People

Time well spent with MCC

The SALTers reunited at Martha and Brent Kuehl’s home on Aug. 19, 2021. Pictured from left to right, front row: Melody Steinman, Martha Kuehl and Lorie Yantzi; and back row: Nadine Moyer, Vi Martin and Marlene Letkeman-Holst. (Photo courtesy of Martha Kuehl)

The Winnipeg SALT unit circa 1983-84. Pictured from left to right, front row: Melody Steinman, Nadine Moyer, Annette Reesor, Vi Martin and Martha Kuehl; and back row: Marlene Letkeman-Holst, Thom Braun, Ruth Braun and Lorie Yantzi. (Photo courtesy of Nadine Moyer)

It has been well over half of their lifetime ago—“38 years to be exact,” said one of the six women who gathered on a warm August evening with their spouses to reminisce about their year of living in an intentional community doing voluntary service. One couldn’t attend the gathering.

Seeing God in the lives of others

Wayne and Carry Dueck, pictured in 2019, enjoy the fruits of their labours on ‘The Land,’ where they planted thousands of coniferous trees over the years. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ric Driediger is pictured in his office at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, where he loves to hear about people’s encounters with God while canoeing. (Photo courtesy of Ric Driediger)

Leonard Doell, right, converses with Chief Sylvia Weenie at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty Six, held at Stoney Knoll in 2016. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Wes Neepin places bag lunches in the pantry box in front of Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert in 2017. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Elaine Presnell is pictured at her workplace, Mourning Glory Funeral Services, in Saskatoon, in 2019. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Eight years ago, I received an e-mail from then editor Dick Benner, asking me whether I’d consider being Canadian Mennonite’s Saskatchewan correspondent.

What does it mean to be a Mennonite?

In I Am A Mennonite, filmmaker Paul Plett begins his journey at home in Manitoba, then travels around the world—including to the Netherlands, pictured—in search of his Mennonite roots and identity. (Photo: Paul Plett / Ode Productions)

Paul Plett’s new film explores his Mennonite identity and heritage at home in Manitoba and across the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Ode Productions)

“What does it mean to be a Mennonite?” This is the question Winnipeg filmmaker Paul Plett seeks to answer in his latest film, I Am A Mennonite.

Plett has been creating an extensive catalogue of movies for 10 years through Ode Productions, the company he founded that focuses on “conscious entertainment.”

Making the best of a bad situation

Florence and Otto Driedger, about 40 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Florence Driedger)

Florence and Otto Driedger stand beside a tree planted in their honour at the dacha (summer home) of Lyudmila Romanenkova (or Lucy as she is known) in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Romanenkova is director of the Family Support and Community Education Centre (or Florence Centre) in Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Florence Driedger)

“How do you deal with a bad situation? What is the best of the worst solutions?”

These are questions Otto Driedger poses as he reflects on the past.

Memories of migration

Ingrid Moehlmann is the instigator of the Memories of Migration: The Russlaender 100 Tour, a weeks-long train trip across Canada, coming in 2023. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The tour will commemorate the work of David Toews, Moehlmann’s great-grandfather, who organized the migration of Mennonites from the Soviet Union to Canada beginning in 1923. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

David Riesen, Moehlmann’s father, requested on his deathbed that the Russlaender migration be remembered. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

It’s been almost 100 years since 1923, when thousands of Mennonites from the Soviet Union began migrating to Canada. A train tour commemorating their journey will wind across Canada in the summer of 2023 to mark the anniversary.

The end of an era at MHC Gallery

Ray Dirks travelled to Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2001 to hear stories from Mennonite families and meet artists for his book, In God’s Image: A Global Anabaptist Family. (Photo courtesy of Ray Dirks)

Ray Dirks founded the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The founder and curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Gallery, Ray Dirks, retired after 23 years of leadership. His career at the gallery, which ended on July 31, has included producing four books and countless exhibits, receiving multiple awards and building dozens of relationships with artists and visitors.

Calligrapher creates facemask artwork for fun, reflection

Wall hanging from used (and laundered) paper facemasks, by Lois Siemens. (Photo by Lois Siemens)

Lois Siemens saw used facemasks as a canvas for calligraphy. (Photo by Lois Siemens)

Whether they’re covering faces, hanging from rear-view mirrors, lining pockets or lying in gutters, facemasks are ubiquitous. But for Lois Siemens they are also a blank canvas.

‘This is my learning, my journey’

‘As a settler, I know very little,’ says Kim Thiessen of Winnipeg. ‘But I am trying. . . . I have a burning desire to set things right and do what I can.’ (Photo by John Longhurst)

Like many Canadians, Winnipegger Kim Thiessen was devastated when she learned about the 215 unmarked graves of children at the Kamloops, B.C., residential school earlier this year.

“I didn’t know what to do with the sadness, despair and rage I felt,” says the 57-year-old mother and grandmother.

Entrepreneur takes leaps of faith to become a ‘Mennonite called into business’

Employees of Boxbrite Technologies—pictured from left to right: Aaron Neufeld, Enes Demirsoz, Joseph Olmez, Lori-Ann Livingston, Niloofar Abbasvandi, Alina Kehl, Shirin Talaei, Seyma Nur Ozcan and Leon Kehl—attend a rally against Islamophobia. Kehl, who started the company, intentionally hires newcomers to Canada, and fosters a sense of community among his employees who work from home. (Photo by Aaron Neufeld)

It has happened more than once. Someone approaches social entrepreneur Leon Kehl with the name of a highly qualified person who needs help getting a start in Canada. Kehl has learned these nudges often have “God’s fingerprint all over them,” so he takes a “leap of faith” and hires the person. “People come into my life. . . . How do you not see God in that?'' he asks.

