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God at work in the World

A hope for home

Savay, whose last name is withheld for security reasons, cooks rice in an unfinished home shared by 10 families. These families are receiving 25 months of food assistance from MCC partner Zakho Small Villages Project through a project of MCC and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 23, 2016

For the most part, Syrians forced from their homes dream not of going to Europe or Canada, but of going back home. “They are in love with their country,” say Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) representatives for Lebanon and Syria, who cannot be named for security reasons.

Who is matching whose funds?

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 23, 2016

The federal government sometimes “matches” donations made by Canadians for specific causes. Does this mean that if you give $100 to MCC for Syria, Ottawa gives another $100 to MCC, and thus you can credit yourself with $200 going to Syria? In short, no on both counts.

So-called matching funds go into Ottawa’s Syria Emergency Relief Fund. Plus, it is hard to say whether the government is giving an extra $100 or, more likely, just taking money it would spend one way or another on Syria, and using it in this way.

A Liberal dose of generosity

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott with her husband Pep and their four children. (Photo courtesy of Jane Philpott)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 09, 2016

Jane Philpott was elected to parliament and appointed Health Minister last fall. Prior to that, she worked as a family physician in Canada and also in Niger from 1989-98. Philpott and her husband Pep have four children and attend Community Mennonite Church in Stouffville, Ont. The minister spoke by phone with Canadian Mennonite’s Will Braun on Feb. 29, 2016.

Lessons from the cloud forest

A typical day in the cloud forest with mist and clouds moving through the trees.

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Mar 09, 2016 | 2 comments

Not many Canadian architects can say they’ve built a school in the Guatemalan cloud forest, but Charles Olfert can. A member of Wildwood Mennonite Church and a partner at AODBT Architecture and Interior Design, Olfert speaks enthusiastically about the project.

MC Canada wants to know who is caring for refugees

On Feb. 7, 2016, during the faith formation hour, Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ont., heard two Syrian refugee families tell their stories. One family is sponsored by Rockway Mennonite Church, the other by Stirling Avenue, Pioneer Park and First Mennonite churches, all of Kitchener. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

God at work in the World | Feb 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Mennonite Church Canada congregations are taking the words of Deuteronomy 10:18-19 to heart by caring for Syrian refugees. The  passage shares God’s desire to clothe and feed strangers. It’s a rather fitting way for Mennonites to express God’s love, as many were once refugees to Canada themselves.

Is climate change real?

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 24, 2016 | 4 comments

A reader of this magazine sent an e-mail admonishing me not to associate our Mennonite faith with the “fear narrative” of climate change. He provided some links to seemingly credible people who refute the common global-warming argument. My impulse was to either delete or politely—or impolitely—sidestep it. Instead, I took it seriously.

Some of you, like me, probably feel immediately defensive when someone questions climate change. Others probably feel immediately vindicated. We should not follow either of those impulses.

Breakfasts, burnt curtains and a surprising friendship

Beverly Winter, of Friendship Manor, a government-run housing facility for people on social assistance, and Karlyn Wiebe of Altona Mennonite Church stand in Winter’s apartment. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Feb 24, 2016

Across the parking lot from Altona Mennonite Church stands a long, yellow brick building with narrow halls and tiny bachelor suites that rent out for $285 per month. Friendship Manor is a government-run housing facility for people on social assistance.

Reconciliation requires an end to guilty white inhibition

Chief Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation shows Rich Coleman, B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development, the site for a liquefied natural gas terminal near kitimat, B.C. Chief Ross favours this project but was strongly opposed to a Northern Gateway crude oil pipeline.

© “Minister Coleman Tours Northwest LNG Sites” by Province of British Columbia Licensed under CC BY 2.0

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 10, 2016

The door to reconciliation is open further now than ever before in Canada. From Trudeau to church organizers I speak with, interest in improving relations between indigenous and non-indigenous people is far greater than even a few years ago. Yet most of the discussion leaves me feeling hollow.

If we are to seize this moment, which will likely start to fade in a few years, the discourse will need to be more practical, creative and nuanced than much of what I see.

A town that welcomes refugees

Hasan Hamam receives a stuffed animal at the Winnipeg airport. He arrived with his mother, father and his 10 siblings on Jan. 18. The Hamam family is the fourth family of Syrian refugees to arrive in Altona. (Photo by Cindy Klassen)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Jan 27, 2016

The Manitoba Prairies have a reputation for icy winters, but they should also be known for their warm hearts. This winter, the town of Altona, Man., embraced 45 new refugees from Syria, increasing its population by 1 percent.

It has been a community effort. An Altona-based charity called Build a Village spearheaded the project by sponsoring five families. Four of them have already arrived and a fifth family is expected any day.

