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Foodgrains Bank responding to Somali hunger crisis

During the last major Somali drought in 2011, thousands of people left their nomadic life—no longer able to survive on the land as nomadic herders, with all of their animals dead—and built small shelters on the outskirts of villages. Right now, as drought ravages Somalia, the risk is another famine if help does not come soon. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank file photo by Frank Spangler)

Back Page | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Apr 19, 2017

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is responding to the hunger crisis in Somalia, where immediate emergency assistance is needed to help prevent a hunger catastrophe.

“At the back of our minds is the 2011 Somalia famine, where a quarter-of-a-million people died of hunger,” says Barbara Macdonald, Foodgrains Bank international programs director. “There is no way that should be allowed to happen again.”

‘Half-moon’ agriculture helps African farmers

Photo by James Souder

Back Page | By Marla Pierson Lester | Oct 19, 2016

Step into the fields of Etienne Tiendrébeogo (pictured at right in the bright shirt) in Yé, Burkina Faso, and you’ll notice something striking: large half-moon shapes dug into the soil, adding a fanciful touch to the dirt of his rural fields.

The result is anything but fanciful, however.

‘We are your future/Somos su futuro’

Berta Fermin Procopio creates a basket in a traditional home that has been constructed in the gallery. It was shipped in myriad pieces to Winnipeg from Mexico along with the art. More than half the population of Tlamacazapa still live in ‘cornstalk houses.’

Back Page | By Ray Dirks | Oct 05, 2016 | 2 comments

“We Are Your Future/Somos Su Futuro” opened at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg on Sept. 9. The exhibition focusses on the lives of women from the indigenous community of Tlamacazapa, Guerrero, Mexico. It features etchings by Cuernavaca artist Alejandro Aranda and watercolour paintings by gallery curator Ray Dirks, along with palm weaving by 30 women from Tlamacazapa.

Four visitors from Mexico, including Aranda and two Tlamacazapa weavers, attended the opening and other events in the gallery and at Morden Mennonite Church and Winkler’s Covenant Mennonite Church.

World record for relief *

Rose-Bar Farm of Beausejour, Man., brought its antique threshing machine to the July 31 ‘Harvesting hope’ world record attempt at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin. Funds raised from the event will be split between the Museum and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Photo by John Longhurst/Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Back Page | By Shaylyn McMahon | Aug 10, 2016

Manitoba became home to another world record on July 31, 2016, when 139 antique threshing machines harvested a field simultaneously for 15 minutes at the 62nd Manitoba Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede held at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin. Nine others started, but, for various mechanical reasons, couldn’t finish the 15-minute test.

Mennonite ‘routes’ go deep

The corduroy road in uptown Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Back Page | May 04, 2016

Building of a light-rail transit system along the spine of Waterloo and Kitchener had to change focus in March 2016, when excavations in uptown Waterloo exposed the remains of a corduroy road. Archeologists are dating the road to the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was probably built by Mennonites, the original settlers in the area. The road would have connected Abraham Erb’s house and grist mill. Corduroy roads, made of logs laid perpendicular to the path of travel, were placed in swamps to keep horses, carts and people from getting stuck in the wet soil.

The animals of MCC

VIETMAN: This cow belongs to Phùng Thị Tuyết, who cares for her disabled son, Trần Minh Sõn, who has suffered severe disabilities since birth due to his family’s exposure to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange. The family received the cow from MCC partner Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), to help boost income and financial security. Photo by Matthew Sawatzky

Back Page | By Emily Loewen | Apr 20, 2016

Around the world, MCC supports projects that help families make a better living, helping them pay for food or school for their children. Sometimes those projects involve animals—getting loans to buy them or training and new techniques to raise them. Here’s a glimpse of some of the MCC animals and how they are at work across the globe.

Six-year-olds receive Bibles at Hope Mennonite

Children receive Bibles at Hope Mennonite Church on Sept. 13: Calum Goetzke, Matea Thiessen Unger, Frieda Nuss Hildebrand, Vito Stoesz, Nicholas Rempel Nighswander and Isabelle Heinrichs. (Photo by Marianne Siemens)

Back Page | By J. Neufeld | Dec 23, 2015

Seven six-year-olds—Niko Van Geest DeGroot, Calum Goetzke, Matea Thiessen Unger, Frieda Nuss Hildebrand, Vito Stoesz, Nicholas Rempel Nighswander and Isabelle Heinrichs—received Bible story books in a church service focussed on children at Hope Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, on Sept. 13, 2015.

