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God at work in the World

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.

Faith groups lament for the killed and wounded

God at work in the World | By By Natasha Brubaker Garrison | Nov 05, 2014

We share in the grief and shock our nation is feeling. We honour Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who were killed. Our prayers for comfort and healing are offered for the families of Cirillo and Vincent, those wounded, and those who were the first responders on the scenes. We offer our prayers for the families of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau.

Response to a sad day in Ottawa

God at work in the World | By Willard Metzger | Nov 05, 2014

Like many Canadians, I find myself in a place of sadness following the senseless violence in our capital city on Oct. 22, two days after a similar incident in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., south of Montreal.

I resonate with the voices that lament the sense of loss of our peaceful context. I share the anxiety of how this act of violence might result in our day-to-day affairs being weighed down with new forms of fear through heightened secu-rity measures.

I feel sad. I feel a loss.

Canada sidesteps UN Arms Trade Treaty

A child soldier in the Central African Republic holds a handful of spent shell casings. Canada refuses, to this point, to sign a UN Arms Trade Treaty that seeks to better regulate the $85-billion global arms industry and thus prevent weapons from ending up in the wrong hands. (Photo: HDPTCAR/Creative Commons license)

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Nov 05, 2014 | 1 comment

Canada is not among the nations to ratify the new United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that seeks to better regulate the $85-billion global arms industry and thus prevent weapons from ending up in the wrong hands.

‘Choose hope’ for climate

Under the yellow flags of 20 different denominations and faiths, a dozen Mennonite church members walk with the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sept. 21. (Photo by Matt Thompson)

God at work in the World | By Randolph Haluza-DeLay | Oct 22, 2014

Before 120 political leaders gathered at the request of the United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon for a summit on climate change, and before more than 300,000 people marched through the streets of New York for the People’s Climate March, religious leaders from around the world gathered to consider the threat posed by climate change.

‘Shaping a sustainable future’

S. Roy Kaufman

God at work in the World | By Randolph Haluza-DeLay | Oct 22, 2014

Even urban Mennonites lay claim to an agrarian heritage. According to many speakers at Rooted and Grounded: A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship, held last month at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), this is important despite the urbanity of most Mennonites and North Americans in general.

‘They are not alone’

Melanie Kampen camped out at the Native Women’s Protest site near the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg earlier this month, to protest the government’s lack of response to the 1,182 missing and murdered indigenous women from across Canada. (Photo by Chris Swan)

God at work in the World | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Oct 22, 2014

On a very windy, cold and dark Oct. 3 night, Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, and a few others strung 20 dresses on fishing line on both sides of the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge that spans the Red River near The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.

“We lifted up prayers before, during and after, and hung the dresses as visible prayer signs that say, ‘Someone hears the cries of those mourning the missing and murdered indigenous women; someone will honour it,’ ” Heinrichs said.

Committed, supportive. . . and ‘just plain tired’

Volunteer exhaustion and the difficulty recruiting more and younger volunteers are a big part of the reason the Morris MCC Relief Sale is shutting down after 33 years, but George Klassen, chair of the now defunct board, identifies other reasons as well: ‘People do not need “stuff” as much as they used to.’ (Credit: Kristian Jordan)

God at work in the World | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Oct 08, 2014

“It almost felt like a huge sigh of relief coming from the volunteers,” said George Klassen as he closed the books of the Morris (Man.) Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale. On Sept. 13, about 250 volunteers served their last perogies, knitted their last slippers, baked their last pies and directed traffic for the very last sale in Morris. 

‘Each day was a joy’

Team members of the MEDA Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb celebrate as they reach the summit on July 14 after beginning that morning at 5 a.m., which required wearing headlamps to see. (Photo: Duane Eby)

God at work in the World | By By Dave Rogalsky | Sep 24, 2014 | 1 comment

After 27 years with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), the last 12 as president and chief executive officer, Allan Sauder of Waterloo felt that he needed a professional development leave to both freshen his energies and to give him a new perspective on his work.

‘Confessing the peace of Jesus in a terroristic world’

August 2014

Responding to terrorism: a Christ-centred approach

David Shenk, fourth from right; Pastor Jeremiah Choi, sixth from right; and Pastor Crystal Nana Lee, fifth from left, discuss relationships between Muslims and Christians at Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong in September 2013. (Photo courtesy of David Shenk)

God at work in the World | By By Linda Moffett | Sep 24, 2014

“Are Muslims trying to take over America?” “Who are the ‘true Muslims’—the peaceful ones or the violent ones?” “How should Christians respond to jihadi Muslims?” “Isn’t force the only effective way to respond to Islamist terrorism?”

Counting conversations, not conversions

A number of the main speakers at the Christian-Muslim Dialogue held Sept. 13 at the Edmonton Islamic Academy pose for a picture. They are, from left to right: Carol Penner, pastor of Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church; Thomas Bumbeh, board member at Holyrood Mennonite, Edmonton; Father Stefano Penna; Imam Sherif Ayoup; Shama Nanji, poet; Rev. Kevin Kraglund; and Masood Peracha. (Missing: Imam Usama Al-Atar, Miriam Gross, Angela Veters and Valerie Bazira.)

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Sep 24, 2014 | 1 comment

Clerical collars and hijabs, men and women, black and white, the diversity in the crowd of more than 200 was clearly visible. Just as obvious, however, was the palpable presence of God as the crowd listened intently to both Christian and Muslim speakers share about the importance of faith to both private and corporate life today.

