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Widening our circle

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 04, 2016

The draw to our Anabaptist/Mennonite theology just keeps happening.

First, it was Stuart Murray, the British-born Baptist who, with many in his network, found a “home” in the Anabaptist fold. He has set up the Anabaptist Network to make a centre for seekers in many communions in the United Kingdom.

Communion and Cabernet

‘Alcohol has become ubiquitous in Canada, so much so that on April 5 even Starbucks began serving beer and wine in three of its Toronto outlets,’ writes Alberta correspondent Donita Wiebe-Neufeld in ‘Communion and Cabernet,’ our page 4 feature that offers suggestions on how the church can better handle discussions on faith and alcohol. / Photo:

Feature | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 04, 2016

Alcohol has become ubiquitous in Canada, so much so that on April 5 even Starbucks began serving beer and wine in three of its Toronto outlets.

How does this preponderance of alcohol affect life in the Mennonite church? While there may not be alcohol in church buildings, it is certainly a part of the lives of its people. It has become the norm at wedding receptions, is brewed in the homes of more than a few church members and is served at many of their social get-togethers.

Readers write: May 9, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | May 04, 2016

Tell the whole Mennonite story

Re: “People of the plains,” March 14, page 12.

“What is it with Mennonites and flat surroundings?” Bill Schroeder asks. But we also need to ask, “What is it with Mennonites and hilly country?”

Building bridges

Lee Dyck
Viewpoints | By Lee Dyck | May 04, 2016

Bridges are an important part of life in British Columbia. Whether it is the new Port Mann Bridge or any other crossing of our many rivers, bridges are a part of our lives. In Mennonite Church B.C., we are also in the business of building bridges.

The beautiful mind of Christ

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | May 04, 2016

How does the body of Christ maintain her mental health?

We often think about the church as the body of Christ functioning like a human body. In I Corinthians 12, we consider what it means to be a Jesus-centred community in which each part is honoured and each part does its work.

A justice-oriented church community

Katie Doke Sawatzky
Viewpoints | By Katie Doke Sawatzky | May 04, 2016

I haven’t been to the dump before. The route is unfamiliar. My father-in-law and I drive east, now on the outskirts of Regina, and eventually pass the oil refinery, a mammoth mess of tangled pipes behind a sea of parked trucks.

As we pull up, I look upon the hills and see the plastic bags. Some are floating on the breeze, lots are trapped against the fences. They dot the land like candy sprinkles. We find the right place to dump our dirt. I get out and smell the methane, but quickly forget about it as we set to work.

Naomi Martin

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | May 04, 2016

Naomi Martin holds a book belonging to her late husband, Bishop J.B. Martin, at the family home in 1975. Archivists Lorna Bergey and Sam Steiner look on as she prepares to donate his books and papers to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. J.B. Martin was a pastor and Bible school teacher who advocated for conscientious objectors during the Second World War and travelled to Israel on behalf of the Mennonite church. When records such as these are handed into the care of an archives, they begin a new life as sources for understanding the past and discerning the future.

All about love

Martha Epp, left, shows off one of her quilts to interviewer Amelia Pahl. (Photo by Larrisa Pahl)

Viewpoints | May 04, 2016

At the request of Elsie Wiebe of Mennonite Women in Manitoba, Mennonite Collegiate Institute graduating student Amelia Pahl interviewed Martha Epp, 77, of Morden, Man., who has been the primary caregiver for her husband Henry, 88, ever since debilitating arthritis set in all over his already frail body four years ago. Both Epp and Pahl attend Morden Mennonite Church.

From the pews

The church at Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, Man. / ‘Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach’ by Robert Linsdell CC BY 2.0

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 04, 2016

For an hour each week we sit together. Most of us are mostly silent. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we sing, sometimes we wander off in thought. Sometimes I wonder what other people wonder about. What do they wish church would be? What do they really believe? What pains would they share? What recollections warm their souls? So I asked. I interviewed six people of various backgrounds and ages. Over time, I hope to ask the same questions of dozens more people.

