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God at work in the Church

‘We should do this again’

Comforters are knotted during Kitchener First Mennonite Church’s Assembly Scattered celebration on Oct. 3. First Hmong Mennonite, a daughter church of First Mennonite, was invited to the party. Pictured knotting the comforter are Hmong youth, from left to right: Isaiah Her, Zack Mua, Tong Her, Ezekiel Her and Faith Her. (Photo by Dennis Burkhardt)

God at work in the Church | By Rebecca Yoder Neufeld | Nov 18, 2015

“We should do this again!” commented a Hmong young adult, a sentiment heard often after Kitchener First Mennonite Church’s Assembly Scattered weekend in early October 2015.

Nearly 60 youth, children and adults from the congregation were privileged to gather with almost 8,000 Anabaptist believers from 77 countries in July at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Harrisburg, Pa. Those who went wanted to share the experience with the home crowd.

Retreat sparks women’s spiritual gifts

Gloria Laurence, left, auctions a vase held by Rita Siebert at the fall B.C. women’s retreat. The live auction and other fundraisers during the weekend raised nearly $1,640 for women’s ministries, including retreat assistance bursaries and the Mennonite Church Canada Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 18, 2015

Warmth was evident all around at the annual B.C. Women’s Ministry retreat. Held from Oct. 16 to 18, 2015, at Camp Squeah, there was warmth in the fire and fireplace decorations that adorned the lodge and warmth in the fellowship among participants.

Church geeks serve PiE

Board member Caleb Redekop, left, cuts the PiE pie with Chris Brnjas and Jessica Reesor Rempel at Pastors in Exile’s kick-off on Sept. 27 at the Queen St. Commons Café in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 04, 2015

Both Jessica Reesor Rempel and Chris Brnjas are fond of puns, as perhaps only geeks are.

Self-professed “church geeks,” they kicked off their new ministry, Pastors in Exile (PiE) at the Queen Street Commons café in downtown Kitchener on Sept. 27, 2015, with many pies being consumed by the 85 people who attended.

Celebrating the past, anticipating the future

Liz Koop, president of Mennonite Women Canada, addresses participants at the final retreat of Saskatchewan Women in Mission (SWM). Holding the microphone for her is Lois Siemens, pastor of Superb Mennonite Church and an outgoing member of the SWM executive. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Nov 04, 2015

Bringing a long-standing and dearly loved institution to an end is not an easy thing to do. The members of Saskatchewan Women in Mission (SWM) have at least shown that it can be done with grace, thanksgiving and, yes, even joy.

When members voted to dissolve the organization at their annual Enrichment Day in April, plans were already underway for a fall retreat. That retreat, held Oct. 16 and 17, 2015, at Shekinah Retreat Centre, became a celebration of the role SWM played in the lives of women and also a time for envisioning what the future might hold.

It takes three villages to send 18 kids to camp

Nyantut Pal, left, Christina Chany and Balat Pal are ready for their three-and-a-half-hour drive from Edmonton to Camp Valaqua in Water Valley, Alta., with their driver, Barry Andres. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Oct 21, 2015

What does it look like when two churches and Camp Valaqua partner toward a common goal? It looks like 18 enthusiastic campers!

This past summer, the Service and Outreach branch of Edmonton’s First Mennonite Church learned that a number of young people from the city’s South Sudanese Mennonite Church were interested in going to Camp Valaqua in Water Valley, Alta., for the first time.

Singing with the Spirit

Song leaders from a number of MC Saskatchewan churches participate in ‘Singing with the Spirit,’ a weekend music and worship event hosted by Nutana Park Mennonite, Saskatoon, from Oct. 2 to 4, 2015. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 21, 2015

“I will sing with the Spirit, but I will sing with understanding.” These words, from I Corinthians 14:15, formed the basis of Marilyn Houser Hamm’s recent music workshop at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

Houser Hamm, who hails from Manitoba, is well known within Mennonite Church Canada as a musician, music educator, composer and workshop leader, and has served on the music committees for Hymnal: A Worship Book, Sing the Journey and Sing the Story.

Let the children come!

On Aug. 28, Bergthal Mennonite Church celebrated the opening of a community playground on its rural property. The equipment was donated by the new owners of the local Midway School property. The school closed in 2013. (Didsbury Review photo by Frank Dabbs)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Oct 07, 2015

Why would a church of predominantly greying members build a playground for children?

Betty Brown was thinking about children as she drove past the abandoned playground at Midway School in the summer of 2014, so she stopped in to ask a few questions. A year later, at a dedication celebration on Aug. 28, 2015, 46 children under the age of 12 were at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta., to enthusiastically cut the ribbons tied all over the equipment that had been relocated to the church grounds.

