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God at work in the World

Census reforms will hurt Canada’s poor, claims Mennonite economics professor

Thiessen (left) and Johnson (right)

God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | Sep 29, 2010 | 1 comment

While Vic Thiessen, Mennonite Church Canada’s chief operating officer, says “executive staff . . . are not aware of any concerns raised by MC Canada churches or constituents on census reforms,” economist David Johnson, a member of First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., says there is every reason to be worried, as the Canadian government makes plans to scrap the mandatory long-form census and replace it with a voluntary survey.

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.

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Sep 15, 2010

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.

“One group focused on the issue of creation care, as this was the passion of one particular member of that group,” recalls Pastor Lynell Bergen. “And somehow the idea of doing a video for YouTube came up.”

Hi, my name is Imvu

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

God at work in the World | By By Deborah Froese | Sep 14, 2010

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

God at work in the World | By By Ross W. Muir | Sep 01, 2010

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. About two million people are homeless and there are fears that outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera could create a health crisis.

Where will the children play?

Anne Driediger, a resident at Bethany Manor, speaks with a Saskatoon, Sask., city planner about the seniors complex expansion.

God at work in the World | By by Karin Fehderau | Sep 01, 2010

It’s a warm summer evening on the north side of Saskatoon and residents in this busy neighbourhood are enjoying the opportunity to cycle, walk, play tennis or rip up the tarmac at the nearby skateboard park.

The focal point for many of these activities is the park across the street from Bethany Manor, a large centre for retirees and seniors run by 12 different Mennonite churches. Tennis courts, a skateboard park and a grassy area are all sandwiched neatly into the park space and are widely used by the community.

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.

God at work in the World | By By Wally Kroeker | Aug 26, 2010

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).

MCC contributed $1.43 million to rebuild and repair about 775 homes of microfinance clients of Fonkoze, the country’s leading microfinance provider, most of whom are women. MEDA will administer and monitor the 18-month project, expected to be completed by the end of November next year. Fonkoze has been a long-term partner of MCC and MEDA.

Clothing gifts from one immigrant family to another

God at work in the World | By By Amy Dueckman | Aug 17, 2010

Bags of clothing from Vietnamese immigrants in Abbotsford have found their way to help clothe Karen refugees in Surrey, thanks to a cooperative effort between church groups.

‘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.

God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | Jul 17, 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 10-year-old commitment: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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.’

God at work in the World | By by Rachel Bergen | Jul 12, 2010

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.

God at work in the World | By by Rachel Bergen | Jul 12, 2010

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.

Suderman was a panelist at the peace and security session of the World Religions Summit 2010, held at the University of Winnipeg campus from June 21-23. “There are people in the world who use religion as a source of violence,” he said. “We need to take that very seriously.”

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.

God at work in the World | By by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 23, 2010

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.

A power failure affected part of the town as well, disabling any sump pumps. The mayor declared a state of emergency for the town.

Facing ‘a new enemy’

Oil in the marsh of Plaquemines Parish.

God at work in the World | By By Anna Groff | Jun 23, 2010

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.

God at work in the World | By by Barb Draper | Jun 23, 2010

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. As well as meeting some Mennonites over lunch, she visited the warehouse, where she tied a few knots in a comforter, helped pack a relief kit for Haiti, and accepted the gift of a comforter from Margaret Nally, chair of the MCC Ontario board.

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.

God at work in the World | By by Karin Fehderau | Jun 04, 2010

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. The book is being sold along with a spoken version on CD, recorded by Delores Sand.

Oral traditions are strong in Cree communities and stories are often passed down using the spoken, rather than the printed, word.

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.

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 31, 2010

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. M2/W2 is a program of restorative justice ministries supported by Mennonite Central Committee that matches volunteer visitors with inmates, believing that one-to-one relationships are vital for personal growth and change for everyone.

Bill C-11 impinges on refugees’ rights: MCC


God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | May 17, 2010

Imagine that you and your family are refugees from a technically “safe” country, but are experiencing persecution, violence or the threat of violence in your homeland.

To escape this persecution, you flee to a developed country and seek a visa to live there in peace. Because your homeland is classified as “safe” by this developed country, you are not permitted to stay since your homeland and the people there are not considered to be a threat to you or your family.

Women and girls the solution to development work

Helen Loftin, left, MEDA regional project manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan, shows a shawl—an embellished fabric product from Pakistan—to Jim Brubacher and Sharon Martin Brubacher at the Waterloo, Ont., MEDA annual dinner on March 13 at Floradale Mennonite Church.

God at work in the World | By by Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2010

A record number of guests came to the annual dinner of the Waterloo chapter of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) last month to hear keynote speaker Helen Loftin give an update of MEDA’s work in Pakistan. Currently regional project manager in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she administers a program that makes small loans to women and trains them in business practices and employee management.

The next step: Helping to build infrastructure in rural Haiti

A young girl draws water from a cistern at a Mennonite Central Committee-supported water distribution site in Cité Soleil, part of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. MCC’s priority on emergency assistance, like this, is gradually refocusing on self-sustaining priorities.

God at work in the World | By By Linda Espenshade | May 03, 2010

The response of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake will gradually shift from the capital city of Port-au-Prince to rural communities that are expected to play an integral role in rebuilding the country.

By 2011, MCC’s work will centre in the Artibonite Valley, about 90 minutes north of Port-au-Prince. Eight MCC staff members live in Desarmes, a town in the Artibonite Valley, where MCC already has an established program.

Slain soldiers not Canada’s only heroes

God at work in the World | By By Karin Fehderau | Apr 19, 2010

A University of Regina professor caused a commotion last month when he spoke out against the practice of paying the full tuition of children of slain Canadian soldiers. Jeffery Weber, a political science professor, has gathered support from 15 other university staff in a petition against the practice known as Project Hero, which was started by an Edmonton businessman two years ago.

Introducing Muslims to Jesus


God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | Apr 05, 2010

When Christians proclaim the unique claims of God to Muslims, it often goes awry when they bring Jesus into the equation, according to Emmanuel Ali El-Shariff, who says it is inconceivable—even sacrilegious—to Muslims to say that Jesus is the Son of God.

‘Signs of solidarity’ among victims of Chile earthquake

God at work in the World | By By Luis Maria Alman Bornes | Mar 22, 2010

On the morning of Feb. 27 a one-minute earthquake left nearly 300 dead and a half-million homes destroyed. Power cuts, blocked roads and collapsed communications services made it difficult to answer such desperate questions as, “Where is my family?” and, “How are my friends, my brothers and sisters of the church?”

“We sympathize with you,” “We pray for you,” and, “Know that you have our support,” were the words from around the world that filled the e-mail boxes of those affected by the quake.

Quick connections after quake in Chile

Omar Cortés Gaibur, Mennonite Church Canada Witness Associate in Santiago, survived the Feb. 27 earthquake.

God at work in the World | By By Dan Dyck | Mar 22, 2010

Within minutes of hearing midday news reports on Feb. 27 of a magnitude 8.8 earthquake that had occurred earlier that day in Chile, Tim Froese had sent an e-mail alert to all Mennonite Church Canada staff.

Froese, executive director of MC Canada’s international ministries, just happened to be checking the news, which prompted him to quickly check his e-mail, revealing the first of several messages that would reach him from ministry contacts in Chile.

MDS: Sixty years of service later

Last spring, Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers did something new after serious flooding along the Yukon River in Alaska destroyed many buildings in the town of Eagle: they built log homes for the victims—13 in less than 11 weeks.

God at work in the World | By By Karin Fehderau | Mar 08, 2010

After 60 years of building homes for other people, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is doing a little building of its own.