MCC

Politics and paper cranes

'I still make paper cranes often...' (Image by Anke Sundermeier/Pixabay)

As the policy analyst for Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa, I’m constantly engaging with Canadian politics. I mostly love politics, but it’s also so easy to get drawn into toxic and fruitless debates and arguments. In order to stay grounded, I’ve discovered that I need to regularly reflect on the roots of my political passion—so much of which involves peace and human dignity, specifically the human impacts of political decisions, the stories of people and communities, the inherent dignity of all.

Watch: "The Story of MCC Thrift"

The women who opened the first MCC Thrift Shop in 1972 are portrayed in a new video. (Photo by Paul Plett)

The story of Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) thrift shops is given a unique retelling in a new video.

Filmed in one camera shot, the video starts with the creation of the first thrift shop in Altona, Man. in 1972 and traces its growth into a North American-wide network of more than 100 shops that bring in millions of dollars annually to support MCC’s work.

MCC celebrates, serves where its work began

Vladimir Kozlov of New Life, an MCC partner, distributes relief kits, school kits, comforters and canned meat in Nikopol, Ukraine, on June 21. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

MCC Ukraine staff Anna Proshak, left, and Olga Litvinenko serve corn grits, rye bread and warm cocoa—a 1920s MCC “relief-kitchen dinner”—at a symbolic picnic on June 16. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

Mary Raber, left, a Mennonite Mission Network worker in Ukraine; Peter Wolfe of Langley, B.C.; Catherine Enns of Winnipeg; and J Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S., read from 1920s testimonies of aid recipients and MCC workers at the picnic in Khortitsa on June 16. Behind them is a memorial to Mennonite victims of Stalin’s repression. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

Under shade trees in a city park on June 16, about 40 Anabaptists shared a picnic of corn grits, rye bread and warm cocoa.

 

‘We became Mennonites’

Lydia Grigoryevna, second from left, gets a birthday hug after worship at Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church on June 16. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, greets Mary Raber, who serves in Ukraine with Mennonite Mission Network. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Welcoming visitors from North America, Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, led his congregation of about 15 people in singing “For God So Loved Us” in Russian.

“There are no born Mennonites among us,” Kapelushniy said on June 16 as mission worker Mary Raber translated. “We became Mennonites.”

MCC partner serves people ‘society doesn’t want’

Natalia Mezentseva, second from left, director of New Life, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner in Ukraine, accepts an MCC centennial paperweight from North American visitors. Looking on are MCC board member Robert Enns of Calgary, left, and Viktoria Rab­chen­yuk, second from right, and Tatiana Yorzh, right, New Life women’s house residents. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Natalia Mezentseva oversees a household of “women in difficult circumstances.”

With an affirming and instructive place to live, thanks to a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner, their circumstances are better already.  

A group of visitors on an MCC learning tour heard their stories, cuddled a baby, applauded a child’s poetry recital and prayed with them on June 21.

Quilts on display at Abbotsford museum

An exhibit of Mennonite Central Committee B.C. (MCC B.C.) quilts is on display at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C., until the end of August, when they will go to the Tradex to be sold at the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief on Sept. 13 and 14. All proceeds from the quilt sales support MCC’s work with uprooted and vulnerable people locally and globally. The public is encouraged to visit the museum or stop by the MCC quilt room (open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) at the MCC Centre on Gladys Avenue in Abbotsford.

—By Amy Rinner Waddell

Four decades of welcome

Group photo from a picnic held at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. Harriet Dick is pictured front left. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Harriet Dick, back right, and son Alan, back left, host a refugee family in the Dicks’ backyard in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A Vietnamese couple’s wedding in 1983, to which Nicholas and Harriet Dick were invited, a signal of their ongoing friendship. The Dicks played a big role in further refugee efforts, including helping to settle a very large extended family of Kosovars. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A horse-and-wagon ride at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Toronto United Mennonite Church was the first church in Canada to receive privately sponsored “boat people” who were fleeing Vietnam and Laos during the chaos of the Vietnam War. 

MCC Saskatchewan hosts successful relief sale and auction

A shopper admires the wares of Irene Harms at the artisan market, new to this year’s MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale and Auction. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan hosted its 49th annual relief sale and auction at Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park on June 7 and 8. An estimated 750 people took in a supper and concert with Saskatoon bluegrass band, Corner Grass on June 7, while about 2,500 people attended the sale the following day.

The first signs of promise

Francesco Zuba, coordinator of the Association for Assistance to Orphan Children, stands in front of the damaged preschool in the Munhava neighbourhood of Beira, Mozambique. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Two broken chalkboards thrown by the 190-kilometre-per-hour winds of Cyclone Idai bake in the sun on what remains of the crumpled tin roof of one neighbourhood’s only preschool.

How do we respond to the stranger at our gate?

"If someone declares to us, 'I am a refugee,' we must listen carefully and discern. This has roots in Old Testament law which speaks about caring for the stranger in your land." (Image by Capri23auto/Pixabay)

What is a Christian response to migration? While on a day to day basis, I tend to deal with the nuts and bolts issues of refugee resettlement and Canadian and international policy related to it, I regularly ask myself that question.

MCC wants Canadians to #ChooseWelcome

In light of the highest level of refugees on record, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is calling on individuals, communities, neighbours and faith groups to change lives through Canada’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. The program matches the most vulnerable refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada; the Government of Canada gives up to six months of income support.

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.

