Volume 21 Issue 17

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Dare to dream again

Many of the stories in the pages of this magazine reflect the dreams of the people in our church family. There are stories of successful ministries, families reunited, young voices full of energy and hope. We also read stories of broken relationships, unanticipated outcomes, and of God at work in miraculous, unplanned and unexpected ways.

These stories of personal achievement, defeat, hope and surprise are also the stories shared by the wider church.

What is the Spirit saying to our churches today?

Westview Christian Fellowship, a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada ‘emerging congregation’ in St. Catharines, Ont., operates during the week as the Westview Centre4Women, offering a place of respect, dignity and safety for women in the neighbourhood. Erika Klassen, the centre’s executive director, left, is pictured with Engie, who heard of the centre when she was feeling suicidal because of chronic pain. After receiving love, acceptance and support there, Engie offered her photographic talents to the neighbourhood women, taking portrait pictures of each of them. The event has become so popular it is now held annually. (Photo courtesy of Centre4Women)

Hochma, an ‘emerging congregation’ in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, serves a weekly breakfast to people in its Montreal neighbourhood. Congregants have been amazed by God, as lives change and relationships grow. (Photo by Michel Monette)


“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).

These words of John from the Island of Patmos are as relevant for us today as they were to the seven churches in the province of Asia who were struggling to adapt to the ever-changing realities of living under the rule of Roman emperors.

‘We need to learn to dream as a church’

Sharing their hopes and dreams for the church, left to right: Lisa Carr-Pries, Gabby Martin, Colin Reimer, Claire Hanson, Melanie Kampen, Rebecca Janzen, Annika Krause.

Next month, those gathered at Mennonite Church Canada’s special delegate assembly will make major decisions about the structure of the church based on proposals from the Future Directions Task Force.
With that in mind, Canadian Mennonite asked young adults from across Canada: What are your hopes and dreams for MC Canada in the next 10 years?

Youth wanted

There will be room at the table for youth at next month’s Assembly 2017. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

EVI member Alex Tiessen, right, pictured with Lori Pauls at last year’s assembly, wants youth to know they have a voice in the church. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

Youth worship together at last year’s assembly in Saskatoon. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Anneli Loepp Thiessen, left, and Katrina Woelk are two of the lead planners for youth participation at the upcoming Assembly 2017. (Photo by Deborah Froese)


Members of the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) are hoping that financial assistance and special events aimed specifically at high school students will encourage youth to attend Mennonite Church Canada’s special delegate assembly next month.

EVI members will lead special discussions and debriefing sessions for youth at the assembly, which takes place from Oct. 13 to 15, 2017, at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg. Youth will also have the opportunity to integrate with adult delegates during table discussions.

A new song for Special Assembly 2017

Phil Campbell-Enns’s song ‘May Your Spirit Give Life’ will feature prominently at the assembly along with the selected theme song, ‘New Earth, Heavens New’ (Hymnal: A Worship Book, No. 299) by Harris J. Loewen. (Photo courtesy of Phil Campbell-Enns)

Mennonite Church Canada's Special Assembly will take place Oct. 13 to 15, 2017. 

Planning Special Assembly 2017 worship might be a daunting task, but with the right team—and the right music—the spirit of the event will follow people home.

With that idea in mind, the worship committee for Mennonite Church Canada’s special assembly in Winnipeg, to be held from Oct. 13 to 15, 2017, is bringing to the event a new song written by Phil Campbell-Enns.

“May Your Spirit Give Life” will feature prominently at the assembly along with the selected theme song, “New Earth, Heavens New” (Hymnal: A Worship Book, No. 299) by Harris J. Loewen.

When coffee replaces swords

Five hundred years ago, our spiritual ancestors were on the cusp of an extended bloodbath of religious violence. In marked contrast, I just enjoyed a three-hour conversation over coffee. Our time was filled with laughter, joy and mutual sharpening. We parted ways with warm hugs. What a difference half a millennium has made. Thanks be to God!

Midwestern recipe has surprising origin

Willa and Ken Reddig (Photo courtesy of Ken Reddig)

The intercultural migration of foods is very interesting. My mother-in-law, Helen (Faul) Fadenrecht, who lived in North Dakota, regularly made a recipe she called Bean Sprouts, because that was the primary ingredient. Helen was a good cook, considered one of the best in the community, and her Bean Sprouts dish was unusual and delicious. It became one of her specialties.

