congregational life

‘Much is expected’

Roberson Mbayamvula, left, lead pastor of Hagerman Mennonite; Paul Mo, Markham Chinese Mennonite’s pastor; and Joseph Savarimuthu, pastor of Markham Christian Worship Centre, a Tamil congregation, cut the ribbon on their renovated church building on Oct. 14, 2018. (Photo by Godfrey Cheng)

After more than three years and with a budget of $1.4 million, Hagerman Mennonite Church in Markham, Ont., has completed a significant building renovation. But more than efficient space and a sleek exterior, the project represents the power of this church, a diverse partnership of different congregations, to work together as the body of Christ to accomplish big things as a community.

‘Leaving behind what wasn’t healthy’

The new home of Langham Mennonite Fellowship stands on the same site as the old Zoar Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ed Bueckert, Langham Mennonite Fellowship’s congregational chair, says the church wants its new building to be of service to the community. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The church’s sanctuary is a multi-purpose room with space for about 80 worshippers. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Among items carried over from the old church to the new are this cross and the church’s communion table. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The church’s foyer has doors leading to the pastor’s office, the church kitchen, the basement stairwell, washrooms and several storage spaces. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The former Zoar Mennonite Church building has been demolished. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Zoar Mennonite Church in Langham has a new home—and a new name.

When the congregation discovered black mould growing in the basement of its old church building some years ago, it didn’t immediately decide to build a new church building. Instead, it gutted the basement and had it cleaned and disinfected. But the problem persisted, making some congregants unwell.

Helping the stranger and connecting with the neighbour

Some church members and the refugee family in their new home in March 2018. Pictured from left to right: Lois Braun, Heritier Munezero, Claudine Uwimpuhwe, Siggi Holzhaeuer, Katherine Morgan, Speciose Nyiramugwaneza, Emmanuel Iranshubije, Gordon Bueckert, Eileen Scharfenberg and Dave Martens. (Photo by Cornie Thiessen)

When Sterling Mennonite Fellowship received an invitation from St. Vital Evangelical Mennonite Church (EMC) to partner in sponsoring a refugee family, it felt like an answer to prayer.

New administrator welcomes church into school

Chilliwack, B.C.—A year ago, the Chilliwack School District asked Crossroads Community Church, a Mennonite Church B.C. congregation, to consider moving its Sunday morning service to a different school. Although it meant considerable adjustments, the church obliged, in order to show a cooperative spirit to the public school community. The move to Vedder Middle School proved to be trying, as the administration seemed to feel uncomfortable with the church using its classrooms and gym.

‘We became family to each other’

The plaque accompanying the painting reads: ‘“Congregation” by Tom Neufeld, pastor of TUMC, 1976-1979. Presented to CMU by members of Thompson [Man.] United Mennonite Church.’

George Epp, Ted Redekop and Jack Crolly—members of Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church from the 1970s—ski together. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Members of Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church at the Ospawagen church retreat in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church in 1982. (Photo by Marilyn Redekop)

“The Thompson group,” as they sometimes call themselves, at the hanging of the painting ‘Congregation’ on May 24, 2018 at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. They followed the dedication with a barbecue together. (Photo by Marilyn Redekop)

What do you get when you start a Mennonite church in the middle of nowhere? A community that is still going strong more than 50 years later, even after the church itself has closed its doors.

From belief to belonging

Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist; whatever the name, it has been an integral part of the Christian faith since its beginnings. (Photo © istock.com/ipggutenbergukltd)

At the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 2015, Mennonites who filled the stadium were invited to celebrate the Eucharist together, regardless of baptism or age. (Dale G. Gehman for MeetingHouse)

“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’” (Luke 22:19-20 NRSV).

Paving the way to the Promised Land

After serving as interim pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines, Ont., Waldo Pauls ended up staying on as minister for seven years. He is pictured with his wife Pam at their farewell service following Waldo’s retirement in 2014. (Photo by Ernie Janzen)

Pictured from left to right, top row: Claire Ewert-Fisher, David Brubacher, Gerry Binnema, Harold Schegel. Bottom row: Waldo Pauls, Wanda Roth Amstutz and Melissa Miller.

“You don’t go quickly from Egypt to the Promised Land,” quips Harold Schlegel. “The wilderness is where God forms us.”

The wilderness Schlegel speaks of is the transition in a congregation’s life between one pastor and another. Church leaders suggest it’s a time that’s ripe for interim or transitional ministry.

Church workout

Wendy Dueck and Rosanna Kwan engage in full-body exercises. (Photo by Megan Klassen-Wiebe)

A ladder made of masking tape sticks to the floor of the foyer of Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. It’s not a typical sight in a worship space. Yet every Tuesday and Friday morning, a path is cleared through the chairs in the sanctuary, and a small group of seniors ranging from their 60s to their 90s gathers at the church to exercise.

Bethany Mennonite reaches half-century milestone

Kaleigh Van Egmond paints the face of Ellery Sawatzky at the celebration of Bethany United Mennonite Church’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Pastor Herb Sawatzky is pictured with his son Colton at Bethany United Mennonite Church’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Nella Cameron, Marie Lepp and Anne Penner look at photos recounting Bethany United Mennonite Church’s history at its 50th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Bill and Irene Goertz tell stories about the founding of Bethany United Mennonite Church at the congregation’s 50th-anniversary celebrations. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The way Bill Goertz remembers it, every time it seemed that the building plan for Bethany Mennonite Church was settled, Victor Dyck would come to yet another caffeine-fuelled Founders Committee meeting and say, “Maybe we can do a little more.”

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