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Becoming the people of God is a messy business

Fred Redekop, left, pastor of Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church, visits with Arli Klassen, chief development officer of Mennonite World Conference, the keynote speaker at this year’s Ralph and Eileen Lebold Fundraising Dinner, a joint project of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and Conrad Grebel University College. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 15, 2016

The 2016 Ralph and Eileen Lebold Fundraising Dinner, held on June 2, 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College, featured Arli Klassen, chief development officer for Mennonite World Conference, who spoke to the “Messiness of becoming the people of God.”

Youth Assembly 2016 canceled due to low numbers

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jun 01, 2016

You planned a party for 200 people, with games geared for groups of 20. Food quantities have been tallied, and overnight lodging arranged for guests who are coming from far away. And then you find out that only a handful of the invited guests are able to come.

From refugee to sponsor: A journey of 40 years

The Tran family a few months after arriving in Canada, with toys donated by their sponsors. Nhung, the youngest, is now sponsoring refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. (Photo courtesy of Nhung Tran-Davies)

Web First | By Emily Loewen | May 31, 2016

As a five-year-old resting in her mother’s arms at the bottom of a boat crowded with refugees, Nhung Tran could not have imagined the life she’s living now: a life as a doctor in Canada. A life in which she is responsible for bringing two families to safety as a sponsor.

It was the fall of 1978, and Tran’s mother, a widow, joined the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Vietnam. She packed herself and six children into a boat in the midst of the stormy season with the hope they would make it to Malaysia.

Hmong churches make Anabaptist bond official

Elder Surapong Mitrakul, executive secretary of Church of Christ Thailand; and Dr. Thawesak Mahachavaroj, chair, present a set of China teacups and saucers to Stanley W. Green, executive director of Mennonite Mission Network; and John F. Lapp, director for Asia and Middle East. In return, Green and Lapp offered two copies of the book Fully Engaged: Missional Church in an Anabaptist Voice. This exchange of gifts commemorated the signing of a ministry and support agreement for the Hmong ethnic group in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Mission Network)

Web First | By Wil LaVeist | May 31, 2016

The worldwide Mennonite family can now add Hmong to the growing number of ethnic groups embracing Anabaptism in Asia.

A group of Hmong churches in Thailand and Mennonite Church USA have agreed to make official their relationship that has been nurtured the past 10 years. The official signing of the agreement occurred March 14, 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand, during the semi-annual governing council meeting of Church of Christ in Thailand.

Pastor and artist brings passion for generations to #thecovenantcrew

Reece Friesen is bringing his passion for Anabaptism and community to Youth Assembly 2016, God~Faith~People. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 30, 2016

UPDATE: Youth Assembly 2016 has been cancelled, due to a shortfall in the number of registrations. See here for more information. Youth who are not attending Assembly 2016 but wish to speak into the Being a Faithful Church and Future Directions Task Force discussions are strongly encouraged to have conversation with their congregation’s adult delegates so that their voices can still be heard at Assembly.

Making room for dialogue with #thecovenantcrew

Chris Lenshyn will be one of the keynote speakers at Youth Assembly 2016, to be held July 6 to 10, in Saskatoon.

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 30, 2016

UPDATE: Youth Assembly 2016 has been cancelled, due to a shortfall in the number of registrations. See here for more information. Youth who are not attending Assembly 2016 but wish to speak into the Being a Faithful Church and Future Directions Task Force discussions are strongly encouraged to have conversation with their congregation’s adult delegates so that their voices can still be heard at Assembly.

Youth preparing to join the conversation

Before Assembly 2016 youth groups will have the opportunity to discuss the Future Directions Task Force and Being a Faithful Church proposals. At the July event, they will join the larger delegate sessions and will have the chance to speak up and vote on the recommendations. (MC Canada file photo by Dan Dyck)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 30, 2016

For the first time ever, Mennonite Church Canada youth are preparing to actively participate in organized discussions and votes taking place during the national assembly—God~Faith~People,—to be held from July 6 to 10, 2016, in Saskatoon, Sask.

