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Assembly called to wrestle with independence and community

The July 24 evening service concluded with a communion service led by Janet Plenert, MWC vice president, J. Nelson Kraybill, MWC president elect, and Danisa Ndlovu, MWC president. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman, for Meetinghouse)

Web First | By Tim Huber | Jul 26, 2015

Each person is never alone. They must live in community. Yet each also craves independence and autonomy.

Citing Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32, Wieteke van der Molen told Mennonite World Conference assembly attendees July 24 that since the interests of the group will always collide with those of the individual, each person must wrestle with friction and frustration.

Confession and forgiveness part of loving your neighbour

Young Anabaptist Kevin Ressler asked how the Anabaptist church can regain its confidence and become boldly prophetic again. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Lil Goertzen | Jul 26, 2015

“We are here today, celebrating our common Anabaptist faith and our position in the Lord Jesus Christ,” was the greeting from Shantkumar S. Kunjam of India, who took the platform Friday morning representing the MWC Deacon Commission.

Shant grew up in a Mennonite community in India, is a graduate of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, chaired the Mennonite Christian Fellowship of India and has pastored several Mennonite congregations in India.

Mukawa calls for reconciliation with God, others

Nzuzi Mukawa, a Congolese Mennonite Brethren pastor and educator, preached on walking with conflict and reconciliation. He highlighted the biblical character Abigail as an example of faithful peacemaking. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Connie Faber | Jul 25, 2015

Nzuzi Mukawa, a Congolese Mennonite Brethren pastor and educator and the MB Mission team leader for Sub Sahara Africa, challenged his audience Thursday evening to leave Mennonite World Conference Assembly as men and women who are reconciled with God and with others.

Testimony of a church-conflict casualty

Remilyn Mondez, from the Philippines: “I was a casualty of church conflict.” (Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Paul Schrag | Jul 24, 2015

Remilyn Mondez of the Philippines warned about the perils of church conflict and then sprung a surprise.

Speaking July 23, 2015, at the morning worship service of the Mennonite World Conference assembly, Mondez told the story of a girl named Lenlen. When Lenlen was 2, her parents switched from a liberal Mennonite church to a conservative one. The women wore cape dresses and head coverings.

Anabaptist World Cup starts Thursday

Players have fun in the first ever Anabaptist World Cup during the Mennonite World Conference Assembly held in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Anna Groff | Jul 24, 2015

Anabaptist World Cup started on July 23, 2015, in at Logan Park in Dillsburg, Pa. This is the first soccer tournament for Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, Pa. 

Players range from ages 6 to 72.

The teams were intentionally diversified by country, gender and age, said Andrew Good, organizer.

“Everyone is having a good time so far,” Good said. “Some people take it more seriously than others but everyone is having fun. It is nice to spend time outside the convention center.”

Praising in painful times

In the Wednesday evening worship Pastor Yukari Kaga reminds those gathered at Mennonite World Conference that, “Jesus’ death has swallowed death in victory,” she said. “This is the work of God’s great power.” (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Anna Groff | Jul 23, 2015

Yukari Kaga, a pastor from Japan, admitted Peter’s praise in his letter to the early church seems “a little strange to me.” 

Peter wrote this letter (1 Peter) in such a cruel situation, Kaga said during evening worship July 22, 2015, at Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Harrisburg, Va.

“I have a question, she said. “How can we praise the Lord in such a painful situation?”

When we struggle with fear or anxiety, our hearts shrink, Kaga said. Then we get depressed, and self-pity covers us.

First thoughts of a first-time Mennonite World Conference participant

Web First | By David Driedger | Jul 23, 2015

Many people have gathered here in Harrisburg, Pa. Many more, I think, than I have been a part of in worship. Being a part of many people gathering, of many people singing can be a moving experience. We place many bodies in rhythm and so can gain a momentum impossible as individuals. As a description this momentum of course is neither positive nor negative. This is true of rock concerts, football games and political rallies.