‘A way of life’ celebrated on Cow Sunday

Osler Mennonite Church recently celebrated Cow Sunday in recognition of the impact dairy farming has had on the congregation. These animals were part of the herd owned by Harry and Eva Martens, who retired in August. (Photo by Adeline Cox)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Oct 07, 2015

“Dairy farming is not just a job,” said Lloyd Sawatzky, “It is a way of life.”

For members of Osler Mennonite Church, dairy farming is a way of life that has come to an end. In August, Harry and Eva Martens sold their 150-cow herd to join the ranks of the retired. They were the last remaining dairy farmers in a congregation that once boasted up to 30 of them.

‘We are in a heap of trouble’

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Oct 07, 2015 | 4 comments

Two hundred people spent a sunny Saturday at Morden Mennonite Church in southern Manitoba to look squarely at how the church can deal with its same-sex crisis.

“Biblical marriage texts clearly envision marriage as a relationship between man and woman. Some of us believe . . . we must embrace such texts in a straightforward way,” read the booklet prepared for the Sept. 26, 2015, event.

“Some of us believe these convictions reflect the culture of ancient times,” the booklet continued, “and that therefore we need not be bound by them.”

Church planters come under auspices of MC Eastern Canada

Judith McCartney

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 23, 2015

After more than 30 years of working with young people on the margins of society in Toronto, Judith and Colin McCartney are now ministering under the auspices of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.

Kuen Yee ordained at Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church

Kuen Yee

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Sep 23, 2015

Kuen Yee was ordained at a worship celebration of God’s leading, diversity and giftedness at Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church on Sept. 6. Area church minister Dan Graber led the ordination ceremony and welcomed Yee into the company of Mennonite Church Alberta pastors. Yee is Chinese and has an Alliance Church background. In September 2012, she began serving as the pastor of English ministries with Vietnamese Mennonites. She holds a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy and formerly served as a lay pastor at Edmonton Chinese Alliance Church.

Being a Faithful Church 7

In July, the General Board of Mennonite Church Canada received and approved two reports received from the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) Task Force.

BFC 6.1 is the follow-up to the following questions posed in BFC 6:

Conrad Grebel partners with Tabor Manor in chaplaincy internship

Michelle Koop served as a summer chaplaincy intern at Tabor Manor, St. Catharines, Ont., for the summer of 2015. She worked under the supervision of Waldo Pauls. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 09, 2015

Michelle Koop grew up going to Vineland (Ont.) United Mennonite Church, next to the Vineland Mennonite Home. She worked at the Home and helped care for the father of Ed Janzen, chaplain at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC). In part, it was her stories of that care that convinced Janzen of Koop’s “heart for the aged and seniors—living out the love of God.”

South Korean CO freed after 15 months

Sang-Min Lee enjoys some of his favourite fast food after being released from prison, where he served 15 months for refusing to participate in mandatory military service. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

Conscientious objector (CO) Sang-Min Lee, a member of Grace and Peace Mennonite Church in Seoul, South Korea, is free. He was released from prison on July 30, after serving 15 months of an 18-month sentence for refusing military service. The time he spent as a barber in the prison system was credited as additional time served.

News of Lee’s stand for peace travelled quickly through Mennonite channels garnering messages of support from individuals and churches around the world during his imprisonment.

Sunday School in 1980

Photo provided by the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies.

God at work in the Church | By Kate Regier | Aug 26, 2015

A group of children from Orchard Park Bible Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., carry signs celebrating the 200th birthday of Sunday school as Kathy and Alfred Guenther present keepsakes to the children. In 1780, Robert Raikes started Sunday school in Gloucester, England, as a way to teach lower-class children morals and religion. Although Sunday school is standard practice today, its development was slow in some Mennonite circles due to their understanding of adult baptism and church membership. The first Canadian Mennonite Sunday school was established in 1840 in Waterloo County, Ont.

Getting youth to World Conference four years in the making

Among the activities the Canadian youth were engaged in during the MWC assembly was finding and chatting with someone they didn’t know. (Photo courtesy of Dave Bergen)

God at work in the Church | By Dick Benner | Aug 26, 2015

Thanks to a great deal of planning, the 310 Canadian young people and their sponsors had the “global experience of a lifetime,” according to Kirsten Hamm-Epp, area church minister in youth and administrative planning for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, who was the prime mover behind the efforts to get the youth to Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly held in Harrisburg, Pa., last month.  

MWC assembly was an amazing experience

Prabidhi Pandey worked on the Mennonite Disaster Service project while at MWC assembly. She is a 14-year-old from Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Prabidhi Pandey)

God at work in the Church | By Prabidhi Pandey | Aug 26, 2015

All the youth name tags at Mennonite World Conference assembly in Harrisburg, Pa., had “#J178” on them. Nobody gave much thought to it until 600 youth from around the world were gathered in a 24-acre space under the arena in the morning while the adults listened to the sermon in one of two daily worship services.

