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Video: Christ at the Coffee Shop

Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Web First | Feb 03, 2016

In the spring of 2015, Pastor Kassa Lemma of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto invited Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director Willard Metzger to speak at an Ethiopian evangelistic conference. Metzger admits that his first response was hesitant. “We don’t do that anymore as Mennonites.” But he says the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Mennonites do engage in evangelism—they just go about it in different ways.

Are congregations up to it?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jan 27, 2016

With the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process, congregations across Canada were wisely and prudently given seven years to discern the important issues confronting them in an increasingly post-Christendom era of the 21st century: multiculturalism, the state of our peace and justice beliefs and practices, and sexuality, to name the high-profile ones.

Witness workers bring forth concerns about ‘Future Directions’

Feature | Jan 27, 2016

The following is an abridged version of a letter sent to the Future Directions Task Force and Mennonite Church Canada leaders that was signed by all 24 Witness workers in light of the Task Force’s concluding report ( The report focusses on two central questions: “What is God’s Spirit calling us to in the 21st century?” and, “What are the best ways (programs, structures, strategies) for the church to thrive and grow?”

Witness workers’ concerns acknowledged

Feature | By Aldred H. Neufeldt | Jan 27, 2016

On behalf of the Future Directions Task Force I express sincere thanks for the thought and time you’ve put into the open letter received last week from Norm Dyck, Mennonite Church Canada’s Witness Council chair. (See an abridged version of the letter at “Witness workers bring forth concerns about ‘Future Directions.’ ”)

Readers write: February 1, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Jan 27, 2016 | 1 comment

Evolutionary theory attacks Christianity

Some time ago there was a letter to the editor promoting evolutionary theory as strengthening faith. This is not Christian or scriptural.

Since evolutionary theory is atheistic, we as Christians do well to believe in God as our creator. True science does not support evolutionary theory, even though evolutionists have hijacked the word “science.”

Do we need saving?

Tim Froese
Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jan 27, 2016

The word “saviour” doesn’t often come up in conversation. Could it be that we are not in need of saving? Perhaps we face no imminent danger. Or perhaps there is nothing in recent history that reminds us of rescue, liberation, redemption or salvation. Maybe we can save ourselves through our own devices. Or maybe we are so inclined to view everything in shades of grey that a concept like salvation draws a line where we think there shouldn’t be one.

A transformational moment

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jan 27, 2016

“I wonder where my wrapping paper is,” my mother mused. “I know I’m not supposed to go to the attic, but I did. Maybe it’s up there.” (The attic is a garage loft, accessible by a pull-down ladder.) I was the only witness to my mother’s “confession” as we sat together in her home; at the time, I had been savouring a sweet little dish of ice cream.

Busted budget

Darren Pries-Klassen
Viewpoints | By Darren Pries-Klassen | Jan 27, 2016

There once was a congregation called Peach Blossom Community Church. It was approaching the end of the year with a significant financial shortfall, needing $60,000 to meet its annual budget. The finance committee jumped into action. Bulletin inserts used graphs and charts to illustrate the shortfall. Weekly announcements encouraged people to give generously to avoid a deficit. There was much concern. And then, at the 11th hour, several members of the church offered sizeable cheques to cover the shortfall.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 1)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jan 27, 2016

I’ve had a number of conversations recently where the topic of truth has come up. Without exception, someone inevitably says, “There is no truth with a capital T. You have your truth and I have my truth. But there is no absolute Truth.”

Funk family goes to church

Photo: Katie Funk Wiebe Collection

Viewpoints | By Jon Isaak | Jan 27, 2016

This is a photo of Mennonite writer Katie Funk Wiebe and her family driving to church circa 1940. Katie’s father, Jacob J. Funk, took the picture in front of Eigenheim Mennonite Church in Saskatchewan. Pictured from left to right: Jakie, Katie, mother Anna with her Sunday hat, Frieda, Annie and Susie. The Eigenheim church began services in 1892 and formally organized in 1894. Its first meetinghouse was constructed in 1896, and then rebuilt in 1902.

