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Making words real

MC Canada delegates prepare to vote on the resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery at last summer’s assembly in Saskatoon. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

Web First | By Sara Anderson and Joe Heikman | Apr 19, 2017

In July 2016, Mennonite Church Canada joined a growing number of Canadian and American church bodies that have officially repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. Assembly delegates passed a resolution recognizing that the Doctrine is “fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and our understanding of the inherent dignity and rights that individuals and peoples have received from God.”

Sara Anderson and Joe Heikman, whose conversation appears below, were part of the group that organized this resolution.

Reclaiming dignity after leaving sex work

As of March 2017, 169 women who formerly worked in Bangladesh’s sex trade have graduated out of Pobitra’s vocational training program. Pobitra, a partner of MCC, helps women recover from trauma, become literate in Bangla and learn job skills. (MCC photo by Elizabeth Derstine)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen, with files from Elizabeth Derstine | Apr 18, 2017

Barsha, whose real name isn’t being used to protect her identity, was 11 when her mother started forcing her to traffic drugs between India and Bangladesh. She was caught several times by police and was afraid of her mother, so she ran away from home and lived in a railway station. During that time she was forced into sex work and raped numerous times.

Reading the Bible with ‘the other’

Janna Hunter-Bowman, left, an assistant professor of peace studies and Christian social ethics at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Loren Johns, professor of New Testament, right, visit with Hans de Wit, centre, AMBS’s Theological Lectureship guest speaker, on March 2, 2017. (AMBS photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

Web First | By Rich Preheim | Apr 18, 2017

Mary Magdalene’s Easter discovery of the empty tomb is the greatest news possible for Christians. But for one group of Peruvians studying the account in John 20, it came shrouded in tragedy and terror.

Thousands of people “disappeared” in the 1980s and ’90s, when the country was devastated by armed conflict between government forces and insurgent groups. That left countless families and friends, including the Bible study group, echoing Mary’s question: “Where have they taken our loved one?”

Mennonites, Lutherans, Catholics discuss baptism

Mennonites, Lutherans and Catholics gathered for the fifth and final Trilateral Dialogue on Baptism (left to right): Alfred Neufeld (co-chair, Paraguay), Theodor Dieter, Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, Marie-Hélène Robert, Larry Miller, Friederike Nüssel (co-chair, Germany), Fernando Enns, John Rempel, Luis Melo, Kaisamari Hintikka, Musawenkosi Biyela, William Henn, Avelindo Gonzalez. (Photo by Wilhelm Unger)

Web First | Apr 18, 2017

Representatives of the Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), the Lutheran World Federation, and Mennonite World Conference met in Augsburg, Germany, February 9-14, 2017, for the fifth meeting of the Trilateral Dialogue Commission on Baptism. The meeting in Augsburg concluded a five-year dialogue process.

Senator urges friendship and solidarity

The Peace Tower in Ottawa is the backdrop for the group photo of participants in MCC Canada’s 2017 student seminar. (Photo by Thomas Coldwell)

Web First | By Esther Epp-Tiessen | Apr 18, 2017

We had gathered in Ottawa—eight MCC staff, along with 30 students and young adults from across the country—for our annual MCC Canada student seminar. The topic of the seminar was Gender, peace and conflict: Exploring the intersection.

One of our guest speakers was Senator Mobina Jaffer. Jaffer has been active in promoting the women, peace and security agenda for many years, and she spoke about that work for several minutes. Then she asked permission to go “off topic.” She wanted to discuss what was really on her heart.

‘I’m pretty earnest about living responsibly’

Creation care is an integral part of Brenda MacDonald’s faith. She sees it as people relating not just to nature but also to one another and to God. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Apr 07, 2017 | 2 comments

“I’m kind of anti-passion,” says Brenda MacDonald. “I don’t feel I have a passion. I have a lot of interests, and I’m interested in living responsibly. I’m not goal-oriented, but I’m pretty earnest about living responsibly.”

For the retired schoolteacher and her husband, Wayne, living responsibly means doing what they can to protect the environment and reduce consumption. “We try to grocery shop carefully, we bike wherever we can, and we have a garden in the summer.”

But lately, that commitment has gone deeper.

Living with a carbon footprint conundrum

Every year the Canadian Foodgrains Bank supports programs that help poor farmers in the developing world—like Yvette Nicholas of Haiti—deal with the effects of climate change. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Web First | By John Longhurst | Apr 07, 2017

Jane Fonda received lots of criticism last year for travelling to Alberta to criticize future pipeline construction.

Media outlets, including the Winnipeg Free Press, noted the apparent inconsistency between her comments about fossil-fuel extraction and how she flew to Alberta, used a helicopter to tour the oilsands, had her voice amplified by a microphone powered by electricity, and spoke in a building heated to keep out the cold of a Canadian winter.

‘I like how we roll’

Christina Bartel Barkman and her son Cody ride non-motorized scooters to Cody’s school each morning to avoid heavy Manila traffic. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Apr 05, 2017 | 1 comment

For Christina Bartel Barkman and her son Cody, switching from a car to scooters has pumped new energy and insights into their morning commute.

