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They can’t keep up

In March 2015, these Meseretes Kristos College students said “Thank you” for the Bibles they received from Listowel (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Norm Dyck)

Web First | Jun 30, 2015

The fastest growing Mennonite Church in the world can’t keep up with its need for leadership training and Bibles.

The Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) in Ethiopia, a member of Mennonite World Conference, baptized over 19,000 new members in 2014 according to leaders. In 1994, the church founded the Meserete Kristos Church College to help meet the need for trained leaders, graduating nearly 1,000 students for ministry since then. Each year the college must turn away eager applicants, for lack of funding.

Commitment to faith puts farmers at risk

Mennonite Christians in the village of Sidi, Burkina Faso, at a meeting in May 2015. These farmers risk losing access to their land and to their place within the village community because of their faith. They refuse to provide chiefs with items designated for sacrifice to the spirits of the land. (Photo by Siaka Traoré)

Web First | By Elizabeth Miller and Siaka Traoré, with translating assistance from Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | Jun 30, 2015

In the village of Sidi, Burkina Faso, a group of Mennonite Christians risk losing access to the land they farm and to their place within the village community, because of their faith. They refuse to provide chiefs with items designated for sacrifice to the spirits of the land.

A group of village leaders and chiefs manage and parcel out land to families and groups, mostly for agricultural purposes. They do not own the land, but they oversee its use, to ensure that everyone has enough land to grow the food necessary to feed their families.

Engaging women’s voices

Kim Penner (left) and Allison Murray planned and facilitated a symposium, “Engaging Women’s Voices on Church, Theology and Mission,” sponsored by Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, with support from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. 

Web First | By Muriel Bechtel | Jun 30, 2015

Several women in post-graduate theological studies at Toronto School of Theology (TST) challenged the 20 women and men who gathered on a Saturday in early May with new ways of thinking about church, theology and mission. The symposium was sponsored by Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre and supported by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC).

Nepali churches respond to quake victims

Because transportation is a huge issue after the earthquakes in Nepal, residents from the affected villages come to central distribution centers and carry supplies back to their homes. (Eastern Mennonite Missions photo) 

Web First | By Chris Fretz | Jun 30, 2015

A group of Nepali Anabaptist fellowships is reaching out to communities affected by the April and May 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, with a goal of assisting 2,000 families. The group is known as Binay Church Council.

Reconsidering sacred symbols

Ken Warkentin

Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Jun 30, 2015

I have had a recurring dream that began after a trip to Italy. During my time there I visited at least 50 churches and was struck with the fact that many claimed to be the home of sacred relics—especially bits of the cross of Christ. After reporting this to my historian friend, he responded with the statement that if all the acclaimed “pieces of the cross” in Italy were in one place there would be enough to fill the Sistine Chapel.

Humility over hubris

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 30, 2015

A modern-day wannabe prophet calling himself a “marginal Mennonite” audaciously predicts that this year’s Mennonite World Conference gathering will see a “mass exodus” from that body and maybe the end of the assembly, depending on the outcome of the polarizing sexuality debate at the Mennonite Church USA assembly this month in Kansas City.

The Sermon on the Mount: living it out in mind and heart

The Sermon on the Mount is the thorn in our side and the rainbow in our sky, discomforting and comforting by turn, but always calling us beyond our perspective to a more joyous and loving existence.

Feature | By Mary Schertz | Jun 30, 2015

I was down in Mississippi, at a small African-American church. My parents were volunteering there with a ministry that had many different programs going. They had a farm, a clinic, a law office, a school, sports activities for the youth of the community, a resale shop, among other worthy endeavors.

I was surprised, and dismayed, to hear on Sunday morning a sermon about the Sermon on the Mount being for the last days. There was no dissent in the congregation, a congregation that was vocal about both assent and dissent. Heads were nodding and Amens heard. The dissonance was mine.

Readers write: July 6, 2015 issue

Viewpoints | By | Jun 30, 2015

If Christ is not the head, the church suffers dementia

My wife has Alzheimer’s disease and is presently in long-term care. While visiting her I have observed other residents suffering from various forms of dementia and thought of the persons they had likely been before illness robbed them of their ability to think rationally. Some needed help with simple tasks, others would ask the same question repeatedly, all because their brains were no longer controlling their bodies.

You must die

Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jun 30, 2015 | 1 comment

On our deck there sits a small pot. It has been sitting in much the same spot for over a year. My youngest son is a budding gardener, and in the pot that sits on that spot, he dropped an apple seed. Yes, one of his middle names is John.

For a year that seed did nothing. In fact, we were ready to dump the ground and start again when, to little Johnny Appleseed’s delight, a sprout emerged. His patience paid off.  “Why did it take so long?” he asked.  

