God at work in the Church

Identity, leadership and Mennonite World Conference

Robert J. Suderman, MWC Peace Commission assistant secretary, left, and MWC Executive Committee member Adi Walujo, of the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) Mennonite Synod, share the podium at a teaching session in Indonesia.

“Our children and young people have no idea what it means to be Anabaptist or Mennonite. What is MWC going to do about that?”

This concern, forthrightly expressed, came from a congregational leader in India during one of dozens of teaching sessions in which I participated last fall in India and Indonesia.

A lifelong joy of words

Victoria Neufeldt works on The Historian, a publication of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan, from her home office.

If you open the front cover of the Merriam-Webster’s Primary Dictionary, you’ll find acknowledgement of Victoria Neufeldt’s contribution in the preface. Lively illustrations make the book visually appealing and invite children inside where they can learn and discover the joy of words.

Heartfelt apology

Ruth Boehm, right, pastor of Faith Mennonite Church, Leamington,Ont., presents Rev. Thomas Mertz, co-pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, with a breadbasket cloth she stitched from a 1545 German pattern book on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31.

On Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31, Faith Mennonite Church in Leamington, Ont., was visited by neighbours and friends from the local St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Reformation Sunday marks the anniversary in 1517 when Martin Luther began public theological dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church that is considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

‘Reaching the unreached . . . should be the focus of the church’

Yemiru Tilahun, mission and evangelism director of Ethiopia’s Meserete Kristos Church, right, with two leaders of the Emmanuel United Church of Ethiopia. Emmanuel vice-president Samson Mariam, left, and president Bezalem Fisseha, centre, were mentored by Meserete Kristos leaders.

At least 30 mission and church leaders represented Anabaptist-related communities at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in South Africa this fall. The gathering, which attracted 4,000 mission leaders, pastors and academics from 198 countries, grew out of the Lausanne Movement that followed the first congress in Switzerland in1974.

Lao church dedicates new worship space

Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church youths welcomed guests to a fellowship meal following a grand opening celebration for the congregation’s new worship space at a mall in northwest Toronto.

Why would several hundred people enter a storefront on Finch Avenue West in northwest Toronto late in the afternoon of Sept. 26? Not to get a haircut; that’s next door. No, these people were gathered to celebrate.

‘Be ready to get engaged’

Willard Metzger began his post as Mennonite Church Canada’s new general secretary on Nov. 1, taking over from the retiring Robert J. Suderman. Metzger has felt called to national ministry for many years, and brings many experiences to the table, including 18 years as a pastor, 10 years as chair of MC Canada Witness, and as the director of church relations for World Vision Canada.

Introducing Willard Metzger

Willard Metzger assumed the role of Mennonite Church Canada general secretary on Nov. 1.

Most 10-year-old boys express their dreams of being astronauts, firefighters or police officers when they grow up. For Willard Metzger, the new general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, who took office on Nov. 1, national ministry was his calling, even as a young child.

Small company, big story

The Mennonite Mutual Insurance Co. (Alberta) Ltd. celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer with fellowship—and cake.

The 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Mennonite Mutual Insurance Co. (Alberta) Ltd. passed in understated Mennonite fashion, with cake and fellowship at the company’s annual meeting. The quietness belies the significance of this uniquely Albertan success story that has fingers in the past and present, while pointing into the future.

Bolivian Mennonites support services for addictions, abuse

‘When the doors open, people will come,’ says Klaus Rempel, who is part of a committee developing a rehabilitation centre that will provide addiction treatment services for Bolivian men.

As the criminal investigation continues into allegations of gang rape in some Mennonite colonies in Bolivia, many local congregations see a need to reach out to people dealing with addictions, sexual abuse and violence against women.

Good things happening among Bolivia’s Old Colony Mennonites

During a trip to Bolivia earlier this year, Helen Funk, a Winnipeg-based Low German radio host, distributes her Low German cookbook, Met Helen en de Kjäakj/With Helen in the Kitchen, that she wrote at the request of Bolivian colony listeners.

Despite tragic reports of sexual assault, alcoholism and drug use among Old Colony Mennonite communities in Bolivia this past year, there are many good things happening there, which offer hope for a better future.

25 years of silence

Gene and Mary Herr opened the Hermitage in 1985. This photograph was taken in 1996.

Technically, there is no such thing as a Mennonite monk. But if you travel to a remodelled century-old barn in the rolling countryside of southern Michigan, you will find some decidedly monk-like Mennonites. At the Hermitage—a Mennonite-run spiritual retreat centre—directors David and Naomi Wenger welcome pilgrims to a setting of quiet, stillness and prayer.

MWC reports a good year

“Mennonite World Conference is in good shape. There are no crisis areas. What we agreed to do, we have been able to do.”

With those words, general secretary Larry Miller, who will leave his post in 2012 after more than two decades of service, summarized the work of MWC to the Executive Committee when it gathered in Addis Ababa this summer for its annual meeting.

‘To be in harmony with all people’

As a way to mark the century milestone, Aberdeen Mennonite Church, Sask., erected a commemorative sign in front of the building. Former pastor Dave Neufeld, left, Ally Fehr and David Klassen unveil the sign during the June 5-6 celebrations.

In the town of Aberdeen, Sask., population 600, a small but committed group of Mennonites that call this place home gathered together in early June to celebrate 100 years of witness to the community.

No longer ‘sinful or strange’ to each other

From left to right, CMU graduates Michael Bueckert, Andrea Dick, Jessica Dyck and Tim Rempel reflect on their Mennonite Brethren and General Conference traditions, and how they related to their school experience at CMU.

A century-and-a-half after the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church and General Conference (GC) Mennonite Church divided, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) held a “Celebrating 150 Years” event on June 5, in an effort to listen to the stories of each denomination and learn from them.

Remembering God’s future: Youth Assembly 2011

The Mennonite Church Canada Youth Assembly 2011 Planning Committee includes, from left to right: (on floor) Jean Lehn Epp; (seated) Scott Eyre, Aaron Neufeld, Luke Derksen, Trang Tran, Anna Rehan, Emma Bartel and Kathy Giesbrecht; and, (in back) Rod Wiebe

As delegates begin to register for Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010, planners for Youth Assembly 2011 are remembering the future—a reference to the assembly’s theme text which calls on Christians to envision God’s future of a city where all people will live in harmony.

Willard Metzger to be next MC Canada general secretary

Metzger

Willard Metzger has been appointed to the post of general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada. He will succeed outgoing general secretary Robert J. Suderman, who has served in the post since 2005 and who will retire this summer. The leadership transition will begin this fall.

Moderator Andrew Reesor-McDowell made the announcement to staff on behalf of the general board on May 20.

Asking the wrong questions

Ed Janzen, chaplain at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., moves that the Congregational Ministries Council prioritize youth and young adult ministry in its funding allocations.

Moderator Aldred Neufeld summed up Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s 23rd annual delegate sessions last month by saying, “Even the wrong decisions can get us to the right place through God’s Spirit.” And wrong decisions—or questions—came up a number of times over the day-and-a-half of meetings.

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