God at work in the World

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Churches ‘on the healing side’

At a recent Saskatoon ecumenical event in response to missing and murdered indigenous women, Pauline Muskego of Onion Lake Cree Nation shared the heart-breaking story of her daughter’s disappearance and the discovery, four years later, of her remains. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“We are all equal. Not one person is above others.” Elder Marie Linklater’s words set the tone for a day of learning and discerning on April 18, when about 200 women and men from Saskatoon and area gathered at Mayfair United Church for an ecumenical response to murdered and missing indigenous women and girls.

Saskatchewan youth take small steps toward big changes

Honouring the Earth participants Kennedy Martens, Amy Wiens, Sydney Martens, Johanna Wiebe and Naomi Klassen learn about vermiculture as a way of better managing food waste. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Worms, balloons, dolly carts and minimal sleep were all part of a Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization event held in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan on April 8 and 9. This year’s Honouring the Earth event focussed on how making small changes to food consumption habits can have a big impact on the global food market.

Welcome to Canada . . . because of Jesus

A sign greets Syrian refugees at Edmonton International Airport, where approximately 60 Mennonites and Muslims were gathered to welcome them to their new home on March 31. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Mennonites and Muslims await the arrival of Syrian refugees at Edmonton International Airport on March 31. Mennonite Central Committee Alberta and the Islamic Family Social Services Association are partnering to bring Syrian refugees to Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Elizabeth Wall, left, Jacob Wiebe-Neufeld, Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Yehea Al Jamal, Mohamed Al Jamal, Nahed Al Jamal, Heba Al Hafar, Darian Wiebe-Neufeld, Donita Wiebe-Neufeld,  present a bowl of fruit and a card to the family to welcome them to Canada. (Photo by Saffa Abu-Sheikhan)

Ahmad Al-Jamal, his wife Ghada, and their three young children were visibly excited as they waited at Edmonton International Airport on the evening of March 31, 2015.

‘We sit and eat at the same tables’

Young volunteers Cate, Ruth and Annalee of First and Rockway Mennonite churches prepare the menu board so that guests can see what is being served at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church’s community dinner on March 14. Volunteers like these young women help set up the tables and chairs, and are gone by the time guests arrive. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Lou Murray Gorvett prepares tea for guests before they arrive at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church’s community dinner on March 14. She is constantly on the go making sure the guests and volunteers alike are cared for. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Cook Carol Weber of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church shows off the soup stirrer created by set-up volunteer Dan Ulrich when he found out that the church had no spoons long enough to stir the deep soup pots used for Stirling Avenue’s community dinners. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Volunteer Kim Barber, standing right, a Wilfrid Laurier University music professor and professional singer who attends Rockway Mennonite Church, serves guests at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church’s community dinner on March 14. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

“Grab a coffee and go and sit down. You get served at the table. They’re really nice here,” said one guest to another on March 14 of the community dinners served every Saturday night from November through April at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

‘Showing up with each other’

Gary Garrison reads from his book Human on the Inside: Unlocking the Truth about Canada’s Prisons. On March 28, Mennonite Central Committee Alberta gave a copy of the book to each volunteer to thank them for their work in visiting prisoners this past year. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Years ago, when Abe Janzen had just started his work as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) director, he was taken to prison for a visit. There, he said, he “realized how biblical and terribly important and endlessly necessary” this ministry is. “It’s not about fixing things, but about showing up with each other.”

‘Covenanted around Jesus Christ, not our confession of faith’

Kirsten Hamm-Epp and Jerry Buhler prepare to serve the Lord’s Supper to participants at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions held in Saskatoon recently. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Mennonite Church Canada executive director Willard Metzger, left, visits with Ryan Siemens, pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert, Sask., at an ice cream social in honour of Jerry Buhler, outgoing area church minister, at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ed Bueckert of Zoar Mennonite Church, Langham, Sask., left, listens to Aldred Neufeldt, who attended the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions on behalf of MC Canada’s Future Directions Task Force. 

Discernment happens at many levels. Pictured, Jake Buhler of Osler Mennonite Church expresses his views to Char Bueckert and Ida Buhler during the recent Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

“We don’t all know God in the same way,” Bruce Jantzen reflected at the recent Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions, “but that doesn’t change who God is.”

MC Saskatchewan bids farewell to Jerry Buhler

Jerry Buhler, outgoing area church minister for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, gets a hug from colleague Kirsten Hamm-Epp, area church youth minister. Buhler served MC Saskatchewan for nine years.

With appreciation and affection, participants at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions said thank you and farewell to Jerry Buhler, who served as area church minister for nine year years. It was clear from the standing ovation he received that he made many friends during that time.

Saskatchewan youth want to be in the loop

SMYO Committee members Zachary Stefaniuk, left, area church youth minister Kirsten Hamm-Epp, Gabby Martin (back to camera) and Hailey Funk discuss proceedings at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions.

“We want a church that is for everyone, and we want to be part of making that happen.” This statement from a Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization (SMYO) report to the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions appeared to be borne out by the level of engagement witnessed in members of the SMYO Committee at the March 13 and 14 meetings.

