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God at work in the World

‘It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore

The final rally at the Human Rights Monument, with walkers standing under the inscription, ‘All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ (Photo by Ally Siebert)

God at work in the World | By Ally Siebert | May 31, 2017

The crowd that gathered at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa on May 13 didn’t allow the rain to dampen their celebration of the arrival of the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights.

More than 30 walkers rallied together with indigenous leaders, government officials and a few hundred supporters to mark the completion of their 600-kilometre journey and to demand that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) be fully adopted and implemented by the federal government.

‘Happy to find a safe place’

Heather Menzies, back right, and Jennifer deGroot and sons deliver hygiene kits to the Gretna refugee reception centre. (Photo by Will Braun)

 

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | May 31, 2017

“The world has come to Gretna,” says Robin Neustaeter, a resident of the normally quiet town of 550 on the border between Manitoba and the U.S. On May 4, 2017, Manitoba’s Conservative government opened a “reception centre” in Gretna to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers who walk across the border in the area.

On the first Sunday the centre was open, six asylum seekers from Cameroon and Nigeria attended the local Mennonite church. Co-pastor Jana Wiebe says many in the congregation found it “energizing.”

‘Without CoSA I’d be lost’

A former core member of a Mennonite Central Committee-supported Circle of Support and Accountability program run by the Moncton Community Chaplaincy. He wishes to remain anonymous so that he can reintegrate into society without the stigma related to sexual offenders. (MCC photo by Shane Yuhas)

 

God at work in the World | By Racahel Bergen | May 31, 2017

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) welcomes the Canadian government’s announcement that it will provide nearly $7.5 million over five years to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), which helps convicted sex offenders reintegrate into their communities.

CoSA is a national restorative justice organization for women and men who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger.

‘One night changed everything’

Alina Kehl, left, and Taylor Clemmer fill their plates at a refugee fundraiser lunch at Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church on March 26, 2017. The food was prepared by a Turkish refugee who is being hosted in the village. (Photo by Barb Draper)

God at work in the World | By Barb Draper | May 17, 2017

Last November, two Turkish men arrived in the small village of Floradale, in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country, seeking refuge. Leon Kehl, a local resident, had developed a relationship with Turkish Muslims in the past, so it was natural that they turned to him for help. He arranged to have the men, who are not named because their families remain in peril in Turkey, live with his parents next door while they applied for refugee status.

Lifesaving latrines and the importance of local partners

This is the frame of the first latrine to be built as part of MCC’s project in the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl in Haiti. (MCC photo by Ted Oswald)

God at work in the World | By Rebecca Shetler Fast and Ted Oswald | May 17, 2017

Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl, Haiti, hard last October, leading Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to respond to sanitation needs identified by community leaders.

“There was a lot of damage to this community in the storm,” says Previl Pierre, a local leader and community monitor in MCC’s environmental education program in the Artibonite region in central Haiti. “Many goats and cows died, and whole gardens were lost.”

Stations of the Cross on Broadway

Maelle, left, and Esme Kulik enjoy bannock provided by Kairos Manitoba. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, pilgrims from Winnipeg and beyond gather at Broadway Disciples United Church to walk the Stations of the Cross on Broadway, one of Winnipeg’s oldest and most historic thoroughfares.

Before observing the first station at the church, and setting out against the day’s damp cold, guests are invited to warm themselves with music, snacks and hot coffee.

‘A downstream solution to an upstream problem’

Volunteers show off food baskets in front of the newly rebuilt House of Friendship Emergency Food Distribution Centre on Guelph Street in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

When the first food bank was created in Canada in 1981 in Edmonton, it was seen as a short-term project that would be unnecessary when the economy improved. Fast-forward to 2017 and Kitchener’s House of Friendship’s emergency food program that distributes food to 1 in 20 people living in Waterloo Region.

Learning cycles of peace

Jorgina Sunn tells her life story at the Parkland Restorative Justice Spring Banquet in the Woods. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

“I needed to go through what I did because that’s what helps me understand the people I work with,” said Jorgina Sunn. The indigenous singer/songwriter was the featured speaker at Parkland Restorative Justice’s Banquet in the Woods, held April 22, 2017, in Prince Albert.

