God at work in the Church

Spiritual snapshots of the U.K. and Africa

Cheryl and Mike Nimz have been Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in the United Kingdom for five years. After itinerating in Canada for two-and-a-half months, they have returned to Birmingham, England, to continue their assignment. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Norm and Lillian Nicolson and their children Kenneth and Nadine have returned to Canada after many years in Burkina Faso. A celebration of their ministry was held at Edmonton’s Holyrood Mennonite Church on July 22, 2018. Mennonite Church Alberta presented each family member with a quilt as a ‘warm welcome’ to Canada. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Mike and Cheryl Nimz: United Kingdom

‘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.

Creole-speaking congregation joins MCEC

Pastor Westerne Joseph (facing the camera) sits with members of the Assemblée de la Grâce congregation at Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering April 27 and 28, 2018. Assemblée de la Grâce was accepted as an emerging congregation during the gathering. (Photos by Dave Rogalsky)

Westerne Joseph has been in Canada for ten years. The political situation in Haiti meant that he, his wife and their children had to flee, landing in Canada as refugees. In 2010 they received refugee status, making their home in Montreal, where their children have finished high school and attend university.

End of an era

Henry Paetkau, this year’s speaker at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training fundraising banquet, and Eileen Lebold share a quiet moment at the final banquet at Conrad Grebel University College on June 5, 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Eileen Lebold thanks those who have supported the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training through the banquets over the past 14 years, at the final banquet at Conrad Grebel University College on June 5. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training met its goal of $1 million a few years ago, when Mennonite Church Eastern Canada used monies from the Schmidt bequest to top it up from $750,000. The banquet that had been a major fundraiser for the fund continued, however, with funding now going to support  the Anabaptist Learning Workshop.

‘God listened to our prayers’

Mennonite Church South Korea youth participate in a peace walk in April 2018. (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

A group gathers for the Mennonite Church South Korea assembly in September 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

As part of the peace walk in April 2018, Mennonite youth held a sign reading “Let war go; peace come!” (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

In her entire life, Hyun Hee Kim never imagined that Donald Trump, president of the United States, and Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, would one day meet and shake hands.

A supportive space

At recent meetings in Limuru, Kenya, the Mennonite World Conference General Council delegates raise orange cards to show consensus. (Photo by Len Rempel)

Alexander Neufeld of Germany, left, and Joji Pantoja of the Philippines, chair of the MWC Peace Commission, right, lead prayer for Alphonse Komuesa of the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Wilhelm Unger)

The mission of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) is to create space for the global Anabaptist family to meet together. Much of the time, it is fulfilled virtually, on social media or through email connections across continents.

#ChurchToo conference tackles painful subject

A broken cup symbolizing a life shattered by professional sexual misconduct surrounds a whole cup, symbolizing survival from traumatic experience. #ChurchToo resource person David Martin, who has dealt with several cases of clergy sexual abuse as executive minister of MC Eastern Canada, said he has been ‘deeply pained but still profoundly hopeful’ in the process. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Many troubling issues and questions arise when a Christian leader engages in professional sexual misconduct.

A Bible comes home

Visitors examine the historic Bender Bible, which was returned to Canada 90 years after it left Ontario. Conrad Grebel University College held a ‘homecoming’ event on May 12, 2018, which included the story of how the Bible originally arrived in Upper Canada in 1832. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Descendants of Jacob and Magdalena Bender examine the historic Bender Bible, held by Laureen Harder-Gissing, archivist of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

A unique feature of the 274-year-old Bender family Bible are the hand-written inscriptions with family names and birthdates. In 1831, the Bible travelled from southern Germany with Amish Mennonite immigrants Jacob and Magdalena Bender, arriving in Upper Canada in 1832. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing and historian Fred Lichti examine the the historical Bender Bible, which was recently returned to Canada. It was first brought to Upper Canada in 1832 by Amish Mennonite immigrants Jacob and Magdalena Bender but spent 90 years in an archive in the U.S. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing points out details of the Bender Bible to Virginia Hostetler. The historic Bible was brought to Upper Canada in 1832 by Amish Mennonite immigrants Jacob and Magdalena Bender, Hostetler’s ancestors from six generations back. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Descendants of Ivan and Beatrice Bender pose with the Bender Bible, a family heirloom, and the passport of their ancestor Jacob Bender, who brought the Bible to Canada in 1832, along with his wife Magdalena and their children. Pictured from left to right, back row: Grace Bender and Daniel Bender; middle row: Geoline Bender, Richard Bender, Mary Ann Bender, Laurel Bender-Lloyd and Sarah Clemmer; and front row: children Oliva Clemmer, Mason Clemmer and Benjamin Bender. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

