God at work in the Church

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Lessons from those who left

Springs Church in Winnipeg is one of Canada’s most successful and success-oriented mega churches, where an ex-Hutterite, Phil Kleinsasser—his suspenders, beard and plaid long gone—serves as an assistant pastor.

Phil Kleinsasser urged the faithful to "sow" their money in the offering plate in order to “reap” abundance in all areas of their lives. Kleinsasser, of course, is a Hutterite surname, but his admonition came not in an austere colony chapel, but at Springs Church, one of Canada's most successful and success-oriented mega churches, where Kleinsasser—his suspenders, beard and plaid long gone—serves as an assistant pastor.

Creating beauty out of randomness

Participants at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat gather for a group photo on their final day together. Many of the women are holding items they crafted during the three-day event.

As part of a ‘get acquainted show-and-tell’ at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat, Edna Balzer of Rosthern, Sask., shares her story of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery using a quilt block she created depicting a butterfly.

Quilting instructor Anne Madden of Osler, Sask., seated, admires a Christmas stocking pieced and quilted by Becky Wiebe of Outlook, Sask., at the Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat held recently at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask.

Sharon Schultz, pastor of Eyebrow Mennonite Church, speaks at the Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat held recently at the Shekinah Retreat Centre. Schultz uses quilting as a metaphor to illustrate God’s creative work in the lives of his people.

Assembling random pieces of fabric or paper to create something beautiful is what quilters and scrapbookers do. And they do it with gusto at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s annual Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat. This year, “Random pieces into beautiful creations” was also the theme chosen for the retreat by speaker Sharon Schultz.

Schultz, who is pastor of Eyebrow Mennonite Church, is neither a quilter nor a scrapbooker, but puts her creative energy into writing sermons. She said that sermon-writing is not unlike other creative endeavours.

How do pastors keep the Sabbath?

Emily Toews of North Star Mennonite Church in Drake, and Kirsten Hamm, MC Saskatchewan area church youth minister, relax on the dock at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters as Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church and Jerry Buhler, MC Saskatchewan area church minister, stand nearby.

Dan and Rose Graber canoe on Otter Lake as part of MC Saskatchewan’s fall pastors gathering. The Grabers are co-pastors of Grace Mennonite Church in Regina. Dan is also area church minister of MC Alberta.

MC Saskatchewan pastors play table games at their annual fall pastors gathering in Missinipe. Pictured left to right: Paul Bergen, resource person for the retreat; Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church; Kirsten Hamm, MC Saskatchewan area church youth minister; Bruce Jantzen of Laird Mennonite Church; and Emily Toews of North Star Mennonite Church, Drake.

A little synchronized swimming in Otter Lake! Clockwise from lower left, the swimmers are: Dan Driediger, Ric and Theresa Driediger’s son and a guide at the camp; Craig Neufeld of Rosthern Mennonite Church; Kirsten Hamm, MC Saskatchewan area church Youth minister; and Emily Toews of North Star Mennonite Church, Drake.

Host Ric Driediger canoes with Walter Jantzen of Horse Lake Mennonite Church.

Ric Driediger, at the rear of nearest canoe, and Walter Jantzen of Horse Lake Mennonite Church set off in one canoe, while their spouses, Theresa Driediger and Esther Jantzen, paddle another.

Daniel Janzen of Carrot River Mennonite Church, left, visits with Bruce Jantzen of Laird Mennonite Church at MC Saskatchewan’s fall pastors gathering.

Paul Bergen, a chaplain at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, leads one of several devotional sessions during MC Saskatchewan’s fall pastors’ gathering.

Host Ric Driediger, standing, entertains MC Saskatchewan pastors and their spouses with a few ‘tall tales’ on the shore of Devil Lake. The pastors were there as part of MC Saskatchewan’s fall pastors gathering.

“I would rather be out here thinking about God than in church thinking about paddling.”

The slogan on Ric Driediger’s T-shirt bears witness to his preferred way of spending the Lord’s Day. The veteran canoe guide and member of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Pastoral Leadership Commission, welcomed pastors and their spouses to a time of Sabbath rest at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, Sask., from Sept. 2 to 5, for the area church’s annual fall pastors gathering.

Changes coming to MC Manitoba

Rianna Isaak

Much time and energy at the Mennonite Church Manitoba office was directed this summer to helping host the MC Canada general assembly and Native Assembly 2014. With these two significant events now history, MC Manitoba is looking at critical changes in its own structure, programming and staffing.

Henry Kliewer, director of Leadership Ministries, will be retiring Sept. 30, after serving in this capacity for six years.

Camp Valaqua builds for the future

It takes a lot of hands to raise a cabin wall! Families work together on the Mennonite Disaster Service cabin-building project at Camp Valaqua.

