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.)
Russ Friesen, right, visits Jeanette Hanson in China during a China-Canada pastor exchange. The visit helped to strengthen the mission partnership between the Hansons and Friesen’s church, Tiefengrund Mennonite. (Photos courtesy of Lorena Friesen)
Gregory Rabus, a Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in Ludwigshafen, Germany, is shown ‘paintin’ with a big stick,’ as the church was being renovated into a ‘peace house’ with the help of Steinmann Mennonite Church volunteers in August 2016. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Otto/Gregory Rabus)
Witness workers Hippolyto Tshimanga and Miriam Maenhout-Tshimanga, at left, pose with friends from Grace Community Church in Bloemfontein, South Africa. This group of five churches belongs to Mennonite World Conference and relates to the Anabaptist Network in South Africa. (Photo by Emmanuel Tshimanga)
‘I thought this type of support was normal’
Jeanette and Todd Hanson
By Donna Schulz, Saskatchewan Correspondent, Rosthern, Sask.
Although they have had other mission partnerships over the years, Jeanette Hanson marvels at the support she and her husband Todd have received from their two home congregations.
Millennial wants to sing a variety of music in church
Re: “What music rankles you?” column, March 13, page 8.
I couldn’t agree with this article more. As a millennial teenager, I am mixed in with the generation of people who only like church if it’s like a concert. My opinion is that there should be a mixture of music in church every Sunday. We have to find a middle ground between hymns and contemporary music to help the church grow.
One late Friday afternoon when the office was nearly empty, two clean-cut young men showed up at the Mennonite Church Canada reception desk to inquire about pension benefits for their widowed mother. Assuming they were sons of a pastor, the receptionist sent them my way. As chief administrative officer, helping such people out is part of my job.
A year ago, I said goodbye to my job and stepped into an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown, or beyond certainty, as my father would qualify when he spoke of plans, concluding, “Lord willing.” The same acknowledgement comes from our Muslim friends who say inshallah with a similar meaning.
With the arrival of summer, my wife and I have been enjoying more time outside. Our yard contains many different fruit trees, shrubs and grapevines that provide shade, beauty, and a harvest of berries and fruits. The trees and shrubs are easily managed. However, the grapevines are another story.
Edward Beatty, front row right, and John Dennis, behind him, speak with Mennonite girls. Dennis was a young man in 1874 who witnessed the Mennonite immigration to Manitoba. Over the next decades, he observed that the Mennonites were honest, hardworking and trustworthy farmers. By 1922, he was a commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He convinced Beatty, his boss, to extend credit of $400,000 to bring Mennonites from Russia to Canada based on a handshake with Bishop David Toews and the Mennonites’ good name. The amount grew to $1.7 million.
Someone once said to me, “The problem with Christians is they are all mental!”
As I reflected on his disparaging comment, I realized he had a point. Not the point he was trying to make, implying all Christians suffer from “a psychiatric disorder,” which is the second definition of the word “mental.” My epiphany came to me when I considered his statement in light of the first definition of “mental,” which means “of, or related to, the mind.”
If I were to give a 14-minute TED Talk in our church context before the restructuring assembly for Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches in October, this is the gist of what I would want to communicate. I would like to ask and give an answer to an important question: What is it that is more important for all of us than our current and necessary restructuring? Or, to put it another way, what is the core vision for the church that undergirds whatever structures we create and is foundational for the life of every congregation?
Jim Brown, Tavistock (Ont.) Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, emerges from the dunk tank during the congregation’s 75th-anniversary celebration on June 25, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
Mardi Lichti, left, and Bethany Kaster enjoy a laugh over the cake and ice cream at Tavistock Mennonite Church’s 75th-anniversary celebration on June 25. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
From left to right, Jaqueline, Tim and Simon Bender, members of Tavistock Mennonite Church, immerse themselves in a display of photos and memorabilia during the congregation’s 75th-anniversary celebration on June 25. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
On June 25, 2017, Tavistock Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, Jim Brown, got his feet—and more—wet, as the congregation acknowledged three-quarters-of-a-century of worship and mission in the village, and had fun dunking him in the process.