Peace award recognizes young artist

Dona Park designed the cover art for Mennonite Church U.S.A.’s study program, ‘Defund the Police? An Abolition Curriculum,’ meant to help Christians think about police abolition within a biblical context and as a practical alternative to policing. (Artwork by Dona Park)

Dona Park is an illustrator who lives in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Dona Park)

Dona Park, a young Korean-Canadian artist, is one of the first two recipients of Mennonite Church U.S.A.’s #BringthePeace Award, sponsored by the denomination’s Church Peace Tax Fund. Park, who affiliates with Emmanuel Mennonite Church of Abbotsford, B.C., and Michelle Armster of Wichita, Kan., received the awards, recognizing the work of denominational peacemakers.

Working on different ends of the agriculture spectrum

RJC High School’s outdoor education class brings back fond memories for alumni Emily Hand, left, and Ian Epp (holding son Peter Isaac), who are now making their living in the agricultural sector. (Photo courtesy of Emily Hand and Ian Epp)

For many students, the outdoor education class at RJC High School was fun, memorable and character building. But for most, the skills aren’t ones they now use in their everyday life. For Emily Hand, a 2002 graduate, however, that is exactly what happened.

MC Manitoba ordains first spiritual director for service

Laura Funk wore a blessing cloak made of more than 100 handprints at her ordination service, since COVID-19 prevented her community from gathering in-person for the laying on of hands. She received handprints from people aged six months to 93 years old, across three countries and at least five denominations and two faiths. (Photo by Gilbert Detillieux)

Laura Funk is the first person to be ordained for the ministry of spiritual direction by Mennonite Church Manitoba. She is also the regional church’s first spiritual director in residence.

‘It’s obvious!’

Ed Janzen, middle, meets with students Kenzie Thielmann, left, and Cameron Warren as part of his role as chaplain of Conrad Grebel University College. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Grebel University College)

Ed Janzen, right, meets with the Grebel chapel committee members: from left: Rebekah Lindsay, Suomi MacCarthy and Andre Wiederkehr. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Grebel University College)

Ed Janzen will retire at the end of July after 23 years as Conrad Grebel University College’s chaplain. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Grebel University College)

Ed Janzen says, “It’s obvious!”

It’s obvious why he would want to serve as chaplain of Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., for 23 years. Janzen, who is retiring at the end of July from a job he loved, names several things that inspired his work.

Grebel chaplain leads cycling tour of early Black settlement

Ed Janzen, left, Grebel’s retiring chaplain, recently led a group of students on a learning tour in Wellington County, Ont., exploring sites from early Black settlements in the area, including this cemetery. The cycling tour was part of his commitment to making learning real. (Photo by Adrien Neufeld)

Ed Janzen, retiring chaplain of Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., liked to provide students with the chance to engage their faith with real-life experiences.

During his 23 years as chaplain, he led many summer canoe trips and service opportunities with Mennonite Disaster Service.

On being a musician during COVID-19

Matthew Boutda conducts the choir at Leaside United Church’s hymn festival in June 2019. (Photo by Murray Fenner)

Matthew Boutda playing the organ. (Photo by Matthew Boutda)

Matthew Boutda

For some musicians during COVID-19, the landscape of music making, performance and choir conducting transformed into environments for community resilience. As a recent graduate from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, with a master of sacred music degree, Matthew Boutda reveals the ways musicians are conductors of human connectedness.

‘The frontlines are where history is being made’

The CPT-MC Canada accompaniment team spent a month at Unist'ot'en camp in unceded Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C., learning from Indigenous land defenders and helping wherever they were needed. (Photo by Steve Heinrichs)

The healing centre at the Unist'ot'en camp provides cultural teaching, runs youth camps and reconnects people with the land. (Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

The Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) in Unist'ot'en territory, where life is deeply interconnected with creation. (Photo by Allegra Friesen Epp)

Allegra Friesen Epp did a six-month joint internship with CPT and MC Canada this year, doing Indigenous solidarity work. (Photo courtesy of Allegra Friesen Epp)

Allegra Friesen Epp is wrapping up a six-month internship with Mennonite Church Canada and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), but she is already brainstorming ways to continue doing solidarity work.

Living ‘in a prophetic way’

Donna Entz, right, and Doaa Ajani, a Syrian translator, at the “Under Wraps” event held at Lethbridge Mennonite Church in 2017. Mennonite and Muslim women shared about their experiences with head coverings. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Gross)

Loren and Donna Entz, centre and right, receive an invitation to the home of Iranians Behrouz Delavari, left, and his wife, Mehri Davar (not pictured). (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Gross)

English-as-a-Second Language students celebrate Canada Day with Donna Entz (wearing red ball cap) at the end of the class term in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Gross)

Donna Entz, centre, receives the Community Animator Award from the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition in November 2018. Pictured are volunteers from Palestine, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Lithuania, Somalia and Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Gross)

Mennonites across Alberta know her. Her heart for Muslims and those who are newcomers to Canada is well known. She has fed hundreds of refugees and immigrants over the past decade in her little apartment, which is situated in a low-income, multi-ethnic neighbourhood in North Edmonton.

T-shirts encourage Mennos to get vaccinated

Ryan Polinsky holds up one of the T-shirts he designed in support of Mennonites getting vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Polinsky)

When Ryan Polinsky designed T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Menno & Vaccinated” at the beginning of June, he intended to sell only a few to his family. He has since sold around 50 shirts, plus other merchandise like mugs, buttons and hats. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force, even highlighted the shirts in a provincial press conference.

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