On the agenda: the future of the church as envisioned by the Future Directions Task Force and recommendations conveyed by the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) conversations.

Seminar to engage congregations in creation care

Photo courtesy of CC0, public domain. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 17, 2016

We’re already implementing creation care practices. Let’s share what we’re doing.

That’s the message behind “Caring for God’s Good Creation,” a seminar to take place on July 10, 2016, following Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016.

“Caring for God’s Good Creation”  was designed to bring interested groups and individuals together to share best practices. It was organized by the Service, Peace and Justice Committee (SPJ) of Mennonite Church B.C. (MCBC) and Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN).

Director announced for new Mennonite song collection project

Web First | May 17, 2016

Bradley Kauffman of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been named project director for the new song collection for Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada) and Mennonite Church USA (MC USA). The print version is slated for release in 2020. He will perform work on a contract basis before assuming a full-time staff position on July 5, 2016.

Kauffman earned a bachelor of arts in music education at Goshen College in 1996 and completed a master of arts in choral conducting at the University of Iowa in 2002.

Canadian Mennonite University celebrates class of 2016

Cheryl Pauls, CMU president (centre) stands with Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen, winners of the 2016 President’s Medals. (Canadian Mennonite University photo)

Web First | May 17, 2016

In his valedictory address at Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) graduation service at Immanuel Pentecostal Church on April 24, 2016, Jonas Cornelsen tackled head on the question, “What are you going to do with your degree?”

“Education is a great gift, and we can all respond in gratitude by humbly sharing the knowledge and insight we have gained and [received] from others by showing love to all of those we meet, living by the Creator’s grace, Christ’s example, and the Spirit’s hope in a broken world,” Cornelsen concluded. “That is what you can really do with a degree.”

Eight-hour ‘song-a-thon’ raises money for camps

Nolan Kehler (left) and Mike Wiebe perform as “Second Son” at an eight-hour Song-a-thon fundraiser for Camps with Meaning. 

Web First | By Darryl Neustaedter Barg | May 17, 2016

The first-ever Camps with Meaning (CWM) Song-a-thon went for eight hours, featuring 14 musical acts. Held at Canadian Mennonite University on April 16, 2016, the event raised $20,000 that will go toward building four new, all-season cabins at Camp Assiniboia, one of three camps that are part of CWM, the camping ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba.

“From beginning to end, the Song-a-thon was a community effort,” said Dorothy Fontaine, director of mission at MC Manitoba. “To come out with more than $20,000 is incredible.”

Fleeing the Fort McMurray fire

When the wildfires hit the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., Patrick and Rachel Drapeau were evacuated, along with 80,000 other residents. They arrived in Edmonton with only the clothes they were wearing, Rachel’s work ID, Patrick’s driver’s licence, and one credit card. 'I don't even have a hairbrush!'  Rachel says. They are pictured here wearing their new clothes from Costco. (Photo courtesy of Patrick and Rachel Drapeau)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 10, 2016

“I have a new appreciation for the phrase, ‘spreads like wildfire,’” says Patrick Drapeau. He and his wife, Rachel, live in Fort McMurray, the Alberta community that has faced raging wildfires for more than a week in early May 2016.

Despite residents having packed ahead of time, the evacuation order caught everyone off guard. The fire began on Monday, May 2. While many residents had prepared for possible evacuation, everything seemed to be under control. Tuesday morning began as a beautiful day; the fire was moving away from the city and people were advised to go to work.  

Recycling provides therapy

Clothes Basket manager Dianne Epp displays a framed button collage she created using upholstery fabric as the background. Fibre art challenge projects like Epp’s will be sold in the MCC thrift store in Rosthern. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2016

Calling themselves the Basket Cases, a small group of women meets monthly for a fibre arts challenge at The Clothes Basket, a Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in Rosthern, Sask.

