God at work in the World

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A new direction for Sam’s Place

Patrons at Sam’s Place in Winnipeg, Man., enjoy coffee, reading and good conversation under the watchful eye of ‘Sam,’ the Komodo dragon. The formerly independent, community-based, non-profit organization is now a part of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba and the board that ran it now acts in an advisory capacity.

Sam’s Place, a used book store, café and performing arts venue, has developed into a welcoming meeting place for people living in Elmwood, a working class neighbourhood in the northeast part of Winnipeg.

Protesting death in Georgia

Josie Winterfeld, missions, peace and justice worker at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., participates in the ‘die-in’ during the annual peace protest outside of the former School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga.

Fort Benning, Georgia—the home of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas—is also the home of annual peace protests each November.

Three Waterloo Region Mennonites—Nathan Gorvett, Josie Winterfeld and Richard Albrecht—took part in the 2010 protest, which stretched over a three-day weekend.

Remembering peace

Ying Ying Wang of China and Santiago Gomez of Colombia sport both poppies and MCC peace buttons at the Remembrance Day service in Warman.

Wearing both the traditional red poppy and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) alternative peace button, Ying Ying Wang from China and Santiago Gomez from Colombia—participants in MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program—stood before a crowd of 600 people gathered in Warman for a Remembrance Day service, and talked about peace.

Tree-planting project takes root

Jake Rempel and Brian Wiebe prepare a hole to plant one of 37 trees that will border the Carman Mennonite Church property on three sides. About half of the funding came from Manitoba Hydro’s Forest Enhancement Program.

On Nov. 9, a wagonload of 37 trees and an eager group of Carman Mennonite Church members armed with spades, including a massive tree spade powered by a tractor, showed up in the church parking lot. A plan to enhance the parking lot, provide shelter from the winds and care for the environment had been developed years ago and now was about to take root.

Above the Underground best kept secret in Abbotsford

Above the Underground associate Pam Thompson, left, and manager Darlene Davy welcome shoppers to their trendy thrift store—‘the best kept secret in Abbotsford.’

For a little clothing store, Above the Underground is making a big impact on the lives of people in Abbotsford. And if Darlene Davy, the store’s manager, has her way, many more people will know about it.

“I always say Above the Underground is Abbotsford’s best kept secret, but I’d like to change that,” she says with a smile.

‘Swimming against the current’

Alejandra Romero, a Colombian, enjoys the “sky swing” at Camp Valaqua, Alta., during this summer’s ‘Planting peace: How do we stop killing each other?’ event that brought together 10 international young adults and a group of their Canadian counterparts.

What does peace look like? “In my context, working for peace is to swim against the current,” writes Alejandra Romero, a Colombian who helps school children with conflict resolution in a country where violence is prevalent. “It is not easy to commit to live in peace when there are people willing to harm you.”

350 reasons to care for the Earth

Christine Penner participates in Hope Mennonite Church’s YouTube video that presents 350 biblical reasons for Christians to care for the Earth.

Hope Mennonite Church in Winnipeg produced a video for YouTube expressing its belief that God calls Christians to look after creation.

The idea was conceived on Peace Sunday, November 2009. On that Sunday, the congregation divided into small groups to discuss how they could make a public declaration for peace.

Hi, my name is Imvu

Imvu enjoyed the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament held in South Africa this summer.

Imvu, the Zulu sheep, sports his trusty backpack. The creation of MC Canada Witness worker Karen Suderman, Imvu is a good ice-breaker as she and her husband Andrew develop an Anabaptist Network in South Africa and build relationships with the churches there.

Imvu can be seen peering over the shoulder of MC Canada Witness workers Andrew and Karen Suderman.

A passion for writing children’s stories and a desire to engage children in church life gave birth to Imvu, a small knitted sheep who connects Mennonite Church Canada ministry in South Africa with children around the world.

Seeking higher ground

Floods have destroyed homes and livelihoods across much of Pakistan, including the Dera Ismail Khan District, pictured. Photo: Zafar Wazir, Church World Service

Pakistan’s worst floods in eight decades have killed more than 1,600 people and disrupted the lives of more than 14 million—about 8 percent of the population. With hundreds of thousands of homes already destroyed in what the National Management Authority is calling “the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history,” people there are in immediate need of basic necessities.

