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Speaking with the heart

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Yesterday

What will be the tenor of the conversation at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon? Writing this 12 days before more than 500 delegates and denominational leaders gather to consider multiple heavy issues, we can only imagine.

The lucky struggle

Seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico weed onions at Kroeker Farms, south of Winkler, Man. (Photo by Will Braun)

Feature | By Will Braun | Yesterday

Fortune and misfortune can look the same in a world of incomprehensible inequality. Each year, many thousands of Jamaicans apply for coveted temporary jobs on Canadian farms. The lucky applicants will work mostly on fruit farms and greenhouse operations under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). They can stay for up to eight months, but their families must stay at home.

More on seasonal workers in Canada

Seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico weed onions at Kroeker Farms, south of Winkler, Man. (Photo by Will Braun)

Feature | By Will Braun | Yesterday

This online supplement accompanies the feature, “The lucky struggle,” about workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).

Readers write: July 4, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Yesterday

‘Testing,’ ‘nudging’ on sexual issues has already occurred

The Being a Faithful Church document being presented at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly recognizes that “we differ dramatically in our biblical interpretations,” and that we should “learn to honour those persons with whom we disagree.”

With “unity” and “diversity” in mind, one recommendation being presented is that parts of the body of MC Canada be allowed to “test alternative understandings from those of the larger body to see if they are a prophetic nudging of the Spirit of God.”

Listen to the Spirit

Peter Rempel
Viewpoints | By Peter Rempel | Yesterday

What direction will Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches be going into the future after the assembly in Saskatoon? Will we become a more faithful church?

Crucial to our future and our faithfulness will be our understanding of, and commitment to, the unity of the church, specifically to the unity of our denomination.

Are we missing the mark?

Phil Wagler
Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Yesterday

The team I serve with is blessed by the presence of an 80-year-old saint. He has lived a full life, including serving in high levels of government, so he’s garnered significant insight and healthy scepticism. In the last few years, he says he has realized the power of the Holy Spirit and the centrality of prayer far too late in life.

Agonizing over the ‘best’ community?

Katie Doke Sawatzky
Viewpoints | By Katie Doke Sawatzky | Yesterday

My son will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Along with feelings of excitement and uncertainty over seeing him go to school, and the adjustment it’ll mean for our family, actually choosing a school has been the hardest part.

Irene Klassen

Irene Klassen (Photo by John Klassen / Mennonite Archives of Alberta)

Viewpoints | By Alice Unrau | Yesterday

Irene Klassen is pictured touring a sawmill at LaCrete, Alta., in September 2003, when the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta meeting was held in the northern Alberta town. The trip was almost a thousand kilometres, so it took a long day to get there. Participants were provided with a tour of the LaCrete Mennonite Heritage Village, the Heimstaed Lodge for seniors, and the sawmill. Klassen was a long-term volunteer for the historical society for many years; it would not have survived had it not been for her determination.

Becoming Aryan

Genealogy—often a means of proving Aryan identity—became a popular pastime among Mennonites in the Third Reich. Pictured, a 1938 gathering of the genealogical society of the van Bergen family in Marienburg, East Prussia.” / Horst Gerlach, Bildband zur Geschichte der Mennoniten (Uelzen-Oldenstadt: Preuschoff, 1980), page 52

Viewpoints | By Ben Goossen | Yesterday

When Susanna Toews arrived in Litzmannstadt, Poland, in 1944, she was already a member of the Nazi racial elite. Her native village in Ukraine had come under German occupation in 1941 with Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. During the intervening two-and-a-half years, the young Mennonite woman became a beneficiary of racial warfare.

Passing on the faith by example

Co-pastor Donita Wiebe-Neufeld of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, baptizes Tom Buhr. (Photo by Ev Buhr)

Viewpoints | By Ev Buhr | Yesterday

As parents, you hope that you have done all that you can to nurture and encourage your children on their faith journey, and yet there is that inner voice telling you that you might not have done quite enough. Maybe you could have read more Bible stories when they were children. Maybe you should have prayed together more as a family. Maybe you should have had more in-depth discussions on being a part of the church.

