Working in a life-giving job is the silver lining

Jeff Nickel, right, has served with Communitas Supportive Care Society for 25 years. He is pictured with his friend Richard. (Communitas photo by Krista Petrie)

There are not many people these days who can say they have been in a job they love for 25 years, but Jeff Nickel says exactly that. As he celebrates his silver anniversary working with the Communitas Supportive Care Society, he reflects on the many reasons he has stayed.

Physical appearances don’t reveal what’s inside

‘I am fine with not being able to walk, but I want to make a difference in the world, and a difference in the lives of people I meet,’ says Matt Ferguson, who attends Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Matt Ferguson)

Matt Ferguson is smart, likes rocking out to music such as the Tragically Hip, is a big fan of the Winnipeg Jets and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and has cerebral palsy. He relies 100 percent on other people to attend to all his bodily needs, such as putting food and liquids in his mouth.

This is your family

Tany Warkentin, left, is pictured with Adolphine, Marie and Hélène José, supervisors of the literacy program run by the Mennonite churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Literacy teachers are trained and provided with basic teaching supplies, and they then offer classes in their own village to women and children who haven’t had opportunities to attend school. (Photo by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen)

Laurent, left, is a part of a youth association in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, created by a group of 10 incredibly motivated young people looking for work in a country with high unemployment rates. Each member contributes 25,000 francs ($12) at the end of each month, and then they take turns receiving 90 percent of the money for personal agricultural projects. The group uses the remaining 10 percent to collectively plant, harvest and sell peanuts, with the profit being added to the collective fund. As this fund grows, the youth association will invest in larger and more long-term agricultural projects. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

The Grade 4 students at the Mennonite school in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, send their enthusiastic greetings. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Pastor Ambeké, left, prepares to help Daniel take his place as the general secretary of one of the Mennonite conferences in Angola. This is the first time this conference will have had a peaceful leadership transition since it began in 1983. Ambeké said, ‘Some of our young people have grown up thinking that the only way to change leaders is through tension and force. Usually, new leaders are selected from senior leaders who are not leading good lives. But this time, the church has called this “Little David” because he has the right character. He is humble and he is the one we want, even if he is young.” (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

This young woman learned to read in one of the Congolese literacy centres, and she is reading the Bible in her own language. Despite her physical disability, learning to read and write has boosted her self-confidence and opened new job opportunities. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Josué, standing, is a young electrician called by the Mennonite church in Burkina Faso to start a hardware store in the village of Mahon. Many business owners in Burkina Faso have set up hardware stores or bookstores in villages where there are no churches. Through their positive Christian witness, neighbours have come to know Christ and churches were planted. This is the prayer and hope of the Burkina Faso church for Josué’s store in Mahon. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)

Have you ever been introduced to a distant relative for the first time—maybe you didn’t even know that person existed—and yet you immediately felt a connection with them? After all, they are family!

‘A compelling example of leadership’

Pursuing a career in music education was a dream for Ann L. Schultz, who was always passionate about making music. Now after 30 years and on the cusp of retirement from Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., as a music teacher and principal, she has been announced as the recipient of Conrad Grebel University College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Service Award. (Photo courtesy of Ann L. Schultz)

Pursuing a career in music education was a dream for Ann L. Schultz, who was always passionate about making music. Now after 30 years and on the cusp of retirement, she has been announced as the recipient of Conrad Grebel University College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

Pastor, conference leader dies at 96

In this 1983 photo, Jake Tilitzky, left, moderator of the General Conference Mennonite Church, and Ross Bender, moderator of the (Old) Mennonite Church, lay their separate stones on the one stone (symbolizing Jesus Christ), as the two denominations moved toward union. (Mennonite Library and Archives photo)

Jacob “Jasch” Tilitzky, longtime pastor and leader in Mennonite Church British Columbia and the wider Mennonite church family, died on Nov. 9 in Abbotsford.

A pastor in the digital age

Lisa Martens Bartel preaches to her congregation in Kelowna, B.C., via Zoom from her home in Drake, Sask. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Martens Bartel)

Over the course of the pandemic, many pastors and church leaders have grumbled about the woes of technology and the rise of Zoom worship gatherings. But for Lisa Martens Bartel, the move to online worship provided an unexpected ministry opportunity.

‘Gratitude abounds’ at retirement celebration for Rockway’s principal

Ann Schultz, in her final address to the Rockway community during her retirement celebrations on Nov. 28, reflected on her 30-year career with deep gratitude. (Photo by Charles Kruger)

Rockway alumni Jenny Enns Modolo, left, and Justin Martin sing snippets from musicals that Ann Schultz directed during her career at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., as part of retirement celebrations for Ann Schultz on Nov. 28. (Photo by Charles Kruger)

With laughter and tears, stories and good music, family, friends, colleagues and students past and present celebrated Ann L. Schultz’s retirement from Rockway Mennonite Collegiate on Nov. 28.

Long-time cook nurtured young staff at House of Friendship

Mabel Steinman began cooking at the House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., in the 1950s. (Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo)

Mabel Steinman was a long-time cook at the House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., serving meals to the hostel residents for 26 years. She was the proverbial mother or grandmother, providing them with a touch of home, a warm meal and encouragement. She received many thanks for her home-cooked meals.

Changing of the guard

Pictured in 2019, Eddy Rempel, left, then MCS’s board chair, and then executive director Abe Harms sign documents for the MCS plaza purchase that year. Harms recently retired as executive director, with Rempel stepping into his shoes. (MCS file photo by Stefani Heide)

Eddy Rempel is the newly appointed executive director of Mennonite Community Services of Southern Ontario (MCS) based in Aylmer, Ont., replacing the retiring Abe Harms, who worked for the organization for 22 years.

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.


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