Historians address Nazi influence on Mennonites

Ben Goossen shows the photo, “Heinrich Himmler in Molotschna, 1942,” during his workshop, “From Aryanism to Multiculturalism: Mennonite Ethnicity and German Nationalism, 1871 to Today.” (Photo by Dale D. Gehman for Meetinghouse)

God at work in the Church | By Tim Huber | Aug 26, 2015 | 5 comments

A chapter of 20th-century German Mennonite history that has been predominantly glossed over, received attention in back-to-back workshops by historians on July 22 at the Mennonite World Conference assembly.

Ben Goossen of Cambridge, Mass., spent six years studying Mennonite identity and German nationalism. Using archival material in North America and Europe, the doctoral student at Harvard University says the rise in Mennonite ethnic identity was built on and supported the rise of Aryanism and the Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) movement.

Churches support Freedom Road

First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg doesn’t have a church sign with moveable letters, so they got creative in voicing their support for Freedom Road. (Photo by David Driedger)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | Aug 26, 2015

A campaign of church signs supported by Juno-award-winning musician Steve Bell is calling on the federal government to address the longstanding injustice of Winnipeg’s water system.

In August 2015 Bell joined the chorus of voices asking the federal government to do its part in building a road that would connect the isolated community of Shoal Lake 40 with the Trans-Canada Highway.

Lenore Mendes at Mennonite World Conference, 1990

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Aug 12, 2015

Lenore Mendes of Guatemala addresses Mennonite World Conference 12 in Winnipeg in 1990. She thought she would be speaking to a few hundred people, but was surprised to see thousands. The Winnipeg gathering was the biggest to date with 13,000 registrants.  Her sermon in Winnipeg was an important stepping stone to her election to the Executive Committee of MWC. It was the first time a Central American woman would represent Latin America in the MWC Executive Committee.

Slowing church down

Through July and August, The Commons, a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregation in Hamilton, Ont., has been meeting in Beasley Park on Sundays at 6 p.m.

God at work in the Church | By Randell Neudorf | Aug 12, 2015

The Commons is starting to slow down. No, we are not retiring as a church, we just think it is time for a little different pace. The plan is to switch things up in the fall for our Sunday worship gatherings. We plan to use our gathering time to dig a little deeper into liturgy, spiritual practices, hospitality, old traditions and new creative expressions. To do this we are going to have to slow down a little.

On the way to Sängerfest, 1934

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Jul 22, 2015

A group of 18 young men and women travel in the back of a truck on their way a Sängerfest or song festival in the Didsbury, Alberta, area in 1934. No seatbelts used here! Song festivals were popular in Mennonite circles as a way of gathering to see old friends, enjoy singing four-part harmony music, and a way for young men and women to meet in controlled environments. These events often included people from different Mennonite denominations. Charismatic itinerant music directors, like Kornelius H. Neufeld, commonly led these groups, which could number over a hundred singers.

Community Mennonite celebrates 25 years

Mike Martin (second from right) and his siblings (from left), Steve, Ron, Willard, Gloria and Terry Martin sang at the 25th anniversary celebration for Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on May 23, 2015. Mike, who is the chair of church council, wrote a special song for the event. (Photo courtesy of Community Mennonite Fellowship, Drayton)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 22, 2015

The roots ran deep in both the Berea and Moorefield Mennonite Churches, north of Kitchener-Waterloo. Berea, first known as the Parker Mission, was founded in 1941 and joined the Ontario Mennonite Conference in 1947. That same year a congregation was founded less than 10 miles away at Moorefield, using a disused Anglican church building.

In 1967 the two congregations started sharing a pastor. They also had a combined Mennonite Youth Fellowship, adult fellowship, Christmas and evening services, as well as sports teams.

Emotions run high at MC USA convention

Prayer team member John C. Murray of Hesston, Kan., prays during a Pink Menno hymn sing outside the delegate hall July 4. (Photo by Paul Schrag, Mennonite World Review)

God at work in the Church | By Paul Schrag | Jul 22, 2015

Pick a category of people at the Mennonite Church USA convention, and you could identify their pain.

It might have been the pain of exclusion due to sexual orientation. Or of feeling the church has agreed to tolerate sin. It might have been the pain of sexual abuse. Or of concern for the future of a church sharply divided on how to relate to sexual minorities.

“I’ve never been at a convention with so many tears, and I’ve been to quite a few,” said Doro­thy Nickel Friesen of Newton, Kan., on July 4, the convention’s last full day.

Mennonite World Conference, 1962

Mennonite Archives of Ontario/Mennonite Archival Image Database

God at work in the Church | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Jun 30, 2015

In 1962, Canada hosted the Mennonite World Conference for the first time. Twelve thousand delegates attended; 6,000 of these were billeted in local homes. Historian T.D. Regehr notes in Mennonites in Canada: A People Transformed, “The Kitchener-Waterloo area, where Old Order Amish lived side by side with successful Mennonite businessmen, professionals, and academics, provided a unique opportunity to show the diversity of Canadian Mennonite life.