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Congolese Mennonites suffer atrocities amid displacement of 1.4 million

Menno Simons’ favourite verse was chosen for the cloth commemorating the centennial of Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Community in Congo). Mennonites in the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently facing violence and displacement in the conflict-plagued Kasai region. (Photo by James Krabill)

Standing at the site of a Mennonite church in Kalonda village in Kasai Province, this 16-year-old mother said that her husband was murdered in her presence. She and her child are not named for security reasons. (MCC photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

In Kele village near Tshikapa in Kasai Province internally displaced people answer questions posed by the assessment team providing input for a collaborative Anabaptist response. (MCC photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

Downtown Kikwit in Kwilu province.  Kikwit, which is home to many Mennonites, has received thousands of refugees from the Kasai region. (Photo by Rod Hollinger-Janzen)

Soap and salt purchased by Mennonite Church of Congo to assist refugees. (Photo by Rod Hollinger-Janzen)

A primary school plundered during March clashes between Kamuina Nsapu rebels and police in the Kasai region of DR Congo. (Photo © UNICEF / Dubourthoumieu)

Christine Mamina and Adolphine Tshiama, national secretary and national president, respectively of the Women's Association of Mennonite Church of Congo. Tshiama lost several family members in the recent violence. (Photo by Rod Hollinger-Janzen)

Joseph Nkongolo, coordinator of the Development and Service Department of Mennonite Church of Congo. (Photo by Rod Hollinger-Janzen)

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.

Dozens of Congolese Mennonites have been killed, hundreds of their homes have been burned, and thousands of them have fled, as violence consumes the Kasai region, birthplace of the Mennonite church in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

‘Along the Road to Freedom’ exhibit tours Alberta

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld stands beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells the story of Maria Friesen Neufeld, his great grandmother, one of the courageous Mennonite women who brought their families out of the hardships and terror of the Soviet Union in the early 1900s. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Nettie Dueck, one of four Along the Road to Freedom committee members, travelled from Winnipeg to Edmonton to be at the opening program at King’s University in Edmonton. Dueck is standing beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells her mother’s story. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Dave Toews, left, Edmonton exhibition and Alberta tour organizer for the Along the Road to Freedom exhibit, meets Lois Mitchell, Alberta’s lieutenant governor, right, at a private viewing and discussion at King’s University on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On Dec. 2, 2017, more than a hundred people gathered at Edmonton’s King’s University for the opening of the Along the Road to Freedom art exhibit. This was the first of three stops in Alberta that will end in the spring. 

MEDA sets a record as donors give $6.5 million

Edwin Klassen (left) shares a laugh with longtime MEDA editor Wally Kroeker as he signs copies of his book, God’s Week has Seven Days: Monday Musings for Marketplace Christians, at the MEDA convention in Vancouver, B.C. (MEDA photo by Steve Sugrim)

At the 2017 MEDA annual convention, Rob Schlegel describes the progress of MEDA’s $50 million Bridges to Enduring Livelihood campaign as MEDA president All Sauder looks on. (MEDA photo by Steve Sugrim)

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) raised a record $6.5 million from donors in the past year, president Allan Sauder told the group’s annual meeting in Vancouver Nov. 2 to 5.

Mobile app extends reach of Anabaptist prayer book

The Anabaptist prayer book, Take Our Moments and Our Days, is now available as a mobile app.

Members of the AMBS community gather in the Chapel of the Word for weekly prayers with Take Our Moments and Our Days, an Anabaptist prayer book published by Herald Press in collaboration with the Institute of Mennonite Studies. (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

Users in 15 countries across six continents have downloaded a new free mobile app version of Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book in the four weeks since its launch on Oct. 23, 2017.

Mennonites join to provide food and shelter in DR Congo

These displaced families, who are staying in the Kikwit District of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, wait to receive a month’s supply of food and non-food emergency assistance, including flour, beans, oil, sugar, salt, tarps and soap. (MCC photo by Fidele Kyanza)

Monique Meta, who is a leader of displaced people who received food and shelter supplies from the Mennonite Church of Congo, stands with the supply of food she received at the Nov. 29 distribution in the town of Tshikapa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A widow, she and her nine children lost all their belongings because of violence in Kamonya, where she lived. (MCC photo by Fidele Kyanza)

Displaced people who recently received food and shelter supplies distributed by Mennonite churches in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have seen unimaginable horrors.

Project Ploughshares’ coalition wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) campaigners Setsuko Thurlow, Ray Acheson and Cesar Jaramillo call on Canada to join a UN nuclear weapons ban at a press conference in Toronto on Oct. 27, 2017. Jaramillo is the executive director of Project Ploughshares, a Mennonite Central Committee partner. (Photo courtesy of Paula Cardenas)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) congratulates Project Ploughshares, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Project Ploughshares, of which MCC is a member, was started 42 years ago by a former MCC service worker, Ernie Regehr.

Indigenous and settler history along the Grand River

Phil Monture, Six Nations land claims researcher, speaks at 50 Kent Avenue in Kitchener, Ont., on Oct. 26, about the Haldimand Tract that was promised to Six Nations in the late 1700s. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The community room at 50 Kent Ave. in Kitchener was standing room only on Oct. 26, with more than 180 adults of all ages there to listen to Phil Monture.

Steinbach Mennonite turns 75

To celebrate Steinbach (Man.) Mennonite Church’s 75 years of worship and ministry, pastors and congregants planted a peace pole in front of its current building on Loewen Boulevard on Nov. 12. Next spring, a garden and bench will be installed. (Steinbachonline.com photo by Lothar Dueck)

Steinbach Mennonite Church celebrated its 75th anniversary over the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 weekend.