Winds of change

Viewpoints | By Katie Doke Sawatzky | Jun 30, 2015

In a couple weeks, my family and I will move to my hometown, Regina, where I’ll start school next fall. Maybe it’s because I’m in a time of transition in my personal life—books packed up, clothes and toys in boxes, cleaning buckets everywhere—but I’m sensitive to winds of change around me.

It started with our Prime Minister, who committed Canada to decarbonization at the G7 summit in Germany in June. Admittedly, it’s a goal set for 2100, but I never thought I’d hear that kind of admission from Stephen Harper, who has banked everything on Canada’s oil and gas industries.

Oka: 25 years later

Canadian soldier Patrick Cloutier and Saskatchewan Native Brad Laroque come face to face in a tense standoff at the Kahnesatake reserve in Oka, Que., Sept. 1, 1990. (Photo by Shaney Komulainen/The Canadian Press)

Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Jun 30, 2015

It’s been 25 years since the military faced off against Mohawk Warriors in the pine forest between the village of Oka and the community of Kanehsatake, 53 kilometres west of Montreal. The 78-day armed siege was the most violent and consequential clash between indigenous people and the Canadian state in modern times.

What has changed since then?

The flare-up was sparked by a proposed golf course expansion and condo development that would have turned a Mohawk cemetery into a parking lot. It represented something much bigger—a society divided by race and seething with anger.

More on Oka

Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Jun 30, 2015

In the summer of 1990 the Canadian military faced off against Mohawk Warriors between the village of Oka and the community of Kanehsatake, 53 kilometres west of Montreal, Que. This led to a 78-day armed siege, the most violent and consequential clash between indigenous people and the Canadian state in modern times.

See the main story, “Oka: 25 year later.”  See below for more on the events of the crisis and updates on what has happened since then.

Hope is a gift friends can give each other

Yvonne Johnson and Rudy Wiebe together authored Johnson’s autobiography.

Viewpoints | By By Kate Janzen | Jun 30, 2015

What do Martha Stewart and Yvonne Johnson have in common? They both spent time in prison. Stewart, wealthy and famous, served five months for manipulating stocks, while Johnson was charged with first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. This is where the similarities end.

Stewart recently spoke at Leadership Conference for Women in Calgary and, when asked about her prison experience, said very little rehabilitation happens and that many of the women should not be there, because of unfair trials.

Mennonite World Conference 1962

Mennonite Archives of Ontario/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Jun 30, 2015

In 1962, Canada hosted the Mennonite World Conference for the first time. Twelve thousand delegates attended; 6,000 of these were billeted in local homes. Historian T.D. Regehr notes in Mennonites in Canada: A People Transformed, “The Kitchener-Waterloo area, where Old Order Amish lived side by side with successful Mennonite businessmen, professionals, and academics, provided a unique opportunity to show the diversity of Canadian Mennonite life.

Hutterites thank John J. Friesen for teaching courses

This painting by Victor Kleinsasser depicts John J. Friesen talking to Hutterite students after class. It was commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee and presented to Friesen as a gift.

God at work in the Church | By | Jun 30, 2015

A new artwork honouring a professor from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee was unveiled in CMU’s new library on June 3. It honoured John J. Friesen, professor emeritus of history and theology, for his contribution to the Hutterite community.

The Gathering Church celebrates ten years

Jim Loepp Thiessen and Catherine Gitzel stand in front of the Gathering Church’s store front offices on Activa Ave. in Kitchener, Ont., across the street from the W. T. Townshend Public School, where they gather on Sunday mornings. The congregation celebrated its tenth anniversary in February this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 30, 2015

Two in three church plants don’t make it past the five-year mark. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been successful, but long life is not part of most church plants. The Gathering Church, a full member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, celebrated its tenth anniversary quietly in February this year.

Lebold dinner funds new pastoral training program

Rudy Baergen, interim pastor at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church (left) chats with Roberson Mbayamvula, pastor at Hagerman Mennonite Church. Baergen was the keynote speaker at the June 11 Lebold fundraising dinner at Conrad Grebel University College and Mbayamvula was last year’s speaker.

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 30, 2015

A new focus was announced this year at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment fundraising dinner, because last year it reached its goal of $1 million to fund pastoral training at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC). This fund, jointly supported by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Conrad Grebel, was founded in 1997 and is named after Ralph Lebold and his wife. Lebold was a pioneer in pastoral education beginning in 1961.

New peace award at Grebel to empower women

Ziauddin Yousafzai (left) chats with Susan Schultz Huxman about a new peace scholarship that will allow a female student from a region of the world experiencing conflict to study at Conrad Grebel University College in the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program. Also part of the conversation are Mohan Kendall and Ahmad Shah.