MCC, MEDA collaborate to help Haiti’s homeless

Homes that will be built through the collaboration of MCC, MEDA and Fonkoze will be similar to this one repaired for Isaac, Viola, and Estania Auguste, left to right, of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.

Haitians left homeless by January’s earthquake are getting construction help from a collaborative venture of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

‘A time for inspired leadership and action’

A quilt of sorts was put together as a symbol of the commitment of many interfaith youths and young adults, to aid the Millennium Development Goals in any way possible. It was hung at the University of Winnipeg during the World Religions Summit 2010.

Just days before the leaders of the G8 countries were preparing to meet in central Ontario to discuss such new issues as maternal health in the developing world and a restoration of the rule of law in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran, religious leaders from these same countries—and others—gathered in Winnipeg in an effort to get their respective governments to live up to a

Addressing the issue of extreme poverty in Canada

The sacred fire, protected in a teepee that was set up by representatives of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada at the World Religions Summit 2010, was lit to act as a doorway for the entrance of the ‘Spirit.’

Of the 192 member countries of the United Nations, Canada ranks fourth on its Human Development Index, but Canada’s First Nations rank 68th.

According to Edith Von Gunten, who co-directs Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry alongside her husband Neill, “There is a lot of work to do right here in Canada. . . . The treaties are not being honoured or respected.”

Suderman proposes a ninth Millennium Development Goal

Karen Hamilton, general secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), left, enjoys a laugh with Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, at last month’s World Religions Summit 2010 in Winnipeg, Man. MC Canada is a CCC member.

There are currently eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were agreed to by 192 United Nations member states in 2000 and that are to be achieved by 2015. But according to Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, there should be a ninth.

MDS responds quickly to southern Manitoba flooding

Simon Reimer, left, Kyle Sawatsky and Peter Reimer from the Altona Sommerfeld Mennonite youth group assist Mennonite Disaster Service by cleaning out flooded basements in Emerson, Man., earlier this month.

On May 29, 10 centimetres of rain fell in an hour on the small border town of Emerson. By the end of the day, more than 15 cm had come down. With the ground already saturated, the rain had nowhere to go, flooding most of the basements in town.

“It varied from home to home, but some had as much as [1 to 1.2 metres] in their basements,” said Jeanette Sabourin, town administrator.

Facing ‘a new enemy’

Oil in the marsh of Plaquemines Parish.

Maurice Phillips, a commercial fisher of Plaquemines Parish, La., took a group of disaster management leaders out on a small boat to “see the oil” on June 7. This is the best way to witness the destruction of the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, members of Grand Bayou told Paul Unruh of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). Unruh led the group as part of a listening tour.

An ‘eloquent’ visitor

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean spoke with the media during a visit to the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario warehouse in Kitchener, Ont., where she helped knot a comforter and pack a relief kit.

Work at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario office and warehouse in Kitchener came to a halt on June 14, when Michaëlle Jean, the Governor-General of Canada, dropped in for a visit.

New Cree translation celebrated

Stan Cuthand, 92, a member of Little Pine First Nation, worked for years on the draft of a Cree translation of all of the New Testament and 40 percent of the Old Testament. The newly released Gospel of Mark is based on his work.

A large group of educators, church workers and Cree speakers turned out last month to help celebrate the release of a new Cree translation of the New Testament Gospel of Mark. A united effort between Wycliffe Translators, the Canadian Bible Society and Saskatchewan Cree-speaking individuals, the translation built on the dedicated efforts of Reverend Stan Cuthand.

Volunteer prison visitors honoured

David Milgaard, who spent more than two decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, is pictured with copies of his book of poetry, prose and a love letter written while he was in prison. The book is available from Ronald N. Storozuk, 689 Beaverhill Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R2J 3P2.

On April 30, a man who spent 22 years behind bars took the stage at First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, to share his story at a banquet honouring M2/W2 (Man 2 Man/Woman to Woman) volunteers.

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