‘Evangelism is dangerous’

Maciel Arias from Toronto New Life Mennonite Church, left, translates for Lili Hurtarte, lay leader at Toronto New Life Mennonite Centre, while Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite, Kitchener, listens with Lucy Roca of the Refuge de Pais congregations in Quebec. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Former MC Canada Witness workers Julie and Phil Bender visit with Sze-Kar Wan, keynote speaker at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Brian Bauman, MC Eastern Canada missions minister, left, and Pastor Jehu Lian of the Chin Christian Church in Kitchener, right, listen as Bernard Sejour, newly hired Ottawa Catalyst, shares during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Louam Vanhbyvang, left, and Liang Nay prepare the Lao-themed dinner for the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Lori and Charlie Derksen, children of Kevin Derksen, one of the pastors at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, dance as Menno Valley Sound performs at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers fun evening. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Pastors Norm Dyck of Listowel Mennonite Church, left, Tim Reimer of Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto, and Steve Brnjas, interim pastor at Zion Mennonite Fellowship in Elmira, visit during an  optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Abate Bekele, pastor of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto, left; Fanosie Legasse, an Ethiopian who attends Bethel Mennonite Church near Elora Ont.; Tadesse Mekuria Aleme, pastor of Medahnialem Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Toronto; and Pastor Kassa Lemma of the Freedom Gospel Ethiopian Church in Toronto, visit during an optional ‘coffee time’ event at the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Lois Guenther Reesor, left, takes part in a discussion with Sze-Kar Wan and Tom Yoder Neufeld at a public event held during the 2015 MC Eastern Canada School for Ministers. Reesor used Wan’s material in her thesis in the master of theology program at Conrad Grebel University College, where the annual school was held. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

“Evangelism is dangerous,” Sze-Kar Wan said in conclusion of his three-day exegesis of the first three chapters of Galatians at the 2015 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada School for Ministers. “When you evangelize, you include new people in your group and you have to expect change,” he said, noting that it’s possible “the insiders might become marginalized.”

A steep price for following his conscience

Edgar Schmidt

Despite risk to his reputation and livelihood as a federal lawyer, for more than a decade Edgar Schmidt has consistently spoken out against the federal government’s practice of proposing bills to Parliament without taking adequate steps to ensure that the pieces of legislation don’t violate the Bill of Rights or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or, if they do, that Parliament is advised of t

Blankets for vets

Retired Canadian Forces Captain Wayne Johnston received a warm welcome at 50 Kent, the home of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario and other Mennonite agencies in Kitchener last month. Invited by MCC Ontario director Rick Cober Bauman to make a noon-hour presentation, Johnston shared his story of harm and healing.

When vets mourn what should Mennos do?

A new Sunday School peace curriculum in the U.S. pushes Mennonites in a direction very different than the predictable emphasis on the evils of war and the theological superiority of pacifism.

“Returning veterans, returning hope: Seeking peace together” encourages Mennonites to see veterans not as people with incorrect views, but as fellow human beings to be understood and embraced.

Countering Islamic State

Peggy Mason of the Rideau Institute, left, talks with Nancy and Ernie Regehr after her presentation, ‘Countering ISIL: Why Canada needs to change course,’ at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., on Jan. 15.

“There is no military solution [to Islamic State [IS)], only possibly some short-term tactical gains that might give the illusion of success, but which pave the way for longer-term chaos, as we now see in Libya. There is no political solution without addressing the underlying local grievances that IS exploits and that will take time and concerted effort.”

Holy recklessness

I recall saying in my youth that “Christianity does not come equipped with standard airbags and anti-lock brakes,” features commonly advertised for cars at the time. I felt society’s fixation on safety and security should not be adopted by Christians. Faith is risky.

I was young and idealistic then. Some older folks said I’d get over it.

Reclaiming Ethiopia

A way of life is being dramatically changed as the pastoralist people learn to grow crops. The Foodgrains Bank and Canadian World Lutheran Relief are working through the Support for Sustainable Development organization on food-for-work projects that build irrigation systems. They provide training on how to grow and market crops. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ethiopia is a country undergoing transformation. Stu Clark, senior policy advisor for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, writes, ‘The challenge now is to ensure that rural Ethiopians enjoy the same rapid growth as those in Addis Ababa [pictured]. While food aid expenditures have declined, Foodgrains Bank expenditures for agricultural development in Ethiopia have increased over the past decade to about $1 million a year.’ (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ginjo struggles to support his family of 10 on a hectare of land. But by adopting new conservation methods of farming this past growing season he was able to dramatically increase the yield of his maize crop, which he harvested from the field in the foreground. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Mogite is a widow, but being part of one of the self-help groups that the Terepeza Development Association and the Foodgrains Bank have supported, she is able to support herself and her family. The women have established a cooperative garden on her property, where vegetables and seedlings are grown for their families and the surplus is marketed. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

MCC Ethiopia and Meserete Kristos Church have partnered with the Foodgrains Bank in the Boricha District, where farmers are being paid to work on soil- and water-conservation activities, building terraces and check-dams to catch the rain, and planting trees to stabilize the soil. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Elias Tola has been part of the food-for-work and cash-for-work programs that have helped to restore his farmland and bring roads into the Boricha District. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ahimed, head of the water user association in his community, stands near the channel that diverts water from the river and brings life to his community. He speaks with pride about the difference this six-kilometre channel has made to their lives, bringing not only water, but food security, a school, a clinic and dignity. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Manitoba correspondent Evelyn Rempel Petkau journeyed to Ethiopia last fall as part of a Canadian Foodgrains Bank-sponsored learning tour and reports her findings of the NGO’s work with Mennonite Central Committee, Meserete Kristos Church, and other relief and development agencies

Remembering Mandela

Photo © Pep Hernandex / bit.ly/1wheB9Z

Nelson Mandela passed away a year ago last December, at the age of 95. Although we knew this time was coming, it does not alleviate the sorrow experienced by South Africa and indeed the world. Mandela—or Madiba, as he was lovingly called—lived as an incredible example of forgiveness and reconciliation.

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