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Action seeks solution for Israelis and Palestinians

Delegates vote on Israel-Palestine resolution at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon, Sask. (Photo by Matt Veith.)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jul 23, 2016 | 2 comments

On July 9, 2016, a clear majority of delegates to Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016 voted in favour of a resolution seeking non-violent solutions to injustices in Israel-Palestine. Only one of 343 registered delegates voted against the resolution. (The resolution can be seen below.)

A similar resolution arose at the 2014 assembly, but was tabled for further work. A motion at the 2011 Assembly encouraged congregations to become more aware of Palestine-Israel issues.

Exploring tough subjects and intense spaces

‘Tough subjects and intense spaces’ seminar leader David Driedger enjoys challenging stereotypes, pushing boundaries and making people think. He led a seminar at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016

David Driedger enjoys challenging stereotypes, pushing boundaries and making people think. “[He] often pushes against established practices and the beliefs of the church from the inside,” Ben Borne said, introducing Driedger as a speaker who loves the church and engages with tough subjects and discussions.

Driedger said, “I sign up to lead [seminars] because I want to learn a topic . . . to build capacity and find the tools to engage.”

Good news sometimes comes in small packages

Lois Siemens, centre, and Sharon Schultz present a seminar entitled “Proclaiming the good news in town and country: Stories from the rural church” at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon. Looking on is Erwin Warkentin. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Jul 20, 2016

Someone once asked Sharon Schultz if she became pastor of Eyebrow (Sask.) Mennonite Church in order to help the church to die well. Schultz did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that “I don’t think that’s why God brought us here.”

Schultz and Lois Siemens, who is pastor of Superb Mennonite Church near Kerrobert, Sask., led a seminar entitled “Proclaiming the good news in town and country: Stories from the rural church.”

As Schultz pointed out, “There are differences between rural and city churches. These are some of the ways we share good news in our context.”

‘Partnering with God’s healing and hope’

At an Assembly 2016 seminar Daniel Horne and Jason Martin invite attendees to participate in the work of Mennonite Church Canada Witness by making donations that would uncover photos of MC Canada Witness workers. By the end of the assembly, the poster was completely uncovered, and, with matching donations, more than $10,000 was raised for Witness work around the world. (Photo by Matt Veith)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jul 20, 2016

That 14 people out of 38 who registered showed up for the “Partnering with God’s healing and hope” seminar may have indicated some wearying of Assembly 2016 participants. But those who came paid close attention to the presentation and asked good questions about what a mission partnership with a Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker or ministry means.

Presenters Daniel Horne and Jason Martin shared a roundup of all 30 current workers in ministries and pre-emptively addressed the most common questions: What is a partnership and how does it work?

Seeing dystopian heroines as prophets

Vic Thiessen presents an Assembly 2016 seminar exploring the prophetic nature of popular dystopian films. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Jul 20, 2016

Readers of Canadian Mennonite know Vic Thiessen as a writer of thoughtful film reviews—an interpreter, as it were, of pop culture for Mennonites in Canada. In that same vein, he presented “The Divergent Mockingjay: Female prophets, dystopian films and life on earth in 2016” for Assembly 2016 participants.

According to Thiessen, dystopian films have the potential to be great discussion starters. They can be a way “to share with the world that there is a purpose to living, and to challenge the world, as Jesus did, to care for the poor and for creation,” he said.

‘God’s gonna trouble the water’

Doug Amstutz, right, interim pastor at Riverdale Mennonite Church at Millbank, Ont., and Susan Beaumont discuss her presentation at the MC Canada ministers’ conference on July 6. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016

“Wade in the water. Wade in the water, children. . . .”

Susan Beaumont had Mennonite Church Canada ministers sing the well-known spiritual at their “Leading in a season of change” conference preceding this year’s assembly on July 6, 2016. She invited them to stop, though, with the line, “God’s gonna trouble the water.”

“God is troubling the water during these times,” Beaumont said, telling the assembled ministers that they “are going around trying to calm the waters, while it is the troubled waters that will bring about the adaptations we need.”

Moonlight musings and redemption

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016 | 2 comments

Despite the standing ovation, I cannot imagine I was alone in having mixed feelings about the play we had just experienced. My mind was a full cup of queasiness and a dollop of laughter stirred with hard questions as I boarded the stuffy school bus with a crowd of other Mennonite Church Canada Assembly folks for the trip back to Saskatoon.  

Mennos march for ‘Steinbach Pride’

A ‘Mennonite’ placard at the inaugural ‘Steinbach Pride’ parade on July 9. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jul 16, 2016 | 1 comment

The march was set to begin at 11 a.m. on July 9, 2016. But at the top of the hour, Michelle McHale, whose fight for civil rights in Steinbach recently brought the city into the national spotlight, asked the crowd to indicate by applause whether they would mind “waiting for the folks on the highway,” as traffic was backed up to St. Anne, nearly 20 kilometres out of town. Steinbach’s E.A. Friesen Park erupted with clapping.

Decision roundup: Assembly 2016

At Assembly 2016 Mennonite Church Canada delegates made decisions about future directions for the church, the church’s response to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Doctrine of Discovery, and beliefs about same-sex relationships. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jul 11, 2016 | 1 comment

Assembly 2016 may become known by delegates as a watershed event.

By turns intense and emotional, joyful and worshipful, the gathered delegates made significant decisions that will impact the Mennonite Church Canada body for years to come. They met in Saskatoon, Sask., July 6 to 10, 2016.

What you need to know about Assembly 2016 discussions

Web First | Jul 04, 2016

About 500 Mennonites from across Canada will gather in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 6 to 10, 2016, for the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly. This event, which happens every two years, brings together people for worship, fellowship and to make decisions for the national church. (See here for the schedule, documents, and a video.)