Samuel Friesen, left, Levi Jowet-Stark, Kobe Friesen and Asher Warkentin are hard at work pounding nails for the foundation of a new cabin at Camp Valaqua.

Camp programs were in full swing alongside Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) hammers at Camp Valaqua this summer. MDS teams are usually found on disaster sites, helping to rebuild homes, so why are they building cabins at a thriving church camp? And why are there children wearing hardhats, pounding nails and using staple guns?

Celebrating summer fun together

Sometimes one needs to step over the line in order to score a hit, as this youngster discovers at MC Saskatchewan’s ‘day in the park’ in Saskatoon last month.

Sometimes one needs to step over the line in order to score a hit, as this youngster discovers at MC Saskatchewan’s ‘day in the park’ in Saskatoon last month.

Children aren’t the only ones enjoying games at MC Saskatchewan’s recent ‘day in the park.’ Ken Warkentin of Nutana Park Mennonite Church has some fun knocking a stack of pails over with a foam ball.

Picnickers enjoy Vietnamese cuisine at MC Saskatchewan’s recent ‘day in the park.’ The meal was a fundraiser for Saskatoon Vietnamese Mennonite Church.

Thanh Tung, pastor of the Saskatoon Vietnamese Mennonite Church, thanks participants for their support following a fundraising meal held as part of MC Saskatchewan’s ‘day in the park.’

Musicians Sam Dlugokecki, left, Becky Reesor from Ontario, right, and Danielle Miller from British Columbia, centre, entertain members of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan at the area church’s recent ‘day in the park.’

The sun shone, the air was warm—but not too warm—and there were no mosquitoes. It was, in fact, a day perfect for a picnic.

On Aug. 10, people of all ages gathered at Scott Park, adjacent to Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, to enjoy Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s “day in the park.”

More evidence of sexual abuse uncovered

A Mennonite Church U.S.A. discernment group addressing sexual abuse by the late theologian John Howard Yoder has reported finding additional evidence of abuse.

After a June 3, 2014, meeting in Elkhart, the group said it had found more documentation of Yoder’s abuse of women, including fondling and sexual intercourse. The many women Yoder wronged included students, missionaries and church workers.

The group accessed previously unexamined institutional and personal files, including memos by Yoder.

Men retreat to explore manhood from an Anabaptist perspective

Scott Brubaker-Zehr, left, Clayton Kuepfer, David Armes, Geoff Wichert and Hidden Acres staff person Patrick Singh discover at a June retreat at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp near New Hamburg, Ont., that doing their own dishes is part of male spirituality.

Aged 18 to 71, 20 men gathered at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp from June 20 to 21 to explore what it means to be a Mennonite man in the 21st century. “Under construction: Reframing men’s spirituality” featured Gareth Brandt from the biblical/theological studies faculty at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B. C.

New school greets returning children

The old school has been burned to the ground and in its place stands a newly constructed, brilliant red building, a symbol of a new beginning for this Old Order Mennonite community that reflects its hope for, and commitment to, its children.

It has been over a year since Manitoba’s Child and Family Services (CFS) apprehended all 42 children from the rural community—which cannot be named to protect the identity of the children—and 16 adults were charged with offences including assault and assault with a weapon.

Mennonites learn about hospitality and living for others

The Goreme open air museum near Cappadocia, Turkey, includes rock-cut chapels that are part of an ancient Byzantine monastic settlement. A group of Ontario Mennonites visited the site in May as part of an intercultural learning tour.

The group who visited Turkey in May appreciated the warmth and hospitality of their host family, the Dogans. (From left): Mandy Witmer, Phil Witmer, Pat Manske, Josie Winterfeld, Leon Kehl, their host’s brother and his wife, the Dogan family with their daughter, the grandfather, a friend, guide Sezai Yeter, Steve Manske, Ross Weber and Carol Weber. Also included in the tour were: Fred Martin, Wanda Wagler-Martin, and Will Winterfeld.

On May 5, a group of eleven Mennonites from Kitchener-Waterloo area churches embarked on a ten day intercultural study tour of Turkey, sponsored by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI). The tour was co-led by Leon Kehl of Floradale Mennonite Church and Sezai Yeter, a member of the Turkish community in Kitchener.

Metzger meets with Harmony Group

Erwin Warkentin, a member of the Harmony Group and Willard Metzger, executive director of MC Canada.

Members of the Harmony Group, formed six years ago by Mennonites seeking inclusion of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) in Mennonite Church Canada, recently engaged in earnest dialogue with Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. Metzger invited the Group’s responses to the next steps of the Being the Faithful Church (BFC) discernment process at a meeting held at Bethel Mennonite Church on June 19.

