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God at work in the Church

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.

MC B.C. wrestles with tough issues

Discussing issues at the MC B.C. annual general meeting are, from left to right: Rob Brown of Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack, Henry Neufeld of Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver, and Mary Braun of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Despite meeting under the theme of “Building healthy connections,” many delegates who gathered for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting on Feb. 25, 2017, wondered how the future might look for their connections as an area church family when the day was done.

The meeting at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford was the third gathering in four months at which potentially divisive issues surrounding the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution were on the agenda, putting the future unity of MC B.C. in uncertainty.

WEW wows Waterloo women

Helen Loftin, senior vice-president of marketing and communications for Mennonite Economic Development Associates, tells the Waterloo chapter of Women Empowering Women that, by empowering women, whole families and communities benefit in ways that empowering men does not. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017

Exuding excitement and purpose, Nancy Mann, associate pastor of Floradale Mennonite Church, exclaimed “WEW!” for the newest chapter of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Women Empowering Women organization. The kick-off event, at which 75 women were in attendance, was held on Feb. 2, 2017, at 50 Kent Avenue, the “Mennonite hub” in Kitchener.

Personal-care home will fill gap in care for seniors

Construction will begin this spring on a 20-bed personal care home adjoining the existing Mennonite Nursing Homes facility. The architect’s rendering shows the chapel on the left. (Artist's rendering courtey of Mennonite Nursing Homes Inc.)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 08, 2017

Joan Lemauviel recalls her aging father needing more care than he received with assisted living, yet not qualifying for long-term care. “He was falling through the cracks,” she says.

As administrator of Mennonite Nursing Homes, Lemauviel knows that her father’s experience is far from unique. “About eight to 10 years ago it became evident that people in assisted living who didn’t qualify for long-term care were really living at risk,” she says. “We were able to keep them in assisted living with increased homecare.”

New name, different ownership

The Mennonite Heritage Centre, including its archival and art gallery programs, is being reorganized. The Mennonite Heritage Archives will operate under a new partnership, while Canadian Mennonite University will take over the art gallery. (Canadian Mennonite University photo)

The Mennonite Heritage Centre, including its archival and art gallery programs, is being reorganized under a new partnership and name.

Is Future Directions a First-World problem?

Dann Pantoja, left, Joji Pantoja and Tim Froese pose for a photo when the Pantojas visited the Mennonite Church Canada offices in Winnipeg. Froese, the executive minister of MC Canada Witness, wears the ‘tubao,’ a head gear of the Maguindanao tribe in the southern Philippines. (Peacebuilders Community Inc. file photo)

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Feb 22, 2017

The Future Directions process is moving slowly and surely forward with a specific restructuring proposal and a timeline for downsizing proposals. Meanwhile, the notion of refocussing on the local congregation, which is central to the transition narrative, is generating vital questions about the importance of global perspectives in an increasingly nationalistic world.

An historical treasure

Holding the 1930 volume of the Saskatchewan Valley News, Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan members, from left, Jake Buhler, John Reddekopp and Susan Braun, pose with Terry Jensen, the paper’s owner. Jensen is donating all of the paper’s archival material to the society’s Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

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

Jake Buhler knows an historical treasure when he sees one. That’s why he’s so excited that the Saskatchewan Valley News is donating all of its back issues to the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan Archives in Saskatoon.

The Valley News, as it has been simply known, quit publishing after 114 years. The final edition rolled off the presses on Jan. 26, 2017. Owner Terry Jensen, who purchased the weekly community newspaper in 2014, cited a lack of advertising revenue as the major reason for the paper’s demise.

‘Departure conversations’

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Feb 08, 2017

Henry Neufeld’s feature last summer (Aug. 29, 2016, page 4) about the firing and layoff practices of some Mennonite organizations touched a nerve. Only one Canadian Mennonite story last year was viewed more times online, and numerous people responded with letters to the editor. (See “When your services are no longer required.”)

Making space for disagreement

Erwin Warkentin, a member of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, one of only a couple of member congregations that have named themselves openly ‘affirming,’ explains that even having adopted this label as a congregation, between individual members ‘disagreements on biblical interpretation are common, but we are still one church.’ (Photo by Beth Downey)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 08, 2017

After stormy weather prevented many rural members from attending a Mennonite Church Manitoba meeting in Winnipeg on Jan.12 on how to implement the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution passed last summer in Saskatoon, Morden Mennonite Church hosted a second gathering late last month.

‘Moving forward together’

Amy Dueckman
God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 08, 2017

Option A: Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 remains and Mennonite Church B.C. chooses to have congregations trust each other.

Option E: MC B.C. rejects BFC 7 and chooses to leave the national church. (The background to this option is the view that BFC 7 overturns the area church’s re-covenanting process done in 2006 and 2007, as well as the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.)

Taking the road less travelled as children of God

Youth and sponsors rise to the challenge of an ice-climbing wall at the annual senior-high retreat. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Feb 08, 2017

“I am ______ (fill in the blank).” This was how speaker Amy Peters began the 2017 Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s senior-high retreat at Camp Kadesh, held from Jan. 27 to 29, 2017.

Pastoral transitions in Ontario

Dave Rogalsky
God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 08, 2017

• Hans Peters began as the minister of Milverton Mennonite Fellowship on Jan. 1. He spent the past seven years at Jane Finch Faith Community Church in Toronto as pastor. During that time he took Jane Finch from a “service ministry doing work in the community, to a church doing work in the community.” That church is now being led by three young adults from the congregation.

EVI listening tour roundup

Clockwise from left: Sara Erb, Steph Chandler Burns, Kathy Janzen, Ed Janzen and Chris Brnjas consider the questions posed at the second Emerging Voices Initiative listening tour event on Nov. 11, 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | Jan 25, 2017 | 2 comments

Over the past three months, the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) conducted a cross-country listening tour, endeavouring to gauge the mood of Mennonite Church Canada congregants on what should happen next with the national church following the presentation of the Future Directions Task Force recommendations at last summer’s assembly in Saskatoon and the creation of a transition process to redefine the area and national churches.

Alberta names new area church pastor

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld has been hired as the new Mennonite Church Alberta area church pastor. Starting in February, he will combine this half-time position with a quarter-time role as Future Directions coordinator for the area church. As area church pastor, he will serve administrative roles relating to ordination and licensing, provide coaching and leadership support to pastors, and serve as a key link between the area church executive and congregations. He completed undergraduate degrees at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg (theology) and the University of Waterloo, Ont.

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