Swiss official offers apology for Anabaptist persecution

Filmmaker Peter von Gunten, Münster parish official Marlise Hubschmied and Bern Mennonite Church Pastor Dorothea Loosli discuss von Gunten’s 2005 Anabaptist documentary “In Life and Beyond Life” on Nov. 11, before the request for forgiveness offered by Bern government councillor and director of churches Christoph Neuhaus. (Photo by Knoche)

It can’t change the past, but it can impact the future.

Putting goals into practice

At the MC Saskatchewan Equipping Day Abby Heinrichs and her father Steve tell their personal stories in a workshop entitled ‘In your light, we see light: The church and Indigenous solidarity.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Claire Ewert Fisher indicates the four quadrants of the spirituality wheel in her workshop, “Spirituality in work clothes.” All four quadrants are needed to achieve balance in the church she says. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Cindy Wallace asks participants in her ‘Anabaptist heroes’ workshop to consider people in their own lives who reflect Anabaptist values. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Todd Hanson offers pointers for effective cross-cultural communication in his workshop, “Don’t be a culture monkey,” at MC Saskatchewan’s annual Equipping Day. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Setting goals is a good practice, but how does a faith community translate those goals into reality? 

Mennonites in Montreal aid refugees

Hochma’s worshipping space was repurposed as a donation centre for refugees. (Photo by Michel Monette)

Michel Monette

Not feeling safe in the United States, a young woman climbed on a plane and flew to Montreal with her children. But the U.S. is considered a safe country for refugees, so she was forced to return. Still afraid, she crossed the border into Quebec and ended up at Coalition d’aide aux réfugiés à Montréal (Coalition to aid refugees in Montreal), housed in the Hochma church building.

Open the Islands campaign seeks to prevent refugee deaths

A poster calls attention to the plight of refugees waiting on the island of Lesvos; it is part of a campaign to prevent refugee deaths due to the winter cold. (Christian Peacemaker Teams photo)

As winter sets in, over 100 solidarity groups and organizations—including the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) project on the island of Lesvos—are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold.

Quito Mennonites pray and work for peace

The Quito Mennonite Church Project with Refugee People offers workshops on peace education and values that are directed towards refugee and Ecuadorian children. (Photo by Daniela Sánchez)

Ana (not her real name), came to Ecuador from Medellin, Colombia, in 2016 after escaping from paramilitaries who had taken and kept her hostage for two years. She was subjected to various kinds of abuse and violence, the result of which was pregnancy. In addition, she was forced to commit a number of crimes.

Supporting alternate rites of passage for African girls

Ana Laizer, right, poses with Paulina Sumayani, director of TEMBO. Laizer participated in the Sara and Juma program at her school and decided she didn’t want to undergo female genital mutilation or be married at a young age. (MCC photo by Tiffanee Wright)

Ana Laizer is a grade nine student in Longido, Tanzania, and she dreams of going to university to become a successful businesswoman.

Anti-racism is a ‘lifelong pursuit’

Drew Hart discusses his public presentation with Noramy Gonzalia Diaz, the youth worker at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, during Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s 2017 Spiritual Emphasis Week. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

“It’s taken us four hundred years to get to here,” said Drew Hart at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s 2017 Spiritual Emphasis Week, held over three days in late September 2017.

MCC responds to Irma’s devastation in Caribbean

Osa Jonmarits, a community health organizer in La Chapelle, Haiti, receives a comforter, a Mennonite Central Committee relief bucket and water purification tablets after his home and property were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irma. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Even school supplies were swept away from Osa Jonmarits’ house in La Chapelle, Haiti, by Hurricane Irma’s flood waters in Haiti. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Flooding caused by Hurricane Irma reached almost a third of the way up the walls of Osa Jonmarits’ home in La Chapelle, Haiti. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Haiti 

Osa Jonmarits and his family were awakened in the middle of the night as water rushed into their mud-and-stone house on the mountains of La Chapelle, Haiti, and covered them in their beds.

Viewpoint: Why we change hymn texts

Each new hymnal committee assesses and edits hymns. Pictured are notes concerning textual changes for the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal. (Photo by Adam Tice)

Should hymns be sung in their original form or should they be updated? This is a more complicated question than it may seem. Take “Be Thou My Vision,” for instance. Hymnal Companion discusses three versions of this song: the Old Irish poem from the eighth century, a 1905 English translation, and a later “versified” or metered version.

Annual relief festival raises $1 million

More than 1,200 volunteers of all ages help make the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief possible. (Photo by Katrina Grabowski)

Mennonite farmers’ sausage and vereneki are the most popular food items at the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief. (Photo by Katrina Grabowski)

More than 20,000 people pack in to the Abbotsford TRADEX over the weekend for MCC B.C.’s Festival for World Relief. (Photo by Katrina Grabowski)

More than 20,000 people attended the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia Festival for World Relief over two days in mid-September at the Abbotsford TRADEX, helping to raise more than $1 million to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work locally and around the world.

Mennonite helps Lutherans commemorate the Reformation

Mennonite Willard Metzger shares a sermon with delegates to the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada photo)

Serving communion at the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) was a profoundly humbling experience for Willard Metzger.

“I felt as though I was surrounded by a huge cloud of Anabaptist witnesses from the past,” says Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director.

The significance of that statement is deeply rooted in history.

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