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God at work in Us

Everyone has a story

Ruth Zehr, pictured in her ‘garden home’ at the Nithview Community in New Hamburg, Ont., holds Everyone Has A Story, Vol. 2, and the companion, Notes of Interest. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 11, 2015

Ruth Zehr believes that everyone has a story worth telling.

A decade ago, Zehr overheard a conversation involving Norma Iutzi, program assistant coordinator at the Nithview Community in New Hamburg, about the many stories she heard when she visited the residents of this Tri-County Mennonite Homes multi-stage facility.

‘Another cool move’

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 11, 2015

Vernon Erb had a busy fall. Wet weather combined with a late planting season last spring meant the soybeans and corn were hard to get off the fields.

 “I guess I’ve gone full circle,” he says with a laugh. Like many Amish-Mennonite boys in the 1950s, he was expected to take over the family farm near Wellesley, Ont. But farming didn’t interest him then like it does now in “retirement.” In the intervening five decades, he built an international trucking firm based in Baden.

Obituary, Marianne Thiessen

God at work in Us | By By Henry Neufeld | Jan 14, 2015

Marianne (Dyck) Thiessen, a charter member of Pineridge Christian Fellowship, Calgary, died on Nov. 8, 2014. Professionally a nurse, yet she was much more than that: a flower that never faded, a softener of hearts, an exemplary mother and wife, a gentle spirit who eased tensions and warmed relationships.

‘Sky pilot’ lands in Black Creek

Gerry Binnema, the new bi-vocational pilot/pastor of United Mennonite Church in Black Creek, B.C., is pictured with his wife Elaine, a counsellor.

God at work in Us | By By Harold Macy | Jan 14, 2015

In the 1800s, church clergy were often called “sky pilots,” in part in reference to their heavenly themes from the pulpit.

Aviator Gerry Binnema has recently become the new pastor of United Mennonite Church in Black Creek, B.C., Mennonite Church Canada’s most westerly congregation, and brings a contemporary meaning to this old nickname. He is part of a new trend of bi-vocational pastors who work part-time for the church but also have another occupation. Aside from his duties at United Mennonite, he is also a professional aviator and safety consultant to the industry.

Carpe diem

Jack Dueck

God at work in Us | By By Cal Redekop | Dec 24, 2014

In his “Remembering Jack” soliloquy at Jack Dueck’s memorial service, the famous Mennonite novelist and writer, Rudy Wiebe, termed his friend, “a very large and complex human being,” and rendered this story as an example:

Building peace in Northeast Asia

Keynote speaker Jae Young Lee, left, visits with Tina Doell at the MCC Saskatchewan Encounter and annual general meeting held in Saskatoon on Nov. 1.

God at work in Us | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | Nov 19, 2014

How does a South Korean soldier become a teacher of peace?

Delegates at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan’s Encounter and annual general meeting heard the answer to that question through the life stories of keynote speaker Jae Young Lee.

‘I can still be heard’

Tina Block Ediger

God at work in Us | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Nov 05, 2014

The woman known to countless Mennonite church missionary kids from Canada and the U.S. as “Aunt Tina” died on Oct. 16 at the age of 83

“Tina had a special place in her heart for single women missionaries and missionary children. She often entertained them in her home when they came to Newton [Kan.] for debriefing,” wrote Howard Habegger, former executive secretary of the Commission on Overseas Mission (COM) of the General Conference (GC) Mennonite Church, for which Block Ediger worked for more than a quarter-century.

Encouraged to keep working

Goshen (Ind.) College president Jim Brenneman, left, presents the Culture for Service Award to alumnus Ray Funk at the college’s fall convocation and homecoming on Oct. 3. (Goshen College photo by Brian Yoder Schlabach)

God at work in Us | By By Donna Schulz | Oct 22, 2014

“Everything I’ve done has been a team sport,” quips Ray Funk as he reflects on his life’s achievements.

The community developer and former Member of Parliament was awarded Goshen (Ind.) College’s Culture for Service Award at the college’s fall convocation and homecoming on Oct. 3. The award is given annually to two or three alumni who exemplify the college motto, “Culture for service,” having distinguished themselves through lifelong service to others.

‘The way of harmonious energy’

Kevin Peters Unrau, right, sits with Stephan Barton, his teacher, on the day Unrau achieved his first-level black belt in Aikido. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Unrau Peters)

God at work in Us | By By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 08, 2014

Kevin Peters Unrau thinks that the Mennonite Church has gotten Jesus wrong. When Jesus calls on his followers to “not resist evildoers” in Matthew 5:39, many Mennonites have turned to nonviolent resistance. Unrau, however, has turned to Aikido, the martial art of using someone else’s energy to move past them.

