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Readers write: May 25, 2015 issue

Viewpoints | Yesterday

History of Niagara Township Credit Union clarified by a founder’s son

Re: “‘Mennonite’ name should stay” letter, March 30, page 10.

Albert Isaac’s comments about the Niagara Township Credit Union may confuse readers.

Record number of guests attend Grebel’s convocation

Jono Cullar gave the valedictorian speech at Conrad Grebel University College’s 2015 convocation. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Web First | By By Jennifer Konkle | Yesterday

“Convocation is a time to celebrate!” With this announcement, President Susan Schultz Huxman welcomed a record number of guests sharing the day with 165 graduating students. The 2015 Conrad Grebel convocation ceremony shifted to a larger venue this year to accommodate all the friends and family members of graduating students.

The ceremony celebrates the achievements of all students who have lived at, associated with, or studied at Conrad Grebel. In addition, degrees are conferred conjointly on the Master of Theological Studies students with the University of Waterloo.

Canadian Mennonite University celebrates class of 2015

Joseph Kiranto gave the valedictory address at CMU’s 2015 graduation. (CMU photo)

Web First | By | Yesterday

When Joseph Kiranto moved from Kenya to study at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), he wasn’t sure what he wanted to major in. Each class he attended piqued his interest.

Communities come together when the earth breaks apart

Katrina Labun is an MCC SALT participant serving in Kathmandu, Nepal, as the communications and storytelling assistant for MCC Nepal. (MCC photo)

Web First | By By Katrina Labun | Yesterday

Katrina Labun is an MCC SALT participant serving in Kathmandu, Nepal. She shares about her experience following the April 25, 2015, earthquake.  

I was with my host family in a church service in Kathmandu when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck. At least two hundred people were packed into the meeting hall on the third floor of the church, with perhaps another hundred in the floors below. The pastor was giving a sermon.

Mennonite Christians are unique

Palmer Becker and J.T. Masih (centre) in a teaching mission in India. (Photo courtesy of Palmer Becker)

Feature | By Palmer Becker | May 20, 2015

This is the first in a five-part series leading up to the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Harrisburg, Pa.

Just as there are Lutheran, Baptist and Anglican Christians, so there are Mennonite Christians. The name “Mennonite” is most appropriately used as an adjective rather than a noun. We are first of all Christians and secondarily a certain kind of Christian.

MWC: a respite in a troubled world

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 20, 2015

The Anabaptist/Mennonite worldwide communion has come a long way since the first Mennonite World Conference some 90 years ago.

Organized by Christian Neff, a German Mennonite pastor, only 100 persons attended that first gathering in 1925 in Basel, Switzerland.  Estimates of the worldwide communion numbered 516,300, according to Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.  Most of the participants were from Europe.

We’re in this together

Viewpoints | By Hilda Hildebrand | May 20, 2015

When I was called to serve on the Mennonite Church Canada General Board in 2006, church participation and financial giving were in slow decline. The looming threat of cutbacks further drained life from the overall system. In addition, signs of theological challenge were surfacing around matters of sexuality. These and other factors led to the General Board’s desire for our national church family to become more richly engaged in biblically grounded, communal discernment on matters important to the church.

Heaven on earth, wonders without end

Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 20, 2015

“There’s a gift for you in my office,” my husband announced cheerily. “What?!?” I exclaimed, puzzled at such a development. He repeated the news and added, “It’s a dress to wear to the wedding.” “What?” I asked again. Now I was even more surprised, though a little, curious pleasure stirred inside me.

A severe case of ‘generosi-phobia’

Viewpoints | By Arnie Friesen | May 20, 2015

On a sunny lunch break while attending high school, I went for my customary walk into town. A classmate drove up in his shiny two-door coupe and offered a ride. Because he had already offered rides to other students, I soon found myself in the back seat beneath a pile of humanity. I panicked. I was overcome with a massive case of claustrophobia. I pinched the unlucky guy sprawled on my lap and demanded to be released from my torment. I still remember the sense of relief when the car came to a halt and I escaped to freedom.