Voices in the wilderness

Andrew Micklefield, a member of Manitoba’s legislative assembly for Rossmere, attended the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s ‘ration meal’ lunch on behalf of Premier Brian Pallister, to voice the government’s ongoing support and mindfulness of refugee needs. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo by Amanda Thorsteinsson)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Yesterday

Raising awareness and funds for the ongoing demands of the global refugee crisis was the goal of a “ration meal” lunch hosted by Canadian Foodgrains Bank at Sam’s Place in Winnipeg on June 20, 2016, to honour World Refugee Day.

Ahmad Khattab, a former refugee from Syria who is now settled in Winnipeg, was a keynote speaker at the event. His sharing centred mostly around his previous work in Syria as an English teacher, his hope of working in his own field again some day, and his excitement for the progress his family has made since coming to Canada.

Art, theology and peace come together at global festival

Jeff Gundy, professor of English at Bluffton University in Ohio and a poet, discusses the piece “A tribe called Mennonite” with the painter Lisa Schirch at the Global Peacebuilders Conference and Festival, held from June 9 to 12, 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. The piece, made up of buttons, and hooks and eyes, looks at how Mennonites have set themselves apart from the world through their dress codes. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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

Take almost 200 mostly Mennonite peacebuilders from around the world, bring them together for four days in June 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, liberally mix in keynote speakers, 30-plus workshops, warm sunshine, a concert and original play on conscientious objectors, and you have the making of a fabulous four days of building peace in the world—a world where there is none, or where it is in too-short supply, or where there is peace but it can be grown bigger—all nonviolently but passionately, and with painful honesty and humility.

Fifty years of funding relief

Christina Edmiston, left, a pastor at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., her husband Greg and their daughter Evangeline, pose with Mohamad Alasad in front of a tent focussed on raising $50,000 specifically for Syrian humanitarian relief at this year’s New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale. Alasad is a Syrian refugee sponsored by First Mennonite Church, Pioneer Park Fellowship and Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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

The way Ross Shantz remembers it, his father Ward contacted his buddies from the Second World War conscientious objector camp at Montreal River and they began the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale in 1967.

It is more complicated than that, though, as these buddies and their spouses came from many different Mennonite and Anabaptist groups, including Brethren in Christ, the “Swiss” Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec, “Amish” Western Ontario Mennonites, and the “Russian” United Mennonite Conference of Ontario.

Moments to remember

This year’s MCC Relief Sale in Coaldale, Alta., raised more than $218,000 for MCC ‘s ongoing international ministries. (Mennonite Central Committee Alberta photo)

God at work in the World | By Rose Klassen | Yesterday

The auction began. Among the crowds in Coaldale for the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta Relief Sale on June 10 and 11, stood two Syrian men whose families had recently been assisted by MCC and sponsored by Mennonite churches to resettle in Canada. To their surprise, a loaf of bread was auctioned off for $200!

Walk of hope in support of refugees

Helping raise awareness of World Refugee Day, walkers in Abbotsford, B.C., make the trek to the MCC Centre on June 18, 2016. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)


God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Yesterday

The rain that fell on the morning of June 18 didn’t stop a group of walkers from making a three-kilometre trek in support of the upcoming World Refugee Day.

‘Imagine’ a bright beginning

David Epp

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

“This is our first kick at the cat,” quips Rosthern Junior College (RJC) principal Jim Epp.

Nevertheless, he is confident his school’s new integrated learning program will be “a dynamic learning experience” for Grade 10 students. “Recognizing that pedagogy and student learning styles are different than they were, we’re offering an educational opportunity that’s different but still very consistent with the mission of our school,” he says.

The program, dubbed Imagine, will involve up to 26 students engaging in a multi-disciplinary learning program.

On the path to wellness

Pete McAdams rests beside the road during a long-distance bike excursion in southern Manitoba. (Photo by Hal Loewen)

God at work in Us | By Will Braun | Yesterday

Popular wisdom suggests the way to deal with mental health issues is to talk them through. Pete McAdams, an uncomplicated, 43-year-old, Hutterite long-distance cyclist, has discovered a quieter path.

Exploring alternative ways of living

Jonas Cornelsen, left, and Erwin Cornelsen, pictured in 2013, are looking forward to spending time together now that they live together. (Photo courtesy of Jonas Cornelsen.)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Yesterday

Jonas Cornelsen jokes that, at the age of 22, he’s retired.