Do church and journalism mix?

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Jan 27, 2016

Journalism is a tense and often misunderstood business, especially within the church. Readers get riled, interviewees feel gypped, church leaders squirm. But in many ways the tension is the essence.

I distinguish between “newsletterism”: straight up churchy news with no probing of deeper layers (“Relief sale has record year”); devotional articles (“How relief volunteering deepened my walk with God”); opinion articles (“Why I think relief sales need to be reinvented”); and journalism (“Experts debate pros and cons of relief sales”). The latter is the diciest.

No dust gathering here!

Ralph Dahl and Ted Regehr are pictured in the vault at the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Archives in Calgary. The temperature- and humidity-controlled room with the light blue boxes is jokingly referred to as ‘heaven’ by the Archives’ volunteers. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 27, 2016

Hearing the word “archives” may conjure sneeze-worthy stereotypes. However, a visit to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Archives in Calgary quickly dispels any dusty images.

A crowd of lively volunteers surrounded by history laugh around the lunch table, sharing discoveries made during their weekly volunteer stint to preserve the history of Mennonites in Alberta.

Another necessary conversation: Mental illness and addictions

Wilf Yantzi, an elder from the Poole Mennonite Church, left, makes a point to Brice Balmer, one of the presenters at ‘Mental wellness,’ the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders event held at Steinmann Mennonite Church, Baden, Ont., on Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jan 27, 2016

Helping those in lay and paid pastoral care roles better minister to their congregations, some of whom deal with issues of mental illness and addictions, was the goal of “Mental wellness,” Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s annual pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders event held Jan. 16, 2016, at Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden.

A town that welcomes refugees

Hasan Hamam receives a stuffed animal at the Winnipeg airport. He arrived with his mother, father and his 10 siblings on Jan. 18. The Hamam family is the fourth family of Syrian refugees to arrive in Altona. (Photo by Cindy Klassen)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Jan 27, 2016

The Manitoba Prairies have a reputation for icy winters, but they should also be known for their warm hearts. This winter, the town of Altona, Man., embraced 45 new refugees from Syria, increasing its population by 1 percent.

It has been a community effort. An Altona-based charity called Build a Village spearheaded the project by sponsoring five families. Four of them have already arrived and a fifth family is expected any day.

Remade from the inside out

Josh Wallace, the new pastor of Warman (Sask.) Mennonite Church, his wife Cindy and daughter Miriam enjoy a meal out. (Photo by Richard Rich)

God at work in Us | By Donna Schulz | Jan 27, 2016

When Josh Wallace survived a serious car accident at age 10, his father said, “God saved your life in that accident, and he must have done so for a purpose.” Since then, he has tried to figure out what that purpose is.

 Josh grew up near Bozeman, Mont., in a conservative Christian milieu. As a teenager, he tasted leadership in his youth group and in the Bible club at school. These experiences helped him overcome awkwardness and focus on the needs of others. He remembers thinking, “Instead of being fearful about what everyone else thinks, I’m going to take care of other people.”

Students in STEM programs thrive at Grebel

STEM students Charly Phillips, left, Katrina Sikkens, Sonya Dyck and Amanda Enns find themselves thriving at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo.

Focus On Education | By Jennifer Konkle | Jan 27, 2016

Conrad Grebel University College is home to a diverse mix of students studying in all six faculties at the University of Waterloo (UofW) in Ontario. In partnership with UofW, Grebel aims to boost female student participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) programs, thereby increasing the potential for future female leaders. Grebel is well-positioned to support students in these traditionally male-dominated disciplines.

Rockway reduces stigma one tweet at a time

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s ‘Stop Stigma’ campaign team members are, from left to right: Veronica Li, Hanna Liu, Tara Vojinovic and Abbey Young.

Focus On Education | Jan 27, 2016

Four Grade 11 students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate have taken an innovative approach to a class project, and it has been making a difference in their community and beyond.

