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God at work in the Church

‘What begins in God goes back to God’

Kathy Reidt, representing the congregation, left, Pastor Walter Jantzen and Ryan Siemens, MC Saskatchewan’s area church minister of congregational and pastoral relations, lead worshippers in a litany of release and blessing at the closing service of Horse Lake Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Aug 10, 2016

It had probably been a while since Horse Lake Mennonite Church welcomed so many worshippers. Filling every pew, they gathered to celebrate the life of this small country church and to grieve its closing.

During the decommissioning service, held June 26, Pastor Walter Jantzen shared the church’s history.

Wideman Mennonite celebrates 200th anniversary

Hannah Taylor, left, Linda Ramer and Milissa Fortier stand beside an ‘open door’ welcoming guests to a barbecue and hymn sing that were part of Wideman Mennonite Church’s 200th-anniversary celebrations over the weekend of July 23 and 24, 2016. (Photo by Joanna Reesor-McDowell)

God at work in the Church | By Joanna Reesor-McDowell | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

Hundreds of friends from near and far attended Wideman Mennonite Church‘s 200th-anniversary celebrations over the July 23-24 weekend. It was a culmination of special activities over the past few months that helped members mark this significant milestone.

Beginning in January, a few minutes during each weekly worship service were devoted to sharing stories from the past. Monthly Sunday evening hymn sings started in April, with guest musicians and worship leaders returning to Wideman from other communities.

MFC hopes to expand ministry with name change

God at work in the Church | By Jess Huxman | Aug 10, 2016

Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) will change its name to Abundance Canada in October.

The decision to rebrand follows 18 months of market analysis, survey research, competitive analysis, and formal and informal discussions with stakeholders and the general public. The new name is an open invitation for generous Christians across Canada to use the services of Abundance Canada to support charities that impact and change lives.

The future of neo-Anabaptism

Paul Martens

God at work in the Church | By Henry Neufeld | Aug 10, 2016

“We are not living in the 16th century, and whatever is called Anabaptism today inevitably looks and sounds quite different,” said Paul Martens during a recent talk entitled “Neo-Anabaptism is dead: Long live neo-Anabaptism” at the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver. Hence “neo-Anabaptism” is a way of naming the connections between the past and present: a new way of understanding the past.

Martens, an associate professor of theology at Baylor University in Waco, Tex., is a native of Manitoba who studied at Providence College, Regent College and Notre Dame University.

‘Imagine’ a bright beginning

David Epp

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 28, 2016

“This is our first kick at the cat,” quips Rosthern Junior College (RJC) principal Jim Epp.

Nevertheless, he is confident his school’s new integrated learning program will be “a dynamic learning experience” for Grade 10 students. “Recognizing that pedagogy and student learning styles are different than they were, we’re offering an educational opportunity that’s different but still very consistent with the mission of our school,” he says.

The program, dubbed Imagine, will involve up to 26 students engaging in a multi-disciplinary learning program.

Returning to their roots

C. Schmidt—front row, second from left—and Henry W. Friesen—back row, right—were two of the founding members of the Mennonite Youth Farm. Friesen was a driving force behind Youth Farm Bible Camp for many years; his wife Helen—back row, second from right—continues to reside at the Youth Farm. (Photo courtesy of Youth Farm Bible Camp)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 15, 2016

The history of Youth Farm Bible Camp is, in no small sense, the history of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. In the early 1940s, the Mennonite Youth Society began holding retreats at the Dominion Experimental Farm, just south of Rosthern. Several individuals saw the neglected farm as an ideal site for the ministries of Saskatchewan Mennonites. Henry W. Friesen, Isaac Epp and J. C. Schmidt spent a full year in prayer to discern whether or not they should purchase the farm.

Hope Mennonite Fellowship withdraws from MC Saskatchewan

Hope Mennonite Fellowship of North Battleford, Sask., left the area church on April 30 over theological and same-sex issues. (Photo by Gerhard Luitjens)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 15, 2016

Hope Mennonite Fellowship withdrew its membership from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan effective April 30, 2016.

A hedge of protection

Virginia Froese

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jun 15, 2016

Forty Mennonite Church Manitoba clergy attended the area church’s biennial “Healthy boundaries” seminar, held this year at Carman Mennonite Church. Led this spring by clinical psychologist Lois Edmund, the conference is mandatory once every four years for all credentialled MC Manitoba pastors.

Topics covered at the seminars include “Boundaries defined and their importance in ministry,” “Healthy congregations and healthy pastors,” “Strategies to reduce pastoral misconduct,” and “MC Manitoba policy on professional misconduct,” among others.

