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God at work in the World

PeopleCare Inc. lives by its name

PeopleCare chief operating officer Elaine Shantz, far right, introduces the team going to Ghana in September, including Brenda Leis, far left; project coordinator and PeopleCare employee Dale Shantz; second from left; and PeopleCare president and chief executive officer Brent Gingerich, in the black shirt. Pictured second from right is Marion Good, MEDA Waterloo’s regional director of resource development. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 23, 2014

Brent Gingerich, the third generation of the Schlegel-Gingerich clan to helm the PeopleCare Inc. family of long-term care facilities, remembers travelling after high school with a friend in south and southeast Asia.

In Bangladesh, the two volunteered for a month in an orphanage, the same one his friend had lived in before he was adopted by Canadian parents. The experience was life-changing for Gingerich

“Every Canadian should travel to a different country and see how half of the world lives, both to appreciate what we have, and work to help the world,” he says.

MCC Summerfest Relief Sale

Hannah Martens (left), Cindy Klassen, and Rebecca Janzen enjoy each other’s company at the “GO” booth where Martens and Janzen earned money for MCC by running and biking on the stationary equipment.

God at work in the World | By Story and photos by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 02, 2014

Alberta Mennonites have few opportunities for large fellowship gatherings. While the annual Mennonite Central Committee relief sale is a huge amount of work, when the weekend arrives, the atmosphere is decidedly celebratory.

Niagara-area thrift store marks 40 years

Patty Ollies (left), MCC Ontario thrift development officer and Kathleen Leadley, board chair, cut the cake celebrating the 40th anniversary of the thrift store in St. Catharines.

God at work in the World | By Story and photo by Maria H. Klassen | Jun 18, 2014

The Niagara-area Mennonite churches celebrated the 40th anniversary of the thrift stores in this area on March 24 with a dinner and potluck dessert. Over 200 past and present volunteers attended. Among those participating during the evening were: Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC Ontario; Patty Ollies, MCC Ontario thrift development officer; Kathleen Leadley, board chair for the thrift store; and Matthew Kok, general manager of the store.

A bridge to community

Josephine and Garcie Cogar of Webster Springs, W.V., test out their new walking bridge that connects their home to the community. It was built by Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers as part of the organization’s efforts after Hurricane Sandy devastated the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in 2012. MDS and community volunteers can be seen in the background. (MDS photo by Paul Hunt)

God at work in the World | Jun 04, 2014 | 1 comment

Thirteen metres isn’t a long walk, but it can be a difficult journey when the creek between your house and the rest of your community is running high and the bridge across it is out.

Almost a year-and-a-half after their link to the road—and the rest of the world—was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, Garcie and Josephine Cogar are happily traversing their new bridge that was built by Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers.

Stó:lō, sacredness and salmon

Cheryl A. (Francis) Peters, right, holding the MCC blanket given her, in turn gives Forrest Johnstone a sparkling ball she had recently purchased for herself. Peters says she wanted to give one of her possessions to the child.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Amy Dueckman | May 21, 2014

The former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Mission drew 50 Fraser Valley Mennonites on May 10 to hear stories of history and culture by the Stó:lō Nation leadership.

Sponsored by Mennonite Church B.C. and organized by indigenous relations coordinator Brander McDonald, the gathering was part of an ongoing MC B.C. effort to strengthen relationships with local indigenous communities. The participants formed a circle that McDonald called a “sacred place and a sacred space.”

‘In the name of Christ’

As the world watches the situation in Ukraine change almost daily, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) affirms its commitment to its current work in the country. It also offers continued support and prayers to its partners and the people of Ukraine in this time of uncertainty and turmoil.

“We remain concerned that the situation could lead to escalating conflict in the region, and we continue to hope for a peaceful resolution, where all voices are heard,” say Ruth Plett and Krystan Pawlikowski, MCC’s co-representatives for Eastern Europe.

Truth and reconciliation is ‘sacred work’

Neill Von Gunten, former co-director of Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry, left, presents a talking stick carved by Henry Neufeld to Justice Murray Sinclair. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 07, 2014

Justice Murray Sinclair proudly and lovingly put his arm around Sarah, his granddaughter. “Tomorrow is one of the most important days in my life, the birthday of my granddaughter,” he said of the eight-year-old. “Many of the children taken from families and placed in residential schools were even younger than this. Whenever I do my work, I think about her. We must ensure when we go forward that it will never happen again for little people like this.”