Interdependency at the heart of MWC vision

Mennonite World Conference brings together Mennonites from all over the world. (Photo by Merle Good)

Viewpoints | By Will Braun | May 20, 2015

One minute César García is talking with awe about a postmodern work of art in a thriving Amsterdam Mennonite church, and the next he’s speaking with similar awe about a Mennonite service in rural Malawi where the congregation has little more than a tree to meet under, a make-shift drum and the joy of the Lord.

García, 43, is into his fourth year as general secretary of Mennonite World Conference (MWC). He has a unique and deeply thoughtful grasp of the unfathomably diverse groups that make up the global Anabaptist family.

Moving thinward (Pt. 4)

Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | May 20, 2015

One of my atheist friends told me about a unique encounter with a “holy” man that ignited her spiritual awakening. She met a Buddhist monk visiting the city she lived in, and her friend offered to tour him around for the day. They were amazed at the monk’s sense of wonder and childlike excitement, he never seemed to stop smiling. At one point she held his hand as they walked down a busy street and she was overwhelmed by a sense of inexplicable peace flowing through her. In that moment something shifted inside of her. The only word she could use to describe the experience was “sacred.”

Why Mennonites love their gardens

Susie Fisher holds a handful of heritage cucumber seeds given to her by a Mennonite couple in Winkler, Manitoba. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | May 20, 2015

In the village of Neubergthal in southern Manitoba, gnarled cottonwoods with deeply grooved trunks line the village streets and cluster along the edge of farmyards. Cottonwoods here and in nearby towns bear nostalgic meaning for many Mennonites. According to local mythology, the cottonwoods are descended from Russian trees brought to Canada as saplings or seeds by Mennonite immigrants in the 1870s. Some of them were planted on the graves of loved ones.

Students learn about indigenous land issues

Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program Coordinator, Leonard Doell (left), tells students at Rosthern Junior College what MCC has been doing to help the Young Chippewayan people in their land entitlement claims against the Canadian government. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 20, 2015

“I feel like a refugee in my own country,” said George Kingfisher. The hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation was at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) to tell students how his people lost their land. RJC, partnering with Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Walking the Path Committee and Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, invited Kingfisher and others to share their stories during the school’s Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities week.

Credit helps Mennonite farmer in Burkina Faso

Mennonite Church Canada is working to develop entrepreneurship in Burkina Faso so that young Mennonite Christians can support their families and churches. (Photo by Siaka Traoré)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | May 20, 2015

“I love everything about farming,” Abram says. That passion—and his generosity—led him to empower the self-sufficiency of a farmer on the other side of the world.

Abram (a pseudonym) recently sold his house. Before he put it up for sale, he promised God 20 percent of the proceeds and prayed that God would show him where to direct his donation. He thought long and hard before making a decision. He says he has always made an effort to donate 10 percent or more of his income to God’s work, even when times were tight.

Pianist dedicated her hands to God

Lydia Derksen plays the piano in the sanctuary of Bergthal Mennonite Church near Didsbury, Alberta. She has played for the choir and congregation for 65 years. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in Us | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 20, 2015

“When I was 17 years old I dedicated my hands to the Lord. I was going to play his music in the church,” said Lydia Derksen, whose hands have been a blessing at Bergthal Mennonite for 65 years and counting. She plays the piano for the congregation, the choir and a variety of musical groups.

Derksen remembers being excited that her elementary school had a piano, but greatly disappointed when the teacher said, “at recess you go outside, you don’t play the piano!”

Pax Christi Chorale revives Judith oratorio

Soloist Jillian Yemen (mezzo-soprano) sings to four young singers from the St. Michael`s Choir School who played the king’s sons in the Pax Christi Chorale’s May 3, 2015, performance of Parry’s Judith. (Photo by Dave Rosgalsky)

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | May 20, 2015

The apocryphal book of Judith contains the story of a righteous Jewish widow who saves her people from the ravages of the Assyrian/Babylonian army led by Holofernes. While her city is besieged she leaves with her maid and is welcomed into the general’s tent. He thinks he will seduce her, but when he is alone with her and drunk from partying, she beheads him. In the morning the Assyrian troops fall into disarray and are routed by the Jews.

