People

‘The hands and feet of Jesus’

Pictured from left to right: MVS volunteers Rudy Moyer-Litwiller, Sophia Amstutz, Tjorven Lichdi and Michelle Moyer-Litwiller. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Amstutz)

Joanna Loepp Thiessen is pictured at the Street2feets annual five-kilometre fundraiser, where she worked as an assistant race director, taking the opportunity to raise awareness about addictions and homelessness in the area. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Loepp Thiessen)

This year, Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) is celebrating 75 years of placing young adults in service positions across Canada and the U.S. 

A bouncer for Jesus

Streets Alive and Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure volunteer Simon Crelerot, left, and his girlfriend, Cathy Oberli, travel around Lethbridge, Alta., offering sandwiches, clothing and encouragement to people living on the streets. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

Pictured from left to right, this year’s Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure Unit in Lethbridge, Alta.: Birte Quiring, Melissa Schwaerzel, Simon Crelerot, Cornelia Heidebrecht and Lilli Wehner. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

Simon Crelerot, Lethbridge volunteer, explores Crowsnest Mountain in Alberta. (Photo courtesy of Simon Crelerot)

So how did a 22-year-old Mennonite from France end up volunteering on the streets of Lethbridge as a bouncer for Jesus? Even he’s not sure, but he’s loving it, and when he returns to France in September, he plans to continue working with street people if he can find an opportunity.

Dragons in the Bible?

Youths and sponsors who attended the retreat at Camp Elim display their dragons. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Bodan Caldwell displays his hair stylist qualifications on Kirsten Hamm-Epp, as part of the retreat coffee house. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Erika Enns Rodine talks to the youth about dragons. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Mya Harms and Anna Blumrich enjoy paddle boating on Lac Pelletier. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Twenty-five youth and sponsors gathered at Camp Elim, on Lac Pelletier, south of Swift Current, Sask., for Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s youth retreat. Held May 24-26 the retreat was filled with fun and games, worship, and dragons! 

Reduce, reuse, SheCycle

The SheCycle team of Anna Kuepfer (left), Abby Loewen and Leah Wouda, won first place at the World’s Challenge Challenge in London, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Leah Wouda)

Abby Loewen (left), Leah Wouda and Anna Kuepfer present their SheCycle idea at the World’s Challenge Challenge in London, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Leah Wouda)

For many women around the world, accessing pads, tampons or menstrual cups isn’t as easy as making a trip to a drug store, nor is it affordable. Some women and girls resort to making their own menstrual products out of things like mattress foam, newspaper or old clothes, which can cause problems like tetanus and urinary tract infections, or even worse infections.

Offering the gift of non-judgmental listening

According to Elaine Presnell, a funeral officiant and a commissioned lay pastor at Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, the best gift one can offer a grieving family is non-judgmental listening. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Elaine Presnell has presided at around 600 funerals. That’s a number most pastors won’t achieve in a lifetime. But Presnell isn’t an ordinary pastor. For more than 10 years, she has worked for Mourning Glory Funeral Services in Saskatoon as a funeral officiant.

Previously, she spent 16 years as a psychiatric nurse at Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre. 

Making art ‘like breathing’ for B.C. illustrator

Dona Park painted a mural at a school in Cambodia during her term with MCC. (Photos courtesy of Dona Park)

For Dona Park, making art is the equivalent of eating, sleeping and breathing. She does it every day because she needs to.

The 24-year-old attended Goshen (Ind.) College, from which she graduated with a double major in fine arts and history in 2017. She is now a freelance artist based in Abbotsford, B.C., where she attends Emmanuel Mennonite Church.

Extending the table

People from different cultural and religious backgrounds enjoy food and conversation around tables at the Iftar meal hosted by Breslau Mennonite Church on May 14. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

On May 14, Breslau Mennonite Church hosted an iftar meal after sunset, marking the end of the daily fast for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan, a season of fasting, prayer, reflection and charity observed by millions of Muslims around the world. 

Worshipping across cultures

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate students, from left to right, Ramtha Lensung, Jennifer Dawthleipar, Naomi Joy and Rachel Weber visit after a church service at the Kitchener, Ont., Chin Christian Church on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Marlys Neufeldt)

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s senior choir performed at the Kitchener, Ont., Chin Christian Church on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Marlys Neufeldt)

Every year, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ont., facilitates worship services at churches in the area, to build bridges between the school and its constituency.

This year, the senior choir students had a particularly moving experience when they sang and led worship at Kitchener’s Chin Christian Church, a member congregation of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, on April 28.

Giving back

Thang Dinh, owner of Calsask Granite in Saskatoon, cites gratitude to the Mennonites who sponsored him 40 years ago as one of the reasons he likes to give back to his community. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“We’ve experienced a lot of humbling stories,” says Phyllis Roth of her participation in the Saskatchewan Valley Hospital home-building project, but one story in particular stands out.

Vegan Mennos

Jan Carrie Steven, centre, and her husband Laur, right pose with their pastor, David Brubacher, during a 2016 Ride for Refuge event. (Photo courtesy of Jan Carrie Steven)

Type the words “Mennonite vegans” into your search engine and you likely won’t come up with much. But being a Mennonite vegan is very doable, whether you are culturally Mennonite or not. And with a birth name of Carrie and a married name of Steven, I am clearly not culturally Mennonite.

