Volume 19 Issue 16

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"Walking with God"

Debora Prabu, from Indonesia, sings during one of the nine worship services at Mennonite World Conference Assembly, held July 21 to 26, 2015. She was part of the 17-person international music ensemble led by Marcy Hostetler, of the U.S.A. Each day they focussed on music from one of the continents.

A historic moment

The irony couldn’t have been more self-evident. Here were 7,500 modern-day Anabaptists celebrating the beliefs and convictions that hold them together in 65 countries around the world, following on the heels of a troubled assembly of Mennonite Church USA which appeared to be coming apart at the seams over sexuality.

Walking with God and each other

Morning and evening worship services featured songs from various cultures and countries. Many people found the music inspiring. (Photo by Jim Cheng)

More than 250 friendship groups allowed MWC assembly participants to become friends with believers from around the world. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

Martin Junge, executive secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, was among the guests from other world churches who addressed the assembly. He said he was “amazed and humbled by the gift of reconciliation and forgiveness” in the Anabaptist-Lutheran dialogue. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

A group of five from Kenya sang on Thursday evening. Of the choir of 30, only these five received visas to come to the U.S. For a report from the visa task force, go to canadianmennonite.org/mwc-2015-visas (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

The assembly was a “green” event with strong encouragement to compost as much as possible. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

Liesa Unger, chief international events coordinator for MWC, rides one of the Amish-made scooters used by volunteers and coordinators to get around the enormous complex. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

In his friendship group at the Mennonite World Conference assembly, Francis Ojwang found that getting to know fellow believers from distant places brought an unexpected blessing.

MWC youth program supported by MC Canada

Natasha Neustaedter Barg gets some tips on playing a gamelan instrument from player Andrew Beltaos, as part of an evening youth event. (Photo by Doreen Martens)

Clara Flores (left), Kailey Schroeder and Joel Heppner, who knew each other as youngsters in Bolivia, were able to spend time together. (Photo by Doreen Martens)

Megan Breidigan may be only 16, but she’s already figured out there’s nothing quite like a Mennonite World Conference assembly.

Global Church Village invites visitors to leave their mark

Roland Yoder (centre) puts his own thumbprint on the three-dimensional sculpture of the MWC logo that he designed. Vikal Rao (left) from India was the overall creator of the Global Church Village and Lowell Jantzi (right) helped to carry out the concept. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman)

Young people enjoy playing Dutch Blitz in the North American tent. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

“This seems like an innocent form of community graffiti,” Roland Yoder said with a smile as he watched the hub of activity around the three-dimensional sculpture of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) logo that Yoder designed for the Global Church Village (GCV).

Women gather to explore global network

Left to right: Lesly Henriquez (Honduras), Albita Castillo (Guatemala), and Aurora Pereira (Honduras) work at a communal art project titled, “Women in Conversation.” Artist and pastor Audrey Kanagy (far right) designed the four panels, depicting women from different continents. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

Marta Lucia Gomez (Colombia) hands a candle to Sylvia Shirk Charles as Lydia Harder (Canada) looks on. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

For the first time Anabaptist women gathered from across the world to consider forming a global Anabaptist women’s network. The Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly, provided the occasion for regional gatherings of women as well as a joint meeting to explore the vision for greater connections among women doing theology and pastoral work across the Anabaptist world.

General Council fosters interdependence in global communion

Danisa Ndlovu (left) of Zimbabwe and Janet Plenert of Canada have completed six years as president and vice-president of Mennonite World Conference.

In four days of meetings just prior to the July 21-26 Mennonite World Conference Assembly, the General Council gathered with about 120 representatives from MWC member churches around the world. About half the time involved sharing stories and reflecting on themes of unity and diversity.

Mission drift

In the last couple decades, most churches caught the mission statement bug. To revisit, renew, or finally wrestle with a reason for being is crucial for any organism. As human beings we all eventually ask the big “why” of existence, so why should it be any different for groups of human beings?

How should Anabaptists celebrate 500 years?

Outgoing MWC president Danisa Ndlovu prays for the new president Nelson Kraybill and his wife Ellen, while members of the MWC executive committee surround them. The new vice-president, Rebecca Osiro, stands beside Ellen. (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

Mennonite World Conference held its first assembly in 1925, which was the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Anabaptist movement. With the 500th anniversary now only 10 years away, many people are wondering how MWC plans to commemorate it.

Lenore Mendes at Mennonite World Conference, 1990

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

Lenore Mendes of Guatemala addresses Mennonite World Conference 12 in Winnipeg in 1990. She thought she would be speaking to a few hundred people, but was surprised to see thousands. The Winnipeg gathering was the biggest to date with 13,000 registrants.  Her sermon in Winnipeg was an important stepping stone to her election to the Executive Committee of MWC.

Slowing church down

Through July and August, The Commons, a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregation in Hamilton, Ont., has been meeting in Beasley Park on Sundays at 6 p.m.

The Commons is starting to slow down. No, we are not retiring as a church, we just think it is time for a little different pace. The plan is to switch things up in the fall for our Sunday worship gatherings. We plan to use our gathering time to dig a little deeper into liturgy, spiritual practices, hospitality, old traditions and new creative expressions.

MCC Global Family program goes local

Beatrice Kuzinza holds up a small lettuce plant she found in the compost during a Bread for Success field trip. Bread for Success is a new approach by MCC. (Photo by Meghan Mast)

A group of children visited a greenhouse on the last day of Bread for Success, an after-school project in Saskatoon supported by Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Global Family education program. The kids are learning about how vegetables are grown, and Chris Buhler, co-owner of Floating Gardens Ltd., showed them around where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way toward the ceiling.

Refined by fire

Looking bleak and lifeless today, the burned area surrounding Forest House will explode with life by next summer, says Ric Driediger, who owns the property. (Photo by Sarah Driediger)

Forest House survived the wildfires that destroyed the surrounding forest. Ric Driediger, who owns the property, ponders why his place was spared while others were not. (Photo by Sarah Driediger)

“I’m not very good at being helpless,” says Ric Driediger as he reflects on the impact Saskatchewan’s forest fires have had on his business and his life. Driediger and his wife, Theresa, own Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, Sask., 457 kilometres north of Saskatoon. This summer promised to be one of their best, with many bookings.

The luthier of La Riviere

Jeremy Hamm shows off a few of the guitars he has made in his shop. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

Pop psychology writer Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule—the notion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft. Jeremy Hamm will tell you a different story. He figures it took him at least 25,000 hours of painstaking trial and error before he got good at making guitars.

‘We’re not sitting on the sidelines’

Jim Cheng and Matthew Veith rode their bikes from New York City to Pennsylvania to take part in PA 2015.

Noel Dueckman

Gabby Martin

Ben Willms

Aaron Peters

Diana Jensen

Youth and young adults from all over the world went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from July 21 to 26 for a reunion with the global Mennonite family. We spoke with a handful of young Canadians who were at Mennonite World Conference assembly  about their time in Harrisburg. Though, as one young person pointed out, MWC is something best witnessed first-hand.


Hoping for strength and unity in spite of disagreements

Coming out to Charleswood Mennonite Church, the congregation in Winnipeg that he grew up in, was an emotional experience for Dustin Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)

John Braun, pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, says he was never concerned about how the congregation would respond to Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)

Anya Snider

Growing up, Dustin Loewen was sometimes teased by his friends for being a “Mennonite poster boy.” He had a well-rounded Mennonite upbringing, attended Mennonite schools and has attended Charleswood Mennonite Church since he was two years old.

Then, at 27 years old, Loewen stood in front of his church community and told them he is gay.

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