‘Jesus Christ is present here’

Norm Dyck, right, the new MC Eastern Canada mission minister, presents Brian Bauman with a tribute T-shirt as part of retirement celebrations for Bauman held at the regional church’s fourth annual Mission Festival at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)

People from the Chin Christian Fellowship share a cultural dance at this year’s Mission Festival on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)

Women from the First Mennonite Church Hispanic congregation share a Colombian cultural dance at this year’s fourth annual Mission Festival on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)

People from Meheret Evangelical Church in Kitchener sing at the fourth annual Mission Festival on Oct 26. (Photo by Mollee Moua)

“Jesus Christ is present here. Alleluia!” sang enthusiastic worshippers in many languages to begin the fourth annual Mennonite Church Eastern Canada multicultural Mission Festival, held on Oct. 26 at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Like a bird who flew away . . . and came home

Nancy Frey, left, is pictured teaching at the Benin Bible Institute in Cotonou, Benin. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Frey and Bruce Yoder)

Nancy Frey remembers as a young child seeing a bird flying by and telling her mother, “Someday I am going to be like that bird and fly away.”

She did just that, spending a year in France after graduating from high school. That was only the beginning of a ministry career that has spanned two decades, most of it spent in West Africa.

Langham artist finds connection through painting

‘Created in His Image’ by Valerie Wiebe.

‘A Coat of Many Colours’ by Valerie Wiebe.

‘Down in the Valley’ by Valerie Wiebe.

Painted for MC Canada’s Assembly 2016, ‘Called Out’ by Valerie Wiebe depicts the church (the tiny black marks representing the people of God) leaving the church building and walking toward the setting sun.

Her parents called her Dynamite. Although she didn’t care for the nickname when she was a child, Valerie Wiebe has come to appreciate its layers of meaning.

Senior inspires others with desire to give

The oldest and the youngest participants in the Shekinah Bike-Paddle-Hike-a-thon both rode walking bikes. Irvin Driedger, 84, poses with Finnegan Fast, 3, and his mom Sarah Unrau. (Photo by Jeff Olfert)

Irvin Driedger, left, stands with the paddlers in the Shekinah Bike-Paddle-Hike-a-thon after they had all reached their destination. (Photo by Jeff Olfert)

Cyclists line up behind Irvin Driedger, centre, on yellow walking bike, at the start of the Shekinah Bike-Paddle-Hike-a-thon. )Photo by Jeff Olfert)

The small group of cyclists cheered as Irvin Driedger set off on his walking bike, kicking off the 2019 Shekinah Bike-paddle-hike-a-thon. His participation was inspiring on many levels.

Eight years ago, he suffered a massive stroke. He could only move his eyes and one foot. The doctor told Irvin’s wife Donna that he likely wouldn’t survive.

Dave Wall inducted into sports wall of fame

Son Richard, left is pictured with his parents Dave and Helen Wall at the awards ceremony in Virgil in August. (Photo by Randy Klaassen)

Dave Wall, who was an active member of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines and an ardent supporter of Silver Lake Mennonite Camp fundraising dinners, was honoured by his local community for the many roles he played there and for his enduring legacy.

Move to Canadian office 'a blessing'

César Garcia, general secretary of Mennonite World Conference is pictured in his Kitchener, Ont., office, where he has been working for the past seven months. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

For César Garcia, general secretary of Mennonite World Conference (MWC), relocating to office space in Kitchener has “been a blessing.” He shares the office with four staff, some of the 40 people who work and volunteer for MWC around the world. MWC shares space at 50 Kent Avenue with staff from a variety of other Anabaptist related organizations.

MCC program shares ‘tools’ to combat homelessness

TOOLS coordinator Pete Olsen sits next to the ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue. (Photo courtesy of Pete Olsen)

A group of TOOLS participants talk with a homeless person at Yonge Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Pete Olsen)

In 2013, the first cast of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz’s “Homeless Jesus” was installed. The bronze statue, which depicts the Christ figure as a person sleeping on a park bench, was offered to two churches before being installed at Regis College at the University of Toronto.

Staging change behind bars

Johnny Wideman and Kimberlee Walker are members of Theatre of the Beat and co-facilitators of the restorative-justice drama program. (Photo courtesy of Kimberlee Walker)

Ontario’s Theatre of the Beat has a mandate of staging change and creating conversations around social justice issues, but that’s also happening in communities beyond the Mennonite enclaves the company brings its plays to.

‘That school kit saved my life’

Ly Vang holds the MCC school kit bag she received as a teenager in a refugee camp in Thailand. ‘If the person who made this is still alive,’ she says, ‘I would like to say thank you.’ (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Ly Vang was 16 and stuck in a refugee camp in Thailand with a pair of shoes and two sets of clothes. She was lonely and sad. She struggled with suicidal thoughts.

“What is the meaning of living like this?” she complained to God. “Being dead would be better.”

Three generations find working for MCC a blessing

Jon Lebold, Beth Hovius and Bob Lebold agree that continuing the legacy of their mother and grandmother at MCC has been a blessing. (MCC photo by Shoua Vang)

Laverne and Elaine Lebold, pictured in 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Lebold family)

Jon and Beth now continue Grandma Lebold's legacy at 50 Kent Avenue. (MCC photo/Ken Ogasawara)

Bob Lebold made his first donation to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) when he was about 10 years old. It was Christmas, sometime in the late 1960s, when he tagged along to the MCC centre in Kitchener with his mom Elaine, who was the material aid supervisor. His task was to help sort and bale clothing to be shipped overseas.

Expect to have your worldview challenged

North American delegates to GYS 2015 are pictured from left to right: Chris Brnjas of Canada, Rianna Isaak-Krauss, Andrea De Avila, Larissa Swartz and Trent Voth. (MWC photo by Emily Ralph Servant)

A small group discussion with GYS delegates and participants in 2009. The conversation includes Kristina Toews of Canada, second from left, and others from North America, Europe and Asia. (MWC photo by Liesa Unger)

Are you over 18 years old with a love for your regional, nationwide and global Mennonite church?

Mennonite Church Canada is seeking representatives from each of the five regional churches to represent their respective communities at the next Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Global Youth Summit (GYS) in Salatiga, Indonesia, in 2021.

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.


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