Canadian faces of MDS in Texas

Brianna Wiebe of Austin, Man., helped paint doors in Bloomington, Texas. (Photos by John Longhurst)

What do you get when you put Mennonites from all over Canada, and from all sorts of different Mennonite conferences and churches—along with Christians from other denominations—in the same place? A Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) unit—that’s what.

In February, I visited volunteers in three communities in Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017—La Grange, Bloomington and Wharton. 

What resilience looks like

Bethany Amstutz-Schrag, Joanna Loepp Thiessen and Krystal Porter jump for joy as they trek through the mountains of Nepal on an MCC learning tour. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Loepp Thiessen)

From dealing with disaster to mental health recovery, partners of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nepal and their beneficiaries demonstrate resilience.

Join the (fashion) revolution

Daniel Epp, left, and his partner Anna-Marie Janzen. Janzen wore a dress she made herself from thrifted fabric, while Epp is wearing a thrifted suit at the Fashion Revolution Week gala in Winnipeg. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

People who attended the gala were encouraged to have their picture taken holding a sign that read, ‘Who made my clothes?’ and then tag the company that made it on social media. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Who made my clothes?

That’s what the organizers of the globally observed Fashion Revolution Week want people to ask themselves the next time they put on an outfit or choose what clothing to buy.

Mediating in the church

Wayne Plenert uses a variety of techniques to get people to engage in their conflict instead of trying to win, avoid or compromise. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Plenert)

As a lawyer for more than 40 years, Wayne Plenert has seen his share of interpersonal conflicts in the secular world. But, now retired and a member of Northgate Anabaptist Fellowship of Dawson Creek, B.C., he believes that conflicts also are inevitable in faith communities and are too often destructive, with damaging fallout.

Sourdough spirituality

Joel Kroeker mixes sourdough starter at his dining room table as his daughter, Rehema, looks on. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

Each stencil Joel Kroeker uses in his breadmaking is cut free-hand from cardstock. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Joel Kroeker readies another two loaves of sourdough bread for the oven. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Each loaf is stencilled and then slashed to allow for rising while baking. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Baking bread is more than just a business for Joel Kroeker. It’s also a way to further important conversations.

With a deftness that comes from repetition, he slides another two loaves of bread into the oven. By the time he finishes for the day he will have baked 20 loaves and mixed another batch of dough for the next day’s orders.

Ethiopian church plant dreams big 

Bethel International Church Edmonton Oromo Congregation families are pictured at the front of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Edmonton, where they meet for services. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

The last Sunday of each month for the Bethel International Church Edmonton Oromo Congregation is a fast and prayer time followed by a Bible study. The fast is broken with a barley drink and coffee. Serving the drinks is Ebissie Besso, the wife of Pastor Mezgebu A. Tucho. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

Pastor Mezgebu A. Tucho says that one of the things he loves about this congregations is that ‘they love to learn the Word of God. They have an appetite. They ask me to learn more, and this gives me joy.’ (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

“I have big dreams,” says Pastor Mezgebu A. Tucho of the Bethel International Church Edmonton Oromo Congregation.

From mould to masterpiece

A mosaic of mushrooms captured in Joel Penner and Anna Sigrithur’s film, Wrought, coming out in summer of 2019. (Photo by Joel Penner)

Joel Penner is a time-lapse filmmaker based out of Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. But he doesn’t capture typical scenes like sunsets or the bustle of the city. 


Joel Penner.

Coffee and community

Brock Peters was the owner and operator of Strong Badger until March 16, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Brock Peters)

Five years ago, Brock Peters dreamed of an affordable coffee shop where everyone in the community would feel comfortable going.

“Sometimes, when I walked into coffee shops in the city, I felt like ‘I’m not cool enough to be here,’ ” he says.

Mennonites advocate for Bill C-262

Joel Kroeker stencils messages on bread he makes to expand the public discourse on different issues. (Photo courtesy of Joel Kroeker)

Allegra Friesen Epp, right, speaks at the CMU rally on March 26 that she helped to organize. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Steve Heinrichs, left, Romeo Saganash, Leah Gazan, Jennifer Preston and Paul Joffe speak at a press conference on the importance of passing Bill C-262. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Approximately 700 people rally at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg on March 26 for the Canadian government to pass Bill C-262. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Joel Kroeker owns Baeker Kraeker bread share in Saskatoon. He stencils messages on bread he makes to expand the public discourse on different issues. (Photo courtesy of Joel Kroeker)

From changing their profile pictures and holding rallies, to baking bread embossed with messages of support, young Mennonites are standing up to call for a private member’s bill to be passed.

Canadian Mennonite bids farewell to Donita Wiebe-Neufeld

Longtime Alberta correspondent Donita Wiebe-Neufeld is pictured with CD, her beloved horse. Over the years, she wrote around 385 stories, features and news briefs. (Photo by Melanie Cumin)

After more than 18 years of contributing to Canadian Mennonite as the Alberta correspondent, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, who has developed a fondness for horses over the years—especially CD—has resigned from her reporting position to take on an increased role with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta. 

'Everything is possible'

Alma Darweesh, left, Reem Younes, Krista Neustaedter Barg and Brian Darweesh at Younes and Darweesh’s citizenship ceremony. (Photos courtesy of Reem Younes)

For Reem Younes and Brian Darweesh, everything seems possible now that they’re citizens of Canada.

Originally from Syria, Younes and Darweesh moved to Winnipeg in 2015 as privately sponsored refugees, welcomed by a Mennonite community there.

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