Peace camp has rippling effect

Peace Campers learn the positive effects of communal agriculture with Patchwork Community Gardens. (Photo courtesy of Conrad Grebel University College)

Back Page | By Dave Rogalsky | Aug 26, 2015

Just as the ripples from a stone thrown into a body of water move outward from the centre, so too the effects of one person acting in and for peace affect many around them, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. Conrad Grebel University College’s fifth annual summer camp for youth between ages 11 and 14 ran August 10 to 15, 2015, at the college’s Waterloo campus.

One camper commented that “there are ways we can help issues that may seem bigger than us. It’s meaningful because. . .our opinions matter.”

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.

Preaching must be from—and to—the margins

Gennifer Brooks, Ph.D., encourages Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary students to immerse themselves in the lives of the people to whom they will preach, so that their messages are good news that fit the context of their listeners. (Photo by Mary E. Klassen)

Back Page | By Mary E. Klassen | Jun 17, 2015

Gennifer Brooks began her presentations for the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary  (AMBS) Theological Lectureship the same way she begins the preaching classes she teachers—with the story in Luke 4 of Jesus reading from Isaiah in the temple.

Making peace with the snow

Photo by Gerald Warkentin

Back Page | By Gerald Warkentin | Jun 03, 2015

In an effort to do something creative with the snow from this past winter, these three snow words were made in front of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. However, these words were vandalized one night. The heart in “love” and a couple of the letters in “peace” were destroyed. This seemingly small act of destruction brought a new symbolic meaning to this project. I felt like my heart was broken and my efforts to create peace had been destroyed.

Make your pauses sacred

Back Page | By By Amy Dueckman | Dec 10, 2014

Combining their gifts for words and pictures, two Mennonite Church Canada pastors who are long-time friends have produced a 2015 inspirational daybook.

Lois Siemens, pastor of Superb Mennonite Church in Kerrobert, Sask., and April Yamasaki, pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., collaborated on the recently published My Sacred Pauses. Siemens enjoys photography as a hobby, while Yamasaki is the author of several books.

Christmas in October

Christmas stocking ‘goodie bags’ greeted registrants for the B.C. women’s retreat at Camp Squeah in October. The theme for the weekend was ‘Unwrap your gifts.’

Back Page | By Story and Photos by Amy Dueckman | Nov 05, 2014

When Mennonite Women in B.C. members arrived at Camp Squeah for their annual fall retreat last month, they might have thought their calendars had skipped two months ahead. The holiday season was in the air with Christmas trees, ornaments and banners decorating the lodge, all in keeping with the theme, “Unwrap your gifts.”

To begin the weekend, participants took a spiritual gifts discernment test to help determine the special ways God has gifted them.

Bible recycled for art

Back Page | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | May 21, 2014

When it comes to creating beauty out of garbage, Rosthern Junior College (RJC) students needn’t play second fiddle to the Paraguayan Recycled Orchestra.

“Rethink/Recycle”, an art show by RJC’s Peace and Justice Studies class, presented works made from recycled materials, including Scripture texts torn from old Bibles. The show was held on May 6 in conjunction with the Recycled Orchestra visit.

“We need to 're-purpose' the Bible to meet the challenges of the modern world,” said teacher Ryan Wood of the students’ work.

Drop-in hockey scores with community

Back Page | By By Amy Dueckman | Aug 28, 2013

A simple game like roller hockey has turned into a ministry that has been going on at Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack for more than 17 years. Eden offers its church parking lot every Wednesday afternoon from April to October for youths aged 12 and over to play drop-in hockey.

Christians say ‘I’m sorry’

Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Church, left, and Janet Conrad take part in the I’m Sorry campaign at this year’s Gay Pride Parade in Winnipeg on June 2, to express regret for the way Christians have not shown love to their LGBTQ neighbours.

Back Page | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 18, 2013 | 2 comments

For the second year in a row, a group of Christians gathered in Winnipeg to say “I’m sorry.” They joined the crowds on the sidelines of the annual Gay Pride Parade in downtown Winnipeg on June 2 to convey their message of contrition.