Bill Koop

Bill Koop sits on a stack of Mennonite history books, leaning against the Fort Garry (Man.) Mennonite Brethren Church sign. Recently deceased Canadian storyteller and broadcaster Stuart McLean wrote in Vinyl Café Turns the Page: “Choosing a hero is a delicate business, one that shouldn’t be undertaken frivolously. For the heroes we choose, whether real or imagined, whether from the world of fact or from the pages of fiction, will determine, to a greater or lesser degree, the things that we do, and if we allow them the privilege, the lives that we lead.” Who are your heroes?

Embracing traditions

Mel Harms takes a selfie on Vancouver Island this summer. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

A four-generation game of cribbage. From left to right: author Mel Harms; Mel’s grandmother, Karla Svendsen; Mel’s daughter Mya; and Mel’s mother, Wendy Desmarais. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

Tubing on the Cowichan River in B.C. (Photo courtesy of Mel Harms)

Have you ever wondered about your family traditions? What are they and when did they come to be? That’s been me this summer. Every summer we have our “must do” plans, and my girls go along without question because it’s tradition. This year, it became clear that some of our habits have become family traditions.

‘We sing the same songs’

Mennonite choir members, first nations drummers and dancers, and recent immigrants from the Saskatoon Open Door Society gather for a group photo at the “Shared Land, Shared Song” event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Music wasn’t the only thing shared at the “Shared Land, Shared Song” event. Participants and audience members alike enjoyed a potluck supper featuring Mennonite-style farmer sausage and first nations-style bannock. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

After these dancers completed their energetic performance, master of ceremonies, Cal Arcand, jokingly suggested their Mennonite guests should try their hand at “Indian aerobics.” (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Pow wow dancers from Muskeg Lake and other nearby first nations perform for their Mennonite friends during the “Shared Land, Shared Song” event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Pow wow dancers from Muskeg Lake and other nearby first nations perform for their Mennonite friends during the “Shared Land, Shared Song” event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

A choir under the direction of Ben Pauls (front row, right), with singers from as many as eight MC Saskatchewan congregations, performs at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation as part of the “Shared Land, Shared Song” culture-sharing event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The Many Nations Dancers wait for their turn to perform. Each dancer’s regalia are unique and are based on family designs and colours. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“Next to food as a gift from God . . . song pulls us together.” With these words, Harry Lafond welcomed singers, dancers and audience members to a very special concert.

Muskeg Lake Cree Nation hosted the culture-sharing event, which took place Aug. 20 in a large outdoor shelter known as the Arbour. The people of Muskeg Lake and Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Walking the Path Committee worked together to plan the event.

Back to school around the world

Guarderia Moises: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
MCC partners with Stansberry Children’s Home. The children’s home has been a refuge for abandoned children since 1954. It also runs a daycare program called Guarderia Moises, providing a safe, educational environment in which children can learn and grow while their parents are focussed on sustaining their families. Pictured, students in the pre-Kindergarten class attend classes at the daycare program. (Stansberry photo by Juliane Kozel)

Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme: Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Indigenous communities are among the most vulnerable in Bangladesh, facing poverty and language barriers. MCC addresses these issues by supporting multilingual education and homework clubs for children from these communities through its partner organization, Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme. This organization runs a multilingual education program in six schools in Rajshahi district, including the school where Megha Baski, left, and Prity Murmu study. (MCC photo by Dave Klassen)


Adult Learning and Education Facilitation:
Kabul, Afghanistan

Life can be difficult for women who haven’t had a formal education. The Adult Learning and Education Facilitation project in Kabul concentrates on skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for these women to successfully navigate the literate world. Through classes on literacy, numeracy and conflict resolution, the MCC-supported project helps participants make better-informed decisions to positively impact the well-being of their families and communities. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Bread of Life Belgrade Roma Education Program: Belgrade, Serbia
Basic education can be challenging to complete when the ethnic group you belong to is oppressed. Pictured, teaching assistant Amela Zejhulouski, right, works with Besmir Bajrami, left, and Eldin Raimovski, centre, at the Little School in Surčin, just outside Belgrade. The project primarily helps Roma children complete elementary school and learn Serbian, and encourages parents to support their children’s education. The program also aims to decrease the prejudice toward Roma prevalent in the non-Roma population in schools and institutions. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP): Canada
Moving across the world can be an education in and of itself! Shirley Vaca Vargas, left, originally from Bolivia, is volunteering at the Indigenous Family Centre in Winnipeg through MCC’s IVEP program, a year-long work and cultural exchange opportunity for Christian young adults. Vargas enjoys working with children like Jordin LeClaire, right, improving her English and learning about the indigenous peoples in Canada at the same time. At home in Bolivia, Vargas studies medicine and plans to return to school there at the end of the year. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

Seed of Hope: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
This education program through MCC’s partner, Assemblies of God AIDS Action, pays for school, food and medical costs for children affected by HIV and AIDS. Pictured, Theodore Kangambega gives advice to children during one of the organization’s monthly meetings, during which families socialize and participate in lectures and debates centred on health and education. (MCC photo by James Souder)


When a child learns, communities benefit and lives change. From Afghanistan to Canada, and Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is promoting education in order to foster leadership capabilities and help young people overcome obstacles locally and around the world. By working alongside local communities and partners, MCC hopes to increase access to education, improve the quality of learning, support vocational training and promote peace. Welcome to class.