CMU pledges to bring indigenous knowledge into classrooms

Signatories to the Indigenous Education Blueprint include presidents of nine Manitoba colleges and universities and the Manitoba School Boards Association. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Mennonite University)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Jan 13, 2016

Late last month Canadian Mennonite University president Cheryl Pauls signed an unusual document, one that commits CMU to bringing indigenous knowledge and history into its classroom as well as creating a racism-free campus and working to better serve the needs of indigenous students.

‘What’s that in your hand?’

A gifted prison inmate presented Mennonite Church Canada short-term worker Tom Roes with artwork he created. After his release from prison, he used his artistic skills and the training from Roes’ entrepreneurship seminar to start a small business. (Photo by Tom Roes)

God at work in the World | By Nathan Dirks and Deborah Froese | Jan 13, 2016

Thanks to a question from Tom Roes, Mennonites in Botswana are thinking creatively about launching small businesses to support their families and the local church.

As a short-term worker for Mennonite Church Canada, Roes is engaged with an income-generation ministry. He offers entrepreneurship training to help participants start small businesses, which he begins by asking them to examine the gifts they already have with a question drawn from Exodus 4:2: “What’s that in your hand?”

Manitoba unveils restorative justice strategy as jails bulge

Manitoba’s Headingly Correctional Centre was established in 1931.

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Dec 23, 2015

Manitoba, which leads all provinces in putting people behind bars, also wants to lead in restorative justice programming.

Treasure in Thailand

Members of First Hmong Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., pose with children of a village in Thailand. Members of the Canadian congregation went on a mission trip to the country their families had left 40 years ago as refugees. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada)

God at work in the World | By Lisa Williams | Dec 23, 2015

“I wanted to see what God can do with me and how he might use me,” said Gao Hlee Vang of First Hmong Mennonite Church, in Kitchener, Ont., reflecting on her congregation’s mission trip to Thailand last summer. Twenty-three people participated in the trip.

Teaching English in local schools, offering vacation Bible school in the evenings for children, and providing school and health kits are some of the things that First Hmong Mennonite Church did when they visited small towns and villages, and even an orphanage.

Mennonite Disaster Service steps in

John and Mary Webb’s house nears completion after more than 3,000 hours of repairs by Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers following a 2011 flood of the Red River near Selkirk, Man. (Photo by Ken Loewen)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Dec 09, 2015

The first three times their house flooded, John and Mary Webb managed to make repairs. But in 2011, after the Red River filled it with water for the fourth time, they were broke.

“We’d put our retirement money into this house,” says Mary. “We didn’t have any funds left. We were poor.”

Completion of MDS work in High River celebrated

Sandra and Harold Friesen of Calgary and Linda and Jim Dyck of Pincher Creek spent the last two years volunteering as project coordinators for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) work in High River, Alta., cleaning up after a summer 2013 flood in Calgary and area. They and other volunteers were honoured at a dessert night and MDS fundraiser in Edmonton on Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Dec 09, 2015

Sandra and Harold Friesen of Calgary and Linda and Jim Dyck of Pincher Creek spent the last two years volunteering as project coordinators for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) work in High River, Alta., cleaning up after a summer 2013 flood in Calgary and area—the worst in the province’s history—that displaced more than 100,000 people and caused an estimated $5 billion in property damage.

Mennonites ‘wage peace’ on Remembrance Day

A peace symbol made of twigs graces the communion table at Osler (Sask.) Mennonite Church during a Remembrance Day peace service. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Dec 09, 2015

A Mennonite church is not a typical venue for a Remembrance Day service, but on Nov. 11, 2015, members of several Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregations came together at Osler Mennonite Church to pay tribute to those whose lives have been turned upside down by war.

Stewarding agricultural diversity across cultures

Caroline Chartrand, right, who describes herself as ‘the landless Métis seed saver,’ holds a Gete-Okosomin squash. Kenton Lobe, an instructor in international development studies at CMU and one of CMU Farm’s founders, holds an Arikara squash, another variety being grown for seed at the CMU Farm. (CMU photo)

God at work in the World | Nov 18, 2015 | 1 comment

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) made headlines this fall when it was revealed that workers at its CMU Farm had successfully grown an ancient variety of squash from seeds shared with them by the White Earth Seed Library in Minnesota. The squash was grown in collaboration with members of Manitoba’s Métis community.

Will Trudeau boost Mennonite causes?

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Nov 18, 2015

When a provincial election brought a wave of optimism to Manitoba—or at least parts of it—in 1999, a colleague said, “Yep, the reign of God should descend upon us any time now.”

So what might the change in Ottawa mean for a few issues of particular concern to Mennonites with the Liberals in power and Markham-Stouffville MP Jane Philpott, a member of Community Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., appointed as the new Minister of Health?