Day schools issue hits home

Ray Mason, left, and Neill Von Gunten, former co-director of Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry, share a laugh as Mason shows off a shirt promoting this summer's Native Assembly at CMU. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 07, 2014

“Little is known about the day school part of our colonial history and it is pretty critical we get to know it,” said Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada. “We have day schools in our Mennonite church history. It hits home.”

World Vision U.S. chastened over gay hiring policy

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | May 07, 2014

Earlier this year, World Vision U.S. announced a landmark policy change that would permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed by the Christian aid organization.

“I don’t want to predict the reaction we will get,” World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns told Christianity Today magazine. “I think we’ve got a very persuasive series of reasons . . . and it’s my hope that all of our donors and partners will understand.”

‘The truth was hard’

Len Franz of Edmonton First Mennonite Church, right, helps to carry a banner as a crowd walks from the site of the TRC event to the Alberta Legislature in a celebration and ceremonial walk of reconciliation on Sunday evening. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 23, 2014 | 1 comment

I was standing beside Neill Von Gunten, former co-director of Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministries, and trying to peer over heads to see into the “Churches Listening Area” at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national event in Edmonton last month. An aboriginal leader had just prayed, and a church leader suggested a song; “We are Marching in the Light of God.”

Anabaptist church leaders offer statement to residential school survivors

Anabaptist leaders present a blanket and a statement for inclusion in the Bentwood Box, a repository for offerings and commemorations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Edmonton last month. Standing with the TRC commissioners and survivor representatives are Tim Dyck of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, centre, and Hilda Hildebrand of Mennonite Church Canada, fifth from left.

The following statement was presented at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton in March.

‘A foolish act of love’

Some of the organizers of the Honour Walk. Pictured from left to right, front row: Jared Redekop, Erin Sawatzky, Ann Heinrichs and Steve Heinrichs; and back row: Brad Langendoen, Deanna Zantingh, Brandi Friesen Thorpe, Laura-Lynne Hildebrand, Jonathan Friesen, Laurens Thiessen van Esch and Steve Plenert. (Photo courtesy of The Honour Walk)

God at work in the World | By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Apr 23, 2014

Because Jesus asked us to love our neighbours, a group of Christians from Winnipeg were willing to walk 550 kilometres to honour and remember their indigenous brothers and sisters who have survived the Indian Residential School (IRS) system. I was one of the organizers of this journey, which we called the Honour Walk.

A modest proposal for truth, reconciliation

God at work in the World | By John Siebert | Apr 23, 2014

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is in the closing stretch of its five-year mandate.

The most important truth being conveyed is the experience of former Indian Residential School (IRS) students. Only they can tell their stories. The TRC appears to have effectively created the venues infused with ceremonial significance for this to happen with respect and the needed personal supports to address the pain that surfaces along the way.

Truth and reconciliation

Irene Crosland adds some prairie sage to the sacred fire burning outside one of the main entrances to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, the site of the seventh and final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event. She wrote this poem as a result of her experiences at the TRC event.

God at work in the World | By By Irene Crosland | Apr 23, 2014

Gathering crowd surges
Finding space
Residential School survivors
And listeners
This is my time
You listen
Throbbing drum beats
Pulsing loudly
Tonal language singing
Prayers lifting
Bowed shoulders quake
Remembering robbed childhood
Secrets buried deeply
Opening carefully
Angry man turns
“It is enough”
Seated at round tables
History books open
Photos bring painful memories
Faces longingly remembered
Decorated man stands proud
Preaching his story

‘Four-directional thinking’ on indigenous-settler relations

Rene de Vries, left, part of a Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry study group at Stouffville (Ont.) Mennonite Church, chats with Chris Sabas, an attorney and member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Aboriginal Justice Team, at a panel discussion on the book at the Toronto School of Theology last month. In the background is Murray Lumley of Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto. (Photo by Kim Penner)

God at work in the World | By Jonathan Seiling | Apr 23, 2014

If a buffalo shouts or a salmon cries in a forest, does anybody hear?

A packed room of 50 people at the Toronto School of Theology (TST) hung on every word of four panelists gathered on March 18 to discuss Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice and Life Together, the 2013 Herald Press book edited by Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada’s indigenous relations director.

