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Peacebuilding with ordinary people

Julianne Funk is pictured in the hills above Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Funk)

Web First | By Henry Neufeld | Oct 04, 2016

Julianne Funk is a peacebuilder. In Bosnia, the northern region of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And at the University of Zurich, where she teaches religion as well as peace and conflict studies. Based in Zurich, she travels to Bosnia regularly.

A graduate of Wheaton (Ill.) College and the Katholieke Univeristat Leuven, Belgium, where she earned a doctorate, she became interested in the Bosnia-Herzegovina situation in the late 1990s while working at a Bosnian refugee resettlement program in Chicago. She was puzzled: How could religion be at the core of their violence?

Ted Giesbrecht wins local law association award

Ted Giesbrecht of the law firm Giesbrecht Griffin Funk & Irvine poses in his Kitchener, Ont., office with the Coulter A. Osborne Award, given by the Waterloo Region Law Association in April to lawyers who practise law ‘with integrity, courtesy and beneficence.’ (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 04, 2016

Ted Giesbrecht of the Kitchener, Ont., law firm Giesbrecht, Griffin, Funk and Irvine has been honoured by the Waterloo Region Law Association with the 2016 Coulter A. Osborne Award, given to lawyers who practise law “with integrity, courtesy and beneficence.”

There have been three time periods in Giesbrecht’s legal work.

In his younger years, he worked primarily in real estate and some criminal law. His work as a defence counsel allowed him to use “alternate dispute resolution,” diverting young offenders from jail into repayment of damages and community service.

‘10 Young Women Changing the World’ award recipients announced

Canadian winners of MEDA’s ‘10 Young Women Changing the World’ award (left to right): Leena Miller Cressman, Carissa Rempel, Salima Jaffer, Ishita Aggarwal (MEDA photos)

Web First | Oct 04, 2016

Over the last two years, the “20 under 35: Young professionals changing the world initiative” instituted by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) recognized 40 young professionals under the age of 35. To reflect the special 2016 MEDA convention theme—“Business as a calling: Women changing the world”—MEDA will recognize 10 exceptional young women who exude a strong commitment to faith values and service and embody an entrepreneurial spirit at the convention in San Antonio Tex., at the end of October 2016.

Among the recipients are four Canadians:

Saying goodbye to war and hello to peace in Colombia

On August 24, 2016, Colombians celebrate during the announcement that a peace agreement has been reached between the government and FARC guerrilla group, ending the longest-running conflict in the western hemisphere. (Photo courtesy of Mencoldes Foundation.)

Web First | By Elizabeth Phelps | Sep 27, 2016

UPDATE (Oct. 3, 2016): In an Oct. 2 plebiscite, Colombian voters rejected the proposed peace deal by a thin margin of 50.21 to 49.78 percent.

Angélica Rincón could not stop smiling. All around her, crowds of people cheered and waved signs, banners and Colombian flags. Rincón—like others who partner with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—had longed for this turning point toward peace for many years.

God makes a way where there is no way

Matt Yeater reads scripture in Greek at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s May 21 commencement ceremony. At right is Katerina Friesen, a fellow student from the 2016 graduating class. (Photo by Melissa Troyer)

Web First | By Annette Brill Bergstresser | Sep 21, 2016 | 1 comment

Matt Yeater can relate to Bible stories in which God moves in seemingly impossible ways. His own story is one of them.

Blinded in a meth lab explosion when he was 20 and imprisoned on multiple occasions, Matt doesn’t fit the stereotype of a seminary student. However, he not only graduated May 21, 2016, with a Master of Divinity from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) but also was named a recipient of the 2016 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) for his work in making biblical languages accessible to blind people.

Small actions create powerful witness in Venezuela

People in Venezuela wait in long lines for the chance to buy basic food staples. (Photo provided by Marisa Smucker.)

Web First | By Danielle Klotz | Sep 21, 2016

While cheap gas prices were celebrated in the United States, in Venezuela the low cost of oil has led to painful shortages in everyday needs, such as food, electricity and medicine.

The once-thriving Venezuelan economy depends greatly on exporting oil. Previously, when oil prices were high, this income stream allowed for low national production, permitting the government to increase imports and maintain large subsidies for its citizens.

‘Mennonites are serious about climate change’

Donor Ray Martin gestures while holding grandson Troy during the launch celebration for The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions on Aug. 11 at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Martin’s $1 million U.S. donation funded the Center, which will be housed at EMU in partnership with Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | Sep 21, 2016

Holding his 19-month-old grandson, Ray Martin told the audience gathered at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) on Aug. 11 why he had made a generous donation to study and combat the issues of climate change.

“We’re playing fast and loose with God’s creation,” Martin said. “I feel as if I owe it to him,” nodding toward his grandson, “to leave our planet, our earthly home, in good shape.”

Youth and children drink in curriculum’s ‘faith vitamins’

The creation team of Rut Atarama, left, Fabiola Arango, Diana Suárez, Rosa Triana and Amanda Valencia officially presents ‘Aguapanela!!!: A Christian curriculum for childhood and adolescence.’ (Photo courtesy of Rut Atarama)

Web First | By Rut Atarama | Sep 21, 2016

“There is no path, Pilgrim. The path is made by walking.”

This lovely phrase by the poet Antonio Machado epitomizes my life journey, particularly the two years I sojourned in Colombia.

Each person’s identity is marked by their family and social contexts, and other histories. To tell the truth, my identity as Rut Atarama, a Peruvian and a Mennonite Brethren, was redefined during my time of service with Mennonite Central Committee Colombia’s Seed program.

‘Paws’ for worship

Cecilia Erb gives Wunder, a future guide dog with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program, a big hug. (Photo courtesy of Cecilia Erb)

Web First | By Leona Dueck Penner | Sep 06, 2016

Erb Street Mennonite Church not only welcomes all people who enter its doors, as its vision statement indicates, but it also extends that same welcome to “future guide dogs.” These animals are being fostered and given basic training during puppyhood by two church families, before entering intensive training with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program. After that training they will serve as companions for people with various disabilities.

MCC supports education improvements in South Sudan

Mary Akol Ghor works on artwork as part of the ‘big sister/little sister’ mentoring program that uses art therapy to help children resolve issues and manage their behaviour and feelings. (MCC photo by Candacia Greeman)

Web First | By Emily Loewen, with files from Candacia Greeman | Sep 06, 2016

When South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, hopes were high and the future looked bright. But conflict broke out in 2013, and violence has ebbed and flowed ever since then.

Education levels remain consistently low. Only half of the primary school teachers have more than a primary school education themselves. The national literacy rate is only 27 percent, and for women it’s only 16 percent. According to the United Nations, a 15-year-old girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish secondary school.

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