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Saying goodbye to war and hello to peace in Colombia

On August 24, 2016, Colombians celebrate during the announcement that a peace agreement has been reached between the government and FARC guerrilla group, ending the longest-running conflict in the western hemisphere. (Photo courtesy of Mencoldes Foundation.)

Web First | By Elizabeth Phelps | Sep 27, 2016

Angélica Rincón could not stop smiling. All around her, crowds of people cheered and waved signs, banners and Colombian flags. Rincón—like others who partner with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—had longed for this turning point toward peace for many years.

Farewell to a ‘budding activist’

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Sep 21, 2016

We will miss her and her passion for justice as a young mother trying to make sense of the complexities of our world in the 21st century. Katie Doke Sawatzky wrote her last New Order Voice column in our September 12 issue as she embarks on full-time studies in journalism.

A misunderstood people

(Photo by Sandra Kienitz)

Feature | By Edgar Stoesz | Sep 21, 2016

Many U.S. and Canadian Mennonites think of German-speaking Mennonites in Mexico as a backward people in a Wild West country. We read of Mennonites involved in drug trafficking and ask ourselves, “Can this be?”

Unfortunately, it can, and this negative image is reinforced by the conduct of fringe Mexican Mennonites who appear in Canada, some for seasonal employment.

Readers write: September 26, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Sep 21, 2016

Braun criticized for using ‘the language of euthanasia proponents’

Re: “The right to die and the art of suffering,” Aug. 15, page 20.

I deeply sympathize with author Will Braun in the loss of his friend to suicide, and I appreciate his recognition of the need to include community in addressing the euthanasia issue. However, his treatment of this topic, which follows mainstream media patterns, suggests that he supports autonomy more than community.

Discovering humility

Steve Heinrichs
Viewpoints | By Steve Heinrichs | Sep 21, 2016 | 1 comment

It’s Sunday night, I’m in a coffee shop, and I’m soaking wet. Thirty minutes earlier I was at home reading about the Doctrine of Discovery and found the content so painful that I headed out to grab a decaf. Then the rain hit. Thank God. The water dripping from my hair hides the tears running down my cheeks.

Healthy leadership

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Sep 21, 2016

As his seven-year-old daughter gambolled away, my nephew reflected on the negotiation that I had just witnessed, where she asked repeatedly for something to which he had each time responded no.

“It’s frustrating when she or any of the kids keep asking,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t want to shut them down. I want to listen to their reasons, and take them seriously. And . . . sometimes they’re right,” he concluded.

Consider the possibilities

Darren Pries-Klassen
Viewpoints | By Darren Pries-Klassen | Sep 21, 2016

In our transformation from Mennonite Foundation of Canada to Abundance Canada, we have received several responses from our clients and constituency. While most of the feedback has been positive, there have been others who have expressed opposition to our rebranding. The most common concern is that by changing our name we are changing our values.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 9)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Sep 21, 2016

Consider the possibility that truth is not a thing or group of things (e.g. ideas, facts, doctrines, etc.) but a Spirit. This seems to be the apostle John’s understanding. For instance, he repeatedly calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17, Jn. 15:26, Jn. 16:13 1 Jn. 4:6) and in 1 Jn. 5:6 he says “the Spirit is the truth.”

Fenian defence

Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario


Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Sep 21, 2016

The Fenian Invasions, in which Irish American Civil War veterans used raids into pre-Confederation Canada to further the cause of Irish independence, were launched in 1866. Christian Eby (pictured), grandson of Mennonite Bishop Benjamin Eby of Berlin (now Kitchener), Ont., was purported to be among the thousands of young men in Canada West (now Ontario) to answer the call to arms. In the largest of the raids, the Battle of Ridgeway, Canadians experienced industrial-era battle conditions for the first time.

Waiting to return

Months after the fire, many residents have yet to return to Fort McMurray, Alta, some questioning whether they can go back. (Mennonite Disaster Service photo by Bethany Daman) 

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Sep 21, 2016

The road ahead for the recovery of Fort McMurray, Alta.—devastated this spring by wildfires that forced the evacuation of 88,000 residents while consuming and scorching large swaths of residential areas—will be dictated somewhat by the reality of the local and provincial economy, but also by when and if people return to the city.

One couple’s perspective

Bergthal, Chin congregations meet for joint worship service

A small number of the joint Bergthal-Chin worship service on Aug. 28 in Calgary.