The ‘simple’ life in raising an Amish family

Web First | May 03, 2016

Marianne Jantzi is the author of Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother, which has just been released by Herald Press as part of its Plainspoken series by Amish, Hutterite and plain Mennonite writers. In the book the author shares from the heart as she welcomes readers into her family’s daily life and Amish community. Drawing from her own deep faith, this young mother brings an encouraging word to parents of young children, along with insights into simple living for readers young and old.

Ukrainian pastor dreams of a new church building

As a bi-vocational pastor, Sergey Deynekin makes Styrofoam and wire building panels in his backyard. Once the panels are erected, they are covered with concrete stucco. The resulting structure is sturdy and cost-effective. Sergey plans to use his panels to build a new home for the Chernobaevka Church (Ukraine). (Photo by Gordon Janzen)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 03, 2016

Sergey Deynekin has dreams for the Chernobaevka Church in southern Ukraine. A bi-vocational pastor who works in the building trade, he developed architectural plans for a future church building after the congregation’s long-time rental location was no longer available and they moved into a vacant house. On Sundays, they crowd into two rooms with a pulpit placed near the doorway.

Grebel president accepts call from EMU

Susan Schultz Huxman

Web First | May 03, 2016

The board of governors of Conrad Grebel University College announced that president Susan Schultz Huxman has accepted the call to become the president of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va.

“It is not easy for me to consider leaving Grebel—a school that I love and that is thriving. But this invitation to serve EMU, an exceptionally innovative and healthy Mennonite institution back in the States, is an attractive match, professionally and personally, both for my husband Jesse and me.”

Mennonites respond to Ecuador earthquakes

People from the Mennonite church of Guayaquil, Ecuador, load relief materials on a truck to take to Manta for those effected by recent earthquake. (Mennonite Mission Network photo)

Web First | Apr 25, 2016

Mennonites are responding to the recent earthquakes in Ecuador, where members of multiple Mennonite congregations are among 100,000 people affected by the disaster. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador on April 16, 2016, followed by a second earthquake on April 20. At least 570 people have been killed and more than 7,000 injured or missing. Currently, responders are attending to the wounded and survivors, and searching for those still missing beneath rubble.

How climate change threatens farmers in Bangladesh

Rice farmer Masum Khandakar is pictured in front of his home in Bangladesh. With other farmers in his community, he is worried about the health of the soil in his community. (Photo by Josiah Neufeld)

Web First | By J. Neufeld | Apr 21, 2016

Masum Khandakar is a Bangladeshi rice farmer with a craggy face and a jutting white beard that flares as wide as the wings of his collared shirt. His voice goes high when his emotions overwhelm him. That is what happened one day in late December when he stood up during a community meeting inside a dimly lit schoolhouse in the town of Kotalipara and described what Koinonia had done for him. “Before Koinonia came, I could not eat one full meal a day,” he said, his voice cracking. “My fields were under water. There was no work.”

Elmira ends Hawkesville’s Bible quiz reign

The 2016 Bible Quizzer-of-the-Year Award went to Julianna Suderman from East Zorra Mennonite Church near Tavistock, Ont. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Apr 20, 2016

The team from Elmira Mennonite Church ended the Hawkesville and Markham church dynasties at this year’s Bible quizzing competition, held on April 9, 2016, at Steinmann Mennonite Church near Baden.

It has been nine years since a team other than from the Hawkesville or the Markham-Stouffville youth groups won the competition organized by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC). For the past three years, it was Hawkesville’s name on the plaque, and in the three years before that, Markham won the competition. In 2008 and 2009 the wins also went to Hawkesville and Markham.

Retired farming couple uses centrepieces to fight hunger

Last year barley centrepieces like this raised more than $2,000 to fight world hunger. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Web First | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Apr 18, 2016

When Henry and Hilda Schulz of Sanford, Man., were still farming, one of the crops they grew was barley.

