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.
God at work in the Church
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.”
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.
“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.”
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?
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)
Keith Regehr (left), Future Directions Interim Council Transitions Coordinator, discusses with Paul Wideman, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Moderator, and Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director, at the MCEC annual church gathering. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)
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.
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)
Rosthern Mennonite Church pastor Craig Neufeld, left, consults with RJC student Hailey Funk, as she and her classmates build an art installation on the church’s stage to celebrate the Easter season. (Photos by Donna Schulz)
From left to right: RJC students Ma April, Naomi Chan and Emily Neufeld create paper cut-outs of flowers, butterflies, and birds of many colours as part of the art installation their worship arts class created for Rosthern Mennonite Church. (Photos by Donna Schulz)
RJC’s worship arts class, taught by Jill Wiens, created a multi-dimensional art installation for Rosthern Mennonite Church, depicting the ‘new life, growth and hope’ they found in biblical texts for the six-week Easter season. (Photos by Donna Schulz)
Each element of the art installation created by the RJC worship arts class speaks to a different element found in the biblical texts for the six Sundays from Easter to Pentecost. The stone strewn pathway down the centre of the stage, for instance, represents the Road to Emmaus. (Photos by Donna Schulz)
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.
Winnipeg Mennonites handed out a “Bless Our Enemies” leaflet to people at an evangelistic event Franklin Graham attended in 2006.
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
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)
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.
Leng Thang of Calgary Chin Christian Church addresses the MC Alberta annual delegate sessions on March 18, 2017. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)
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.”
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.
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)
The bread and the cup graced the communion table at Nutana Park Mennonite Church during MC Saskatchewan’s recent annual delegate sessions, along with jars of preserves and a basket of corn reflecting the event’s theme: ‘Extending the table: Enough for all.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Nutana Park Mennonite Church delegates, from left to right, Brent Gunther, Susanne Guenther Loewen, Mat Rouleau and Gordon Peters, discussed proposed changes to the structure of MC Canada. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Susanne Gunther Loewen reminded those at MC Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions that “’our God is generous, welcoming, always making room for more at the table.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
“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.
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.
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:
“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.”
“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.
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)
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.
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.
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.)
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.”
The Mennonite Heritage Centre, including its archival and art gallery programs, is being reorganized under a new partnership and name.
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)
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.
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)
Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan member Jake Buhler examines a drawer filled with 35mm negatives used in publishing the Saskatchewan Valley News. Now that the weekly community paper is no longer being published, the negatives will be preserved in the Historical Society’s Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
In addition to back issues and photographic negatives, an assortment of documents pertaining to Mennonite church history that have been housed at the Saskatchewan Valley News offices will also be donated to the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Bound copies of the Saskatchewan Valley News dating from 1930, as well as unbound copies from recent years, will find a new home at the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
The first volume of Der Mennonitische Immigranten Bote (The Mennonite Immigration Messenger), published in 1924 in Rosthern, Sask., is among the historical artifacts that Terry Jensen, the owner of the Saskatchewan Valley News, is donating to the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan Archives. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
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.
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.”)
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)
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.
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.)