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God at work in the World

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.

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Mar 25, 2015

“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.

A loss and a disappointment

Plum Coulee Bergthaler Mennonite Church, Man., is no longer a member of either Mennonite Church Manitoba or MC Canada.

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Mar 25, 2015

“Any loss for me is a grief,” said Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, in response to the withdrawal of Plum Coulee Bergthaler Mennonite Church from the national church.

The congregation decided at a meeting in November 2014 to withdraw its membership from both MC Manitoba and MC Canada, but chose to wait until the new year before sending a letter informing the area and national churches of its intent.

‘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)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 25, 2015

“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.”

Wan came to this conclusion through careful thinking about what and why Paul wrote this letter to the Gauls living in the northern part of Asia Minor that is now part of present-day Turkey.

A steep price for following his conscience

Edgar Schmidt

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Mar 11, 2015 | 1 comment

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 this and can decide whether to expressly override them.  

‘Competent adults’ to get right-to-die

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 25, 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada's February decision to legalize physician-assisted dying shifted the moral landscape in Canada.

Court turns medicine into ‘death dealing’

God at work in the World | By Ruth Enns | Feb 25, 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Feb. 6, 2015 that our current ban on physician-assisted death (PAD) is not in keeping with Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Langley church adopts indigenous protocol

Amy Dueckman
God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 11, 2015

Langley Mennonite Fellowship has become the first Mennonite Church B.C. congregation to acknowledge in writing that it sits on unceded first nations territory.

At last year’s MC B.C. annual general meeting, Brander McDonald, the area church’s indigenous relations coordinator, challenged member congregations to consider posting a written declaration to that effect in a prominent place, such as a church bulletin or website.

Langley Mennonite considered the call.

Blankets for vets

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 11, 2015

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.

Johnston concluded his military career, which involved a stint in Bosnia, as casualty administration officer, overseeing arrangements for the return of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Dealing so closely with death and its survivors took a toll.

When vets mourn what should Mennos do?

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 11, 2015 | 1 comment

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.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Jan 28, 2015

“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.”

Hope in Boricha

Shigute Edaso (centre)

God at work in the World | By Story and photos by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jan 20, 2015

Our Manitoba correspondent journeyed to Ethiopia last fall as part of a learning tour sponsored by Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). She reports her findings of the CFGB’s work with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Meserete Kristos Church (MKC), and other relief and development agencies in the story, “Reclaiming Ethiopia.” Following are profiles of two of the people she met.


Pensions and recklessness

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Jan 14, 2015

In “Do Not Store up Treasures in Pensions” (Jan. 5, 2015 issue) I wrote about Mennonite Church (MC) Canada's “core option” pension plan and the complications of Socially Responsible Investment. See the article here.

“Pensions: Follow the Money,” the online supplement to that piece, lists the companies and entities that constitute the MC Canada “core option.”

Holy recklessness

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Jan 14, 2015 | 2 comments

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.

Well, now I am older, married, a father, and the owner of an ’06 Jetta with airbags and anti-lock brakes. Despite my imperfections and compromises, I still value risk. I have not gotten 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)

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

Pensions: follow the money

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Jan 02, 2015

In “Do not store up treasures in pensions” Will Braun expresses unease with the fact that Mennonite Church Canada’s “core option” pension funds include investments in the fossil-fuel sector. Here is more information.

Remembering Mandela

Photo © Pep Hernandex /

God at work in the World | By Andrew Suderman | Dec 24, 2014

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. He inspired a nation and the world to reach out in a spirit of reconciliation and unity even to those who have hurt us.

Do not store up treasures in pensions

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Dec 24, 2014 | 1 comment

I like the Bible verse that says, “Do not store up treasures on earth,” but I also like the thought of a few treasures on the side for the sake of financial security. That tension gripped my soul as I opened the Mennonite Church Canada pension package I received when I joined the staff of this magazine. I paged through it, anxiously seeking an option to ease my troubled heart.

Chiara House officially opens

From left to right: Norm Voth, director of evangelism and service for MC Manitoba; Orly Friesen, volunteer site manager; Jon Owen, caretaker and resident; Alvin Thieseen, supporter and volunteer; Pearl Plohman, resident; and Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community, cut the ribbon to officially open Chiara House in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Jon Owen).

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Dec 24, 2014

“When one of our members suffered from untreated mental illnesses and committed suicide quite publicly five years ago, we realized how critical it is to provide community supports and affordable housing in order for people to have a chance at healthy living,” said Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community in Winnipeg’s downtown West End, at the official opening of Chiara House.

‘Stores are closed. There is shooting’

A woman bursts into tears following an overnight artillery raid outside Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine. (MCC photo by Sergey Ponomarev)

God at work in the World | By By Gladys Terichow | Dec 24, 2014

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is appealing for donations to significantly scale up its humanitarian assistance in eastern Ukraine.

Continued violence and armed conflicts have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes to seek safety in neighbouring countries and within Ukraine. Tens of thousands of people have been killed or wounded.

More viewpoints: Smudging

God at work in the World | Dec 10, 2014 | 2 comments

To celebrate its 50th anniversary Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba planned an event to be held on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg, a venue MCC was renting for the large event. But days before, MCC cancelled the event based on objections the congregation’s leadership had to an indigenous smudging ceremony that was to be held on church grounds. Read more here.

MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals

‘It seems to me that a generosity of spirit is at the heart of both Christian and Canadian aboriginal beliefs, so there should be a strong mutual interest in demonstrating mutual respect.’--Former prime minister Joe Clark (Photo by Will Braun)

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Dec 10, 2014 | 2 comments

The landmark event was intended, in part, to promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. That goal will likely be achieved to a far greater extent than organizers ever imagined, but the path will be circuitous and theologically bumpy.

Peace brings local community together

Participants pause by the Morden, Man., cenotaph to offer prayers concerning civil justice during their Peace Prayer Walk on Nov. 9. Michael Pahl, who came up with the idea for the walk, is pictured facing the camera with white papers in his hand. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pahl)

God at work in the World | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Dec 10, 2014

“Regardless of our perspectives on ‘just war’ and pacifism, as Christians we are all united in our desire for peace and justice in our community and around the world,” says Michael Pahl of his idea to hold an annual Peace Prayer Walk in Morden, Man., last year. “This prayer walk is an opportunity to put our feet and mouths where our hearts are, to reflect on the need for peace in the world and to pray for peace together.”

How will we walk together?

Adrian Jacobs, right, responds to questions and concerns from Rudy Friesen and Gerhard Neufeld.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Nov 19, 2014

Instead of the usual small, intimate gathering that has characterized previous fall Partnership Circle meetings, more than 85 northern indigenous people, Mennonite Church Manitoba representatives, people from other denominations and social service agencies gathered on Nov. 1 to form a vastly expanded circle at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House.  

For more than 10 years the MC Manitoba partnerships with northern indigenous communities have struggled to overcome financial, geographic and cultural barriers to build mutual, reciprocal and meaningful relationships.

Water of life

Darryl Redsky of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stands on a temporary bridge over the man-made channel that isolates his community. (Photo by Will Braun)

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Nov 19, 2014

When Mennonites in Winnipeg baptize a believer, they do so with water from Shoal Lake. The baptismal water comes from a project for which the members of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation were involuntarily moved. It comes from a place where local residents have lived under a boil-water advisory for 17 years.

MC Canada promises prayer for Middle East churches

Mennonite Church Canada has responded with letters of support to the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community and the Middle East Council of Churches. The organizations state that their member congregations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon are struggling “to preserve what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence in the East, and to circumvent its complete demise,” in the face of ongoing violence.