The congregation also offered a free chicken dinner to the first 400 who signed up. While some of those were former members and from neighbouring churches, the hope was to open the doors to the community at large. A service filled with music and trivia helped celebrate what God has done over the years.
Cassie Bobbitt, Richella Li, Olivia Atherton-Reimer and Kate Boyer bag dehydrated vegetables at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
Cassie Bobbitt and Kaitlyn Janzen, foreground, prepare apples for dehydration at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
Adam Boldt and Tess Johnson spread chopped apples on trays in preparation for dehydration at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
As far as David Epp is concerned, the 2016-17 school year was “a real success.” His first year of teaching at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) was also the first year of the school’s Imagine program for Grade 10 students.
A social-justice initiative offering integrated learning in English, history, Spanish and Christian ethics, Imagine also provides experiential-learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom.
For Muslim students at the University of Waterloo, long spans of fasting during the longest days of the year are over and may already feel like a distant memory. However, it was just a few weeks ago that students were stretching the limits of their bodies as they refrained from eating or drinking each day while the sun was up. This religious practice during Ramadan becomes even more difficult for university students living away from the support of their families for the first time.
“We are here to celebrate with you,” said Melissa Giles, director of programs for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., as she praised the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world at a World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017, that included speakers, song and dance.
“At MCC, refugee sponsorship is so important to our work,” she added, lauding newcomers to Canada and those who have welcomed them.
Although conscientious objectors were pacifists, they organized boxing matches at the alternative service camps. Pictured, Alvin Bender (played by Johnny Wideman) spars with Rudy Enns (played by Ben Wert). (Photo by Barb Draper)
Glenn Martin’s voice was deep with emotion as he expressed appreciation for Yellow Bellies, a drama that describes the experiences of Mennonite conscientious objectors (COs) during the Second World War.
The past two years have seen the publication of two interesting new collections of academic writing on Mennonite themes, one theological and the other historical. While other reviewers such as Jamie Pitts and Ben Goossen have reviewed these books in detail elsewhere, I would like to reflect on them in much broader terms and ask what they might mean for Mennonites today.
Dec. 12, 2016 issue, designed by Ross W. Muir and Dan Johnson (Edition Layout and Design-Magazine-Circulation Above 10,000, honourable mention).
“Instilling faith at home,” by Carmen Brubacher and Paul Heidebrecht (Biblical Interpretation, third place)
“Covenant faithfulness (Assembly 2016),” by a multitude of scribes (In-depth Treatment of a News Event-Magazine, third place)
Canadian Mennonite executive editor Virginia A. Hostetler attended the Canadian Church Press (CCP) awards banquet, held in Quebec City on June 22, at which she received writing and layout/design certificates for work published in 2016. CCP, an association of 62 publications, exists to “encourage higher standards of religious journalism and a more positive and constructive Christian influence on contemporary civilization.” CM’s seven awards of merit are:
For Jaymie Friesen, responding to abuse and preventing it in communities of faith is a personal calling. As the abuse response and prevention coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba, Friesen supports churches and individuals, and works to raise awareness of abuse and trauma.
Prior to beginning her position with MCC, Friesen worked with survivors of abuse in Southeast Asia through an organization called Daughters of Cambodia, where she coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade.
Mike Wiebe, Raya Cornelsen, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Lauren Harms visit with Erwin Cornelsen in his kitchen. (Photo of Jonas Cornelsen)
When Jonas Cornelsen tells people he spent the last year living with, and caring for, his grandfather in Vancouver, they often praise him.
While Jonas appreciated his time with his grandfather, the praise makes him uncomfortable.
“The set-up sounds pretty [idyllic], like a good family movie,” says the 23-year-old, who returned to his home city of Winnipeg last month. “You know, the grandson spends time listening to his wise old grandfather, and they go to church together and do all these wholesome things. But internally I was struggling with anxiety and loneliness.”
Chesley Lake Camp, located west of Owen Sound, Ont., lost its main building to fire on Canada Day. The building housed offices, a restaurant, tuck shop and many memories.
The fire has been classified as accidental and no further investigation is being carried out. Fireworks had been displayed near the building on the evening of July 1, 2017, and the fire began several hours later.