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Dedicated volunteer coordinates parking at relief sale

As parking coordinators at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale Paul Snyder (left) and Mike Shantz, are the first point of contact for visitors to the annual sale. (MCC Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Web First | May 26, 2017

“Wow, what well-organized parking!” is a review that few of us attending a big event will ever think to utter. But every year for the last 51 years, Paul Snyder has had the massive job of making sure thousands of cars are parked safely so that tens of thousands of people can enjoy the New Hamburg (Ont.) Relief Sale.

GAMEO finds new home at Goshen College

Web First | May 26, 2017

The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), the most trusted online source for information on Anabaptist groups around the world (www.gameo.org), has found a new home with the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) at Goshen College.

On May 19, 2017, members of the GAMEO management board voted unanimously to transfer oversight of the project to the Institute, whose director, John D. Roth, will serve in a new position as the project’s general editor.

More than 5,000 Congolese Mennonites in hiding

Mennonite Mission Network has often described Niclette Mbendji as today’s typical Mennonite—a young African woman. Mbendji lived in Ndjoko Punda when this photo was taken. Rebels have infiltrated this village. While we don’t know whether Mbendji is hiding in the forest, many of our Mennonite brothers and sisters are. (Photo by James R. Krabill)

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | May 26, 2017

Mennonite church members report increasing violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Central Kasaï Province, where Michael J. Sharp died on a United Nations’ peace-building mission in March 2017. Mennonite Mission Network partners with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission in walking alongside the three Congolese Mennonite denominations.

Prosthetic limb leads to new hope for Syrian refugee

Amjad, left, a Syrian refugee to Germany, obtained a prosthetic limb with a little help from Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Gregory Rabus, right, through Peace Church (Friedenshaus), a collaborative ministry with other Mennonites in Ludwigshafen that he shares with his wife, Jennifer Otto. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Rabus)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 26, 2017

For 21-year-old Amjad, trauma led to hope and solidified his unwavering faith in God’s protection. Amjad, a Syrian refugee in Ludwigshafen, Germany, lost his leg when a bomb fell on a street in Syria.

Auction of Maud Lewis painting raises $45,000 for MCC

The auction of a painting by Canadian artist Maud Lewis will help suppport the work of MCC. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Central Committee)

Web First | May 25, 2017

The thrilling and tumultuous saga of the Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop donation bin has come to a successful end. The online auction of “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia” concluded on May 20, 2017, with the winning bid reaching $45,000. The proceeds from the auction will support the relief, development, and peace work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Mass starvation—does anyone give a *%^$?

An estimated 20 million people in the world currently face starvation. World Council of Churches and the All Africa Council of Churches have issued a call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Web First | By John Longhurst | May 17, 2017 | 3 comments

“I have three things I’d like to say today,” said American author Tony Campolo to a crowd at the 1982 interdenominational Spring Harvest church conference in England.

“First, while you were sleeping last night, 45,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.

“Second, most of you don’t give a shit.

“Third, what’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact I said ‘shit’ than the fact that 45,000 kids died last night.”

Men’s choir fosters community, generosity

A Buncha Guys is an informal choir of young men who love to sing. Conducted by Russ Regier and accompanied by Val Regier, the Guys perform several fundraising concerts each year. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | May 17, 2017

“To me, it’s always amazing how the guys come and keep coming to sing,” says Russ Regier. The guys he refers to are A Buncha Guys, an informal choir made up of young men in their early post-high school years.

In late 1997, Regier and his wife Val were asked to lead a choir of young men at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, where they are members. “We decided to keep going after Christmas,” he says. “The guys invited their Shekinah connections,” and the choir grew from there.

Eritrean church grows in spirit and godliness

Pastor Jonathan Abraham, backed by women singers, leads worship at the Eritrean Shalom Worship and Healing Centre, which conducts services at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

Voices rise in Tigrinya, the most widely spoken language in Eritrea, and in tongues. Waves of music wash over the gathered congregation of refugees from the East African country in the sanctuary of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener. Leading the ecstatic worship is Pastor Jonathan (Joni, pronounced Yónie) Abraham, microphone in hand, backed by a group of women all clad in white, as they practise one of the Shalom Worship and Healing Centre’s priorities: connecting with God.

