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Web First

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.” 

Bean Soup (Bohna Supp)

Photo by D. Michael Hostetler

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Oct 19, 2016

This simple soup was eaten in Amish Mennonite communities in southwestern Ontario and was often called by its Pennsylvania Dutch name. Some cooks served it simultaneously with a slice of apple pie and pieces of cheese.

1 ½ cups dried navy beans
2 ½ tsp. salt
2 T. butter
4 cups milk
1 ½ cup bread cubes
Cinnamon for sprinkling

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.

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