No back row

Florence and Otto Driedger’s Regina living room is the opposite of the mega-church auditoriums that have become popular. On a typical Sunday, you might find a handful of refugees, a couple of people who have done time for sexual assault, and another handful of Euro-Canadian folk gathered around the retired couple’s living room, with Bibles open on their laps. The scene would be similar on Tuesday evening. That’s what Peace Mennonite Church looks like.

A call for Christians to be the kingdom of God

Greg Boyd, a best-selling author and cofounder of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., was this year’s “peace and justice guest” at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind.

“Look like Jesus, love like Jesus, serve like Jesus.” Greg Boyd, Ph.D., repeated this line several times during his visit to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) over two days in late April.

Boyd, a best-selling author and cofounder of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., was this year’s “peace and justice guest” at AMBS. In an evening lecture to a filled chapel on April 24, Boyd described characteristics of the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God. Then he outlined how to keep God’s kingdom “holy,” meaning distinct and separate.

Graduates challenged to imagine what the world could be

Cheryl Pauls, Canadian Mennonite University president, centre, awarded President’s Medals to valedictorian Scott Sawatzky, left, and Justin Rempel, both English majors in the four-year bachelor of arts program, in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

Make the future a figment of your imagination. That was the message delivered to 80 graduates at the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) graduation service on April 27.

“Faith in God compels us to imagine what the kingdom of God in our wildest dreams could be,” said keynote speaker Don Friesen said during his address. “Imagination looks at the world as it is, and seeks to reshape that reality.”

‘The fruit of renewal’

The cross with the crucified Christ is an important icon for Greek Catholic worshippers. (Credit: George Dyck)

Exterior roof repairs to the former Mennonite church in the former village of Schoensee—now Snegurovka—are visible. (Credit: George Dyck)

The sanctuary of the Greek Catholic church today. (Credit: George Dyck)

A former Mennonite church building in Ukraine is being restored and transformed with the help of Canadian Mennonites into a Greek Catholic church.

According to observers, this development is an example of Mennonite-Catholic collaboration in the spirit of other exchanges over the past decade or so.

The Mennonite church in the former village of Schoensee—now Snegurovka—was originally built in 1909. During the Soviet era after the October 1917 Russian Revolution, when Mennonites were forced to leave, the church building was used for storage and then fell into disrepair.

Gathered to grow . . . scattered to serve

Recent member Donna Bentz and founding member Ron Zehr look at photos from Hillcrest Mennonite’s 50 years at the anniversary celebration on May 24. Behind them are the 50 comforters knotted this year as an anniversary service project.

Founding member Earl Bender holds his great-grandson Jack at Hillcrest Mennonite’s 50th-anniversary celebration on May 24.

Hillcrest Mennonite Church’s present and former pastors pose at the 50th-anniversary celebration on May 24. Pictured from left to right, front row: Mary Schiedel, Maurice Martin, Jan Steckley and Glenn Zehr; and back row: Kevin Peters Unrau, Vernon Brubacher, Gerald Good and Harold Schlegel.

Beth Ann Lichti, a young adult who returned for the 50th-anniversary celebrations at Hillcrest Mennonite, sings at the Saturday evening music and video event. Behind her is the anniversary wall hanging that was dedicated that evening.

Things moved fast 50 years ago. On May 14, 1963, East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock decided that it needed to plant a daughter church to alleviate crowding in the mother church. A building committee met the next day to plan where the new congregation’s building would be and what it would look like. Members of East Zorra and daughter churches Cassel and Tavistock Mennonite were canvassed and funds gathered.

B.C. women ‘at a time of crossroads’

Cutting the celebratory birthday cake for B.C. Women’s Ministry are members of the planning committee: Cheryl Dyck, left, Waltrude Gortzen and Rita Siebert.

Seven-and-a-half decades after its founding, Women’s Ministry of Mennonite Church B.C. celebrated its diamond anniversary on May 3 with a day of memories and celebration. The annual spring Inspirational Day held at Emmanuel Mennonite Church drew 138.

Five past presidents of what was formerly B.C. Women in Mission shared memories of their terms of service spanning the years 1980 to 2007, reflecting on how serving had changed them, and how women’s roles in church and society had changed over the years.

Four new directors named at 43rd annual CMPS meeting

Bryan Moyer Suderman

Henry Krause

Ken Reddig

Kuen Yee

Four new directors were named to the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) board at its 43rd annual meeting held here from April 10 to 12. They are Henry Krause of Langley, B.C.; Ken Reddig of Pinawa, Man.; Bryan Moyer Suderman of Stouffville, Ont.; and Kuen Yee of Edmonton. All will serve three-year terms.

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