In a 21st-century storm of change

Clockwise from front left, Stephen Cox, Oderay Peters, Marvin Shank and Sririsack Saythavy discuss the role of pastors in the 21st century on May 11 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 01, 2016

A seminar for pastors may have begun with marine imagery, but it was the cascade of effects that happened in Yellowstone National Park in the United States that caught the imagination of 30 pastors gathered at Conrad Grebel University College on May 11, 2016.

Betty Pries of Associates Resourcing the Church showed the YouTube video “How wolves change rivers,” which describes the theory that the reintroduction of wolves led to all kinds of changes, even of landforms, in the park.

Saskatchewan pastors wrestle with Scripture

Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church, Sask., describes his group’s interpretation of Jonah 3, while Josh Wallace of Warman Mennonite holds up the illustration. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Jun 01, 2016

“People assume that reading the Bible should be easy,” said Derek Suderman, adding, though, “That’s not the way the Bible works.” If they are to truly understand Scripture, they must be prepared to wrestle with it.

‘Learning how to listen is a journey’

Sister Care organizers, pictured left to right: Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener. (Photo by Lynn Lavalee)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jun 01, 2016

Mennonite Women Manitoba organized and hosted Winnipeg’s first-ever Sister Care seminar at Bethel Mennonite Chuch in mid-May, drawing women of all ages from multiple congregations.

Sister Care was developed and is now presented worldwide by Carolyn Heggen, a psychotherapist specializing in trauma recovery, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care’s director.

Vancouver pastor ordained

Lydia Cruttwell

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 01, 2016

Lydia Cruttwell, pastor of First United Mennonite Church in Vancouver, was ordained to the ministry on Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2016, in a joint worship service with First United Spanish Mennonite Church. Mennonite Church B.C. executive minister Garry Janzen conducted the ordination. Also present were former First United Mennonite pastors Helmut Isaak and Ingrid Schultz, and retired MC B.C. pastors Erwin Cornelsen, Sven Eriksson and Tim Kuepfer.

Finding God in my neighbourhood

Brian Quan, left, pastor of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church and MC Eastern Canada’s assistant moderator, gives a plant to Jonathan Abraham, centre, pastor of Shalom Worship and Healing Centre, to welcome it as an emerging congregation. Missions minister Brian Bauman, right, looks on. (Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 18, 2016

Stuart Murray, author of The Naked Anabaptist, encouraged Mennonite Church Eastern Canada delegates to become mobile temples, moving out of their buildings and into the neighbourhood to speak out the good news of God’s redeeming presence. At the annual church gathering held in Leamington on April 28 and 29, 2016, he encouraged the church to work with non-churched people, meeting the needs of the community, rather than building churches. Murray and Alex Ellish told stories about God at work in their neighbourhoods in Britain.

Wisdom in legacy

Surrounded by personal mementoes representing women of several generations, Ingrid Schultz speaks on the legacy of faith at the MC B.C. women’s Inspirational Day on April 30.

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 18, 2016

Recalling the legacies passed down through generations, women gathered on April 30, 2016, for the 77th annual Mennonite Church B.C. women’s Inspirational Day at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church.

With II Timothy 1:3-7 as her text, speaker Ingrid Schultz used the examples of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice, who both passed their faith on to him. Schultz is currently chaplain at Menno Place in Abbotsford and former pastor of First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver.

From the pews

The church at Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, Man. / ‘Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach’ by Robert Linsdell CC BY 2.0

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 04, 2016

For an hour each week we sit together. Most of us are mostly silent. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we sing, sometimes we wander off in thought. Sometimes I wonder what other people wonder about. What do they wish church would be? What do they really believe? What pains would they share? What recollections warm their souls? So I asked. I interviewed six people of various backgrounds and ages. Over time, I hope to ask the same questions of dozens more people.

Holding out hope for the post-Christendom church

The Caspian Trio, featuring Simone Friesen on violin, Godwin Friesen on piano, and Amos Friesen on cello, entertained guests at the Canadian Mennonite fundraising banquet held at Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church on April 23, 2016. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 04, 2016 | 2 comments

The Naked Anabaptist, by British author Stuart Murray, summarizes the foundational tenets of Anabaptism, but “I have a feeling it wouldn’t have sold quite as well with a different title,” he quipped.

Murray was speaking in Rosthern as part of a two-week tour thanking Mennonite Church Canada for sending Witness workers Michael and Cheryl Nimz to the United Kingdom. The Nimzes connect Anabaptists scattered throughout the U.K. and provide them with resources.