A historic Froschauer Bible, printed in 1744, found its way to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, thanks to the efforts of archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing and local historians Fred Lichti and Catherine Schlegel (not pictured). It is informally known as the Bender Bible because it was brought to Upper Canada by Amish Mennonite immigrants Jacob and Magdalena Bender, in 1832. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

On May 12, some 125 people gathered at Conrad Grebel University College for an unusual homecoming celebration—for a Bible. This large, centuries-old book is a part of Ontario Amish Mennonite history.

A picture of gradual decline

Above: Donations from congregations and individuals to national and area/regional church bodies. (All dollar figures adjusted to 2018 dollars.)

Above: Dollar amounts to be forwarded to MC Canada in 2018. (Not included are contributions from regional churches to post-secondary schools or added budget lines for staff to take over some tasks previously performed by MC Canada staff.)

Often our society relies too much on numbers. In gravitating to quantification we tend to short-circuit the truth, which is nuanced and multilayered.

But when it comes to our denomination, I would like to see more numbers. Specifically, how has overall giving to area/regional churches and Mennonite Church Canada changed over time?

Nonviolent action in history and today

Karen Ridd facilitates the Village Game during her workshop at this year’s Red River Heritage Fair at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of the Red River Heritage Fair)

“In the Second World War there were over 10,000 loyal Canadians who served Canada without weapons. What were they called?” This is the question Conrad Stoesz has been asking students at the Red River Heritage Fair for more than a decade.

‘Connected: Striving side by side with one mind’

Ellen Kim and Nick Hamm take part in an Anabaptist Learning Workshop exercise led by coordinator Matthew Bailey-Dyck at the 31st annual MC Eastern Canada church gathering at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont. The purpose of the exercise was to write and draw together, and then reflect on the experience. (Photo Dave Rogalsky)

Michel Monette, co-pastor of Eglise Hochma in Montreal, hands translation equipment to Michel Allionna of the Assemblée de la Grâce, also in Montreal, at the 31st annual MC Eastern Canada church gathering at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont. The sessions were translated into French and Spanish. (Photo Dave Rogalsky)

The theme of this year’s Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering—stated in the headline—had many facets, both inspiring and challenging, for those gathered at Redeemer College in Ancaster on April 27 and 28, 2018.

Impassioned plea to stay connected

MC Eastern Canada welcomes two new congregations

Members of the Assemblée de la Grâce and the Matu-Chin Christian Church are welcomed into emerging church membership by Brian Bauman, mission minister, at the 31st Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Two new congregations were welcomed into emerging membership during Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual church gathering at Redeemer College on April 27 and 28, 2018. 

Celebrating what was, anticipating what will be

Mary and Emery Ens, at the pulpit, reflect on life in the old Zoar Mennonite Church building in Langham, Sask. Sheila Wiens Neufeld is seated at the piano and Valerie Wiebe is standing beside the piano. (Photo courtesy of Zoar Mennonite Church)

The old Zoar Mennonite Church in Langham, Sask. will be closing soon as the congregation moves into a new building on the same site. The original building served the congregation for 108 years. (Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan photo)

“We celebrated 108 years of life in that building,” said Ed Bueckert, referring to Zoar Mennonite Church’s sanctuary in Langham, which faces imminent closure.

‘A rich storehouse of treasure awaiting learners’

Fresno Pacific University professor Tim Geddert, right, gives a presentation on Reading the Bible Together at a seminar for Mennonite Church B.C. leaders and congregants at Level Ground Church in Abbotsford on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Scripture and community were the focus when Mennonite Church B.C. members gathered at Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford on April 14, 2018, for Reading the Bible Together.

Resource person Tim Geddert, a professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific University’s Biblical Seminary in California, called the Bible a “rich storehouse of treasure awaiting learners.”

Shekinah cabin built off the grid

Volunteers raise the first of four timber frame bents into position. By the fall of 2019, five others like this one will be in place. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

Michael Neufeld, left, works on one of the timbers used to frame Shekinah Retreat Centre’s newest cabin, while Sheila Wiens-Neufeld and James Funk hold the timber in place. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

Shekinah Retreat Centre recently launched an exciting new building project. The first of six planned timber-frame cabins took shape at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan camp during the first week of April.

