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Customs vary among Ontario Amish

The Amish of Milverton, Ont., use open buggies with slow-moving-vehicle signs. The various Ontario Amish settlements have their own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Nov 30, 2016

The Amish in Ontario are a diverse group, explained Fred Lichti at the fall meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, held on Oct. 15, 2016, at Milverton Mennonite Fellowship. Milverton is a small town a half hour west of Kitchener-Waterloo.

There are 21 different Amish settlements or communities mostly scattered throughout southern Ontario. Each of these settlements has its own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community.

A new conversation about dementia

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 16, 2016 | 3 comments

When the diagnosis of dementia hits you up close and personal, as it has me with the decline of my spouse Marlene due to the disease, it sends you on a grief journey that clouds your perspective on life. The questions come fast and furious.

Why did this happen to her, a person so dynamic and useful, so looking forward to fulfillment of dreams at the end of the road, to spending time with family and friends, perhaps some travelling and learning of other cultures, being a gracious grandmother and enjoying the special bond of close friends going through the aging process?

A walk in the dark

‘Maybe this Advent finds you walking in the dark, taking groping, fearful, tentative steps.’ (Photo:  ©

Feature | By Carol Penner | Nov 16, 2016

In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes to us in the darkest time of the year. Christmas is advertised and celebrated as the happiest time of the year, and for some it is just that. But for others, Christmas is indeed the darkest time, where loneliness seems lonelier, when separation feels more separate, and despair calls our name. For many people it is not “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Readers write: November 21, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 16, 2016

Reader supports Mennonite call to ‘speak up’

Re: “Mennonites should speak up about Muslim head coverings” letter, Oct. 10, page 10.

This letter is right on. We have had a business in a non-Mennonite area for many years. Our customers came from every origin. Our employees never distinguished between the ethnic dress of anyone.

On being Martha

Coreena Stewart
Viewpoints | By Coreena Stewart | Nov 16, 2016

Hospitality makes my heart sing. Preparing a comfortable space, serving up new dishes, conversing with guests and attending to their individual needs: these are among my greatest joys.

Maybe that’s why the story of sisters Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 has always troubled me. I confess that, as one who loves to host, it’s easy to side with Martha, who complains to Jesus that she does all the work while Mary sits at his feet. It’s just as easy to be puzzled by Jesus’ response: “Mary chose the better task.”

Healthy citizens

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Nov 16, 2016

My husband and I decided to live in the United States this fall. Flexible work made it possible to move temporarily to a small town near where we grew up, with a primary goal of providing support to my 85-year-old mother. Belatedly, we realized that meant we would be immersed in a presidential election, a prospect that was, by turns, intriguing or unsettling.

Thinking outside the gift box

Marlow Gingerich
Viewpoints | By Marlow Gingerich | Nov 16, 2016

As our family sat around the Thanksgiving dinner table discussing our plans for Christmas and the virtue of giving gifts, someone piped up and said: “We already have too much stuff. Please don’t buy us anything for Christmas this year. We don’t need anything!”

Have you heard this statement before? When people complain that individuals are hard to buy for, this surely could be one of the reasons.

Goodbye Berlin

Photo by Gordon Eby / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Nov 16, 2016

Gordon Eby captured the moment when families in Berlin, Ont., said goodbye to local troops at the start of the First World War in 1914. In 1916, concerned that its Germanic name was bad for business, the city would say ‘goodbye’ to Berlin and ‘hello’ to Kitchener. The Berlin Mennonite Church faced a dilemma. Should it adopt the name of the ‘warlord’ war hero Lord Kitchener?

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 2)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Nov 16, 2016

A school teacher asked her class of first graders, “What colour are apples?”

Some children said “red!”

Others exclaimed “green!”

A few said “yellow.”

Then one little boy raised his hand and said, “Apples are white.”

The teacher patiently explained that apples could be red, yellow or green, but never white. However, the boy insisted. Finally the teacher asked him, “Where did you see a white apple?”

“Every apple is white” he explained. “Look inside!”