While most of his peers are looking to start their careers, the Winnipeg native and recent university graduate moved to Vancouver last month to live with, and care for, his 97-year-old grandfather, Erwin Cornelsen.

Although he is as healthy as a 97-year-old can be, Erwin and his family decided that having Jonas live with him and help him with his daily routine and chores around the house would be beneficial.

Follow the money

Participants in MCC’s 2016 Uprooted learning tour include, clockwise from top left: Thomas Coldwell (MCC Alberta), Andrew Brown, Alannah DeJong, Allison Goerzen (MCC Alberta), Jana Klassen, Carol McNaughton and Maria Alejandra Toro. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Coldwell)

Young Voices | By Andrew Brown | Yesterday

What is the real cost of the things we buy?

That’s the question I asked myself during Uprooted, a three-week learning tour for young adults through Mexico, Guatemala and Arizona that took place in May. Organized by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta and MCC Saskatchewan, the tour looked at issues surrounding migration in Central America and peacebuilding projects in the region. Our first week was in southern Mexico and Guatemala, our second week was spent in and around Mexico City, and our last week along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Loving the enemy in Burkina Faso

A woman prepares food for her family in Burkina Faso. (Mennonite Church Canada photo by Deborah Froese)

Web First | Jun 20, 2016

In a land that closely resembles the place Jesus lived more than 2,000 years ago, his words still prove true. The people of Sidi, Burkina Faso, plant their fields with the tools and methods described in the New Testament. They draw water from wells, and feed their families with crops they harvest. Some of them live by Jesus’ teaching, recorded in Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

What I learned while walking the Camino

Alvin Thiessen completed the 800-kilometre pilgrimage along the Camino de Compostela. He reached the Cape of Fisterra, on the Atlantic coast, 90 kilometres past the city of Santiago de Compostela. (Photo by Alvin Thiessen)

Web First | By Alvin Thiessen | Jun 20, 2016

After 10 days of walking, I come to a small town in Spain called Belorado. The day before, I had walked a gruelling 31 kilometres up and down hills, in warm and sunny spring weather. Maybe it’s the long walk and my feet are tired, or, maybe it’s the constant climbing up and down the hills, but something feels different under my left foot. I get to my hostel and take my walking shoes off to find a blister has formed under my foot. It’s a bad one!

Can MC Canada become a ‘we’?

Viewpoints | By Gerald Gerbrandt | Jun 15, 2016

One thing became very clear during the Future Directions Task Force conversation: In the imagination of most of us, Mennonite Church Canada is an “it” or a “they.” Currently, we experience the larger denomination—including the area churches—as an entity apart or distinct from the local congregation. We may affirm the services the denomination provides, or the programs it delivers, but these are “it” doing things for “us.”

Stronger regionalism weakens national church

Viewpoints | By Waldemar Regier | Jun 15, 2016

I have always been part of the Mennonite world, having been called to Jesus Christ in my early years; active in the fellowship of the church throughout my youth; and trained by the church through Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, N.Y. I was ordained into pastoral ministry in 1964, just at the time of transition to professional ministry in Canada.

A pastor’s holy moments

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 15, 2016

We expect a lot from our pastors, especially the part-time ones who are forced to be bi-vocational. They speak candidly about their roles and their congregation’s expectations in this issue beginning on page 4, as interviewed by our Saskatchewan correspondent, Donna Schulz.

Meet the pastors who moonlight

Besides his year-round ministerial duties at Eigenheim Mennonite Church, near Rosthern, Sask., Allan Friesen works each summer as an interpretive guide at the historic Fort Carlton Provincial Park, teaching school children and tourists about the fur trade and the signing of Treaty 6. (Photo by Maryvel Friesen)

Feature | By Donna Schulz | Jun 15, 2016

Someone once said, “There’s no such thing as part-time pastors, only part-time salaries.” If this is true, a lot of congregations within Mennonite Church Canada are getting good value for their money.

Bi-vocational ministry has become increasingly commonplace as churches decrease in size and can no longer afford full-time pastors. Even large congregations who employ pastoral teams frequently have one or two part-time ministers on their payroll. For better or worse, part-time ministry is here to stay and may become even more prevalent in the future.