God at work in the Church | By Anna-Lisa Salo | Sep 21, 2016

Several members from the Bergthal Mennonite Church left their own place of worship in Didsbury, Alta., on Aug. 28, 2016, to join with their Chin brothers and sisters in worship at Calgary Chin Christian Church.

Recognizing the coming shift in the structure of Mennonite Church Canada, the members of Bergthal felt that it was important to extend the hand of fellowship beyond their own community, to those congregations that are relatively new and finding their place within MC Alberta.

Is climate change real? Part 2

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Sep 21, 2016

Last February I wrote an article that elicited more response than anything I have written for this publication. The piece originated when a reader challenged my acceptance of the climate change narrative. I worked past my initial impulse—which was condescending and dismissive—and studied the sources he provided. In the resulting article, I didn’t bash him or his sources; I tried to understand them.

Zion Mennonite Fellowship lends a hand to its neighbours

Marilyn Brubacher and Bruce Weber display two of the many items available in Zion Mennonite Fellowship’s Neighbour to Neighbour lending program in Elmira, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 21, 2016

For anyone who lives in Elmira and needs a ladder to clean out his eavestroughs or get a Frisbee off her roof, call Bruce Weber.

Zion Mennonite Fellowship, in an effort to increase its visibility in the town of Elmira and improve the sense of community and neighbourliness in the community, came up with the idea of an object-lending program. Congregants have lots of items that they don’t use every day, so it was decided to lend them out to others as a service to local residents.

‘We’ve got your kids. Go have a nap.’

Volunteers, known as short-term missionaries are vital to the operation of Christian Horizons’ family retreat. Pictured (from left) are Neil Cudney (Christian Horizons’ Director of Organizational and Spiritual Life), Danny Robilliard, Ben Raine, Grace Funk, Paulin Apipila, Jordan Varey (Christian Horizons’ Director of Saskatchewan Services), Jonathan Danyluk, Blandine Wiebe, Shannon Wiebe, Laurica Oystrick, Holly Lightfoot, Alexa Harder, Massa Rogers and Tina Smart. Not pictured: Larissa Raine, Greg Baerwald and Liz Baerwald. (Photo courtesy of Christian Horizons)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Sep 21, 2016

For families with children who have exceptional needs, taking a summer vacation may seem like nothing more than an elusive dream. But now a groundbreaking program offered by Christian Horizons is making that dream come true for some families.

Honouring Alan Kurdi

Displaced people in Iraq. (Photo courtesy of Afkar Society for Development and Relief)

God at work in the World | By Julie Bell | Sep 21, 2016

On Sept. 2, 2015, the heartbreaking picture of Alan Kurdi’s body on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea was a wake-up call to the world.

The three-year-old’s death was a tragic reminder of the desperate choices made daily by some Syrians as they flee conflict in their country. Like the Kurdi family, they risk piling into unsafe boats piloted by smugglers, in an attempt to find a safe haven.

Alan, his brother and mother, didn’t make it to safety.

How photo of Alan Kurdi inspired Canadian sponsors

Brian Dyck speaks at an event hosted by MCC Manitoba, when constituents and others interested in resettlement heard from young people who came to Canada as refugees. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

On September 2, 2015, the heartbreaking picture of Alan Kurdi’s body on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea was a wake-up call to the world concerning the plight of refugees. In the nine months between September of last year and the end of June 2016, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada assisted in the arrival of almost 1100 refugees.

Making room for God to work

Willard Metzger (centre) with Ryan Siemens (l), Saskatchewan area church minister, and Calvin Quan, the new moderator of MC Canada, at the end of the MC Canada assembly in Saskatoon on July 9.

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 21, 2016

Willard Metzger’s mother was the janitor at the Glen Allan Mennonite Church (now closed) northwest of Waterloo, Ont. Now executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, he remembers being in the parsonage with his mom and going into the pastor’s study. Barely able to look over the edge of the desk where a beam of sunshine shone on its surface, he thought, “Someday I’m going to be a pastor.”

Seeking peace through post-war theatre

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Sep 21, 2016

The Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre is a long-standing hidden gem of Manitoba’s fine arts scene. The amateur company is just that—a group of honest-to-goodness theatre lovers, whose Mennonite faith convictions enliven their artwork with a spirit of community service and vivid, conscientious story-telling. They are one of the only theatre companies in Canada that still presents plays in German, and regularly features new plays by local writers, often on explicitly Mennonite themes.

