People

‘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

Echoes of history

Funeral picture of Reverend Johann Toews Sr. (1845-1898). Third from right is Johann Toews, the letter writer; far right is Wilhelm Toews, who received the letters. Second from left is John Braun’s great-grandfather Johann Braun (1869-1922), whose wife Katharina Toews Braun is not pictured because she had just given birth. (Photo courtesy of John Braun)

Johann Toews, the letter writer, left, and two of his sisters, Elisabeth Toews (1881-1922) and Helen Toews Letkemann (1879-1919). (Photo courtesy of John Braun)

Johann Toews, the letter writer, when he was sentenced to five years forced labour in exile. (Photo courtesy of John Braun)

John Braun, currently interim pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church, has always had a passion for stories and genealogy. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

The letters, written from 1899 to 1933, reveal the story of two brothers, Wilhelm and Johann Toews. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

When John Braun was contacted by a relative he didn’t know existed, it was the start of a long adventure into family history and an old language.

Russian connection comes full circle

Friends Bob Bartsch, left, and Dick Hildebrandt, members of Black Creek (B.C.) United Mennonite Church, both trace their ties to the original two Prussian Mennonite delegates selected to survey land that eventually led to the Mennonite migration to what became Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Bob Bartsch)

Two members of Black Creek United Mennonite Church in British Columbia have found a common heritage that goes back 234 years to the Russian Empire.

In the late 18th century, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia conquered land she called “New Russia”—now Ukraine—and invited Europeans, including Mennonite farmers from Prussia, to settle the southern plains.

‘He kept looking ahead’

From their home, David and Doris Martin watch the virtual celebrations in honour of David’s retirement as executive minister from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, after 15 years of service to the regional church and 25 years as a pastor in the regional church. (Photo courtesy of MC Eastern Canada)

David Martin is passionate about curling. He is competitive and once won Steinmann Mennonite Church’s version of The Amazing Race. He is a bit nerdy and techy, and he loves a great superhero movie now and then.

Manitoba’s Winter Hour releases debut album

Mike Wiebe is the musical mastermind behind Winter Hour. (Photo from Winter Hour’s Facebook account)

You Made a Shadow is about the people and experiences that have made an imprint on Mike Wiebe’s life. (Photo from Winter Hour’s Facebook account)

Manitoba musician Mike Wiebe released his debut album, You Made a Shadow, on May 31 under the name Winter Hour. He wrote the album’s 10 songs over a period of five years, starting in 2015.

The 'poet of ironwork'

Pickup truck bookends by John Wiebe. (Photo by Laura Wiebe)

John Wiebe, a ‘poet of ironwork’

The Wiebe-Neufeld family displays one of the iron doves made by John Wiebe while watching this year’s Inter-Mennonite Good Friday service and preparing for communion in Edmonton. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)

Horseback bookend by John Wiebe. (Photo by Laura Wiebe)

Curling bookend by John Wiebe. (Photo by Laura Wiebe)

If you are Mennonite and live in Alberta, you may not know John Wiebe, but you’ll recognize his work. Kate Janzen calls him the “poet of ironwork.”

Legacy of the last great epidemic

A Mennonite quartet sings for polio patient Ted Braun, in an iron lung at the King George Hospital in Winnipeg in the mid-1950s. Ted watches the singers in the mirror positioned above his head. (Photo courtesy of Henry John Epp)

An iron lung, the iconic image of the polio epidemic of the 1950s, at the Riverview Heritage Museum in Winnipeg. (Photo by Will Braun)

Dave Penner recalls playing in the ditch with his brother in the summer of 1952. He was 5, his brother Henry was three years older. The freshly dug ditch on the expanded Highway 3 next to their yard near Morden, Man., had filled after a rain storm and Dave remembers having a grand time in the water with his brother. 

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