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Review: Show not so pure in its depiction of Mennonites

CBC’s new crime drama, Pure, which premiered on Jan. 9, has generated a lot of controversy in the Canadian Mennonite community, and for good reason, says reviewer Vic Thiessen.

Web First | By Reviewed by Vic Thiessen | Jan 23, 2017 | 6 comments

CBC’s new crime drama, Pure, which premiered on Jan. 9, 2017, has generated a lot of controversy in the Canadian Mennonite community, and for good reason.

10 things to know about Mennonites in Canada

There are several varieties of Mennonite and Amish groups in Canada. (Photos by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Jan 12, 2017 | 1 comment

You may have seen traditionally dressed Mennonites at farmers’ markets or on TV, but you may not know that these are only a segment of the Mennonite population in Canada. There are several varieties of Mennonite and Amish groups in Canada, and—although they all share the same roots—each group practises its faith in unique ways. Here are some things you should know about your Mennonite, Old Order and Amish neighbours.

1. Why are there so many kinds of Mennonites?

Top 10 online stories of 2016

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jan 11, 2017

In 2016 popular online stories on the Canadian Mennonite website dealt with gender identity, cohabitation, church institutions, and Mennonite history. Readers wanted to know about the growth of Old Order Mennonites communities in Ontario and the question of Mennonite historical involvement with Aryan ideology. They were interested in real people and their experiences with dementia, intergenerational living, and the quest for mental health.

Here are the top stories, based on the number of page views at canadianmennonite.org.

Frieda’s raisin bread

Frieda's raisin bread (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Jan 11, 2017

Frieda Woelk, who lives in a seniors apartment in Leamington, Ont., put together a “Special Cookbook for my Children, Grandchildren, Family and Friends,” with editions in 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2011. She had one copy left at the end of 2016, which she shared with Canadian Mennonite. It is full of delightful hand-written notes that she added to subsequent editions over the years.

Worship and song submissions, recommendations sought for new hymnal

An international music group leads singing at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 2015. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

Web First | Jan 11, 2017

What songs connect you to God and your community, and empower you to serve? What songs do you turn to in joyful or difficult times? What are your heart songs?

These are questions the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is asking, inviting Mennonites to fill out a survey as it embarks on a listening and study phase toward developing a new hymnal collection, to be released in 2020.

Australians speak for the stranger

Bible in hand, Love Makes A Way organizer Justin Whelan is removed by police from occupying the office of Malcolm Turnbull, who was Australia’s Minister for Communications, in May 2015. (Love Makes A Way photo)

Web First | By Rachel Stella and Mennonite World Review | Jan 11, 2017

Christian activists in Australia repeatedly risk arrest when they call attention to the plight of asylum-seekers suffering mistreatment in indefinite detention.

One of the activists is Matt Anslow, vice president of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand. With some friends, he co-founded the organization Love Makes A Way (LMAW) in 2014 to take action on behalf of the detained asylum-seekers.

Third Way’s 2016 top 10 quirky queries

Angela and Erwin Rempel volunteer on the annual Everence Day of Generosity for MennoMedia, and year round answering questions at the Third Way website. (MennoMedia photo)

Web First | Jan 10, 2017

Millions of people will never pick up a book or magazine about Mennonites or enter any Mennonite church. But they will drop in anonymously to the Third Way website (thirdway.com) to get a quick glimpse of what Mennonites are about. The website averages more than one thousand hits a day, nearing a third of a million annually.

Film on COs wins awards and attention

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Dec 20, 2016

A film produced by the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Archives about conscientious objectors (COs) is garnering significant attention.

CBC recently aired The Last Objectors on its national channel, as well as in Manitoba. The 44-minute documentary won a Silver World Humanitarian award in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was also nominated for the Best Feature Documentary at the Views of the World Music & Film Festival in Montreal this summer. The film embodies faith, peace and service in action.

Mission worker befriended Jews and Palestinians

Florence Kreider

Web First | By Wil LaVeist | Dec 20, 2016

Florence Cressman Kreider was a friend to both Jews and Palestinians, and she sought to spread peace wherever she traveled. The former mission worker died Nov. 1, 2016, in Broadway, Va., at the age of 87.

A native of Ontario, Florence Kreider was a graduate of the Ontario Mennonite Bible Institute of Kitchener in 1948 and of Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University) in 1952. It was soon after graduation that she began to serve in missions.