Mother and son used to endure an hour-long, stress-filled drive through “crazy” Manila traffic to cover the 1.3 kilometre distance between home and school. They tried walking, but it was equally agonizing. Cody wasn’t keen on it, and they had to travel along C5, one of Manila’s main thoroughfares, with eight lanes of traffic and loads of dust and noise—so much noise, in fact, that they couldn’t carry on a conversation.

Catalysing mission

Bernard Sejour, left, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s mission catalyst in Ottawa and Quebec, toasts the 10th anniversary of Refuge of Peace Mennonite Church in Sherbrooke, Que., with Pastor Lucy Roca and area church minister Henry Paetkau last fall. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Chemistry uses the concept of a catalyst to describe a substance that, when added to another substance, promotes a reaction without being used up itself. Bernard Sejour is Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s mission catalyst in Ottawa and the Province of Quebec or, as he puts it, area church mission minister “Brian Bauman’s representative.”

Sharp among confirmed dead in DRC

Michael J. Sharp addresses the UN Security Council in August 2016. (Courtesy of the Sharp family)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Mar 28, 2017

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official kidnapped with five others in the Democratic Republic of Congo two weeks ago, has been confirmed as deceased by the Congolese government, according to Reuters. 

The bodies of two Caucasians, a male and female, were found in the Central Kasai region, where Sharp and a female colleague went missing. A third body, later confirmed as their Congolese interpreter, was also found.

Mennonite observes Lent with ‘Fast for Healing Justice’ and tweets to Trump

Daryl Byler, executive director of Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, began a 40-day fast on Ash Wednesday 2017. His daily thoughts, addressed to President Donald J. Trump, combine readings from the Presbyterian lectionary with meditation on the themes of justice and healing for the United States. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Mar 21, 2017

In preparation for his 40-day fast, which began on March 1, Ash Wednesday, Daryl Byler made a few changes to his recreational reading. This lawyer, ordained minister and executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University favors non-fiction and legal thrillers.

Recently, however, Byler has been meditating on the Presbyterian daily lectionary—the faith tradition of President Donald J. Trump—and listening to the thoughts and ideologies that Trump has expressed in his many books.

Is there room enough for hope?

Mary Jo Leddy, left, poses with Lorna Sawatzky at the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar lecture on March 3. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

Mary Jo Leddy asked those gathered on a cold Canadian evening in Waterloo what kind of Canada they want to be part of: one that is mean and nasty, with borders open for business but not for refugees? Or a Canada that is just, good, caring and decent with borders open to invite people to join in the responsibility for this place?

Leddy, the director of Romero House in Toronto, a transition house for refugees, was the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky visiting scholar at Conrad Grebel University College, who spoke on March 3, 2017.

‘Communities so full of love that it’s contagious’

Monday Night Peacemeal members meet weekly to share food, concerns and events in their personal lives, as a step towards living with each other in the vulnerability and accountability evident in true community. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nimz)

Web First | Mar 21, 2017

Trusting enough to be vulnerable and the willingness to be accountable are key intentional acts needed to build true community. In the extensively secularized culture of England, self-reliance and independence are seen as ultimate strengths, but being vulnerable is seen as a weakness. So how does one encourage true community there?

Ministry on a human scale

Mandy Smith leads Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors in an exercise delving into their fear and shame of not being enough to truly serve God at the annual School for Ministers on Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

“Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything) / That's how the light gets in.”

EMU alumnus among those kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official and former Mennonite Central Committee peace worker, has been reported kidnapped with five others by unknown assailants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this 2015 photo provided by MCC, he visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Jana Asenbrennerova, used with permission)

Web First | Mar 15, 2017

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official, was among six people kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a press release issued Monday by the Congolese government.

He was part of a UN panel of experts investigating ongoing civil conflicts in the country, according to Al Jazeera. A second UN worker, Zaida Catalan, was also kidnapped as well as four Congolese nationals, according to reports. Catalan’s nationality is variously reported as Swedish or Chilean.

‘Land rights apply to my church and my home’

Junia, seven months, and her mother Kandace Boos plan to walk the 600-kilometre Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. (Photo courtesy of Kandace Boos)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Mar 11, 2017

Nine-month-old Junia has just become the youngest participant to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600-kilometre walk through from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., to Ottawa, taking place from April 23 to May 14, 2017.

Kandace Boos, 28, Junia’s mother, will put in the grunt work of carrying Junia on her back, alongside her task of documenting the walk through her art. Boos is an urban sketch artist, part of a global community of artists who practise drawing in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to.

Famine ‘a tragic reality’ in South Sudan, according to UN

An internally displaced family in Mundri, South Sudan, prepares their dinner for the night. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey)

Web First | Mar 07, 2017

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where about 100,000 people are facing starvation, says a United Nations release dated February 20, 2017. In addition, a further one million people are on the brink of famine.

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan, now in its third year, has devastated the country’s economy, disrupting normal food transportation chains, and preventing countless small-scale farming households from growing their crops and tending their herds.

