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Readers write: August 28, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Yesterday

National church needs to continue leading the way to reconciliation
The following letter was originally written to Mennonite Church Canada’s Interim Council and is reprinted at the authors’ request.

As walkers on the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, we write to share our gratitude for the leadership and vision offered through MC Canada that made this walk possible. However, we also express our hope and concern for the future as the church continues to work towards reconciliation and just relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Happy birthday, CM!

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Yesterday

On my bookshelf sit 19 bound volumes of Canadian Mennonite. I’m looking at Vol. 1, No. 1, published on Sept. 15, 1997. Yes, that means that, come Sept. 15, we will celebrate 20 years of this magazine in its current form.

A community with a sense of ‘we’

The interior of Sarah’s house is somewhat plain but very practical. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Feature | By Barb Draper | Yesterday

I was humbled and challenged when I spent the day with some of my Old Order Mennonite relations recently.

Relational trust

Ryan Siemens
Viewpoints | By Ryan Siemens | Yesterday

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

God’s heartbreak

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Yesterday

While training as a family therapist, I learned the term “emotional cut-off.” It was not a dynamic I was personally familiar with; my particular family tends to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. We are often so closely entwined in each other’s lives that a little more breathing space would be desirable, healthy even. As it suggests, emotional cut-off refers to ruptures in families. Relationships become so heated and painful that one or more persons cut off contact with others. A realistic metaphor is that of amputation.

Contagious generosity

Kevin Davidson
Viewpoints | By Kevin Davidson | Yesterday

For many years my wife and I raised our family in an older community with many beautiful boulevard trees but very few young families. Despite our best efforts, our neighbours were aloof and at times confrontational, but we loved our little home and the family we were building there.

Sieburg women

(Photo from the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Yesterday

Who are these five women from Siegburg, Germany, in 1919? We don’t know for certain, but on Jan. 13, soldier Gordon Eby wrote that he and an army buddy “called at the home of the Krohn family—Hubertina, Maria, Lena, Katie and Bettie.” Eby was a long way from his home and Mennonite roots in Kitchener, Ont., when his battalion was quartered in Germany after the Armistice. Speaking German helped open doors for him to the warmth of German hospitality towards former “enemies.” This is the kind of war story that seldom gets told. Why is that?

Simple but not easy

Dan Dyck
Viewpoints | By Dan Dyck | Yesterday

Catching up on Witness worker reports, I came across an update from Mary Raber, who teaches at the Odessa Theological Seminary in Ukraine, a country continuing to experience turmoil despite the absence of stories in the mainstream news media.

In a class she taught about women in church history, she invited students to tell a story about a woman who had influenced their spiritual lives. Although the particulars of each story varied, three common threads emerged: hospitality, prayer and faithfulness.

I’ll melt with you

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Yesterday

Our family was fortunate enough to see an iceberg this summer near Twillingate, N.L. It was a surreal experience for me. Everything around me paused for a brief transcendent moment, frozen in time, with the ironic exception of the massive spire of ice in front of me. “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” by the 1980s band Modern English began playing in the back of my mind.

Vietnamese Fellowship drops ‘Mennonite’ name

Pictured at the recent meeting of what is now the North American Vietnamese Evangelical Fellowship, are from left to right, front row: Nhien Pham, pastor of the Vietnamese Mennonite Church in Vancouver and chair of the newly named organization; and his wife Lien; and back row: Garry Janzen, MC B.C. executive minister; and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, MC Alberta area church minister. (Photo courtesy of Garry Janzen)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Yesterday

A name change, effective immediately, heralds a time of direction-setting for the former North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship.

Best practices begin with prayer

Louise Campbell poses with the New International Version Student Bible and a copy of the most recent ‘Season of reading guide’ used by Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church to increase biblical literacy in the congregation for the past two years. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Yesterday

While many congregations are shuttering or repurposing their education wings, Leamington United Mennonite Church built a whole new addition in 2011, replacing a 1959 building that had been linked to their new worshipping and office space when they were built in 1984. The new wing includes a dedicated prayer space as well as a suite of offices and a board room that is in high demand for adult study and discussion groups.

No longer ‘a repository of artifacts’

Mennonite Heritage Museum board chair George Epp points to the family register in a Bible once owned by Elder Peter Regier of the Rosenort Mennonite congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Yesterday

Oliver Friesen’s face lights up when he talks about history. “There’s something about the past,” he says. “It’s alive and so interesting.”

For the past two summers Friesen has been making history come alive for visitors to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Rosthern. A student of history at the University of Saskatchewan, Friesen has been helping to develop one room of the museum into a Mennonite interpretive centre.

Camp Moose Lake now sold

After 51 years of youth camping at Camp Moose Lake, a deal for the Mennonite Church Manitoba facility will close on Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Manitoba)

Camp Moose Lake, one of Mennonite Church Manitoba’s three Camps with Meaning (CwM) locations, has been sold to the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine. Possession date for the camp, located in the southeast corner of Manitoba near the community of Sprague, is set for Sept. 29, 2017.

Lamenting the ‘discovery’ of North America

Ted Swartz and Michelle Milne play a variety of characters throughout Ted and Company’s latest production, Discovery: A Comic Lament. (Photo by Josh Kraybill)

Artbeat | By Aaron Epp | Yesterday

An American theatre company with Mennonite roots performed its newest production, which explores indigenous-settler relations, to a capacity crowd in Winnipeg earlier this summer.