The refugee highway in Kitchener-Waterloo

Wendy Adema, program director for MCC Ontario who gives leadership to the Refugee Resettlement Team, left; Shelley Campagnola, director of the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support; and Lynne Griffiths Fulton, client support service director for Reception House, listen to Marlene Epp, professor of history and peace and conflict studies at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo. They participated in the ‘Three lanes on the refugee highway’ presentation at 50 Kent Avenue, in Kitchener. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 20, 2016 | 2 comments

“Why are there three Mennonite organizations working on refugee support in the Kitchener- Waterloo area?” was the question being answered at a Nov. 29, 2016, meeting at 50 Kent Ave. in Kitchener. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Reception House and Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, which all work at the refugee question from different angles, provided some answers to those in attendance.

The danger isn’t over

Carlos Andres Palacios Lozano, pictured in the municipal capital of Istmina, Colombia, buys some supplies for his home in Suruco that was completely flooded days before. (MCC Photo by Brendah Ndagire)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Dec 20, 2016

For five days last October, intense rainfall caused severe flooding along Colombia’s Pacific coast in the Chocó area, seriously damaging the homes of more than 20,000 people.

Carlos Andres Palacios Lozano, a member of Sión Mennonite Brethren Church, recalled that at around 1 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2016, heavy rains caused the river to quickly overflow, flooding his home and entire community.

“We have become accustomed to the rising and flooding of the river,” he said, “but it had never flooded to this magnitude before.”

Future Directions Dream

Will Braun
Web First | By Will Braun | Dec 07, 2016

I want to be excited about church.          

I do not attend regional or national assemblies, but I care deeply about the broader church. I would rather hang out with my boys than attend a meeting to discuss a wordy Future Directions report, but I would clear my schedule to sit in a circle with others to share our passions about church.

‘Thanks to God, I have a new house’

Digna Macias and her daughter, Nidia Palma, stand in front of their new earthquake- and flood-proof home, which was built by Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana (IEME), a Mennonite Central Committee partner, after an earthquake struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador in April. (Photo courtesy of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Dec 06, 2016

Digna Macias remembers clinging to a door frame in her home in Manta, Ecuador, while the walls fell around her last April following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador, where she lives.

Fortunately, neither Macias, nor her daughter, Nidia Palma, who lives with her, were injured badly, but 668 died, more than 4,800 were injured and 80,000 people were displaced in in the country.

Roi des Rois interested in God’s kingdom realized

Lyne Renaud, left, and Michel Monette share their vision for a church in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area of Montreal at the 2016 Mennonite Church Eastern Canada annual church gathering in 2015, in Leamington, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Dec 06, 2016

Twenty-five years ago, Michel Monette was selling encyclopaedias door to door seven days a week. One of his fellow salesmen, a Mennonite Brethren man, would take Sundays off to go to a local evangelical church and would do the same Wednesday evenings for Bible study. On Halloween Eve 1991 in Rouyn-Noranda, Monette said to the man, “If you’re such a good salesman, sell me on your God.”

Winnipeg church hosts event of solidarity with Dakota Access protests

The logo of Mennonite Church USA flies alongside those of other organizations protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. (Photo by Tim Nafziger)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Dec 06, 2016

Hundreds of concerned American citizens gathered peacefully to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and pray on Nov 26, 2016. At the same time, dozens more gathered at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg to add their voices.

Customs vary among Ontario Amish

The Amish of Milverton, Ont., use open buggies with slow-moving-vehicle signs. The various Ontario Amish settlements have their own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Nov 30, 2016 | 1 comment

The Amish in Ontario are a diverse group, explained Fred Lichti at the fall meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, held on Oct. 15, 2016, at Milverton Mennonite Fellowship. Milverton is a small town a half hour west of Kitchener-Waterloo.

There are 21 different Amish settlements or communities mostly scattered throughout southern Ontario. Each of these settlements has its own idiosyncrasies, as buggy styles and other customs are not necessarily the same in each community.

‘God is leading us into this process’

Keith Regehr (Photo by Matthew Lester) 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Nov 16, 2016

“God is helping us take apart what was, in order to build something new, so that we can engage the world in more effective ways,” says Keith Regehr confidently.

Regehr is the newly appointed transition coordinator for the five area churches and national church that together comprise Mennonite Church Canada. He is tasked with managing the transition of these structures as they respond to the change principles outlined in the final report and addendum of the Future Directions Task Force.

