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.
God at work in the Church
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He’s the newest member of Mount Royal Mennonite Church and he loves his church. Ryan Grills started attending Mount Royal just over two years ago, when he was released from the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.
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)
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.
I stopped short when the ’70s picture of a serious-looking white-haired man in a suit and tie popped up on my screen.
Louise Sawatsky has boarded the bus for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Touring Mission Fest every year the event has been offered. For the 92-year-old from Saskatoon’s First Mennonite Church, the annual tours are worthwhile and enjoyable.
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.
“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.
Susie Fisher holds a handful of heritage cucumber seeds given to her by a Mennonite couple in Winkler, Manitoba. (Photo by J. Neufeld)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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)
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.