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Web First

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.

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.

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