Speakers share doubts from their settings, journeys

During Wednesday morning worship time, Deborah, from Indonesia, leads the international music ensemble in the singing of "Nyanyikanlah" (Sing to God a New Song), with gestures typical of worship in her country. The crowd in the big arena joined in with the singing and the movements. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Web First | By Kelli Yoder | Jul 22, 2015

Three speakers—one each from Kenya, Canada and Ethiopia—shared stories of doubt in their local contexts at Mennonite World Conference’s (MWC) morning worship on July 22, 2015.

“We are learning, in this wonderful global family, that this is the best way to deepen our convictions: listening to God’s word in and from different life settings,” said Tom Yoder Neufeld of Canada, a pastor, author and recently retired Bible professor.

He introduced fellow MWC Faith and Life Commission member Rebecca Osiro, pastor of Eastleigh Fellowship Centre, in Kenya.

Mennonites & Brethren in Christ to lament drone warfare

A drone (Courtesy of 1040 for Peace)

Web First | Jul 22, 2015

Participants in Mennonite World Conference Assembly, a global gathering of Mennonites and other related Anabaptist groups in Harrisburg, Pa., will be invited to assemble for prayer, lament and witness focusing on the terror inflicted by weaponized drones on the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Palestine, and Lebanon.

The prayers and laments will take place in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol building at noon on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Riding for affordable housing

MennoHomes photo

God at work in Us | Jul 22, 2015

Ken and Debbie Martin are ready to head out from Elmira (Ont.) Mennonite Church on a countryside tour as part of the MennoHomes fifth annual bike-a-thon for affordable housing on June 20. More than 100 adults and children participated by walking, cycling or riding, and raised $40,000 toward a three-storey apartment building to be built in Elmira. For more information go to

My soul brother

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jul 22, 2015 | 1 comment

The sky was a deep blue, the sun shining brightly as we gathered in the Zion Memorial Gardens to bury the ashes of a beloved family friend, my brother-in-law Frank R. Keller, in the community of our birth—Souderton, Pennsylvania.  We all knew him as “Butch.”

It takes a (global) village

Three Mennonite women from different countries share together during a Mennonite World Conference gathering in Ethiopia.

Feature | By Arli Klassen | Jul 22, 2015

The last in a five-part series leading up to Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Harrisburg, Pa.

When someone asks you to use a few words to describe yourself, what words do you use? Would you change those words to describe yourself when you are with your family? At work? Travelling to some distant place?  

Readers write: July 27, 2015 issue

Viewpoints | Jul 22, 2015

Thanks to those who attended TRC report in Ottawa

I would publicly like to thank and acknowledge the presence of Mennonite Church Canada personnel and other Mennonite workers who attended the Truth and Reconciliation Report in Ottawa. I think it is awesome that you took time out of your busy schedules and made this a priority and that you not only came, you participated whole-heartedly. Thank you for being role models to the wider church.

Garden dreams

Laura Loewen
Viewpoints | By Laura Loewen | Jul 22, 2015

“All through the long winter I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of Spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy and my spirits soar.”
~Helen Hays, quoted in Like a Garden: A Biblical Spirituality of Growth by Sara Coven Juengst (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996)

I may not dream of my garden all winter long, but as soon as the air is warmed by the sun, I itch to begin planting.


Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jul 22, 2015

So Jesus was striding down the street one day when a kid in front of him turned around and asked for a bus ticket. Jesus had noticed the boy—a skinny teenager wearing a too-big T-shirt—aimlessly tapping a stick on a nearby fence. Jesus had wondered why the boy wasn’t in school, and if he was waiting for an adult doing business at the auto shop or picking up a coffee at the Tim’s. Still, he was surprised when the boy spoke to him, interrupting his musing and asking for help. How did Jesus respond? What would Jesus do?

When a little becomes a lot

Sherri Grosz
Viewpoints | By Sherri Grosz | Jul 22, 2015

“Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’” (John 6: 8-9)

Where you start matters

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jul 22, 2015

The fragrance of old books mingled with stale pipe tobacco washed over me like finely aged wisdom, fermented from years of deep contemplation. Every wall of the late history professor’s study was concealed behind rows of shelves fully stocked with hardcover and paperback treasure. My sense of gratitude for the invitation to come “pillage” Robert’s library morphed into unbridled excitement. I soon had three boxes full of literary gems that would profoundly alter the course of my spiritual journey.