God at work in the World | By | Jun 30, 2015

Conrad Grebel University College is offering a $10,000 scholarship to a female Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) student, thanks to a partnership with Ziauddin Yousafzai, the Global Peace Centre Canada (GPCC) and the Women’s Executive Network. Yousafzai is the father of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Ride for Refuge to support ministry in Thailand

Tom and Christine Poovong recruited local volunteers to assist with a newly launched nursery, a community outreach program in Khon Kaen, Thailand. From left to right: Benz Khemma, Tom and Christine Poovong with their young children, and Amp and Naaming Anantasak with their young son.

God at work in the World | By Dan Dyck | Jun 30, 2015

Northeast Thailand is the poorest region in the country. Democracy is uneven, and peaceful protests can land protesters in barred cells overnight. Since a military coup in 2014, poor and landless subsistence farmers are reportedly being evicted from national reserve lands they have farmed for decades.

The region is home to the indigenous Isaan people, as well as many migrants from Laos, which borders Thailand to the north. Despite economic challenges, the cities in this region are growing, including the city of Khon Kaen where a new Mennonite church is emerging.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci a man of surprising contrasts

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

God at work in Us | By Deborah Froese | Jun 30, 2015

He pastors Little Flowers Community, a small Mennonite congregation in Winnipeg’s west end neighbourhood that chose to belong to the larger church body through Mennonite Church Manitoba/Mennonite Church Canada. He co-directs Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Urban Ministries Winnipeg. He’s also the director of Chiara House, a new intentional Christian community in Winnipeg, husband to Australian wife Kim and father to Ethiopian son Micah.

Church growth is the wrong narrative

Artbeat | By Reviewed by Henry Neufeld | Jun 30, 2015

“Church growth strategies are the death gurgle of a church that has lost its way,” is how Stanley Hauerwas describes this book, noting that, “God is making us leaner and meaner.”

This insightful analysis of contemporary churches comes from a pastor who wanted to become a great leader by using “successful” pastors as his model. Tim Suttle attended seminars on church growth where he met strategies borrowed from the business world. At leadership conferences pastors are told to “dream big” and embrace the latest strategy.

A different way of thinking

Mattea Nickel

Young Voices | By Jonas Cornelsen | Jun 30, 2015 | 1 comment

Imagine these words as pictures with no direct meaning. That’s part of what it’s like to have dyslexia.

“Dyslexia is a different way of thinking,” says Mattea Nickel, 19. She was diagnosed 11 years ago, after struggling to understand written words and numbers in elementary school. Now a first-year student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), she’s caught between her intellectual passion and limited accommodation for her learning style.

Baking cookies for clean water

Tyreese Hildebrandt demonstrates a model of the type of hand pump used to draw water from the sand near a sand dam. Hildebrandt raised money to buy similar pumps by putting on a bake sale at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, where he and his family attend. (Photo by Len Andres)

Young Voices | By Donna Schulz | Jun 30, 2015

Tyreese Hildebrandt is a 10-year-old who dreams of helping people to have clean drinking water. A while back, Hildebrandt read a book that touched him deeply. Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought them Together by Herb Shoveller is about a Canadian boy who raised money to dig a well in Uganda and a Ugandan boy who became his friend. After reading the book, Hildebrandt says he felt “sad, because people could get really sick from drinking dirty water.” But he also felt inspired and wanted to raise money, too.

Women’s retreat a time for worship and laughter

Calgary Chin Church women’s singing group shared special music on Sunday morning at the Alberta women’s retreat. (Photo by Helena Ball)

Back Page | By Darlene Schmidt | Jun 30, 2015

About 60 women between the ages of 20 and 80 gathered for a Mennonite Church Alberta women’s retreat at Sylvan Lake on May 22-24, 2015. They joined together to worship, pray, learn, share in meals, and most importantly to laugh together at the Saturday night variety show.

Saskatchewan Valley Auction celebrates 35 years

Four generations supporting the Foodgrains Bank through the June 20 Osler, Sask. Auction. (L-R) Grandchildren Marcy Ziolkowski, Kianna Regush, grandmother Edna Hays, great-grandmother Bertha Fehr, and mother Rebecca Ziolkowski. (Photo by John Longhurst)

Web First | By John Longhurst | Jun 29, 2015

It was raining hard, but nobody was unhappy as they pulled into Walter and Peggy Wiebe’s farmyard near Osler, Sask. on June 20, 2015, for the 35th annual Saskatchewan Valley Auction for Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

“It’s a million dollar rain,” said Bill Wiebe, one of the Auction’s organizers as he watched the rain fall from the shelter of the auction tent.

“We’ve had hardly any rain at all the last two months. This will help a lot of farmers.”