Extending the table

Mesfin Woldearegay, pastor of Bethel Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Kitchener, Ont., leads his congregation in worship at Central Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons. The congregation worships in Amharic, a Semitic language from East Africa. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Nov 16, 2016

English is still the dominant language in Mennonite Church Canada as a whole, but worship also happens every Sunday in Cantonese, Lao, Tigrinya, Oromo and 14 other languages. Unfortunately, links between Euro-Canadian Mennonites and Mennonites of other backgrounds remain limited.

From refugees to refuge

Lucy Roca, pastor and planter of Refuge de Paix in Sherbrooke, Que., receives her diploma for completing the Anabaptist Learning Workshop from Henry Paetkau, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s area church minister, at the congregation’s 10th-anniversary celebration on Oct. 14, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 16, 2016

As Lucy Roca was leaving Colombia for her safety and that of her family 12 years ago, the Colombian national church commissioned her to establish Spanish-speaking congregations in Canada in coordination with Mennonite Church Canada. Landing in Sherbrooke, Que., she set to work immediately. Now there is a thriving 10-year-old congregation there, which has spawned seven other congregations from Montreal to Quebec City.

New home for an old church

Although there is still much work to do, the New Church building, the original home of Rosthern Mennonite Church, sits on its new foundation beside the Mennonite Heritage Museum, the original home of Rosthern Junior College. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

The little church that was home to the New Church Society of Rosthern for more than a century has a new home beside the Mennonite Heritage Museum on the Rosthern Junior College (RJC) campus.

It was built around 1905 by Rosthern Mennonite Church, but the congregation quickly outgrew the building, so around 1912 it was sold to the New Church, a small Swedenborgian congregation under the leadership of Gerhard Enns.

Living the good news in many ways

Claire Ewert Fisher, standing, interim pastor of Grace Mennonite in Prince Albert, Sask., and one of the MC Saskatchewan Equipping Day organizers, offers gifts of tobacco to elders of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation during a workshop entitled ‘So you’re going to a powwow—now what?’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

With titles such as “Don’t be a culture monkey” and “I saw an orange glow on the horizon,” participants at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual Equipping Day had a difficult time choosing which workshops to attend. And with 11 workshops on offer in three time slots, there was much to choose from.

‘Without justice there is no reconciliation’

Leah Gazan, speaking at ‘The TRC calls churches to action’ conference in Saskatoon, urges participants to press the Canadian government to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ‘Without justice, there is no reconciliation,’ she says. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

Since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final report in 2015, denominations and congregations across the country have wrestled with how to respond in authentic and appropriate ways. One such response was an ecumenical conference held recently at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon.

Where is Berlin (Ont.) Mennonite Church?

Berlin (Ont.) Mennonite Church, pictured in 1902, continues to operate as First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont. (Mennonite Archival Image Database photo)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 16, 2016

During the First World War (1914-18), some citizens of Berlin, Ont., grew uncomfortable with their city’s name. At war with the Germans, they did not want to be identified as coming from a city with a German name. A plebiscite changed the city’s name to Kitchener, after a British military leader.

Long-time missionary served around the world

Peter Kehler

God at work in Us | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 16, 2016 | 1 comment

Peter Kehler, long-time Mennonite missionary, pastor and church worker of Abbotsford, B.C., died Oct. 5, surrounded by his family. He was 89.

Kehler was born in St. Anne, Man., on June 20, 1927, to Cornelius Peter and Margareta (Epp) Kehler. His early years were spent on farms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In 1945, his family settled in British Columbia, where he assisted his father on the farm and completed high school.

Insights from film help with Bible study

Gary Yamasaki launched his new book, Insights from Filmmaking for Analyzing Biblical Narrative, at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 1, 2016. The book explores how a film approach to storytelling can help 21st-century readers better understand the Bible. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 16, 2016

What do popular films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark have to do with the Bible?

Gary Yamasaki explores this question by identifying the filmmaking principles underlying such popular films and applying them to understanding the stories of the Bible.