An idea worth sharing

Karl, left, and Marla Langelotz, Mennonite Church Canada short-term workers serving at Friedenshaus in Ludwigshafen, Germany, address the audience at a TEDx event at the Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Apr 19, 2017

Peace is rooted in building relationships, and that means creating space to get to know one another. With that thought in mind, Karl and Marla Langelotz of Winnipeg addressed an audience at Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017, for a TEDx talk they entitled “A modest proposal for world peace.”

TEDx is a localized version of the popular TED Talk conferences whose mission is sharing “ideas worth spreading.”

‘A beautiful way to make peace’

Mariam Al Mahmoud, right, writes an Arabic greeting on the blackboard for Grade 10 students at Rosthern Junior College. Afterwards, Dana Krushel, left, Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, invited students to try their hand at writing the greeting. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Apr 19, 2017

The best way to learn about a new culture is to experience it first-hand. Rosthern Junior College (RJC) Grade 10 students recently had the opportunity to learn a little about Middle Eastern culture when two Syrian couples, who came to Rosthern as refugees in 2016, shared with the students about their culture and their Islamic faith.

Bite-sized donors help combat hunger

MCC photo by Bethany Daman

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 19, 2017

This spring marks the third year that Grant Dyck and his family of Artel Farms in Niverville, Man., have dedicated a section of their land to raise sponsored crops for overseas relief. Planting has not yet begun, but, with plenty of summer yet ahead, 175 shares and counting have been purchased in the Grow Hope project that is overseen in the province by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba. That is already more than last year’s final count.

Creation care in action

Bob Lebold, 50 Kent Avenue’s physical resources coordinator, checks the output on one of the 10 banks of solar electric panels on the roof. In spite of the cloudy day, the system was producing electricity. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Building to green standards using cutting-edge technology is a significant expense.

After nearly four years in its 50 Kent Avenue building, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario is pleased with the choices it made and feels that its constituents can be satisfied that the extra expenses have paid creation-care dividends. Most initiatives have met or exceeded expectations, especially with the rising price of electricity in the Ontario market.

‘Not just an activist political group’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, second from right, and Carolyne Epp-Fransen, right, co-lead a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 05, 2017

Mennonite Church Canada’s resolution on Israel and Palestine took centre stage during an informative workshop in early March 2017 at the Mennonite Church Manitoba annual general meeting.

Church opens doors to exercise club

Retired physician Arnie Nickel, wearing the headset, is one of five volunteer trainers who lead the Forever in Motion Club that meets at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Apr 05, 2017

Everyone’s welcome, it’s free of charge and refreshments are served. Those selling features should attract Mennonites by the dozen. Surprisingly, though, most participants in Nutana Park Mennonite Church’s seniors exercise club aren’t Mennonites at all.

Five-and-a-half years ago, Walter Wall approached his congregation about starting an exercise program for seniors. The Saskatoon Health Region offered training for volunteer leaders for a program called Forever in Motion. Wall and Arnie Nickel took the training and became the first leaders of the church’s Forever in Motion Club.

Serving up social justice

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 05, 2017 | 1 comment

More than just food will be on the menu when the Abby Eats Café opens here next year. The non-profit eatery, according to founder and proprietor Kyle Dyck, will focus on social justice and food insecurities and offer a culture of welcome for customers of all socioeconomic groups. The unique twist is that this restaurant will be “pay what you can.”

Signs of welcome in Ontario

Laila and Zafar Ismaili stand in their print shop in UpTown Waterloo, Ont., printing a large sign to give as a gift to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

“No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour.”

Kitchener (Ont.) First Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada are promoting “welcome signs” with this message in English, French and Arabic in the community and beyond.

Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite first saw the sign in Elkhart, Ind., last November. A trip to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in January by a group from the church galvanized their desire to bring the signs to the area church.

Trump reality spills over into Mennoland

A fallen blanket on the U.S. side of a path taken by asylum seekers headed to Canada near Emerson, Man. The border lies just beyond the buildings barely visible in the background. (Photo by Jennifer DeGroot)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

The potent Trump phenomenon is rippling around the globe and Mennonites in southern Manitoba are not immune.

Waves of mostly Somali asylum seekers, driven in part by fear of deportation under the Trump administration, cross covertly from the U.S. into a region of Manitoba heavily populated by Mennonites.

Biblical response to colonial legacy

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 22, 2017

Last November, Vic Bartel and John Ilg pulled into the northern Manitoba Cree community of Cross Lake with a thousand Bibles. The Bibles had been requested by the local Pentecostal church and supplied by Canadian LifeLight Ministries. Neither Bartel nor Ilg had made such a delivery before.