Breathing together

A choir made up of children of Karen families who came to Rosthern, Sask., as refugees perform for delegates at the MCC Saskatchewan ‘encounter’ and annual general meeting. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Nov 16, 2016

“It is all of us together that make Mennonite Central Committee [MCC] breathe,” said Eileen Klassen Hamm, and each element of MCC Saskatchewan’s “encounter” and annual general meeting bore witness to her statement.

The organization chose “Peacebuilding on the prairies and around the world” as the theme for the Nov. 5, 2016, event, which was held at Rosthern Junior College (RJC). In her report, Klassen Hamm, who is MCC Saskatchewan’s executive director, noted both positive and negative outcomes of peacebuilding.

Mennonite Worship and Song Committee holds first meeting

Members of the new Mennonite Worship and Song Committee take a break at their first meeting September 22-25, 2016. Committee members include (first row, left to right): Bradley Kauffman, project director; SaeJin Lee; Karen Gonzol, editorial assistant; Katie Graber; Adam Tice, text editor; Emily Grimes; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. Second row, Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia; Cynthia Neufeld Smith; Mike Erb; Tom Harder; Darryl Neustaedter Barg; Paul Dueck; Benjamin Bergey, music editor, and Anneli Loepp Thiessen.

Web First | By Deborah Froese, with MennoMedia files | Nov 16, 2016

Members of the new Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met for the first time Sept. 22 to 25, 2016, at Park View Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va.

Saskatchewan women celebrate transitions

Mel Harms has been MC Saskatchewan’s women’s representative since Saskatchewan Women in Mission was disbanded in 2015. Harms is pictured holding Pilgram, the infant son of Cindy Wallace, a professor of English at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, at the area church’s women’s retreat.

Web First | By Lois Siemens | Nov 16, 2016

“Every transition is an invitation to journey with God,” is how Cindy Wallace ended each session with the women attending the annual Mennonite Church Saskatchewan women’s retreat last month.

MCC calls for ‘big tent thinking’

Mary Anne Isaak prepares communion elements during the evening worship session at MCC Canada’s 2016 annual general meeting in late September 2016. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Nov 01, 2016 | 1 comment

Comparing Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to a big tent, Don Peters, the executive director of MCC Canada, described the organization as “the place where the Anabaptist community works and serves together,” at its annual general meeting in Winnipeg at the end of September 2016.

However, the question on many people’s minds has been, “Can supporters stay under the tent together?” In this metaphorical tent there are many people with different backgrounds, gifts, challenges and perspectives.

Huxman completes role at Grebel

Friends and colleagues of Susan Schultz Huxman paid tribute to her time as president of Conrad Grebel University College. Huxman (second from left) stands with the three board of governors chairs from her presidency: Geraldine Balzer, Susan Toews, and Fred Redekop. (Photo by Aurrey Drake)

Web First | By Fred Martin | Oct 31, 2016

On September 30, 2016, friends and colleagues of Susan Schultz Huxman paid tribute to her time as president of Conrad Grebel University College. She has accepted the presidency of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va.

The appointment of Schultz Huxman at Conrad Grebel University College in 2011 represented the first time a second-generation family member served as president of a Mennonite college. Harold Schultz, Huxman’s father, served as president at Bethel College in Kansas for 20 years, 1971–1991. 

EVI announces workshop tour

More than 70 of those attending Mennonite Church Manitoba’s annual gathering in March 2016 participated in an interactive workshop presented by the Emerging Voices Initiative. Discussions explored Future Directions Task Force findings. The group will host further discussions about transition into a new church structure in workshops this fall. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese with files from Emerging Voices Initiative | Oct 31, 2016

Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) is embarking on a fall 2016 workshop tour. This group of concerned young adults hopes to encourage further discussion about the process of transitioning into a new church structure in response to Future Directions Task Force findings. (See ‘We are all responsible for what happens next’ on the decision at Assembly 2016.)

Like a ‘biblical mustard seed’

Web First | By Victor Fast | Oct 29, 2016 | 2 comments

It all started simply enough. In January 1996, Clare Jantzi, worship leader at Valleyview Mennonite Church in London, invited three men from the congregation to sing an introit during four consecutive worship services.

Kuttab calls Mennonites to action for Middle East peace and justice

Jonathan Kuttab

Web First | Oct 19, 2016

On September 28, 2016, Palestinian Christian Jonathan Kuttab spoke to Mennonites gathered for lunch at the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario building in Kitchener, Ont.

Responding to the action Mennonite Church Canada delegates took to approve a resolution concerning Israel and Palestine, Kuttab affirmed the call to support the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement. He sees BDS as a way to “end the occupation and facilitate a just peace with the Palestinian people.” 

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