After 12 years as Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s conference minister, Muriel Bechtel will be moving into retirement this summer. On June 24 she also celebrated 20 years since her ordination, when she was pastor of Warden Woods Mennonite Church, Toronto.
God at work in Us
Eliesabeth Klassen celebrated her 103rd birthday on March 3. A few weeks later, six of her students from 60 years ago went to visit her at Blenheim Lodge. Pictured from left to right, front row: Lucy Meyer, Eliesabeth Klassen, Marie Penner and Margie Ewert; and back row: Elfrieda Klassen, Margaret Ewert, Helga Stobbe and Elvira Guenther.
Eliesabeth Klassen says she’s three. “Forget the other hundred years,” she says with a laugh, using a magnifying glass to scan familiar faces in old directories from Vancouver’s First United Mennonite Church, a congregation she attended from its humble beginnings in 1937.
All the fear, stigma and social prejudice that surrounds mental illness recently surfaced again in the media when a review board granted Vince Li temporary passes to take supervised walks in Selkirk, Man., where he is hospitalized. Li made headlines about four years ago with the horrific psychosis-induced beheading of a fellow bus passenger.
Dale Schiele sees value and worth in that segment of society that most people would rather shun. At age 60, he’ll be retiring from a 30-year career as director of Person to Person (P2P), a volunteer-based prison ministry in Saskatchewan.
For Bruno Epp, school was an exciting place to be. Before he was old enough to attend the one-room Plum Hollow school next to his family's farm near Lena, Manitoba, he would slip onto the playground when the school kids were out and then sneak into class with them, staying until the teacher would notice him and shoo him back home.
It was a life-long dream of Frank “Carl” Peter Zacharias to be on the radio, said his daughter, Lisa Zacharias, in the eulogy she gave at her father’s funeral on May 2, 2012. That dream became a reality when he started his own radio ministry about three years ago. Zacharias Fetalt, was a half-hour weekly Low German program that aired from 30 radio stations in seven countries.
SunSelect Produce Inc., a family-owned vegetable producer with Mennonite roots, owns more than 28 hectares of greenhouses in Aldergrove and Delta, which they use to grow more than 9.5 million kilograms of vegetables each year.
Gerd Bartel retired from his position as Mennonite Church Canada’s western director of resource development late last year, a job he describes as primarily visiting and saying “thank you” to the generous donors who support national church ministries. Bartel officially served in the position since 2000, but he fundraised for the church and its institutions on and off for 30 years.
Christine Penner Polle used to turn off the radio when global warming was discussed. Now the former nurse, writer and self-described “climate-change avoider” volunteers full-time as a climate-change campaigner in the northwestern Ontario town of Red Lake. She and her family maintain ties to Hope Mennonite Church, Winnipeg.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
Committee meetings have a reputation for being necessary but tedious. But at Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, there is a standout exception to the rule in the Women Intergenerational from Seniors to Kids (WISK) group.
Kayla Thiessen bubbles with enthusiasm when she talks about her short-term service experience through Mennonite Church Canada in Nazareth.
Because Leon Kehl has been fostering friendships between Mennonites and Muslims, he was interviewed by Third Way Media when they were filming the recently released documentary, Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives. Kehl, a member of Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church, hopes the group of Muslim and Mennonite friends that he has worked with in Waterloo Region for several years
During a lunch gathering on their last day at AMBS, Irene and Robert J. (Jack) Suderman reflect on 40 years of ministry. A prevailing theme, Jack noted, is the important role of the church in the lives of Christians and in the world. ‘The peoplehood of God is the primary strategy God wants to use to heal the world,’ he said.
Robert J. (Jack) and Irene Suderman say it was a gift to spend five weeks at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), where they studied almost 40 years ago.
When the grey-haired set met the blue-jean generation of Emmanuel Mennonite Church at an evening gathering last year, both generations learned a lot about the other. And everyone agreed it was an experience worth repeating.
Jeff Warkentin’s passion for God shaped a life defined by service and relationships. As son, brother, husband, father, teacher, pastor, mission worker, musician and friend, he reflected God’s grace and love to everyone he encountered.
“I’m really thankful for the farm,” says Justin Krahn, 13, great-great-grandson of Peter W. Rempel.
“I never had a question. There was never an alternative. I kind of envied the people who had to figure out what they had to do in their careers and lives. Me, it was clear as a bolt of lightning. It was the one thing I knew I had to follow and I was passionate about music.
Jinhee Paik and Margaret Fehr are from different worlds, yet have found family with each other at First Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alta., through their shared love of children.
On a gorgeous summer afternoon, I willingly tumbled out of an airplane from more than 3,000 metres above the ground, entrusting my life to a piece of nylon, a ripcord and a stranger strapped to my back. It was the boldest, craziest thing I had ever done.