Talking with our cousins

Karl Koop

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 22, 2017

A public panel discussion on the relationships between the three Abrahamic religions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, occurring as it did on the heels of the opening of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery’s showing of “Synagogues in Germany: A virtual reconstruction” and the recent Quebec City mosque shooting. (See more on the exhibit at “‘Never again’?”)

Matt Epp helps ‘grow hope’

Matt Epp sings at a fundraising concert at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on Feb. 3, 2017, for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta’s Grow Hope campaign to assist the Canadian Foodgrains Bank with its food security initiatives. (Photo by Angela Bennett)

God at work in the World | By Allison Goerzen | Feb 22, 2017

The soulful voice of Matt Epp serenaded a crowd at Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary on Feb. 3, 2017. Epp partnered with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta and Canadian Foodgrains Bank for a fundraising concert to launch the Grow Hope campaign.

Breakthrough for Shoal Lake 40’s ‘Freedom Road’

Across Manitoba, Mennonite congregations are celebrating the recent victory for Shoal Lake 40. Jeff Friesen, associate pastor of Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, says that for member congregations of the Churches for Freedom Road Campaign, ‘this is good news,’ but there is still a long way to go. (Photo by Jeff Friesen)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 08, 2017

The project that took Manitoba churches by the heartstrings nearly two years ago is finally making major gains. Early last month, the federal and provincial governments struck a financing deal with Chief Erwin Redsky of Shoal Lake 40 (SL40) First Nation that sealed the future of Freedom Road, an all-weather route that will link the community with the Trans-Canada Highway, enabling residents to access jobs, medical care and improved infrastructure.

‘Everything turned into a sea for three days’

A local North Korean official takes a moment to survey the reconstruction efforts in Yonsa County following Typhoon Lionrock last fall. (Photo: John Lehmann, Mennonite Central Committee)

God at work in the World | By Rachel Bergen | Jan 11, 2017

Partners of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea, are working to provide relief assistance for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by flooding and landslides in the isolated country.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 2 of 2016, heavy rains caused by Typhoon Lionrock pounded six counties of Hamgyong Province in the northeast part of the country. According to the United Nations, 138 people were killed, more than 100,000 were displaced and 600,000 others are in need of assistance.

Questions for an uncertain year

Donald Trump at the New Hampshire Town Hall at Pinkerton Academy, Aug. 19, 2015. (Wikimedia photo)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Jan 11, 2017

The year we left behind created big uncertainty for the year that lies ahead. Here is a glance at key questions that hang over what is sure to be an interesting and consequential year.

What will Trump do?

He is the most “un-ignorable” guy in the world. He dominated the news in 2016—including the year-end reviews of religious news outlets—and the biggest question of 2017 is how the decisions of his administration will play out in the U.S. and abroad.

‘Consult or consent’

Pictured from left to right, front row, at the ‘Consult or consent’ panel discussion in Winnipeg on Nov. 12, 2016: Grandma Shingoose, an elder who gave an opening welcome and prayer; Quebec MP Romeo Saganash; Sylvia McAdam, a co-founder of Idle No More; and Winnipeg MP Robert Falcon-Ouelette. (Photo by Rachael Howgate)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jan 11, 2017

Mennonite organizations played a large role in putting on a public panel discussion on indigenous land rights in Canada and how they impact social groups at the community level, held late last year at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House. Entitled “Consult or consent,” the event was sponsored by Mennonite Church Canada, the Canadian Mennonite University Student Council, and Kairos (of which Mennonite Central Committee is a member), along with three other organizations.

Making room for the politics of hope

Charlie Clark, Saskatoon’s recently elected mayor, stands next to a painting by his grandmother that now hangs in the mayor’s office. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Dec 21, 2016

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in entirely, but it’s been a good experience so far.”

That’s Charlie Clark’s assessment of his first weeks as the new mayor of Saskatoon. He admits those weeks have “definitely been a whirlwind” but feels the city has welcomed him warmly to his new role.

Clark, who attends Osler Mennonite Church, won the Oct. 26, 2016, election, defeating Don Atchison, who had served as the city’s mayor for 13 years. Although new to the job, Clark is no stranger to municipal politics, having been a city councillor for 10 years.

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