MCC sets new target for Syria crisis campaign

Walid Dabbous, left, a Syrian refugee now living in Sidon, Lebanon, tells his story to Don Peters, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada, centre, and Ali Jammoul, a worker with the Development for People and Nature Association.

Back Page | By By Julie Bell | May 22, 2013

The executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada says the situation in Syria is likely to worsen and more must be done for the people affected by the conflict.

Singing the Good Friday blues

Angelika Dawson, a member of the Good Friday Blues Band, nails her ‘blues’ to a cross as part of the Good Friday Blues service.

Back Page | By By Amy Dueckman | Apr 10, 2013

Blues filled the House of James Christian bookstore for two nights during Holy Week, raising the roof with music and raising funds for a local charity.

Turning waste into food

Back Page | By By Kristina Lopienski | Mar 13, 2013

Where might you find coffee grounds, potato skins and egg shells mixed with meat, napkins and leftover spaghetti? Typically, beside other garbage in the dump. In fact, for years, this is where Goshen College sent its food waste.

However, in 2010 the college implemented a new practice, taking something perceived as “dirty trash” and transforming it into something of value: compost.

But Natasha Weisenbeck, a junior majoring in public relations who has volunteered with the student compost team for three years, figured out a way to greatly improve the college’s approach.

Digging deep

In the wake of Typhoon Bopha in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, Daniel and Joji Pantoja’s staff loaned one month of their salaries to purchase food aid for 650 families, prompting smiles of gratitude from young recipients.

Back Page | By By Deborah Froese | Feb 13, 2013

A typhoon, five million hungry people and no available funds for relief operations. When Peacebuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) faced that scenario late last year, staff rose to the challenge by digging deep into their own pockets.

‘Metaphors in cloth and clay’

‘Women Rock Group 011: Illusion’ by Ingrid Lincoln

Back Page | Jan 30, 2013

‘Metaphors in cloth and clay,’ a new exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Gallery, Winnipeg, combines the individual and collaborative work of Winnipeg artists Ingrid Lincoln and Gaëtanne Sylvester. It challenges perceptions of the organic and metaphorical nature of cloth and clay. These two media mirror the organic nature of human DNA, with its great strength and delicacy. Two artists, one working primarily with textile and the other primarily with clay, unite to express their understanding and observations of life.

Habitat Niagara raises another house

Cindi Powell and her daughters Erica and Emily are the owners of this house in St. Catharines, Ont., built through a partnership between Habitat Niagara and the local Mennonite community.

Back Page | By Story and photo by Maria Klassen | Jan 02, 2013

Habitat for Humanity Niagara has been building houses in the Niagara Peninsula since 1993. This year the house built on Tasker St. in St. Catharines was a partnership Habitat for Humanity and the Mennonite faith community.

Roadblocks for Christmas

Last Christmas Eve, Todd Hanson encountered road blocks on his way to church in Chengdu.

Back Page | Dec 12, 2012

On his way to church last Christmas Eve, Todd Hanson found the police had erected roadblocks to facilitate crowd control. Hanson lives in Chengdu, China, where he and his wife Jeanette are Mennonite Church Canada workers, teaching and providing Anabaptist resources to Chinese students and church leaders.

China to Canada: A Prairie Connection

Karen Cornelius (left), a Winnipeg artist and guest curator of the Prairie Connections exhibit, invited artist Liang Yu (right) to show his art in Winnipeg. Ray Dirks (centre) is curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery.

Back Page | Sep 12, 2012

The flat lands of Manitoba’s wide Red River valley would seem to have little in common with northern China—unless you’ve seen the expansive silkscreen prints of Chinese artist Liang Yu. The Prairie Connections exhibit of Yu’s art at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery immediately resonates with the prairie dweller. Many scenes, featuring old iron from China’s Russian-influenced steam locomotive era, would be equally at home in Ninga, Manitoba—a prairie town that once thrived as a result of rail transport.

Food distribution helps widow reclaim dignity 

Back Page | By Story and photos by Kelly Di Domenico | Aug 29, 2012

For Sara Doua of Bamako, Mali, receiving a three-month ration means she no longer has to go door-to-door asking her neighbours for food.