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God at work in the Church

Vietnamese Fellowship drops ‘Mennonite’ name

Pictured at the recent meeting of what is now the North American Vietnamese Evangelical Fellowship, are from left to right, front row: Nhien Pham, pastor of the Vietnamese Mennonite Church in Vancouver and chair of the newly named organization; and his wife Lien; and back row: Garry Janzen, MC B.C. executive minister; and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, MC Alberta area church minister. (Photo courtesy of Garry Janzen)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Today

A name change, effective immediately, heralds a time of direction-setting for the former North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship.

Best practices begin with prayer

Louise Campbell poses with the New International Version Student Bible and a copy of the most recent ‘Season of reading guide’ used by Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church to increase biblical literacy in the congregation for the past two years. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Today

While many congregations are shuttering or repurposing their education wings, Leamington United Mennonite Church built a whole new addition in 2011, replacing a 1959 building that had been linked to their new worshipping and office space when they were built in 1984. The new wing includes a dedicated prayer space as well as a suite of offices and a board room that is in high demand for adult study and discussion groups.

No longer ‘a repository of artifacts’

Mennonite Heritage Museum board chair George Epp points to the family register in a Bible once owned by Elder Peter Regier of the Rosenort Mennonite congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Today

Oliver Friesen’s face lights up when he talks about history. “There’s something about the past,” he says. “It’s alive and so interesting.”

For the past two summers Friesen has been making history come alive for visitors to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Rosthern. A student of history at the University of Saskatchewan, Friesen has been helping to develop one room of the museum into a Mennonite interpretive centre.

Camp Moose Lake now sold

After 51 years of youth camping at Camp Moose Lake, a deal for the Mennonite Church Manitoba facility will close on Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Manitoba)

Camp Moose Lake, one of Mennonite Church Manitoba’s three Camps with Meaning (CwM) locations, has been sold to the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine. Possession date for the camp, located in the southeast corner of Manitoba near the community of Sprague, is set for Sept. 29, 2017.

Immersive experience

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)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 18, 2017

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.

A vision for growth

As Pastor Yared Seretse, right, prays, Josef and Teddy Ekle sing and play during a time of contemplation after Seretse’s hour-long sermon on seeking, finding and obeying God’s guidance during the Meheret Evangelical Church worship service at St. Marks Lutheran Church on June 11, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 28, 2017

Meheret Evangelical Church has been meeting for worship in Kitchener for 20 years. Founded by four families, the church of about 15 saw slow growth over the years, as refugees from Ethiopia—who dispersed to South Africa, Greece, Sudan, Egypt and elsewhere—made their way to Canada.

But after hiring Pastor Yared Seretse directly from Ethiopia a couple years ago, the congregation has seen growth in many ways. Currently, about 20 percent of the congregation is made up of people who have recently accepted Christ.

Fostering dialogue in the body of Christ

Mennonite Church B.C. participants Jon Nofziger, left, and Artur Bergen pause for discussion during a break at the Anabaptist theology conference at Trinity Western University on June 8, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 28, 2017

Creating more dialogue between the 16th-century Anabaptist tradition and the context of the Global South, and learning about how Mennonite women “do” theology, were two of the keynote addresses at this year’s “Anabaptist theology: Methods and practices” conference, held in early June 2017 at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley.

An adventurous junior-high retreat in Saskatchewan

Derek Neufeld, foreground, does his best during the coffee house at SMYO junior-high youth retreat. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Say yes, and get out of your comfort zone. These were the two main take-aways from the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan junior-high retreat, held from May 26 to 28, 2017, at the Shekinah Retreat Centre.

Growing leaders in five years

Jean Lehn Epp, centre, leads youth pastors/workers through a visioning process within their church or support group, drawing congregational leaders, youth sponsors and youth together.

God at work in the Church | By Lisa Williams | Jun 14, 2017

“Kenda Creasy Dean writes in one of her books that youth ministry is a spiritual discipline,” says Jean Lehn Epp, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s youth pastor/worker coach. “To me, that was eye-opening—my ‘aha!’ moment. I was not just doing youth ministry, but it felt to me that I was embracing ministry.”  

