God at work in Us

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Recognizing God at work

Muriel Bechtel, retiring this summer after 12 years as Mennonite Church Eastern Canada conference minister, is pictured in her office, familiar to many pastors through the years.

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.

Sunday school teacher, 103, had lasting influence

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.

Facing the mental health frontier

Chris Summerville in his executive director office at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society.

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.

Learn, serve, play

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.

WISK women’s group bridges the age divide

Susan Nielsen, left, a member of Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, brought her neighbours Melanie and Kayla Beingessner to the “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” event last fall. “It was a great event,” says Melanie. “I hope she invites us to the next one.”

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.



Mennonite develops friendships with Muslims to build grassroots peace

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

Sudermans find a gift in return to AMBS

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.



A life devoted to God

Former Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Jeff Warkentin passed away at the age of 32 following a brief struggle with meningitis.

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.


Fly like an eagle

Amy Dueckman overcomes her fear and discovers newfound courage through the thrill of skydiving.

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.



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