“Practising faith in a secular society” brought Mennonite and Catholic Christians together with Shia and Sunni Muslims at the Edmonton Islamic Academy on Sept. 13 for dialogue and fellowship over abundant food.

‘People can do this’

Stacey and Matthew Vandermeer stand in their backyard with a 77-litre garbage bag like the one they filled from July 1, 2013 to June 30 of this year. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Sep 10, 2014

Friends would apologize for throwing things out when they visited. People posted nasty notes on the CBC and CTV websites in response to “the challenge.”

But Matthew and Stacey Vandermeer of Breslau Mennonite Church on the eastern edge of Kitchener were not doing this to shame anyone or to seem holier-than-thou. Instead, they were trying to reach the goal they had set from themselves and their two children to produce only one 77-litre bag of garbage from July 1, 2013, to June 30 of this year.

“Didn’t it smell?” asked friends.

Small town + small church = big influence

God at work in the World | By By Amy Dueckman | Sep 10, 2014 | 2 comments

Church of the Way in Granisle, British Columbia, may be small, but as the only church in town its witness in the community is large.

Located on Babine Lake in B.C.’s northern interior, the village of Granisle has a population of about 300. Most of the local residents are seniors, with only a handful of young people. Of those residents, about 10 percent come to weekly services at Church of the Way, which has the distinction of being the northernmost Mennonite Church Canada congregation in the country.

‘An energizing event’

Frank Elias, left, president of the Carman Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop, welcomes Ron Janzen, director of MCC Manitoba, as he arrives on his 600-kilometre bicycle tour of the 16 thrift shops in Manitoba. Each store was given a rebuilt bicycle to raffle off during the celebrations when Janzen arrived.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Sep 10, 2014

It only took a few seconds for Ron Janzen to catch his breath as he dismounted his bicycle and entered the Carman Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop to greet volunteers and shoppers.

Righting an historical wrong

Ilda Bauman in the early 1940s in front of The House of Friendship for all the Nations on King Street in Kitchener, Ont.

God at work in the World | By By Dave Rogalsky | Aug 28, 2014

A paper cut-out of Joseph Cramer has stood prominently at the many House of Friendship (HoF) events during the Kitchener-based social agency’s 75th-anniversary year. The implication of this is that somehow Cramer was the founder or instigator of the work done by HoF, masking the fact that women played a prominent role in founding, running and supporting the agency’s work from the very beginning until the present.

Listening to those being served

Executive director John Neufeld, left, and board president Trent Bauman stand with the Joseph Cramer cut-out at House of Friendship’s 75th annual meeting on June 17. Behind them is a quilt designed by Judy Martin and sewed by Arlene Martin, to be auctioned off to help fund House of Friendship.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Aug 28, 2014

When John Neufeld took the reins as director of Kitchener’s House of Friendship (HoF), he was confused by the 19 separate programs it was running: shelters, a food bank, addiction programs, a youth program, work in community centres, and on and on. How to make sense of it all?

Building friendship through music

Sol Sanderson, former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, addresses festival-goers at the Spruce River Folk Festival.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | Aug 22, 2014

It may be a blip on the radar compared to other events of its kind, but what it lacks in size the Spruce River Folk Festival more than makes up for in heart.

The fifth annual festival was held on Aug. 16 at Spruce River Farm, north of Prince Albert, Sask., which is home to Ray Funk and Shirley Falstead of Grace Mennonite Church, one of the event’s sponsors, along with Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, MC Canada and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan.

Ears to earth, eyes to God

Steve Heinrichs, director of indige-nous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, leads in singing during one of Native Assembly 2014’s worship services. (Photo: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

God at work in the World | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Aug 13, 2014

An early morning fire and smudging ceremony started each day of Native Assembly 2014 that met from July 28 to 31 at the edge of the Assiniboine Forest on the Canadian Mennonite University campus. A tepee and several tents served as their backdrop, and although the sound of traffic never let up, participants could watch a raccoon or a fawn nursing from its mother or hear the birdsong amid the bustle.

“We gather as spiritual people with our ears to the earth and eyes to God,” was the call to worship every morning following the assembly fire and prayer time.

In another skin

Brander—Strongraven/Standing Bear—McDonald shares insights into the indige-nous worldview at Native Assembly 2014.(Photo: Moses Falco)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Aug 13, 2014

Brander McDonald is soft-spoken. He moves about the room with quiet dignity, avoiding eye contact while he presents a workshop exploring indigenous worldviews at Native Assembly 2014. He admits to being a shy youngster, but there is more to his demeanour than being reserved. “My grandmother taught me that I shouldn’t look someone in the eye when I first meet them,” he says. “She told me to look at their feet until I got to know them.”

Searching for harmony

Vince Solomon’s dorm door was marked with an “X” to indicate his race when he was enrolled in religious studies. (Photo: Moses Falco)

God at work in the World | By Dan Dyck | Aug 13, 2014

There’s an imbalance here. Of the 250-ish gathered for Native Assembly 2014, indigenous participants are overwhelmingly outnumbered by non-native folks.

A few months ago, planners were concerned that not enough white church folks would attend. But this turnabout troubles me. Dominant people can often become dominant voices. So I’m trying to listen more and say less.

Finding ways to share this land of plenty

The judges’ bench in the main courtroom of the Supreme Court of Canada.(Photo by Philippe Landreville / © the Supreme Court of Canada)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Aug 13, 2014

Indigenous issues are charged, complex and unappealing to many Canadians. Understandably so.

Competing histories and intricate legalities combine with strong sentiments to create a sort of national quagmire. No one feels comfortable about the situation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, but meaningful change often seems impossible.