God at work in the Church

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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)

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)

Prabidhi Pandey

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)

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.

Churches support Freedom Road

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

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.

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.

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.

On the way to Sängerfest, 1934

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

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.

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)

Part of the anniversary event was a large quilt display at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on the weekend of May 22-24, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Community Mennonite Fellowship, Drayton)

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.

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)

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.

Hutterites thank John J. Friesen for teaching courses

This painting by Victor Kleinsasser depicts John J. Friesen talking to Hutterite students after class. It was commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee and presented to Friesen as a gift.

A new artwork honouring a professor from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and commissioned by the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee was unveiled in CMU’s new library on June 3. It honoured John J. Friesen, professor emeritus of history and theology, for his contribution to the Hutterite community.

The Gathering Church celebrates ten years

Jim Loepp Thiessen and Catherine Gitzel stand in front of the Gathering Church’s store front offices on Activa Ave. in Kitchener, Ont., across the street from the W. T. Townshend Public School, where they gather on Sunday mornings. The congregation celebrated its tenth anniversary in February this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Two in three church plants don’t make it past the five-year mark. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been successful, but long life is not part of most church plants. The Gathering Church, a full member of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, celebrated its tenth anniversary quietly in February this year.

Lebold dinner funds new pastoral training program

Rudy Baergen, interim pastor at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church (left) chats with Roberson Mbayamvula, pastor at Hagerman Mennonite Church. Baergen was the keynote speaker at the June 11 Lebold fundraising dinner at Conrad Grebel University College and Mbayamvula was last year’s speaker.

A new focus was announced this year at the Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment fundraising dinner, because last year it reached its goal of $1 million to fund pastoral training at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC). This fund, jointly supported by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Conrad Grebel, was founded in 1997 and is named after Ralph Lebold and his wife.

Nutana Park celebrates 50 years of God’s blessing

Under the direction of Duff Warkentin, the Nutana Park Mennonite Church Choir presents songs of praise and thanksgiving in both English and German to help mark the congregation’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Nutana Park Mennonite Church celebrates 50 years of God’s blessing with a special time of worship, led by Brent Guenther, on May 3, 2015. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Donning a party hat, worship leader Brent Guenther invited adults who had grown up in the congregation to join the children at the front of the sanctuary for a children’s time, complete with birthday cake. Seated behind the cake is Susan Ens Funk. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Children of Nutana Park Mennonite Church, assisted by their parents, create 50th birthday cards in celebration of the church’s 50th anniversary. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Photos depicting the congregation’s history cover the walls of the hall. (Photo by Howard Giles)

At a coffee house, held April 25, members of Nutana Park Mennonite Church entertain one another with music and slides. Pictured, left to right: Susan Ens Funk, Peter Hooge, Ron Peters and Lynn Driedger. (Photo by Howard Giles)

Voices joined together in celebration for the opening hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” in a service of worship at Nutana Park Mennonite Church commemorating 50 years as a congregation.

‘A community event’

Canoes and kayaks arrive at their final destination after a successful paddle-a-thon down the Fraser River. The $51,000 raised will support summer staff volunteers pay for post-secondary education. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Weather was again the main story at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon held on April 18 and 19, but this time—unlike some years—for all the right reasons. Sunny skies, warm weather, little wind and no major mishaps meant that the 31 paddlers who finished their two-day sojourn down the Fraser River arrived energized and in great spirits.

MCC pre-sale fundraiser exceeds expectations

MCC Alberta supporters add pocket change to a growing spiral, netting more than $550 to go toward paying the costs of the annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6. (Photo by Gordon Baergen)

The popular pocket change spiral spreads onto a second table. (Photo by Gordon Baergen)

“I thought if we could do $3,000 to $4,000, that would be what we’ve done in the past. When I was off by $10,000, I was elated.”

These words came from Gordon Baergen, a member of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton who helped to organize a May 21 pre-sale fundraiser in preparation for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta’s annual Relief Sale held in Didsbury on June 5 and 6.

Why Mennonites love their gardens

Susie Fisher holds a handful of heritage cucumber seeds given to her by a Mennonite couple in Winkler, Manitoba. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

Bean seeds from the 1930s found in an attic near Mitchell, Manitoba. (Photo by Susie Fisher)

Women shelling beans in their garden in the 1930s near Horndean. (Photo courtesy of Carol Penner)

In the village of Neubergthal in southern Manitoba, gnarled cottonwoods with deeply grooved trunks line the village streets and cluster along the edge of farmyards. Cottonwoods here and in nearby towns bear nostalgic meaning for many Mennonites.

Chin Christians receive Mennonite teaching with joy

David Martin, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada executive minister, centre, poses with the baptismal candidates from the addictions recovery group in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Pastor Jehu Lian Ching, left, and David Martin of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, right were accompanied on their trip through Myanmar by Sui Sui, centre.

Pastor Teichum Lian Ching stands in front of the church he used to pastor in Hakha, Myanmar.

David Martin was invited to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in March 2015 to preach two or three times and to teach from the book of Galatians in four sessions over two days. By the time he returned he had also performed two graveside memorial services, baptized six, preached at a wedding, and took part in many more services in Myanmar and Malaysia.

MCC 50th full of historic symbolism

Elder Margaret Harris and Donna Roach flew in from Vancouver to celebrate with MCC Manitoba at Knox United Church in Winnipeg. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

MCC Manitoba executive director Ron Janzen, left, presents a gift of handmade moccasins to Joe Clark, a former prime minister of Canada, in gratitude for his participation in the celebration of MCC Manitoba’s 50th anniversary last month in Winnipeg. The moccasins bear the MCC logo on the top in intricate beadwork. (MCC photo by Alison Ralph)

As the choirs’ final note of “Die Zeit ist Kurz” hung sublimely in the sanctuary of Knox United Church on April 18, the indigenous drums began to beat and the Buffalo Gals started into the “Wolf Song.” Once they were done, it was back to the Faith and Life choirs and the University of Manitoba Women’s Chorus for “Come Let Us All Unite to Sing.”

MC Eastern Canada gathering hears stories of faith

Chris Brnjas, left, Dimitri Faludy, Rachel Brnjas and Esther Kissor talk about their work at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering. The Brnjases work in churches in Kitchener, Ont., and attend The Gathering Church. Faludy and Kissor are from the Jane Finch Faith Community in Toronto. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Brandon Leis, music director at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., leads singing. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada executive minister David Martin, with hand raised, prays for the Jane Finch Faith Community Church during the area church’s annual church gathering on April 25 after church members learned of a fire in the building where the church meets to worship and where many members live. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Paul Wideman, moderator of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, challenged the 28th annual church gathering, saying, “How can we encourage one another by sharing our faith?” The day-and-a-half event was filled with faith stories and had little actual business.

Building houses and learning to serve

Participants in the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s recent trip to Mexico mix cement for the foundation of the house they built. Pictured from left to right: Brandon Wurtz, Holly Epp,  and Dawson Dueck. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)

Holly Epp, volunteer coordinator for Youth Farm Bible Camp, in the blue ball cap, enjoys communicating through pictures with the neighbourhood children in Tijuana, Mexico, where a group from the camp built a house. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)

It may not be typical summer camp staff training, but Mark Wurtz says the Youth Farm Bible Camp’s annual trip to Mexico is “probably more worthwhile than orientation.” The camp has been taking senior staff members and youth on short-term mission trips for the past eight years, and Wurtz sees the trips as highly valuable in developing camp staff.

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