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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.” 

Devastation in Haiti: ‘Yesterday, we lost everything’

Sarditren Dete and Antovan Enit, residents of Cité Soleil, one of the poorest parts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, stand where their houses used to be. They were washed away by Hurricane Matthew along with their possessions, livestock and gardens. (MCC photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Web First | Oct 12, 2016

When rushing water of the River Gris, overflowing with rain from Hurricane Matthew, washed away Sarditren Dete’s and Antovan Enit’s houses and possessions, it destroyed their livelihoods too.

“Yesterday we lost everything: our chickens, our pig and our garden. This is how I eat, this is how I feed my children, this is how I keep them safe at night,” Dete said.

‘It was a very sad day’

Hannah Redekop (Photo by Marian DeCouto)

Web First | By Hannah Redekop | Oct 11, 2016 | 1 comment

On Monday, September 26, 2016, I flew from Canada back to Colombia more excited than usual. After four years of negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia had finally reached a deal, which they would officially ratify that very day.

Peacebuilding with ordinary people

Julianne Funk is pictured in the hills above Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Funk)

Web First | By Henry Neufeld | Oct 04, 2016

Julianne Funk is a peacebuilder. In Bosnia, the northern region of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And at the University of Zurich, where she teaches religion as well as peace and conflict studies. Based in Zurich, she travels to Bosnia regularly.

A graduate of Wheaton (Ill.) College and the Katholieke Univeristat Leuven, Belgium, where she earned a doctorate, she became interested in the Bosnia-Herzegovina situation in the late 1990s while working at a Bosnian refugee resettlement program in Chicago. She was puzzled: How could religion be at the core of their violence?

Ted Giesbrecht wins local law association award

Ted Giesbrecht of the law firm Giesbrecht Griffin Funk & Irvine poses in his Kitchener, Ont., office with the Coulter A. Osborne Award, given by the Waterloo Region Law Association in April to lawyers who practise law ‘with integrity, courtesy and beneficence.’ (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 04, 2016

Ted Giesbrecht of the Kitchener, Ont., law firm Giesbrecht, Griffin, Funk and Irvine has been honoured by the Waterloo Region Law Association with the 2016 Coulter A. Osborne Award, given to lawyers who practise law “with integrity, courtesy and beneficence.”

There have been three time periods in Giesbrecht’s legal work.

In his younger years, he worked primarily in real estate and some criminal law. His work as a defence counsel allowed him to use “alternate dispute resolution,” diverting young offenders from jail into repayment of damages and community service.

‘10 Young Women Changing the World’ award recipients announced

Canadian winners of MEDA’s ‘10 Young Women Changing the World’ award (left to right): Leena Miller Cressman, Carissa Rempel, Salima Jaffer, Ishita Aggarwal (MEDA photos)

Web First | Oct 04, 2016

Over the last two years, the “20 under 35: Young professionals changing the world initiative” instituted by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) recognized 40 young professionals under the age of 35. To reflect the special 2016 MEDA convention theme—“Business as a calling: Women changing the world”—MEDA will recognize 10 exceptional young women who exude a strong commitment to faith values and service and embody an entrepreneurial spirit at the convention in San Antonio Tex., at the end of October 2016.

Among the recipients are four Canadians:

Saying goodbye to war and hello to peace in Colombia

On August 24, 2016, Colombians celebrate during the announcement that a peace agreement has been reached between the government and FARC guerrilla group, ending the longest-running conflict in the western hemisphere. (Photo courtesy of Mencoldes Foundation.)

Web First | By Elizabeth Phelps | Sep 27, 2016

UPDATE (Oct. 3, 2016): In an Oct. 2 plebiscite, Colombian voters rejected the proposed peace deal by a thin margin of 50.21 to 49.78 percent.

Angélica Rincón could not stop smiling. All around her, crowds of people cheered and waved signs, banners and Colombian flags. Rincón—like others who partner with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—had longed for this turning point toward peace for many years.

God makes a way where there is no way

Matt Yeater reads scripture in Greek at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s May 21 commencement ceremony. At right is Katerina Friesen, a fellow student from the 2016 graduating class. (Photo by Melissa Troyer)

Web First | By Annette Brill Bergstresser | Sep 21, 2016 | 1 comment

Matt Yeater can relate to Bible stories in which God moves in seemingly impossible ways. His own story is one of them.

Blinded in a meth lab explosion when he was 20 and imprisoned on multiple occasions, Matt doesn’t fit the stereotype of a seminary student. However, he not only graduated May 21, 2016, with a Master of Divinity from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) but also was named a recipient of the 2016 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) for his work in making biblical languages accessible to blind people.