Aikido differs from other martial arts in that it is not a warrior art, but, instead, focusses on “blending” with someone who considers a person a target. Practitioners of Aikido are taught to never consider someone an enemy.

Reading the Bible with Jesus . . . and Bryan

Bryan Moyer Suderman

God at work in Us | By By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 24, 2014

Bryan Moyer Suderman ( sees his music work over the past 11 years as an outgrowth of his desire to have Scripture alive in the church.

He has been active in Community Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., as a youth and adult Bible teacher for years, and has worked to have singable music for young and old to join in those Bible stories.

Spring rolls and wedding cake

Peter Nguyen and Kim Bui, left, celebrate 40 years of marriage with an official church wedding ceremony officiated by Pastor April Yamasaki on Aug. 10, 2014.

God at work in Us | By Story and photo by Amy Dueckman | Sep 16, 2014

Peter Nguyen and Kim Bui received an anniversary gift on August 10 that they never got at their wedding 40 years ago: a church ceremony with a marriage licence.

The pair had been married in Vietnam on April 30, 1974, but post-war conditions in that country, combined with Nguyen’s inability to produce a birth certificate, meant that they could not be issued a government marriage licence. Instead, they pledged their vows in a commitment ceremony outside on the grounds of their church.

A good Mennonite?

Ruth Klahsen, left, and Francis Evans stand at the counter of the Monforte on Wellington osteria in downtown Stratford, Ont. Klahsen is fond of saying that she would not open the restaurant until Evans signed on as a hostess (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Story and Photos by Dave Rogalsky | Sep 10, 2014

“I’m not a very good Mennonite,” says Ruth Klahsen as she sells her Monforte cheeses at the New Hamburg (Ont.) Mennonite Relief Sale, where all sales go to support Mennonite Central Committee relief projects.

‘Helplessly in love with music’

Bill Maust

God at work in Us | By By Hildi Froese Tiessen | Aug 28, 2014

On a Wednesday evening in early June, Waterloo musician and musicologist Wilbur (Bill) Maust was seated in the chapel of Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., among some 170 family and friends, to attend a concert organized in his honour by Stephanie Martin. Performers included Schola Magdalena, a six woman vocal ensemble; and Kirk Elliot, a former student of Maust’s from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont.

A shaper of the church at a crucial time

Ron Sawatsky

God at work in Us | By Dan Nighswander | Jul 17, 2014

Ron Sawatsky’s untimely death at age 64—shortly before the 2014 assembly of Mennonite Church Canada—prompts memories of his years of leadership in the Canadian church.

For several years, he represented MC Eastern Canada on the General Board of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (CMC). In 1997, he was called to be moderator of CMC, continuing during the transition to Mennonite Church Canada, which he served as moderator until 2002.

Broadcaster brings his faith to the airwaves

Elmer Hildebrand, left, chief executive officer of Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. in Altona, Man., is pictured with Brad Fehr, an on-air radio host/producer.

God at work in Us | By Story and Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 04, 2014 | 1 comment

As a young boy, Elmer Hildebrand enjoyed selling greeting cards and garden seeds to his neighbours in the farming community near Altona. He had no idea where these interests and skills of his would lead. All he knew was that he didn’t want to farm.

When he finished high school, he knew that he needed to do something and so he approached the little radio station that was being constructed in Altona, to see if he could be a salesman for it.

Educating eaters

Don and Louella Friesen of Carmen Corner Meats happily package an order for a customer.

God at work in Us | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | May 21, 2014

Mennonite-style farmer sausage sizzles on the grill at many prairie gatherings, and a growing number of those gatherings serve sausage from Carmen Corner Meats.

Don and Louella Friesen began the butcher business in 2000 on their organic farm north of Waldheim. That was “when the bottom dropped out of the hog market,” says Don. Because they couldn’t get a fair market price for their hogs, they began taking them to a nearby butcher, having them made into sausage, and marketing the meat themselves.

‘Simple living’ was writer’s beat

LaVerna Klippenstein

God at work in Us | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 07, 2014

LaVerna Klippenstein will be remembered by many Canadian Mennonite readers for the columns she wrote in the Mennonite Reporter, precursor to this publication. She was also a regular columnist for 30 years for Christian Living magazine. Being a strong supporter of Christian education and the nurturing of Christian faith, she wrote many devotionals for Rejoice! and other publications.