‘Colombia fever’

David Fehr, left, and Klaas Wall in the middle of a rice field not too far from Puerto Gaitán, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Yesterday

Despite warnings from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Low German Mennonites from drought-prone regions of northern Mexico have bought over 20,000 hectares of land in Colombia.

Kennert Giesbrecht, long-time editor of Die Mennonitische Post—a newspaper for Low German Mennonites throughout the Americas—notes the Liviney Colony and another 12,000-hectare parcel as two examples of land acquisitions. Another group is currently considering a 10,000-hectare plot. The lands are all in the Eastern Plains of Colombia, about 200 kilometres east of Bogotá.

Pollution in the Heavenly Province

Vanessa Snyder-Penner recently spent a year in China’s Sichuan province. (Photo courtesy of V. Snyder-Penner)

Young Voices | By Vanessa Snyder-Penner | Yesterday

The first thought that struck me when I arrived in China’s Sichuan province was how green it was.

Somehow, perhaps from tales of air pollution and reading “Made in China” stamped on most goods, I had formulated an image of China as a grey, smoke-filled country. This image might represent some parts of the country. China is so massive that images as diverse as coniferous forests, tropical beaches and wind-swept deserts are all accurate snapshots of certain parts of the nation.

A very special relationship

Mekiah Yonda, left, and Amber Muskego have been friends since 2010, when this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy of Mekiah Yonda)

 

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Yesterday

A relationship between a Winnipeg church and a community in northern Manitoba has resulted in a special friendship between two young women.

Mekiah Yonda and Amber Muskego met when members from Yonda’s church, Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, travelled to Cross Lake in 2010 to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for children in the community. Today, the two describe each other as sisters.

Congolese Mennonites suffer atrocities amid displacement of 1.4 million

Menno Simons’ favourite verse was chosen for the cloth commemorating the centennial of Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Community in Congo). Mennonites in the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently facing violence and displacement in the conflict-plagued Kasai region. (Photo by James Krabill)

Web First | By Will Braun | Aug 21, 2017

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of brutal violence.

Dozens of Congolese Mennonites have been killed, hundreds of their homes have been burned, and thousands of them have fled, as violence consumes the Kasai region, birthplace of the Mennonite church in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) reports 36 confirmed deaths of Mennonites, 12 church schools destroyed or attacked, 16 churches destroyed or attacked, and 342 homes destroyed. Those numbers may rise in the coming days.

Supporting women’s education with a party and a quilt

Martha Wiens stands in front of a quilt she made to raffle off at her 80th birthday party. Proceeds will support a scholarship for a young woman to attend Meserete Kristos College in Ethiopia. (Photo by Michael Wiens)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Aug 18, 2017

When retired teacher Martha Wiens of Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church turned 80, she threw herself a birthday party with purpose. She auctioned off a specially made quilt to raise money in support of a young woman’s education at Meserete Kristos (MK) College in Ethiopia. But she didn’t stop there, pledging to pay for a full four-year scholarship to make sure the lucky recipient has no interruptions in her study.

B.C.’s wildfires affect large region

The sun sets in Oliver, B.C., against a hazy sky during the first week in August 2017. Smoke from fires in B.C.’s interior spread throughout the province this summer. (Photo by John Dawson)

Web First | By Amy Dueckman | Aug 15, 2017

Haze lingered over a wide area of British Columbia in early August, a reminder that wildfires in B.C.’s interior were affecting residents several hundred kilometres away. An air quality advisory index was issued in Metro Vancouver on July 31, 2017, and 10 days later was still in effect, the longest ever recorded.

Review: Mennonite-Nazi connection unconvincing

Web First | By Barb Draper | Aug 15, 2017 | 3 comments

Ben Goossen argues that German-speaking Mennonites of the 20th century had a sense of Mennonite nationality and that this concept of Mennonites as a “chosen nation,” a people with a distinctive heritage, culture and ethnicity, was influenced by the racist ideas of the Nazis. He says he began this study in an effort to understand his grandfather, a retired Mennonite minister from Kansas, who was devoted to the church but who also identified himself as a “proud Prussian.”

Committee invites input for Resonate music project

Web First | Aug 11, 2017

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee in inviting congregations and individuals to give input toward a new hymnal scheduled for release in 2020.

“We want to hear what is giving life to worship across the denomination,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director. “It is essential to hear from these voices – people whose investment will deeply inform our work toward a successful collection.”

A witness for nonviolence from Nigeria

Rev. Daniel U. Mbaya (centre) was the first candidate to successfully complete research in the doctoral program of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey. (Photo by Michel Grandjean)

Web First | Aug 11, 2017 | 1 comment

A doctoral thesis focusing on the nonviolent witness of a peace church in Nigeria was recently completed at the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The candidate, Rev. Daniel Y. Mbaya, who is general secretary of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, or EYN), defended his thesis on the witness of nonviolence of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

Obituary: ‘Dan has left us’

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Aug 02, 2017 | 2 comments

The four short words of this obituary’s title, sent to Mennonite Church Alberta’s area church minister Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, heralded a large impact for the province’s churchgoers, for the Jack family, and for the many friends of Dan and Marguerite Jack.

Jack, the moderator of MC Alberta, died peacefully on July 17 after a medical emergency precipitated by a 15-year struggle with Crohn’s disease.

Is there a future for missions?

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about missions. The feature in this issue is Part 2 in a series focussing on partnerships between congregations and Witness workers. These workers were sent by Mennonite Church Canada on our behalf, to use their skills and their passions alongside local Christians for the work of God in those unique settings. (See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

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