Lehn Epp has been involved in youth and family ministry throughout the area church as an ordained minister.

PhD student saves ‘history’ from the shredder

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1–3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. (Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies photo)

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 14, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1-3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. Using his computer programming skills and an offer from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies to take care of transportation to Winnipeg, storage and shipping, Wiebe established a web store with e-commerce capabilities that went live on April 12, 2017.

Saskatchewan youth honour the earth all night

Ric Driediger, right, leads participants in the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s Honouring the Earth event in solving a murder mystery. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Honouring the Earth, an annual Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization event, took place April 18 and19, 2017, in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan and Rosthern Junior College (RJC).

The event started at MCC Saskatchewan in Saskatoon with workshops and discussion around what it might mean to be a refugee, and how to make choices when the cost is something greater than money. Youth were then challenged by Jamal Tekleweld from the Sanctuary Saskatoon Alliance to take these lessons and consider what it might mean to make Saskatoon a “sanctuary city.”

Seeking spiritual renewal through prayer

Workshop presenter Betty Pries draws the life of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan as a river. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

Where does one begin to renew a church? According to Betty Pries, the best place to start is with prayer, saying, “Finding our way through times of spiritual upheaval depends on spiritual renewal.”

Pries, who is a managing partner with the L3 Group in Waterloo, Ont., was the presenter at a workshop hosted by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. Entitled “Refresh, refocus, renew: Open to God’s leading,” the workshop was held on April 28 and 29, 2017, at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

Faith in the Age of the Anthropocene

Randy Haluza-Delay holds up two books he highly recommends on the topic of creation care and faith: Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy S. Woodley, and Shalom the Bible’s Word for Peace by Perry B. Yoder. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 31, 2017

“I believe this is the defining issue of our time, how humans relate to creation.”

Caleb Gingrich, a student at McGill University in Montreal, was so taken by the theme of Mennonite Church Alberta’s annual Faith Studies event that he travelled across Canada to take it in. Gingrich, who is currently working on a research project called “Economics and the Anthropocy,” commented, “My faith is important to me, I was looking for an opportunity to see how these two parts of me come together.”

Leading the leaderless

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 17, 2017 | 1 comment

We do not expect our denominational leaders to write encyclicals, assume pompous titles or drop pastors into congregations, but what exactly do we expect of them within our proudly pope-less priesthood of all believers?

Should they enforce adherence with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective? Should they just run area or national church ministries? Should they state their views on contentious questions or simply facilitate communal discernment?

ReCommission, ReLearn, ReUnion

Rescue Junction, a blue grass gospel group from the hamlet of Millbank, north of Stratford Ont., performed at the MCEC gathering on Friday evening. Members are (from left): Nick Huber, Joe Clark (standing in for Dallas Roth) Kyle Gerber and his sister Kaitlyn Gerber, and Roger Martin. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

When delegates from the churches of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) met in Oakville, Ont., on April 28 and 29, the focus was on re-commissioning, based on Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus speaks to the disciples before his ascension. Read frequently in many languages, the words spoke to the many nations already present in the area church.

Translating the Bible into the visual

From left to right: Rosthern Junior College students Marcus Kruger, Hailey Funk and Arianne Wichert arrange flowers as part of an art installation their worship arts class created for Rosthern Mennonite Church. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

A unique art installation graces Rosthern Mennonite Church’s stage these days. Created by the Rosthern Junior College (RJC) worship arts class, it depicts themes found in biblical texts for the six Sundays of the Easter season.

The collaboration of the class and the church began with a conversation between teacher Jill Wiens and Craig Neufeld, Rosthern Mennonite’s pastor. Neufeld says the six-week Easter season gave students “more to chew on” than a single Sunday would have done. And the time frame for this season fit well with RJC’s schedule.