The Future of Poverty

Will Braun
Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Jul 22, 2015

In the year 2000, world leaders set themselves a deadline for dramatically decreasing global poverty. That deadline was 2015.

On the way to Sängerfest, 1934

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

god at work in the c | By Conrad Stoesz | Jul 22, 2015

A group of 18 young men and women travel in the back of a truck on their way a Sängerfest or song festival in the Didsbury, Alberta, area in 1934. No seatbelts used here! Song festivals were popular in Mennonite circles as a way of gathering to see old friends, enjoy singing four-part harmony music, and a way for young men and women to meet in controlled environments. These events often included people from different Mennonite denominations. Charismatic itinerant music directors, like Kornelius H. Neufeld, commonly led these groups, which could number over a hundred singers.

Community Mennonite celebrates 25 years

Mike Martin (second from right) and his siblings (from left), Steve, Ron, Willard, Gloria and Terry Martin sang at the 25th anniversary celebration for Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on May 23. Mike, who is the chair of church council, wrote a special song for the event.

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 22, 2015

The roots ran deep in both the Berea and Moorefield Mennonite Churches, north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Berea, first known as the Parker Mission, was founded in 1941 and joined the Ontario Mennonite Conference in 1947. That same year a congregation was founded less than 10 miles away at Moorefield, using a disused Anglican church building.

In 1967 the two congregations started sharing a pastor. They also had a combined Mennonite Youth Fellowship, adult fellowship, Christmas and evening services, as well as sports teams.

Emotions run high at MC USA convention

Prayer team member John C. Murray of Hesston, Kan., prays during a Pink Menno hymn sing outside the delegate hall July 4. (Photo by Paul Schrag, Mennonite World Review)

God at work in the Church | By Paul Schrag | Jul 22, 2015

Pick a category of people at the Mennonite Church USA convention, and you could identify their pain.

It might have been the pain of exclusion due to sexual orientation. Or of feeling the church has agreed to tolerate sin. It might have been the pain of sexual abuse. Or of concern for the future of a church sharply divided on how to relate to sexual minorities.

“I’ve never been at a convention with so many tears, and I’ve been to quite a few,” said Doro­thy Nickel Friesen of Newton, Kan., on July 4, the convention’s last full day.

Faith, fasting and feasting

April Yamasaki speaks about fasting from the Christian perspective at the Abbotsford interfaith symposium on July 6.

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Jul 22, 2015

An interfaith symposium on July 6 at Abbotsford’s Garden Park Tower found Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs reflecting on fasting and peace and then eating together with a meal around formally set tables.

Ester Neufeldt leaves MCEC after 27 years

Ester Neufeldt, outgoing operations minister of MCEC, sits in her office at 50 Kent, Kitchener. This is the third office move she oversaw in her 27-and-a-half years of working for the area church. To see Ester tell her faith story, go to

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 22, 2015

Ester Neufeldt has been around Mennonite Church Eastern Canada longer than MCEC has existed. The area church came into being on Feb. 1, 1988, but Neufeldt began her job on Jan. 25. Besides learning the ropes from the outgoing accountant for Mennonite Church of Ontario and Quebec, one of her first jobs was to close the books of MCOQ, the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, the United Mennonite Conference of Ontario, and the Inter-Mennonite Conference of Ontario, and then open one new set for MCEC.

Pastor brings compassion to same-sex debate

Artbeat | By Melissa Miller | Jul 22, 2015

A letter to my congregation: An evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.
By Ken Wilson. Read the Spirit Books, 2014.

Singing a new song

Darryl Neustaedter Barg (right) prepares for worship with two camp staff at CWM’s Camp Moose Lake.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 22, 2015

When children arrive at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s (MCM) three camps this summer, they will have a new tune to learn. “This Ground” is a simple, catchy, four-chord song—and it was written by current and former staff of MCM’s camping ministry, Camps with Meaning (CWM).

Darryl Neustaedter Barg, associate director of communications at MCM, led a handful of musicians in creating the song during two writing sessions at Camp Assiniboia this past May. The song was inspired by CWM’s 2015 theme and curriculum, “Knowing God,” which is based on the Lord’s Prayer.