Mixed emotions at the end of the journey

Martin Bauman exceeded his fundraising goal by more than $2,000. (Photo by Beverley Hiscock)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 21, 2016

Even though the journey was more than 7,500 kilometres, Martin Bauman almost wished it wouldn’t end.

On Aug. 29, the Waterloo, Ont., resident entered St. John’s, N.L., completing the cross-Canada bicycle trip he started on June 7, 2016 in Vancouver. (See more at “Raising awareness, raising funds.”

Uncovering the truth

Boat rides with Destani Skunk (left), Jeff Loon (rear) and their son, Raeshaun, raised new questions for Deanna Zantingh about looking at land theologically. (Photo by Deanna Zantingh)

Young Voices | By Deanna Zantingh | Sep 21, 2016

I turned on the radio in time to hear CBC perfectly capture my past year’s journey in one sentence. “The thing about seeking reconciliation with indigenous peoples is that eventually you realize you also have to make reconciliation with the land,” said Caleb Behn, a Salish activist and lawyer.

I began studying theology as a way to explore the questions that my friendship with an indigenous community in northern Ontario had raised. After my first year, I was shocked at how central land had become, when reconciliation was my focus.

CM seeks reader suggestions for upcoming ‘10 under 30’ feature

Young Voices | Sep 21, 2016

Canadian Mennonite wants to know about the young adults who are making a difference in your church or community.

In a special feature we will publish in the new year, Canadian Mennonite will feature 10 young people from across Canada who care about and support the church—10 emerging Mennonite leaders who are working to make the world a better place.

God makes a way where there is no way

Matt Yeater reads scripture in Greek at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s May 21 commencement ceremony. At right is Katerina Friesen, a fellow student from the 2016 graduating class. (Photo by Melissa Troyer)

Web First | By Annette Brill Bergstresser | Sep 21, 2016 | 1 comment

Matt Yeater can relate to Bible stories in which God moves in seemingly impossible ways. His own story is one of them.

Blinded in a meth lab explosion when he was 20 and imprisoned on multiple occasions, Matt doesn’t fit the stereotype of a seminary student. However, he not only graduated May 21, 2016, with a Master of Divinity from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) but also was named a recipient of the 2016 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) for his work in making biblical languages accessible to blind people.

Small actions create powerful witness in Venezuela

People in Venezuela wait in long lines for the chance to buy basic food staples. (Photo provided by Marisa Smucker.)

Web First | By Danielle Klotz | Sep 21, 2016

While cheap gas prices were celebrated in the United States, in Venezuela the low cost of oil has led to painful shortages in everyday needs, such as food, electricity and medicine.

The once-thriving Venezuelan economy depends greatly on exporting oil. Previously, when oil prices were high, this income stream allowed for low national production, permitting the government to increase imports and maintain large subsidies for its citizens.

‘Mennonites are serious about climate change’

Donor Ray Martin gestures while holding grandson Troy during the launch celebration for The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions on Aug. 11 at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Martin’s $1 million U.S. donation funded the Center, which will be housed at EMU in partnership with Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | Sep 21, 2016

Holding his 19-month-old grandson, Ray Martin told the audience gathered at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) on Aug. 11 why he had made a generous donation to study and combat the issues of climate change.

“We’re playing fast and loose with God’s creation,” Martin said. “I feel as if I owe it to him,” nodding toward his grandson, “to leave our planet, our earthly home, in good shape.”

Youth and children drink in curriculum’s ‘faith vitamins’

The creation team of Rut Atarama, left, Fabiola Arango, Diana Suárez, Rosa Triana and Amanda Valencia officially presents ‘Aguapanela!!!: A Christian curriculum for childhood and adolescence.’ (Photo courtesy of Rut Atarama)

Web First | By Rut Atarama | Sep 21, 2016

“There is no path, Pilgrim. The path is made by walking.”

This lovely phrase by the poet Antonio Machado epitomizes my life journey, particularly the two years I sojourned in Colombia.

Each person’s identity is marked by their family and social contexts, and other histories. To tell the truth, my identity as Rut Atarama, a Peruvian and a Mennonite Brethren, was redefined during my time of service with Mennonite Central Committee Colombia’s Seed program.