God’s love trumps politics and policies: Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Apr 19, 2017

In the lead-up to the Festival of Hope, an evangelistic event headlined by Franklin Graham last month in Vancouver, church leaders representing more than 60 percent of the million Christians in the metro Vancouver area issued a public statement expressing concern about Graham’s “contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric,” while also saying they love and respect the event organizers and were praying that the city would experience God’s love in “new and profound ways” through the March 3 to 5, 2017, e

Canoes and kayaks for a cause

​Scott Alexander of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver has participated in all but one Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon since 2002. He says he takes part in the annual event because ‘it’s a great group of people, with lots of food and friendship.’ Alexander had won the first-prize canoe in 2014, and this year decided to donate it back to the camp. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 19, 2017

A boisterous and enthusiastic crowd greeted 36 paddlers who came ashore in Fort Langley late in the afternoon of April 9, completing the annual two-day paddle-a-thon in support of Camp Squeah.

The participants set out on the Fraser River from Hope on Saturday morning, battling wet, windy and cold weather, but didn’t let the conditions dampen their spirits. As usual, a hardworking ground crew fed the group at the evening stop near Chilliwack the night before and at Mission on April 9 for lunch. Conditions turned sunnier on the final day, with clear skies and calm waters.

‘A season of change and a search for vitality’

Leng Thang of Calgary Chin Christian Church addresses the MC Alberta annual delegate sessions on March 18, 2017. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 05, 2017

Both challenge and blessing were in evidence at the 88th annual Mennonite Church Alberta delegate sessions on March 17 and 18, 2017, at Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton.

In comments preceding the business session, moderator Dan Jack was clear in naming some of MC Alberta’s challenges for the coming year: “[We are] expecting a difficult year and a deficit budget. The economy and the [Being a Faithful Church (BFC)] process has had some impact with involvement.”

It’s time to do ‘something constructive together’

Worship band members from Elmira’s Zion Mennonite Fellowship lead singing at the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners worship gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on Jan. 15, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

Evangelical Anabaptist Partners (EAP) is a loosely affiliated group of pastors and lay people from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada who have been gathering regularly for worship, mutual encouragement, fellowship and discussion about their mission in the world.

At a recent monthly Sunday evening gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., Craig Frere, the host pastor, challenged the 90 people present to have a faith that extended beyond Sundays into the whole week, “being good news to others” and “being the church on the way” through life.

MC Saskatchewan ‘extends the table’

The Gospel According to Food, a play written and performed by members of Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, encourages MC Saskatchewan delegates to re-examine their relationship with food. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 22, 2017

“Extending the table: Enough for all.” That was the theme chosen for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions this year, and as delegates and guests broke bread together, literally and metaphorically, they found there was indeed enough for all.

Held March 10 and 11, 2017, at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, the sessions were co-hosted by the Nutana Park and Pleasant Point Mennonite congregations.

MEI student dies on ski trip

Julian Osis

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 22, 2017

A school outing turned to tragedy on March 3, 2017, when a student from Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) in Abbotsford died during a ski trip to Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.

Reports said an unresponsive male was found at the bottom of Blackcomb Mountain after he was reported missing in the afternoon. The student’s name was not officially released to news media, but links on the MEI website identified him as Julian Osis, 14.

‘Being like a family’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, centre, leads a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Mar 22, 2017

Mennonite Church Manitoba gave its final comments on the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 process, which has dominated public attention since last summer, at the area church’s annual general meeting held the first weekend in March 2017, at Winkler Mennonite Church.

In an official statement, “Responding to BFC 7,” the area church “recognizes and endorses the recommendations” of the BFC Task Force, commending local congregations to continue in prayer, study and humble mutual respect:

A ‘manufactured narrative’?

Dick Benner
God at work in the Church | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017

“Moral selectivity is worse than immorality,” insisted Omar Ramahi, a Muslim Canadian invited to address an adult Sunday school class at Waterloo (Ont.) North Mennonite Church recently, to give his perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was referring to the biblical narrative that justifies occupation and injustice as a “manufactured narrative.”

A voice from ‘outside the gate’

Victor and Rebecca Fast, left, and Martha and Paul Snyder meet to share the story of the Parents Group (of LGBTQ children), which they had been members of for 30 years before disbanding it last fall. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017 | 1 comment

“We are exhausted.”

So say members of a group of Mennonite parents of LGBTQ children, who met together for 30 years to worship, pray, exchange stories and support each other and their children, of their decision to call it quits last fall, as age and changing times have taken their toll.

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