B.C. pastor heads new Canadian Mennonite board

Henry Krause, pastor of Langley (B.C.) Mennonite Fellowship, was elected chair of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board at its 45th annual meeting, held at Rosthern Mennonite Church from April 21 to 23. He succeeds Tobi Thiessen of Toronto, who is going off the board after serving for six years as a CMPS board appointee.

B.C. paddle-a-thon: a successful tradition

Spectators give a warm welcome to the first canoe to arrive in Fort Langley at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon. Paddlers annually make the journey from Hope to Fort Langley to raise funds for the summer staff bursary fund. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | May 04, 2016

The number of people in the vessels may have been smaller this year, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end for the total earned at the 2016 Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon

When the canoes and kayaks arrived at the Fort Langley marina on April 17, 2016, the paddlers who had started out from Hope the morning before learned that they had helped raise $42,000 for the Camp Squeah summer staff bursary fund. The fund helps support college and university students who give of their time to work at Camp Squeah, Mennonite Church B.C.’s camp, for the summer months.

Staying alive amid new financial realities

Brent Zorgdrager, MSCU’s chief executive officer, says market surveys with non-Mennonite consumers with similar faith values as the Credit Union focussed on the ‘Mennonite’ name in 90 percent of the cases, leading to the realization that it was seen as a block to membership. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 20, 2016

It was the re-entry of the commercial banks into the agricultural lending sector that tipped the balance at Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU), prompting its leaders to believe that they had to do something sooner, rather than later, for the future success and survival of this 52-year-old southern Ontario institution.

Pizza lessons

God at work in the Church | By Brenda Tiessen-Wiens | Apr 20, 2016

John Biakte, left, Tha Kim and Nan Tin enjoy their first experience of making pizza dough on Feb. 13, 2016, with instruction from Karin Krahn, right. More than 20 people from Foothills Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alta.), Calgary Chin Christian Church and Calgary Chin Evangelical Fellowship got together for an afternoon of learning, laughter and applause over their baking creations, as ‘teachers’ from Foothills shared their favourite recipes and baking tips with ‘students’ from the Chin congregations. Chin participants are now looking forward to trying out their new skills at home.

Remembering Jesus’ Good Friday journey

An audience member nails his personal ‘blues’ to the cross at the Good Friday Blues service in Abbotsford, B.C. This meaningful activity is an integral part of the annual Easter event. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 06, 2016

It’s a Holy Week tradition by now in Abbotsford. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, a local bookstore/coffee shop is packed with an audience enthusiastic to hear blues music telling of Jesus’ journey to the cross. And it’s all for a good cause.

The Good Friday Blues Band, which forms each year only for this event, doesn’t earn a penny in profits for its members. Instead, all proceeds from ticket sales and contributions go to the Cyrus Centre, a shelter for homeless and at-risk youth in the Fraser Valley.

MC Alberta defers approval of Future Directions report

The Chin Church of Calgary shares about their growing congregation and leads the Mennonite Church Alberta assembly in enthusiastic singing to kick off the 2016 annual general meeting at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on March 18, 2016. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 06, 2016

“Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Chuck Neufeld’s confident voice set the tone for the 2016 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate assembly as he sang the theme words from Mark 4:50.

When the church listens

God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Apr 06, 2016

A new half-hour documentary gives voice to lesbian/gay/ bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) people in Mennonite Church Canada congregations.

Listening Church, which weaves together interviews with 22 LGBTQ people from across the geographic and age spectrum, was produced at the request of MC Canada leadership and was financed by $5,000 from an anonymous donor. Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) freed professor Irma Fast Dueck to work on the project and MC Manitoba contributed some of Darryl Neustaedter Barg’s time.

Readers want CM to remain a print publication

God at work in the Church | By Barb Draper | Mar 23, 2016

Canadian Mennonite thanks everyone who took the time to fill out the reader survey distributed late in 2015. The responses were positive overall and showed that the magazine is generally well liked. Readers clearly prefer to read print, rather than online, and there is great resistance to the idea of making the magazine digital-only. Various comments indicated that many readers would also be happy to have an end to the sexuality debate.

Bound to disagree, freed to love

Marcus Kruger of Wildwood Mennonite Church, Saskatoon, describes something he experienced to Matt Derksen of Zion Mennonite Church, Swift Current. The listening exercise was part of a Listening and Discernment Committee workshop. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 23, 2016

Conflict within, uncertainties without. Perhaps it was because of these that planners of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions chose “Bound together, freed to serve” as their theme for the March 11 and 12, 2016, event.

Chains encircling a Bible provided a visual reminder of that theme as three speakers shared thoughts on Ephesians 4.