Shekinah board member Michael Neufeld, who attends Zoar Mennonite in Langham, designed the cabins together with Charles Olfert of Aodbt architecture + interior design.

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.

Is Women’s Day still relevant?

Participants at the 2017 B.C. Women’s Day gather to chat outside. Changing times and perspectives on women’s ministry have put the future of the annual gathering in doubt. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Mennonite women in British Columbia have been coming together each spring since 1939 for Women’s Inspirational Day, a time of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. But as the planned date of May 6, 2018, approached, still without a coordinator or location for the event, some were questioning whether the annual spring gathering has seen its day.

‘Preach it!’

Top: Allan Rudy-Froese, left, associate professor of Christian proclamation at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., leads Pastors in Exile preachers and leaders—Tamara Shantz and Jessica Ressor-Rempel, as well as Benjamin Weber, Kim Rempel and Caleb Redekop in an exercise to feel their mouths.

Bottom: Allan Rudy-Froese, left, leads the Pastors in Exile preachers Benjamin Weber, Emily Hunsberger, Jennifer Regehr, Sylvia Hook and Katherine Matthies—in an exercise to get into the biblical text physically. (Photos by Dave Rogalsky)

Hands on his stomach, Allan Rudy-Froese walked a group of young preachers through exercises designed to make them feel at home and centred in their bodies by learning to recognize the part their abdominal muscles and their mouths—lips, tongues, palates and jaws—play in the delivery of a sermon.

MC Alberta appoints two new Joint Council members

Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, left, and Margaret Kruger-Harder, right, represent Mennonite Church Alberta on the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada.

At Mennonite Church Alberta’s annual delegate sessions in March 2018, Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Margaret Kruger-Harder were appointed to represent the regional church on MC Canada’s Joint Council, which was created following the restructuring of the nationwide church in October 2017.

MC Alberta celebrates a ‘church born anew’

Ryan Siemens, left, and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, executive ministers for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively, exchanged visits to each other’s annual assemblies to support and encourage the work of collaboration between regions in the new MC Canada structure. Siemens is wearing a Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey purchased for him by a spontaneous collection at a Saskatchewan gathering. Wiebe-Neufeld, not wanting to take any sides in a Calgary/Edmonton rivalry, diplomatically borrowed a Lethbridge Hurricanes uniform to represent Alberta in the photo op! (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, helps himself to the Syrian feast at MC Alberta’s annual assembly last month. The food was prepared by Syrians welcomed to Canada over the last several years by Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Many members of the Bethel International Church Oromo Edmonton Congregation travelled to Lethbridge to be welcomed into membership of Mennonite Church Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

At the last minute, Lethbridge Mennonite Church had to scramble to host the 2018 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate assembly. Already working hard to finish entrance and meeting room renovations, a burst water pipe flooded the church basement just a week before the March 16-17 gathering.

‘Is God still messing with us?’

Donna Slobodzian of Springstein Mennonite Church was one of many delegates and attendees at this year’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegate gathering in Winnipeg to rank the seven priorities for the regional church. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

During this year’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegate gathering, held earlier this month at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Dorothy Fontaine and Rick Neufeld remember those from the regional church who passed away in 2017. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Mennonite Church Manitoba)

“Is God still in the business of breaking into people’s lives? Is God still messing with us?” asked Brian Bauman during the opening worship service at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s annual general meeting. Bauman, MC Eastern Canada’s mission minister, called the people of MC Manitoba to discern where God is working in their church and what they are doing about it.

Giving the bucket list a ‘deeper’ meaning

Friends or foes? Visiting regional church executive ministers Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta) and David Martin (MC Eastern Canada) are part of a band of robbers attacking an innocent traveller, played by Ben Martens Bartel, during a dramatic reading of Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ken Warkentin, outgoing MC Saskatchewan moderator, answers questions during a workshop at the regional church’s annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Victoria Neufeldt, right, of First Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, raises her hand to ask a question during a workshop on congregational partnerships at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Deepening. The word resonated throughout Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s 2018 annual delegate sessions.

Psalms of lament in times of violence

Don E. Saliers, right, discusses his 2018 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar Lecture, ‘Psalms in a difficult time: Rhythms of lament and doxology,’ with Glenn Brubacher, a retired pastor and counsellor, on Feb. 15 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

What do we do with Psalm 137? While “Sing us one of your songs of Zion” (verse 3) rings in Christian minds as a sign of deep grief, the accompanying “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!” (verse 9) strikes most as exceedingly difficult.

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