Holding out hope for the post-Christendom church

The Caspian Trio, featuring Simone Friesen on violin, Godwin Friesen on piano, and Amos Friesen on cello, entertained guests at the Canadian Mennonite fundraising banquet held at Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church on April 23, 2016. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 04, 2016

The Naked Anabaptist, by British author Stuart Murray, summarizes the foundational tenets of Anabaptism, but “I have a feeling it wouldn’t have sold quite as well with a different title,” he quipped.

Murray was speaking in Rosthern as part of a two-week tour thanking Mennonite Church Canada for sending Witness workers Michael and Cheryl Nimz to the United Kingdom. The Nimzes connect Anabaptists scattered throughout the U.K. and provide them with resources.

B.C. pastor heads new Canadian Mennonite board

Henry Krause, pastor of Langley (B.C.) Mennonite Fellowship, was elected chair of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board at its 45th annual meeting, held at Rosthern Mennonite Church from April 21 to 23. He succeeds Tobi Thiessen of Toronto, who is going off the board after serving for six years as a CMPS board appointee.

B.C. paddle-a-thon: a successful tradition

Spectators give a warm welcome to the first canoe to arrive in Fort Langley at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon. Paddlers annually make the journey from Hope to Fort Langley to raise funds for the summer staff bursary fund. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 04, 2016

The number of people in the vessels may have been smaller this year, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end for the total earned at the 2016 Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon

When the canoes and kayaks arrived at the Fort Langley marina on April 17, 2016, the paddlers who had started out from Hope the morning before learned that they had helped raise $42,000 for the Camp Squeah summer staff bursary fund. The fund helps support college and university students who give of their time to work at Camp Squeah, Mennonite Church B.C.’s camp, for the summer months.

Stephen Lewis addresses Power of Partnership fundraiser

MCC Ontario executive director Rick Cober Bauman, left, shares a laugh with keynote speaker Stephen Lewis at the March 30 Power of Partnership fundraising dinner in Waterloo. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | May 04, 2016

“Don’t get too used to this kind of event,” said Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario, to gales of warm laughter as he welcomed around 500 participants to the organization’s “first-ever signature event,” a four-course dinner at the St. George Banquet Hall in Waterloo on March 30. In spite of the splendour and glitz of the evening, he was at pains to note that MCC still wants to feel at home at ham and scalloped potato dinners in church basements.

Faith up front in Thailand

Upon their arrival in Khon Kaen, Thailand, the mission team from Canada was gifted with floral leis. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | May 04, 2016

A farmer disappointed by tumbling returns on his cassava crop is still eager to use a portion of his property for a future youth Bible camp facility. Another man is excited to witness to Christ in his secular job.

Coffin maker overcomes evil with good

Tulio Pedraza

God at work in Us | May 04, 2016

When missionaries arrived in Colombia to establish the country’s first Mennonite congregations, Tulio Pedraza and his wife Sofía became two of their first converts. They were baptized in June 1949.

Only a year earlier, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, a liberal political candidate, had been assassinated; his death ignited a civil war that would last for 10 years. Because Protestantism was seen as another threat to Colombia’s already strained unity, Colombian Protestants faced significant opposition from municipal authorities, Catholic priests and their own neighbours.

Contradicting the status quo

Johnny Wideman co-wrote Yellow Bellies with his fellow Theatre of the Beat member, Rebecca Steiner. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 04, 2016

After exploring lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer inclusion in the Mennonite church in This Will Lead to Dancing, the Stouffville, Ont.-based theatre company Theatre of the Beat is setting its sights on the experience of conscientious objectors (COs) for its new production.

Entitled Yellow Bellies, the play is a historical drama that highlights the experiences and public response to Mennonite COs during the Second World War. The episodic tale takes audiences across Canada, featuring verbatim interviews, fictionalized scenes and live music.

The things that are most worthwhile

Maia Fujimoto recalls feeling terrified when she started university. (Photo courtesy of Maia Fujimoto)

Young Voices | By Maia Fujimoto | May 04, 2016

The following article was originally given as a short speech at a community supper at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., where Maia Fujimoto lived in residence for two years.

Looking back on my years at university, I am always brought back to my first day at Grebel. It was a hot, sweaty day. I remember seeing crowds of students already mingling with each other and thinking, “How do they seem to already know each other?” Since living at Grebel, I have now learned what “the Mennonite Game” is and that first day makes more sense.

