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Queer hymns now online

Cedar Klassen presents the new collection to The Hymn Society. (Photo courtesy of The Hymn Society)

Songs for the Holy Other is a project of The Hymn Society. (Photo courtesy of The Hymn Society)

Cedar Klassen is the coordinator of the working group that put together Songs for the Holy Other. (Photo courtesy of Cedar Klassen)

Growing up, Cedar Klassen loved singing hymns.

A journey from fundamentalism to freedom

Donna Dinsmore, interim pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary, is pictured with her beloved seven-year-old Tucker. ‘Tucker makes every community more human,' she says. (Photo courtesy of Donna Dinsmore)

Donna Dinsmore served from 2015 to 2017 as minister of the Bella Coola Pastoral Charge while living on the Nuxalk First Nation in British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Donna Dinsmore)

Donna Dinsmore never felt she fit into church life.

Canoe trip deepens pastoral connections

The pastor-canoeists take a break on a rocky outcropping in Massasauga Provincial Park. Pictured from left to right: Mark Diller Harder, Yoel Masyawong, Yared Demissie Seretse, Chung Vang, René Baergen and Joseph Raltong. (Photo courtesy of Yoel Masyawong.)

Roasting a fish over the fire during their canoe trip into Massasauga Provincial Park are, from left to right: Chung Vang, Yared Demissie Seretse, René Baergen, Yoel Masyawong and Joseph Raltong. (Photo by Mark Diller Harder)

Six pastors relax at camp during their canoe trip in Massasauga Provincial Park. Pictured from left to right: Yared Demissie Seretse, Chung Vang, Yoel Masyawong, Joseph Raltong, Mark Diller Harder and René Baergen. (Photo courtesy of Yoel Masyawong)

For three days and two nights in June, six Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors journeyed by canoe and camped in the wilderness of Massasauga Provincial Park, near Parry Sound, Ont.

 

A blessing from God

A gift to Chris and Campbell Nisbet to remember their years at Hidden Acres was a blanket made out of Campbell’s many camp T-shirts. (Photo by Roy Draper)

The Nisbet family sang the words of the ‘love chapter,’ I Corinthians 13, as a blessing at their farewell at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp on July 13. Pictured from left to right: Campbell, Jessica, Rob, David, Rebecca and Chris. (Photo by Roy Draper)

The idea that Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp is a sacred space where God is at work came up over and over again at the farewell event for Campbell and Chris Nisbet, held on July 13 at the camp near Shakespeare, Ont.

 

Teaching the tabernacle

Eleanor Funk uses a large red umbrella to illustrate how Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross covers the sins of those who put their trust in him. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The bronze altar dominates the courtyard of Eleanor Funk’s life-size model of the tabernacle. The model lamb sitting peacefully on the altar seems blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits it. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Inside the tabernacle, the priest stands beside the altar of incense, in front of the curtain to the most holy place. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Along the north wall of the tabernacle stands the table of showbread. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Two seraphs guard the Ark of the Covenant inside the most holy place. The walls are lined with mirrors to simulate the polished gold that would have overlain the wooden walls of the original most holy place. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Model sheep graze peacefully in the courtyard of the life-size tabernacle built by Eleanor Funk and her husband Don. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Eleanor Funk, wearing a blue jacket, teaches campers at Youth Farm Bible Camp about the tabernacle of ancient Israel and how it points the way to Jesus. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Eleanor Funk has been teaching people about the tabernacle for almost 40 years. “The passion has never left,” she says.

 

Hostess enjoys surprising her guests

Veg Weber, in the background, serves Frogmore stew to young adults from her congregation, Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church. She surprises her guests by serving the food with no plates or utensils. (Photo courtesy of Veg Weber)

Veg Weber knows how to do old-fashioned hospitality and she enjoys having people sit around her table. A few years ago, this hostess from Hawkesville, Ont., came across a recipe that gives her guests a surprise dining adventure as well as nourishing food.

 

‘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.

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