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God at work in the World

‘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.

Egyptian radiologist seeks help for Salam Medical Centre

Dr. Freddy Elbaiady cares for a patient at Salam Medical Centre near Cairo, Egypt. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Freddy Elbaiady)

God at work in the World | By Dick Benner | Dec 21, 2016

In an attempt to secure the future of the Salam Medical Centre, which he founded in a town some 25 kilometres north of Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Freddy Elbaiady, has embarked on a fundraising tour, taking him to the governments of Canada and the U.S., Switzerland and other Middle East countries, and to the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College last month.

Roots and routes

Pictured, from left to right: Carol LaFayette, Vera LaFayette and Ruby LaFayette participate in a panel discussion at a ‘peace event’ hosted by the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan on Nov. 12, 2016 (Photo by Susan Braun)

God at work in the World | By Ruth Marlene Friesen | Dec 21, 2016

A presentation by Timothy Epp on the enduring relationship between blacks and Mennonites quickly morphed into a time of sharing and storytelling by members of the two communities during this year’s annual Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan “peace event,” held on Nov. 12, 2016, at Saskatoon’s Bethany Manor.

‘In the midst of suffering, faith does not disappear’

A worker for the Middle East Council of Churches delivers a Mennonite Central Committee relief kit to Sosamma, 91, who left her home after a missile hit it this past summer. (Real names are not used for security purposes.) Photo courtesy of the Middle East Council of Churches

God at work in the World | By Rachel Bergen | Dec 07, 2016

In October 2016, students arriving at a Christian school in Aleppo, Syria, discovered that a rocket had blown out a portion of a classroom. So many rockets were landing in the area that the school administrators hadn’t yet realized the school was hit.

‘Mennonites, land and the environment’

Gordon Zerbe

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Dec 07, 2016 | 1 comment

Academics, students, independent researchers and lay people alike gathered at the University of Winnipeg in late October 2016 for a global history conference on “Mennonites, land and the environment.”

Assembly 2016 resolution about more than BDS

Just outside Bethlehem, Palestine, an 8.5-metre-high concrete separation barrier covering more than 700 kilometres obstructs the free movement of thousands of Palestinians. The wall is viewed by Israel as a security barrier; Palestinians view it as a wall of oppression. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Dec 07, 2016

“In this resolution we are not taking sides between Israel and Palestine,” said Palmer Becker at Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016. “We support the need for a safe place to live for both Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. We grieve whenever there is loss of life, whether that is Palestinian or Israeli.”

The resolution supporting justice for Palestinian and Israeli people was moved by Byron Rempel-Burkholder in response to a request from Palestinian Christians, and seconded by Becker.

‘Without justice there is no reconciliation’

Leah Gazan, speaking at ‘The TRC calls churches to action’ conference in Saskatoon, urges participants to press the Canadian government to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ‘Without justice, there is no reconciliation,’ she says. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

Since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final report in 2015, denominations and congregations across the country have wrestled with how to respond in authentic and appropriate ways. One such response was an ecumenical conference held recently at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon.

Where is Berlin (Ont.) Mennonite Church?

Berlin (Ont.) Mennonite Church, pictured in 1902, continues to operate as First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont. (Mennonite Archival Image Database photo)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 16, 2016

During the First World War (1914-18), some citizens of Berlin, Ont., grew uncomfortable with their city’s name. At war with the Germans, they did not want to be identified as coming from a city with a German name. A plebiscite changed the city’s name to Kitchener, after a British military leader.

The journey of a feather

The eagle feather once given to Peter Oliver has found its home in the hands of a dangerous offender named Mervin. (Photo courtesy of Peter Oliver)

God at work in the World | By Peter Oliver | Nov 02, 2016

Among many aboriginal people the eagle feather communicates respect, humility, courage and wisdom. Several years ago, I received an eagle feather as a sign of appreciation for my ministry at the prison in Saskatoon. I was honoured but troubled because the feather did not feel like it belonged to me. I brought my concerns to Harry Lafond of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and executive director of the Saskatchewan Office of the Treaty Commissioner. He explained, “You are the carrier of the feather. One day you will meet the feather’s owner and you will give it to him.”

‘Our family is here’

Pictured from left to right: Wanda Waldner; Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad; Elaine Hofer, sitting; Reyad Alhamoud; and Paul Waldner holding Lee Waldner, 1. (Photo courtesy of Ava Waldner)

God at work in the World | By Elaine Hofer | Oct 19, 2016

Elaine Hofer and Paul Waldner are members of Green Acres Colony, near Wawanesa, Man. Their Hutterite colony, along with Enes and Fata Muheljic from Wawanesa, worked with Mennonite Central Committee Canada to sponsor a family from Syria. Hofer writes in her journal about the day they met Reyad Alhamoud, Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad and their two children at the Winnipeg airport on Feb. 18.

‘Love for all, hatred for none’

Mennonites and Muslims mix, but genders do not. Out of respect for their Muslim guests, Wildwood Mennonite Church Pastor Joe Heikman instructed men and boys to sit on one side of the sanctuary while women and girls sat on the other. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Oct 05, 2016 | 1 comment

It isn’t every day that Mennonites share a potluck meal with Muslims. Yet this is what happened when Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon invited members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at to join them for a fellowship lunch.

Is climate change real? Part 2

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Sep 21, 2016

Last February I wrote an article that elicited more response than anything I have written for this publication. The piece originated when a reader challenged my acceptance of the climate change narrative. I worked past my initial impulse—which was condescending and dismissive—and studied the sources he provided. In the resulting article, I didn’t bash him or his sources; I tried to understand them.

Zion Mennonite Fellowship lends a hand to its neighbours

Marilyn Brubacher and Bruce Weber display two of the many items available in Zion Mennonite Fellowship’s Neighbour to Neighbour lending program in Elmira, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 21, 2016

For anyone who lives in Elmira and needs a ladder to clean out his eavestroughs or get a Frisbee off her roof, call Bruce Weber.

Zion Mennonite Fellowship, in an effort to increase its visibility in the town of Elmira and improve the sense of community and neighbourliness in the community, came up with the idea of an object-lending program. Congregants have lots of items that they don’t use every day, so it was decided to lend them out to others as a service to local residents.