MCC assisting after Cyclone Idai

Issa Ebombolo, MCC’s peacebuilding coordinator for Zambia and Malawi, unloads cooking oil in the village of Tomali as part of MCC’s Cyclone Idai flood relief project in Malawi. (MCC photo by Amanda Talstra)

Issa Ebombolo was not expecting the level of malnutrition he encountered among people displaced by flooding in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. But upon arriving in southern Malawi, where he helped distribute food and relief supplies, Ebombolo was taken aback by the dire need for food assistance.

A crisis of compassion

'We heard about monarch butterflies and how they are the symbol of migration. This really captured my heart and stayed with me during the following days.' (Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

Mennonite Central Committee’s “People on the Move: Human Rights and Global Migration” student seminar in Ottawa this past February sparked in me a new curiosity and interest in the stories of migrants.

Following the seminar, I contemplated and reflected on the different topics, the work of the speakers presented at the seminar, and the conversations I had with fellow participants at lunch hour and breaks.

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.

MC Canada primer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

Consider it (re)settled

MCC representative Victor Neumann, second from left, in Songkhla, Thailand, with Vietnamese Boat People. Mothers of the pictured children were abducted by pirates. In response to the refugee crisis following the end of the Vietnam War, in 1979, MCC was the first agency to sign a private sponsorship agreement with the Government of Canada, leading hundreds of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in Canada to sponsor and resettle thousands of refugees across the country. (All photos courtesy of MCC)

More than 12,500 refugees have been resettled in Canada by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) since it negotiated an agreement with the government on March 5, 1979. This historic agreement established the framework for private agencies to sponsor more than 327,000 refugees for resettlement in Canada in the last 40 years.

Vintage hockey card auction nets over $13,000 for MCC

Gary Jantzi, left, from Jantzi Auctions Ltd., calls for bids on a vintage Darryl Sittler rookie card, held by volunteer, John Snider, right. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was standing room only in the community room at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira, Ont., for an auction of vintage hockey cards, hosted by the local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift and Gift store on March 16.

Potential buyers lined up early to view the cards and other memorabilia, including rookie cards for Tony Esposito, Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr.

'Everything is possible'

Alma Darweesh, left, Reem Younes, Krista Neustaedter Barg and Brian Darweesh at Younes and Darweesh’s citizenship ceremony. (Photos courtesy of Reem Younes)

For Reem Younes and Brian Darweesh, everything seems possible now that they’re citizens of Canada.

Originally from Syria, Younes and Darweesh moved to Winnipeg in 2015 as privately sponsored refugees, welcomed by a Mennonite community there.

Why I advocate for human rights

'I want to learn from our history and remind others that cultural and religious differences must not make us complicit in denying dignity and equality for all,' Leona Lortie writes. (Photo by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

In contemplating where our passions come from and why we do what we do, we often look to our childhoods. In my childhood, I was faced with several tensions, which formed me and led me to study history.


Leona Lortie is the public engagement and advocacy coordinator for MCC's Ottawa office. (MCC photo by Meghan Mast)

Militia lays down arms in Congo

Militia members enter the Congolese city of Tshikapa in a truck to lay down their arms on January 29. (Photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

(Photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

Joseph Nkongolo leads a literacy training session. (Photo by Zachary Cooke)

(Map by Betty Avery)

As truckloads of militia drove into Tshikapa to lay down their arms, Joseph Nkongolo went to meet them. Nkongolo—Coordinator of the Service and Development Department of the Mennonite Church of Congo—spoke of militia members saying they want to re-enter civil life. “Pray for us,” they said to him, “we have done horrible things; forgive us for what we have done.”

Two countries, one mission on the Korean Peninsula

Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. executive director, right, attended a Korean Anabaptist Conference in Chuncheon, South Korea, along with three South Korean church leaders. Pictured from left to right: Bock Ki Kim, SeongHan Kim and SunJu Moon, all graduates of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. Byler travelled to South Korea in November 2018 to visit MCC program and partner organizations. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada executive director Rick Cober Bauman poses with one of the cooks at Sariwon Hospital, a pediatric hospital in North Korea. In 2018, MCC shipped nearly 49,000 kilograms of canned meat to North Korea. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

It has been more than 60 years since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War, but to this day North Korea and South Korea do not have an official peace, and the divide remains great.

MCC cuts Canadian programs to focus on advocacy

Labrador Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue, left, hosts an MCC learning tour. (2016 MCC Newfoundland and Labrador Facebook Page photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is cutting about $350,000 from its Indigenous Neighbours, Restorative Justice and Low German programs. The changes are driven by a decrease in thrift store income, a shift to more international spending, and a decision to “go deeper” rather than wider. 

How steam wells work to relieve droughts in Ethiopia

MCC's first steam well, constructed in Bidu, Afar, in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

Sisay Kasu, left, project manager for MCC Ethiopia, and Hussien Edris, project coordinator for Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), look at the sediment trap leading into a birkat, a traditional water catchment system that MCC and APDA have expanded and modernized as part of an emergency water project in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

From where he is standing, MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter can feel warm air escaping from underground steam vents. Notice the dried grass that grows from moisture making its way to the surface from the underground steam. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter, left, and Sisay Kasu, MCC project coordinator in Ethiopia, stand in 40-degree C heat next to a traditional Afari steam collection structure in the Afar Desert in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

In parts of the world where the effects of climate change are severe and rains are dangerously infrequent, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is supporting innovative projects to improve access to water.

In the Afar region of Northern Ethiopia, MCC supported the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) to build and maintain a steam well benefitting 60 households.

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