As friends at their church—Sargent Avenue Mennonite in Winnipeg—learned this, they asked them for barley seed to make Easter centrepieces, as a way to bring a little spring and new life into their homes.

Hilda initially gave the barley away. But since Henry was involved in a Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing project in nearby Domain, she realized it might make an excellent fundraiser for the Foodgrains Bank.

A little experiment in ordinary reality

Lauren Wallis and Dylan Siebert, foreground, engage in deep discussion at the “Winter Camp for Grown-ups,” a joint effort of Pastors in Exile (PiE) and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, located near Sauble Beach, Ont. Playing table tennis in the background are David Celis (right) and Chris Brnjas, co-founder of (PiE). (Photo by Elle Crevits)

Web First | By Chris Brnjas | Apr 18, 2016

Marketed “for twenty- and thirty-somethings who wish they could do camp again,” Pastors in Exile (PiE) and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp near Sauble Beach, Ont., ran what they called “Winter Camp for Grown-ups” from March 4 to 6, 2016.

So why would two pastors—Jessica Reesor Rempel and I—have any interest in leading a winter camp with no explicit religious or spiritual language in the advertising. Shouldn’t our job be to lead Bible studies, prayer groups and spiritual retreats?

Uncovering a historic Mennonite costume collection

History major Amanda Bartel displays some of the clothes she has catalogued as part of a historic Mennonite costumes collection. (Bluffton University photo)

Web First | Apr 06, 2016

From plain coats to lace-covered wedding dresses, Amanda Bartel, a history major from Iowa City, Iowa, is cataloging Bluffton University’s historic clothing collection to learn more about what it means to dress like a Mennonite. She explained the cataloging process for students, faculty, staff and community members on March 1, 2016, at Bluffton University.

The collection is currently stored in Berky Hall at Bluffton University and was originally used by students in the fashion design major that is no longer offered.

How fear and mistrust gave way to friendship

Wilmer and Barb Froese reflect on the meaning of the land. Their farm is on what once was Reserve 107. (Photo by Rebel Sky Media)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Apr 05, 2016

First nations, Lutheran and Mennonite movie-goers crowded into Saskatoon’s Roxy Theatre on March 13, 2016, popcorn in hand, to watch the premiere of Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies.

The 30-minute documentary, directed by Brad Leitch and produced by Adrienne Leitch of Rebel Sky Media, tells the story of the Young Chippewayan First Nation, the community of Laird, Sask., and a special gathering that brought the two groups together in 2006.

European Mennonites reject violence against Syrian refugees

Dutch churches put peace into action, as participants in a weekend conference last year packed a shipping container full of Mennonite Central Committee relief kits for Syria at the Dutch fellowship centre Dopersduin in Schoorl. (Photo by Johan Tempelaar)

Web First | Apr 05, 2016

Mennonite churches in Europe are responding to the violence and displacement in the Middle East that is affecting their society.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Gemeiden (AMG, Mennonite Church in Germany) and Algemene Doopsgezind Societeit (ADS, Dutch Mennonite Society) each wrote a letter to their governments urging peace.

Sir James MacMillan finds ‘the spiritual in music’

The University of Waterloo Chamber Choir, the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Choir 21 present ‘The Music of Sir James MacMillan’ as the culmination of MacMillan’s visit to Conrad Grebel University College on March 1, 2016. Conducted by MacMillan, left, the music on the program included his own works (‘The Gallant Weaver’ and ‘Miserere’), ‘Immortal Bach’ by Knut Nystedt, and works by Murray Schafer and James Rolfe. (Conrad Grebel photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Web First | By Nicole Simone | Apr 05, 2016

Conrad Grebel University College hosted Sir James MacMillan as the 2016 Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar. The Scottish composer and conductor, best known for his sacred choral works, gave his Sawatsky Lecture address, “The spiritual in music,” on March 1, 2016.