Because we’re neighbours

James and Sarah Lynn Bergen perform at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees at Mennonite Collegiate Institute’s Buhler Hall before Christmas. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Collegiate Institute)

Focus On Education | Jan 27, 2016

Buhler Hall, on the campus of Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI), played host to a very special coffee house last December. The event was motivated by compassion for a multitude of displaced Syrians; further inspiration came from Mennonite Central Committee and the bold steps taken by Build a Village, a local charity, to welcome five new families to Altona, Man. (See “A town that welcomes refugees.”

EMU announces new MBA program director

David Brubaker

Focus On Education | Jan 27, 2016

David Brubaker, who joined the faculty of the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) in 2004 with a specialty in organizational development, will become the new director of EMU’s MBA program, where he has taught a course in organizational behaviour for each of the past nine years. In recent years, the MBA program has been developing a defined identity around its long-held emphasis on business leadership that looks beyond profits to measure success.

Youth invited to join #thecovenantcrew

Organizers hope that youth who gather in Saskatoon in July for Mennonite Church Canada’s Assemby 2016 are inspired to participate in future gatherings of the wider church. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jan 27, 2016

Kirsten Hamm-Epp has fond memories from past Mennonite Church Canada assemblies. When she was growing up in Altona, Man., her family planned their summer vacations around such gatherings.

“[My parents] always sort of instilled in me that it’s important to be involved, and that part of being the church is gathering with your church family,” she says. “That was really formational in terms of my faith . . . seeing that the Mennonite world was bigger than the southern Manitoba world I knew.”

Stop hiding behind the jokes

Although there is a growing awareness of the negative effects of sexism, conversations that make jokes at the expense of women still abound. (Photo illustration by Timothy Joel Dyck)

Young Voices | By Darian Wiebe Neufeld | Jan 27, 2016

During high-school band camp last fall, I was in a cabin with a bunch of teenage guys who discussed stereotypical teenage-guy things. They began talking about all the “b**ches” at school—relationship gossip, who’s got a better booty than who—things along those lines.

Worship plans connect churches across continent

A team from British Columbia developed the Mennonite worship resources for Lent/Easter 2016. Left to right: Rob Brown, Eden Mennonite Church; Chris Lenshyn, Emmanuel Mennonite Church; Tasha Janzen, Bethel Mennonite Church; Dave Bergen, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada; Emma Pavey, Langley Mennonite Fellowship; Elsie Rempel, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada. (Photo courtesy of Elsie Rempel)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

Twice a year many Mennonite congregations across Canada and the U.S. share a common worship experience. That’s because they use the same worship resources during the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.

Looking back with MCC

Esther Epp-Tiessen visits with Dave Neufeldt, chair of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta at the annual fall session held at Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary, Nov. 21, 2015. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 26, 2016

Kim Thiessen’s rendition of “Give Yourself to Love” was a perfect thematic opening to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta’s (MHSA) 2015 fall conference. The gathering highlighted the history of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada.

Love for God’s people underlies the work Thiessen, associate director of MCC Alberta, helps the organization accomplish. In an update on current projects, Thiessen showed how it has become well-known for helping refugees.

Learning a language not governed by grammar

Nicole, in the apron, and her friends Caroline and Linda help prepare brunch at Choices and Connections, a long-running Communitas program, while Jeevanjot looks on. (Photo by Angelika Dawson)

Web First | By Angelika Dawson | Jan 26, 2016

It’s a busy morning at Choices and Connections (CAC). They’re preparing brunch and the kitchen smells wonderful: sausages and eggs, pancakes and waffles, syrup and strawberries. Linda and Caroline are helping Nicole cut up the fruit for toppings as Jeevanjot watches. Sue sets the table with special napkins and cutlery. In the den, another group of friends play Wii bowling while others cheer them on.

Colombian churches call for prayer

The countryside around the community of La Esperanza, Colombia, where land mines have been planted. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

“We know that in many places throughout the world there is war, violence and hunger.” With this acknowledgement, Mennonite partners working for peace and justice in Colombia call on Anabaptist-related brothers and sisters around the world to pray for La Esperanza community in Colombia—and “that God’s salvation and peace become a reality throughout the world.”