CMU graduate from Kenya wants to make a difference at home

Joseph Kiranto (red t-shirt) stands with his family (from left: Elizabeth, Joy, Joel and Kaleb) at a CMU event in September 2014. The Kirantos moved from Kenya so that Joseph could study at CMU. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Young Voices | By Daniel Friesen | May 20, 2015

This article is the first in a series called Voice of the Marginalized. These articles were written by students in Canadian Mennonite University’s Journalism: Principles and Practice course. Voice of the Marginalized connected writers with people on the margins of the community. Teacher Carl DeGurse is vice-chair of Canadian Mennonite’s board of directors and an assignment editor at the Winnipeg Free Press.

‘This will lead to dancing’

Jen Pogue (left), Benjamin Wert, Kimberlee Walker, Sukhpreet Sangha, Meagan Tuck and Adam Proulx read through the first draft of This Will Lead to Dancing for a small audience to gain feedback. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | May 20, 2015

There’s a running joke in the church that Mennonites don’t dance because it could lead to sex. After many requests, Ontario’s Theatre of the Beat is tackling one of the most debated aspects of the topic in an upcoming play.

The company says it’s one of the most radical plays it’s ever undertaken. This Will Lead to Dancing is an original play about LGBT inclusion in the church.

Humour and insight—the legacy of a gifted communicator

Cover of the memorial service bulletin

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 14, 2015

The church lost a voice for humour and faith with the passing of Joel Kauffmann, of Goshen, Ind., who died May 8, 2015.

“Joel had an uncanny ability and gift to communicate simply and clearly deep theological truths and social realities,” said J. Ron Byler, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee U.S., and a friend and colleague of Kauffmann.

Pax program recognized by centre for global nonviolence

Cal Redekop (right), co-founder of Mennonite Central Committee's alternative service organization Pax, accepts the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence Community Service Award from James Madison University Provost Jerry Benson on behalf of MCC and Pax. (Photo by Ervie Glick)

Web First | By Steve Shenk | May 13, 2015

In 1951, Jay “Junior” Lehman, then a 21-year-old farm boy from Ohio, sailed by freighter to Antwerp, Belgium. He was among the first wave of conscientious objectors to participate in a new alternative service program called Pax. Reaching their eventual destination in Germany, Lehman and about 20 draft-age men labored to turn Nazi poison-gas bunkers into housing for World War II refugees.

Canadian Mennonite honoured with five CCP awards of merit

The September 1, 2014 feature story, “Good work: Tales of disability, interruption and revolution,” received two Graphics awards from Canadian Church Press.

Web First | By Ross W. Muir | May 07, 2015

Following two days of keynote addresses, seminars, workshops and a closing banquet at the Canadian Church Press Convention, held in Toronto from April 30 to May 1, 2015, member publications anxiously awaited the presentation of 49 Awards of Merit for work published in 2014.

$3.33 a day does it

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 06, 2015

That’s right—the mere cost of a cappuccino at Starbucks by 33 of your friends every day for three months provides relief for 1,000 refugees or some 200 families in war-torn Syria.

A love for all seasons

Feature | By Muriel Bechtel | May 06, 2015

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come . . . . Rise up my love, and come away” (Song of Songs 2:10b-12a, 13b, KJV)

I learned these words from Song of Songs by singing them in choirs, but I’ve never heard them read or sung in church. Over the many years of wider church conversations about human sexuality and studying the Bible to seek God’s will, I don’t recall Song of Songs ever being used.

Readers write: May 11, 2015 issue

Viewpoints | May 06, 2015

Polarizing sexual debate distresses reader

I am distressed by the polarizing debate on sexuality in Mennonite Church Canada congregations. I wonder if adequate consideration is given to two questions that are central to a more productive dialogue:

Where are things not right in your world?

Viewpoints | By Garry Janzen | May 06, 2015

I have been caught by the need for justice in our world of late. I am on the e-mail list of Rabbis for Human Rights who are actively standing up for justice for all people who are getting a bad deal in Israel and Palestine.

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