Lessons from the West Bank

Jerry and Kara Buhler at the Jordan River. ‘It could be that the handrails were not there yet when Jesus came up out of the water,’ writes Jerry. For more photos, visit the ‘Buhlers in Bethlehem’ blog at (Photo courtesy of Jerry and Kara Buhler)

God at work in Us | By Donna Schulz | Apr 09, 2014

It isn’t easy to distil six months of life in the Holy Land into an hour’s conversation. This is evident in the way Jerry Buhler searches for the right words and sometimes stops to rephrase what he’s trying to say. He and his wife Kara recently returned from a six-month voluntary assignment at Bethlehem Bible College under the auspices of Mennonite Church Canada Witness.

A tale of two voyages

Chau Dang, pastor of Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church, holds a picture of the tiny boat he and more than 500 refugees crowded onto in order to escape war-torn Vietnam back in the 1970s. (Photo by Hugo Neufeld)

God at work in Us | By Hugo Neufeld | Apr 09, 2014

Several years ago, Chau Dang, pastor of Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church, enthusiastically recounted for me the Caribbean cruise from which he had just returned. Coming from all over North America, at least 150 Vietnamese friends, 35 from his extended family, had been reunited to celebrate a week of cruising balmy waters.

Feeding the demand for Anabaptist faith values

Last October, Willard Metzger, right, and seven other Christian faith leaders met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on an Evangelical Fellowship of Canada delegation to discuss matters of importance to the church. Topics ranged from Canada’s relationship with its host peoples to climate change and homelessness. (Photo used by permission of Office of the Prime Minister)

God at work in Us | By By Deborah Froese | Mar 26, 2014

A growing awareness of Anabaptism is increasing interest in Mennonite Church Canada, and Willard Metzger is happy to respond.

 “I hear so many people tell me that they have found a spiritual home in the Anabaptist expression of Christianity,” says Metzger. “They may remain with their family of faith, whether that is evangelical or mainstream, but they closely identify with certain Anabaptist values, such as living simply, nonviolent peacebuilding, taking care of creation, or how they interact with people of other faiths.”

Quietly inspiring

John Wiebe plays in his studio/classroom in New Hamburg, Ont. He is currently involved with Bryan Moyer Suderman, working on a musical project that combines the themes of home and environment. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 12, 2014

The music studio and classroom in the backyard is decorated with Apple computer prints of creative individuals. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Einstein, Picasso, Amelia Earhart, some with the Apple logo covered with a piano sticker, share the walls with a painting by Leighton Jones of the Children’s Band.

John Wiebe, who describes himself as “kind of burnt out from teaching” right now, still teaches a few dedicated students, but has cut down considerably from the days when he taught at home and at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener.

Called, called and called again

Viola and Victor Dorsch are pictured with their cake at a retirement tea held for them at the Nithview Community on Jan. 16, 2014. Victor served the seniors there as a volunteer chaplain for 20 years. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 26, 2014

Victor Dorsch was only 6 years old when the visiting pastor put his hand on his shoulder and said, “You’ll make a minister some day.” That was in 1933 and Dorsch was living on a farm in North Easthope Township near New Hamburg, Ont., where he attended an Evangelical United Brethren church.

Tall Grass from deep convictions

Paul and Tabitha Langel are pictured in front of their bakery at the Forks in Winnipeg. ‘We had a vision for a dreamy kind of neighbourhood bakery,’ Tabitha recalls.

God at work in Us | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Feb 12, 2014

Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company is well-known in and around Winnipeg for its gooey cinnamon buns and its organic local baking and preserves, suffusing the marketplace at the Forks and its Wolseley neighbourhood with the aroma of fresh baking.

What’s different about today’s youth?

Kenna Forrester relaxes with her grandmother Marlene Froese in the Rosthern Junior College student commons.

God at work in Us | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | Feb 12, 2014

It is not uncommon to hear people complain about the younger generation. But are today’s youth really all that different than youth of previous generations? Saskatoon grandmother Marlene Froese and her granddaughter Kenna Forrester don’t think so.

The difference just two volunteers can make

Mary Klassen and James Neufeld relax in the café at Sam’s Place, where the sorted and organized donated books are sold as a fundraising project for Mennonite Central Committee.

God at work in Us | By Story and Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jan 29, 2014 | 2 comments

Mary Klassen and James Neufeld bring a rare commitment to volunteerism.

Ever since Sam’s Place opened in 2009, Klassen has spent her retirement from teaching volunteering full-time at this used bookstore, café and music venue, an activity of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba.