werner De Jong enjoys coffee with his students. (Photo courtesy of Joanne De Jong)

After a number of delays, Werner and Joanne De Jong arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in mid-January in order to begin their work as Mennonite Church Canada International Witness workers at the Meserete Kristos Seminary (MKS). The road has been rocky for the couple, as they navigate restrictions, visas and an encroaching civil war.

Nah Yo-dle: Low German Wordle

Jared Falk created a Low German version of Wordle, the newest word puzzle craze racing around the world. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

You may have just done a double take, but no, this is not a Daily Bonnet article. A Manitoba Mennonite really did create a Low German version of Wordle, a word puzzle craze whose popularity skyrocketed in December 2021.

Doug Klassen’s contract renewed

Doug Klassen looks forward to beginning his second term with planning for meaningful fellowship, worship and discernment at Gathering 2022 in Edmonton. His first term began in June 2019. (MC Canada photo)

Doug Klassen’s term as executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada has been renewed for a second three-year term beginning June 1.

“We received strong affirmation for Doug’s renewal from Joint Council,” says Calvin Quan, moderator for Mennonite Church Canada.

Leonard Doell receives lifetime achievement award

Leonard Doell speaks at a City of Saskatoon event honouring residential school survivors. (Photos courtesy of Leonard Doell)

A group of leaders from the Stoney Knoll Band, and the Mennonite and Lutheran communities meet to share stories, information and connection. Doell is pictured in the back row, left.

In 2017, Senator Lilian Dyck invited members of the Stoney Knoll Band, as well the Mennonite and Lutheran communities, to share their story with MPs and senators at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. They are gathered outside the Parliament Building to commemorate that event. Leonard Doell is pictured second from left.

A Saskatchewan man was recently recognized for his decades-long work in peacemaking and community building, especially between Mennonite settlers and Indigenous Peoples. Leonard Doell was honoured with the 2022 Global Citizen Lifetime Achievement Award from the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation.

Growing a business during the pandemic

A floral arrangement designed by Lydia Rekrut. (Photo by Lydia Rekrut)

Lydia Rekrut sets up a floral arrangement. (Photo courtesy of Creekview Floral archives)

It was at the end of February 2020 that Lydia Rekrut shook hands with the owner of a floral shop in Thorold, Ont., and bought the business, which included the stock and equipment. March was spent relocating to another building and doing renovations. The official opening was to be April 1, 2020.

In praise of small churches

Eyebrow Mennonite Church members participate in a sunrise Easter morning service. (Photo by Sharon Schultz)

Eyebrow Mennonite Church hosts a Christmas Eve service for the community. (Photo by Sharon Schultz)

Throughout the pandemic, many Mennonite church congregations have faced the challenges of lower attendance, shrinking budgets and uneasy questions about the future.

Saskatoon cyclist encourages year-round active transit

Stephanie Siemens snaps a selfie while cycling along the South Saskatchewan River. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Siemens)

Stephanie Siemens takes in the prairie scenery on one of her cycling adventures. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Siemens)

Winter BYXE Week, an event designed to promote winter cycling in Saskatoon, was held from Feb. 14 to 21. Saskatoon residents were encouraged to try cycling for winter transportation, exercise and leisure.

For Stephanie Siemens, two-wheeled transit in the city is a year-round passion.

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