Mennonite ‘routes’ go deep

The corduroy road in uptown Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Back Page | May 04, 2016

Building of a light-rail transit system along the spine of Waterloo and Kitchener had to change focus in March 2016, when excavations in uptown Waterloo exposed the remains of a corduroy road. Archeologists are dating the road to the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was probably built by Mennonites, the original settlers in the area. The road would have connected Abraham Erb’s house and grist mill. Corduroy roads, made of logs laid perpendicular to the path of travel, were placed in swamps to keep horses, carts and people from getting stuck in the wet soil.

Recycling provides therapy

Clothes Basket manager Dianne Epp displays a framed button collage she created using upholstery fabric as the background. Fibre art challenge projects like Epp’s will be sold in the MCC thrift store in Rosthern. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2016

Calling themselves the Basket Cases, a small group of women meets monthly for a fibre arts challenge at The Clothes Basket, a Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in Rosthern, Sask.

The ‘simple’ life in raising an Amish family

Web First | May 03, 2016

Marianne Jantzi is the author of Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother, which has just been released by Herald Press as part of its Plainspoken series by Amish, Hutterite and plain Mennonite writers. In the book the author shares from the heart as she welcomes readers into her family’s daily life and Amish community. Drawing from her own deep faith, this young mother brings an encouraging word to parents of young children, along with insights into simple living for readers young and old.

Ukrainian pastor dreams of a new church building

As a bi-vocational pastor, Sergey Deynekin makes Styrofoam and wire building panels in his backyard. Once the panels are erected, they are covered with concrete stucco. The resulting structure is sturdy and cost-effective. Sergey plans to use his panels to build a new home for the Chernobaevka Church (Ukraine). (Photo by Gordon Janzen)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 03, 2016

Sergey Deynekin has dreams for the Chernobaevka Church in southern Ukraine. A bi-vocational pastor who works in the building trade, he developed architectural plans for a future church building after the congregation’s long-time rental location was no longer available and they moved into a vacant house. On Sundays, they crowd into two rooms with a pulpit placed near the doorway.

Grebel president accepts call from EMU

Susan Schultz Huxman

Web First | May 03, 2016

The board of governors of Conrad Grebel University College announced that president Susan Schultz Huxman has accepted the call to become the president of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va.

“It is not easy for me to consider leaving Grebel—a school that I love and that is thriving. But this invitation to serve EMU, an exceptionally innovative and healthy Mennonite institution back in the States, is an attractive match, professionally and personally, both for my husband Jesse and me.”

Mennonites respond to Ecuador earthquakes

People from the Mennonite church of Guayaquil, Ecuador, load relief materials on a truck to take to Manta for those effected by recent earthquake. (Mennonite Mission Network photo)

Web First | Apr 25, 2016

Mennonites are responding to the recent earthquakes in Ecuador, where members of multiple Mennonite congregations are among 100,000 people affected by the disaster. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador on April 16, 2016, followed by a second earthquake on April 20. At least 570 people have been killed and more than 7,000 injured or missing. Currently, responders are attending to the wounded and survivors, and searching for those still missing beneath rubble.

How climate change threatens farmers in Bangladesh

Rice farmer Masum Khandakar is pictured in front of his home in Bangladesh. With other farmers in his community, he is worried about the health of the soil in his community. (Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

Web First | By J. Neufeld | Apr 21, 2016

Masum Khandakar is a Bangladeshi rice farmer with a craggy face and a jutting white beard that flares as wide as the wings of his collared shirt. His voice goes high when his emotions overwhelm him. That is what happened one day in late December when he stood up during a community meeting inside a dimly lit schoolhouse in the town of Kotalipara and described what Koinonia had done for him. “Before Koinonia came, I could not eat one full meal a day,” he said, his voice cracking. “My fields were under water. There was no work.”

Of mission and politics

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 20, 2016

Two articles in this issue point to a shift in our Anabaptist/Mennonite thinking about both our mission in international witness and our place in the government arena.

“Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric,” Deborah Froese, the director of Mennonite Church Canada’s news service, opens her “What’s up with Mennos and mission?” feature on page 4, quoting Witness worker Daniel Pantoja, who ministers with his wife Joji in the Philippines.