War doesn’t work

Ernie Regehr, left, the 16th annual University of Waterloo Arts Alumni Achievement Award recipient, visits with Susan Schultz Huxman, Conrad Grebel University College’s president, following his lecture at Grebel on March 26, 2014. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 09, 2014

According to Ernie Regehr, for statistical purposes a war is defined as political fighting—not criminal violence—that engages the security forces of the state; as well, it is a situation in which “at least 1,000 people [combatants and civilians] have been killed directly by the fighting during the course of the conflict, and 25 or more are killed annually.”

The role of faith in our culture

On Jan. 17, 2014,Tim Kuepfer, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., was invited to speak to a local Muslim youth gathering. (Photo courtesy of Tim Kuepfer)

God at work in the World | By Tim Kuepfer | Apr 09, 2014

On Jan. 17, 2014,Tim Kuepfer, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., was invited to join a local Muslim youth gathering for the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. What follows is an adaptation of his message to this gathering.

I am so impressed by this way you choose to honour your revered founder: inviting guests from other faiths and backgrounds to reflect on a subject that was very, very important to both your founder and mine. Islam and Christianity are both deeply concerned about the questions you have posed today:

CoSA Winnipeg faces funding cuts from all sides

God at work in the World | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Mar 26, 2014 | 1 comment

Recent weeks have been a financial roller coaster ride for Joan Carolyn and Daniel Epp, the program director and associate for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) Winnipeg, respectively.

A good place to be homeless?

With the new MCC Centre under construction across Gladys Street, a tent city stands as testimony to the problem of homelessness in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Amy Dueckman | Mar 26, 2014

Homelessness in the city of Abbotsford has made headlines in recent months. There was the dumping of chicken manure by city crew members on a homeless camp, a months-long protest campout at centrally located Jubilee Park, the rejection by city council of a rezoning proposal to build accommodation for homeless men, and a community rally at city hall to protest that decision and show support for the homeless.

A matriarch, a passion and the gospel

Tom and Christine Poovong hold their children Phimchanok and Joseph. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

God at work in the World | By Dan Dyck | Mar 12, 2014

Tom Poovong’s passion for sharing the gospel was first fuelled by his mother, a woman he describes as deeply spiritual and abundantly generous.

Tom was just 15 years old when his parents and seven siblings emigrated to Calgary from Laos in 1980. In those early years, his mother, Bouying Poovong, would trundle her children onto a bus each weekend and commute to downtown Calgary in search of a Buddhist temple. Not finding one, they attended a Catholic church for a time.

Taking the first of 10,000 healing steps

Micah Mission coordinator David Feick, left, chats with Father Joseph Jacek at the ‘10,000 Healing Steps’ conference held recently in Saskatoon in an effort to get people out of gangs.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Donna Schulz | Feb 26, 2014

What do Mennonites and former gang members have in common? “Not much,” one might be tempted to reply. But at a recent Saskatoon conference they sat side-by-side learning about gang intervention and prevention, and the way back to a healthy life.

MCC responds in hard-hit areas of Syria

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Feb 26, 2014

As Syrians continue to watch their nation disintegrate, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has become a leading Canadian responder there. Its long-standing relationships in the area mean it can work both in refugee camps outside Syria and in some of the hardest hit areas within the country, supporting various local partners, including churches. The warring parties finally met for talks in Geneva last month, but little came of it.

More viewpoints: “Who feeds the world?”

God at work in the World | By Compiled by Will Braun | Feb 13, 2014

Ron Krahn: A farmer responds

I don’t believe the phrase “farmers feed the world” implies a certain way of producing food. It’s a simple fact. Anyone who engages in the act of growing or producing food is a farmer. So there is a reason why “feeding the world” is a common phrase in agriculture. It is a task that farmers take pride in because they are providing one of the main necessities to sustain human life.

Who feeds the world?

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Feb 12, 2014 | 1 comment

Without conventional agriculture more people would starve. That is the link commonly drawn between global hunger and the dominant form of North American farming, which depends heavily on fertilizer, fuel, pesticide and genetic inputs.

Typhoon relief effort expected to continue for years

A damage report from Super Typhoon Haiyan compresses a huge disaster into one page of stark statistics. This report is for just one assessment area. (Photo by John Chau / Used by permission)

God at work in the World | By By Dan Dyck | Jan 29, 2014

Like the news, the winds and rain that came with Super Typhoon Haiyan have let up. But the damage from the storm that slammed regions of the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, remains on the mental and emotional front page for survivors.