—Corrected Sept. 27, 2017

A life well lived

A large group of family members and friends gathered in Markham, Ont., on March 18 to remember the life of Harold Reesor, who died at the age of 86, six days previous. Although his early and later years were lived in the Markham/Stouffville area, where his Reesor ancestors settled 200 years ago, he lived in Quebec for more than four decades, working as a mission worker and farmer.

Celebrating 125 years of God’s faithfulness

Mary Krause, left, Barb Froese and Mel Siemens reminisce over a display of old photographs at Eigenheim Mennonite Church’s 125th-anniversary celebration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Old friends Elsie Siemens, left, and Mary Roth greet one another at Eigenheim Mennonite Church’s 125th-anniversary celebration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

The three Ryans—Ryan Epp, left, a member of Eigenheim Mennonite; Ryan Bartel, representing Mennonite Church Canada; and Ryan Siemens, representing MC Saskatchewan—are pictured at Eigenheim Mennonite Church’s 125th-anniversary celebrations. (Photo by Donna Schulz) (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ben Unger, standing, displays a plaque from his father’s grave marker as Gerry Swab, left, and Bill Janzen look on. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ryan Epp, left, offers the children an object lesson in trust with the help of Robert Roth at Eigenheim Mennonite Church’s 125th-anniversary celebration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Erwin Tiessen, a former member of the congregation, speaks on the theme “Celebrating God’s faithfulness” at Eigenheim Mennonite Church’s 125th anniversary. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Barb Froese recalls what is was like to grow up as part of Eigenheim Mennonite Church at the congregation’s 125th-anniversary celebration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Kara Wolfe shares her recollections of growing up at Eigenheim Mennonite Church at the congregation’s 125th-anniversary celebration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

When members of Eigenheim Mennonite Church realized it had been 25 years since the church’s centennial, they decided it was time for another celebration. To mark the congregation’s 125th anniversary, planners chose “Celebrating God’s faithfulness” as their theme.

Spiritual lessons learned from wood

Ken Roth with some of the many dishes he has made in his retirement. The Trinity bowl, front row right, is prominent. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Maple leaf or symbol of the Trinity? ‘God the Father,’ says Ken Roth, ‘all-knowing and in control. Christ’s amazing love for all of us, and the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.’ (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Ken Roth shows off a bowl with multiple rings. It reminds him of a pastor at a funeral where Roth was serving with Glendinning Funeral Home in Plattsville, Ont. Holding up a paper chain with the name of a member written on each link, the pastor wondered, ‘Do we take the ring of the person whose funeral we’re celebrating today out of the chain? No, they are still part of us even though they’re gone from us.’

A heart at the heart of a piece of Manitoba maple doesn’t need much imagination to see in Ken Roth’s lathe-turned bowl. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Ken Roth shows off a bowl with a cross at the centre. ‘Do we not all need to have the cross of Christ at our core?’ he wonders.(Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Two identical bowls with different histories. One of these bowls shattered as Ken Roth was turning it. Although he wanted to just ‘chuck’ it, an inner voice told him, ‘Glue it back together, finish turning it.’ Two bowls, like the two brothers in the Prodigal Son story, both useful—one always, one after restoration. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Not all the images Ken Roth finds in ‘junk’ and ‘firewood’ are sacred. ‘Storm Clouds over the Sea’ appear too. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

When Ken Roth retired, he was looking for a hobby that would be creative, be a blessing to himself and others, and needn’t be profitable.

A member of East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock, where he lives, Roth has served on the pastoral care team there for many years. Having worked in construction and as a cabinet maker and carpenter, he struck on woodworking, mostly lathe-turned bowls and platters, with some wooden serving dishes carved with an angle grinder when the piece doesn’t suit the lathe.

Review: Refugees grow faith from seeds of hope

Episcopalian priest Michael Spurlock has a problem. His diocese has ordered him to oversee the closing of the dying All Saints Church in Tennessee, but then a group of Karen refugees from Southeast Asia start attending. Michael senses God’s call and sees an opportunity for both the congregation and the immigrants to prosper through farming a small plot of land adjoining the church. The crops grown can both feed the congregants and be sold to pay the bills.

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