From Myanmar to Canada with dreams, gratitude and hope

A family Christmas 2016 photo in Canada. Pictured from left to right, front row: Htaw Meh and Mi Meh; and back row: Poe Reh, Su Reh, Lee Reh, Pleh Meh and Pheh Meh. (Photo by Arlene Hoke)

Web First | By Ferne Burkhardt | Mar 07, 2017

Settled in their new home in New Hamburg, Ont., Lee Reh and Pheh Meh constantly think of family members still in Ban Mai Nai Soi Refugee Camp in Thailand who the couple and their five children left behind when they came to Canada in April 2016. They wish their relatives could join them here and enjoy the safety and good life they have found in Canada.

Good news by the numbers in Botswana

Children play on a round-about in Bontleng Park, a local initiative supported by the energy and initiative of Mennonite Church Canada workers Nathan and Taryn Dirks. (Photo by Gonna Lewis)

Web First | By Deborah Froese with files from Nathan Dirks | Mar 07, 2017

For Nathan and Taryn Dirks, ministry in Gaborone, Botswana, is all about relationships. But ministry by relationship is hard to measure, so they’ve creatively translated some of their good news into numbers.

For almost five years, the Dirkses have served youth and young adults from local African Initiated Churches (AICs) through their role as Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers, in partnership with Mennonite Mission Network and local churches. Following community needs and initiatives, they focus on development and Bible teaching.

Online theology education opens doors

Spanish Anabaptist educators from Latin America and the United States during the gathering at SEMILLA. Back, left to right: Floyd Saner, Marco Alfredo Mahecha, Fernando Pérez, Linda Shelly, Luz Estela Cortes, Marco Guete, Willi Hugo Pérez, Oscar Jaime Dominguez. Front, left to right: Carlos Martínez, Rebeca González, Pablo Pérez, Joaquín Zazueta. (Photo by Jerry Higueros)

Web First | By Kelsey Hochstetler | Mar 07, 2017

Nora Marleni Martínez of Metapan, El Salvador, is in the first group of students in a regional Peace and Justice Institute program of the Seminario Anabautista Latinoamericano (SEMILLA). Many SEMILLA courses are taught in local centers across Central America and Mexico, but this program was designed for students from multiple countries to study together, so traveling to Guatemala for classes was still a requirement.

Mennonites plan pilgrimage for indigenous rights

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Feb 27, 2017

Houses. Toilets. Schools. These are basic human rights to which Canadians feel entitled—and which many vulnerable and disenfranchised indigenous people do not have.

Indigenous leader Leah Gazan says the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is really just the floor for human rights. The activist, policy analyst and educator at the University of Winnipeg says UNDRIP outlines “the minimum human rights to be healthy.”

Camp farm program invites delight in God’s creation

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe served as nature instructor at Camp Assiniboia, one of three camps that make up Camps with Meaning, a ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba. (Camps with Meaning photo)

Web First | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Feb 22, 2017

Picture gleeful campers chasing squawking chickens back into their pen, and others exclaiming with delight as they bite into freshly picked tomatoes, juice dribbling down their chins. This is what a typical day at camp looked like for me this summer—days that were never actually typical but always full of new adventures.

The Bible still speaks, say Renewal 2027 speakers

At the Renewal 2027 event organized by Mennonite World Conference, participants read and interpreted scripture together in small groups. (Photo by Susanne Werner)

Web First | Feb 21, 2017

Regional Anabaptists and leaders from around the world gathered on February 12, 2017, for “Transformed by the Word: Reading Scripture in Anabaptist Perspectives,” the first in a 10-year series of events called “Renewal 2027” organized by Mennonite World Conference (MWC). The events will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, with appreciation and critical reflection on what is now a global movement within the larger body of Christ.

Working together in Ontario

Maria Bueckert with three of her eight children, Eva, Jacob and Helena in Aylmer, Ont., last fall. (Mennonite Community Services photo)

Web First | By Helen Bergen | Feb 21, 2017

When Maria and Heinrich Bueckert immigrated to Canada with their seven children in 2011, they looked forward to working together with their children and earning enough to feed their family.

“We’re just so very thankful. Coming to Canada and working together on the farm allowed me to get to know my husband again,” Maria says in Low German. In Mexico he had been too busy trying to make ends meet.

Having grown up on a farm in Mexico, Maria and Heinrich were especially interested in continuing to work in the agricultural sector in Ontario.

Lebanese thrift shop helps with winter needs

A new thrift shop run by MCC partner Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training in Baalbek, Lebanon, is stocked with warm clothes for the winter season. (MCC photo by Doreen Martens)

Web First | By Doreen Martens | Feb 21, 2017

A visit to Gift and Thrift Shop in Virginia, one of 108 Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift shops, was a revelation to Tarek Chebli, a peacebuilding student from Lebanon.

Thrift shops are an unknown concept in Lebanon, Chebli said, so he was intrigued by what he learned on a day trip there with other students attending the 2015 Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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