Small actions create powerful witness in Venezuela

People in Venezuela wait in long lines for the chance to buy basic food staples. (Photo provided by Marisa Smucker.)

Web First | By Danielle Klotz | Sep 21, 2016

While cheap gas prices were celebrated in the United States, in Venezuela the low cost of oil has led to painful shortages in everyday needs, such as food, electricity and medicine.

The once-thriving Venezuelan economy depends greatly on exporting oil. Previously, when oil prices were high, this income stream allowed for low national production, permitting the government to increase imports and maintain large subsidies for its citizens.

‘Mennonites are serious about climate change’

Donor Ray Martin gestures while holding grandson Troy during the launch celebration for The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions on Aug. 11 at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Martin’s $1 million U.S. donation funded the Center, which will be housed at EMU in partnership with Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | Sep 21, 2016

Holding his 19-month-old grandson, Ray Martin told the audience gathered at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) on Aug. 11 why he had made a generous donation to study and combat the issues of climate change.

“We’re playing fast and loose with God’s creation,” Martin said. “I feel as if I owe it to him,” nodding toward his grandson, “to leave our planet, our earthly home, in good shape.”

Youth and children drink in curriculum’s ‘faith vitamins’

The creation team of Rut Atarama, left, Fabiola Arango, Diana Suárez, Rosa Triana and Amanda Valencia officially presents ‘Aguapanela!!!: A Christian curriculum for childhood and adolescence.’ (Photo courtesy of Rut Atarama)

Web First | By Rut Atarama | Sep 21, 2016

“There is no path, Pilgrim. The path is made by walking.”

This lovely phrase by the poet Antonio Machado epitomizes my life journey, particularly the two years I sojourned in Colombia.

Each person’s identity is marked by their family and social contexts, and other histories. To tell the truth, my identity as Rut Atarama, a Peruvian and a Mennonite Brethren, was redefined during my time of service with Mennonite Central Committee Colombia’s Seed program.

‘Paws’ for worship

Cecilia Erb gives Wunder, a future guide dog with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program, a big hug. (Photo courtesy of Cecilia Erb)

Web First | By Leona Dueck Penner | Sep 06, 2016

Erb Street Mennonite Church not only welcomes all people who enter its doors, as its vision statement indicates, but it also extends that same welcome to “future guide dogs.” These animals are being fostered and given basic training during puppyhood by two church families, before entering intensive training with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program. After that training they will serve as companions for people with various disabilities.

MCC supports education improvements in South Sudan

Mary Akol Ghor works on artwork as part of the ‘big sister/little sister’ mentoring program that uses art therapy to help children resolve issues and manage their behaviour and feelings. (MCC photo by Candacia Greeman)

Web First | By Emily Loewen, with files from Candacia Greeman | Sep 06, 2016

When South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, hopes were high and the future looked bright. But conflict broke out in 2013, and violence has ebbed and flowed ever since then.

Education levels remain consistently low. Only half of the primary school teachers have more than a primary school education themselves. The national literacy rate is only 27 percent, and for women it’s only 16 percent. According to the United Nations, a 15-year-old girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish secondary school.

Mennonite song collection project launches website

The home page of the newly launched website dedicated to fundraising for the new song collection of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, at hymnalproject606.com.

Web First | Sep 06, 2016 | 2 comments

A dedicated fundraising website for the new song collection for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA has been launched at hymnalproject606.com. MennoMedia is taking leadership of the new hymnal development. A digital version of much of the music is also anticipated.

Bethany Manor marks 30 years

Bob Neufeldt, Ron Peters and Lynn Driedger, from Nutana Park Mennonite Church, entertained the large audience gathered to celebrate Bethany Manor’s 30th anniversary. While many braved the unseasonably cold weather, some Bethany residents preferred to watch and listen from the comfort of their balconies. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Sep 06, 2016

Cloudy skies and a cold wind weren’t enough to keep a large group of people from gathering in the parking lot at the Bethany Manor seniors’ housing complex to celebrate the facility’s 30th anniversary. With the help of warm jackets and, in some cases, blankets, residents, family and friends enjoyed music, visiting and a barbeque supper to mark the event.

First woman to direct Mennonite Bible school in Congo

Bercy Mundedi was one of the first three women ordained by the Mennonite Church of Congo in 2013. Here in the chapel at Kalonda Bible Institute where Mundedi has taught for 10 years, Adolphe Komuesa Kalunga, national president of the denomination, presides over her ordination. (Photo by Sandy Miller). 

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | Aug 23, 2016 | 1 comment

Holy Spirit fire dances in Bercy Mundedi's eyes. It sets aflame the ministries to which she has been called—the most recent being to lead the Kalonda Bible Institute in Democratic Republic of Congo.

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