Ain’t misbehavin’

Anna Wiebe began playing the guitar when she was 10. She wrote her first song five years later. (Photo by Vanessa Tignanelli)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 16, 2016

Old behaviour influenced the music on singer-songwriter Anna Wiebe’s latest musical release, New Behaviour.

The 24-year-old folk-pop songstress based in Guelph, Ont., partially attributes growing up in the Mennonite church for the way the album sounds.

On plausibility structures and faith

Students enjoy a potluck at the Menno Simons Centre, a student residence near the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Bergen

Young Voices | By Thomas Bergen | Nov 16, 2016

From 2011 to 2013, I was a resident of the Menno Simons Centre, a not-for-profit student residence located near the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. At Menno, I found a tight-knit community, a sense of home in a new city and inspiring Christian friendships. I also found my wife Cara.

In June 2014, Cara and I moved back “home” to be the residence coordinators of the Menno Simons Centre. Since then, we have experienced tremendous joy in helping others find the same things that we found there.

‘God is leading us into this process’

Keith Regehr (Photo by Matthew Lester) 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Nov 16, 2016

“God is helping us take apart what was, in order to build something new, so that we can engage the world in more effective ways,” says Keith Regehr confidently.

Regehr is the newly appointed transition coordinator for the five area churches and national church that together comprise Mennonite Church Canada. He is tasked with managing the transition of these structures as they respond to the change principles outlined in the final report and addendum of the Future Directions Task Force.

Breathing together

A choir made up of children of Karen families who came to Rosthern, Sask., as refugees perform for delegates at the MCC Saskatchewan ‘encounter’ and annual general meeting. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

“It is all of us together that make Mennonite Central Committee [MCC] breathe,” said Eileen Klassen Hamm, and each element of MCC Saskatchewan’s “encounter” and annual general meeting bore witness to her statement.

The organization chose “Peacebuilding on the prairies and around the world” as the theme for the Nov. 5, 2016, event, which was held at Rosthern Junior College (RJC). In her report, Klassen Hamm, who is MCC Saskatchewan’s executive director, noted both positive and negative outcomes of peacebuilding.

Mennonite Worship and Song Committee holds first meeting

Members of the new Mennonite Worship and Song Committee take a break at their first meeting September 22-25, 2016. Committee members include (first row, left to right): Bradley Kauffman, project director; SaeJin Lee; Karen Gonzol, editorial assistant; Katie Graber; Adam Tice, text editor; Emily Grimes; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. Second row, Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia; Cynthia Neufeld Smith; Mike Erb; Tom Harder; Darryl Neustaedter Barg; Paul Dueck; Benjamin Bergey, music editor, and Anneli Loepp Thiessen.

Web First | By Deborah Froese, with MennoMedia files | Nov 16, 2016

Members of the new Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met for the first time Sept. 22 to 25, 2016, at Park View Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va.

Saskatchewan women celebrate transitions

Mel Harms has been MC Saskatchewan’s women’s representative since Saskatchewan Women in Mission was disbanded in 2015. Harms is pictured holding Pilgram, the infant son of Cindy Wallace, a professor of English at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, at the area church’s women’s retreat.

Web First | By Lois Siemens | Nov 16, 2016

“Every transition is an invitation to journey with God,” is how Cindy Wallace ended each session with the women attending the annual Mennonite Church Saskatchewan women’s retreat last month.

No more closed doors

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 02, 2016 | 1 comment

The pastors of Mennonite Church British Columbia got together recently in a closed meeting to discuss their response to the Being a Faithful Church 7 resolution passed at Assembly 2016.

Instilling faith at home

(Photo ©

Feature | By Carmen Brubacher and Paul Heidebrecht | Nov 02, 2016

At times we have been both inspired and overwhelmed by the parenting books that crowd bookstore and library shelves. We have also found useful advice, and a dauntingly high bar, in countless parenting blogs and social media posts. This abundance of resources is one indication that we live in a society that takes child-rearing very seriously.