Grebel names new president

Marcus Shantz

Web First | May 12, 2017 | 1 comment

Marcus Shantz will serve as the eighth president of Conrad Grebel University College and will take office on Oct. 1, 2017. The Board of Governors cited Shantz’s outstanding leadership skills, his significant contributions to local business and arts organizations, his engagement in the local and global church, and his first-hand knowledge of Grebel and its stakeholders. The board highlighted his understanding, respect, and support for higher education, as well as his creativity and integrity.

Donations sought to send youth to special delegate assembly

Emerging Voices Initiative members Anneli Loepp Thiessen, left, and Katrina Woelk are the lead planners and hosts for an initiative raising funds to sponsor youth participation at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg, Oct. 13-15, 2017.

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 03, 2017

Youth are in demand. When the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) held a cross-Canada tour in 2016-17, the importance of encouraging youth involvement in area and national church initiatives rose to the surface again and again. Their presence is now wanted at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg on Oct. 13 to 15, 2017.

River dams and land claims

Screen shot from the documentary For Love of a River. (Photo courtesy of Rebel Sky Media)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

Manitoba filmmakers Brad Leitch and Will Braun have brought the reality of settler-indigenous reconciliation work in Canada to the public screen.

Michael J. Sharp’s journey toward peace in DR Congo

Michael J. Sharp, right, along with Church of Christ in Congo staffers Mitterrand Aoci and Merthus Mwenebantu, checks the bean fields planted by internally displaced people living in Mubimbi camp, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (MCC photo by Ruth Keidel Clemens)

Web First | By Linda Espenshade | May 03, 2017

The peacebuilding career of Michael J. Sharp, a former service worker with Mennonite Central Committee, ended when he was kidnapped and killed while on a UN fact-finding mission in Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Four months after Michael J. Sharp moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2012, he joined a small delegation that for six hours climbed a mountain in South Kivu Province to meet a leader of a major armed group.

Goshen alumnus restores rare 1564 Ausbund

These photos show the 1564 edition in its former mutilated condition (left) and in its newly-conserved condition. (Photo courtesy of Goshen College)

Web First | By Ervin Beck | May 03, 2017

The Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College owns the world’s only surviving copy of the first printing, in 1564, of songs that eventually became the Ausbund, one of the first Anabaptist songbooks. It is also the Protestant hymnal in longest continuous use—by the Old Order Amish.

The Passau hymns contained in the volume were composed by communitarian Anabaptists when they were expelled from Moravia and imprisoned in 1535 in the dungeon of the castle at Passau, Germany, on the Rhine River.

New Fretz Fellowship honours Grebel’s founding president

Aileen Friesen

Web First | May 03, 2017

A strategic plan vision has been realized at Conrad Grebel University College with the creation of the new J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship in Mennonite Studies.

The Fellowship, to be awarded annually, will support visiting scholars as they engage in research, teaching and relationship building between Grebel and academic and community audiences around Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies themes. Funding from the Fellowship will also provide support for special projects at the college initiated by the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies.

Drummer joins pilgrimage to bring awareness of indigenous rights

Henry Neufeld plays his drum as walkers gather on April 23, 2017, at the beginning of the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. The purpose of the 600-km walk— from Kitchener, Ont. to Ottawa—is to support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Neufeld is the oldest walker. (Photo by D. M. Hostetler)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Apr 25, 2017

Henry Neufeld is joining more than 50 other walkers in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. From April 23 to May 14, participants will cover the 600-kilometre stretch between Kitchener and Ottawa, Ont. in support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The walk will be a challenge, but perhaps especially so for Neufeld. He’s 87 years old and he is taking along his drum.

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.

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