Social values

Welcoming the stranger

Doha Kharsa, centre, a Syrian refugee who came to Canada a year ago, told delegates at MCC Saskatchewan’s Encounter and annual general meeting to try to imagine what it would be like to lose everything they had and become a refugee. Also pictured are Peter Neufeldt of Grace Mennonite Church, Regina, left, and Dana Krushel, MCC Saskatchewan’s refugee assistance coordinator. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 18, 2015

“You maybe can’t save all the lives, but you can save some.” With these words, Doha Kharsa encouraged her audience to sponsor refugees. Kharsa, herself a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada a year ago, spoke at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan’s Encounter and annual general meeting, held Nov. 7 at Parliament Community Church.

In her opening meditation, Rose Graber, pastor of Grace Mennonite, Regina, reminded delegates, “We are [all] strangers and aliens, caretakers of the earth God owns,” adding, “We welcome [strangers] because when we do, we welcome Jesus.”

Leadership changing at MCC Saskatchewan

Wrapped in a quilt he purchased at the MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale and Auction in June, and surrounded by fellow board members and delegates, Dan Siebert seeks God’s blessing as the new chair of the provincial organization’s board of directors. Also pictured from left to right: Peter Guenther, outgoing board chair; Peter Neufeldt; Eileen Klassen Hamm; Claire Ewert Fisher, outgoing executive director; Don Peters, MCC Canada’s executive director; and Carlin Fehr. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 18, 2015

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is entering a season of transition.

Claire Ewert Fisher has resigned as executive director, a position she has held for the past seven years. In her final report to delegates, Ewert Fisher said, “It is time for new energy and vision in this role. It is time for me to slow down a bit and move more intentionally into what I understand to be my primary giftings.”

Eileen Klassen Hamm, MCC Saskatchewan’s program director, will serve as interim executive director until a new executive director is hired.

Blanket exercise teaches about colonialism

Photo by Amy Dueckman

An interactive blanket exercise on Missions Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, shows members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., a different way of looking at Canadian history. Indigenous representatives had participants—including Pastor April Yamasaki, front left—stand on blankets representing the land of North America in the years before European settlers came. The exercise had people gradually moving off the blankets and rolling them up as the group went through the history of treaty-making, colonization and resistance.

‘Never mind decolonization; learn to love yourself’

Patricia Vickers speaks to church leaders at Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on Oct. 17. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Nov 04, 2015

People who want to love their indigenous neighbours must first learn to love themselves, according to Dr. Patricia Vickers, a psychotherapist and Tsimshian theologian. Vickers spoke at an event organized by Mennonite Church Manitoba on how churches can respond to the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. About 50 church leaders attended the event, held at Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on Oct. 17, 2015.

Walking together . . . rather than around each other

Roundtable discussions were a highlight of the third annual Christian-Muslim dialogue in Edmonton on Oct. 17. People of a variety of Christian and Muslim affiliations were seated at each table to encourage wide-ranging discussion and learning from each other. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Nov 04, 2015

She is a novelist and world traveller, speaks Mandarin and has a brown belt in karate. Shaimaa Kraba also wears a hijab and is a Sunni Muslim. At the third annual Christian-Muslim dialogue in Edmonton on Oct. 17, 2015, emcee Miriam Gross humorously addressed the issue of stereotyping when she quipped, “There is more to her than a ‘scarf-clad’ girl. After all, it’s a hijab, not a halo!”

‘Being good neighbours to those around us’

Jennifer Otto and Gregory Rabus, pictured with their son Alex, are Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Rabus and Jennifer Otto)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Oct 21, 2015

Gregory Rabus and Jennifer Otto, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in Germany, are finding ways to respond to the needs of refugees flooding into the country from Syria and Iraq.

In September 2015, German chancellor Angela Merkel threw open the doors of her country to welcome tens of thousands of refugees, saying that doing so was a moral obligation in the face of the global refugee crisis. Now, the people of Germany are facing the challenges of dealing with so many people in crisis.

Hatching peace

Susan Schultz Huxman, president of Conrad Grebel University College, left, and Helen Epp, widow of Frank Epp, former Grebel president and founder of Project Ploughshares, pose with Paul Heidebrecht, director of the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at the launch of the Frank and Helen Epp Peace Incubator on Sept. 22, 2015. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)


God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 21, 2015

While the physical space has been there since the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) Centre for Peace Advancement was inaugurated a year ago, the Frank and Helen Epp Peace Incubator got its official opening on Sept. 22, 2015, at Conrad Grebel University College.

The space is made up of six desks equipped with computers, phones and other office accoutrements, but the groups that rent the space get much more. Key among those other perks is the cross-fertilization of ideas and excitement of their peers.