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Exploring tough subjects and intense spaces

‘Tough subjects and intense spaces’ seminar leader David Driedger enjoys challenging stereotypes, pushing boundaries and making people think. He led a seminar at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016

David Driedger enjoys challenging stereotypes, pushing boundaries and making people think. “[He] often pushes against established practices and the beliefs of the church from the inside,” Ben Borne said, introducing Driedger as a speaker who loves the church and engages with tough subjects and discussions.

Driedger said, “I sign up to lead [seminars] because I want to learn a topic . . . to build capacity and find the tools to engage.”

Good news sometimes comes in small packages

Lois Siemens, centre, and Sharon Schultz present a seminar entitled “Proclaiming the good news in town and country: Stories from the rural church” at Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon. Looking on is Erwin Warkentin. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Jul 20, 2016

Someone once asked Sharon Schultz if she became pastor of Eyebrow (Sask.) Mennonite Church in order to help the church to die well. Schultz did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that “I don’t think that’s why God brought us here.”

Schultz and Lois Siemens, who is pastor of Superb Mennonite Church near Kerrobert, Sask., led a seminar entitled “Proclaiming the good news in town and country: Stories from the rural church.”

As Schultz pointed out, “There are differences between rural and city churches. These are some of the ways we share good news in our context.”

‘Partnering with God’s healing and hope’

At an Assembly 2016 seminar Daniel Horne and Jason Martin invite attendees to participate in the work of Mennonite Church Canada Witness by making donations that would uncover photos of MC Canada Witness workers. By the end of the assembly, the poster was completely uncovered, and, with matching donations, more than $10,000 was raised for Witness work around the world. (Photo by Matt Veith)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jul 20, 2016

That 14 people out of 38 who registered showed up for the “Partnering with God’s healing and hope” seminar may have indicated some wearying of Assembly 2016 participants. But those who came paid close attention to the presentation and asked good questions about what a mission partnership with a Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker or ministry means.

Presenters Daniel Horne and Jason Martin shared a roundup of all 30 current workers in ministries and pre-emptively addressed the most common questions: What is a partnership and how does it work?

Seeing dystopian heroines as prophets

Vic Thiessen presents an Assembly 2016 seminar exploring the prophetic nature of popular dystopian films. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Jul 20, 2016

Readers of Canadian Mennonite know Vic Thiessen as a writer of thoughtful film reviews—an interpreter, as it were, of pop culture for Mennonites in Canada. In that same vein, he presented “The Divergent Mockingjay: Female prophets, dystopian films and life on earth in 2016” for Assembly 2016 participants.

According to Thiessen, dystopian films have the potential to be great discussion starters. They can be a way “to share with the world that there is a purpose to living, and to challenge the world, as Jesus did, to care for the poor and for creation,” he said.

‘God’s gonna trouble the water’

Doug Amstutz, right, interim pastor at Riverdale Mennonite Church at Millbank, Ont., and Susan Beaumont discuss her presentation at the MC Canada ministers’ conference on July 6. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016

“Wade in the water. Wade in the water, children. . . .”

Susan Beaumont had Mennonite Church Canada ministers sing the well-known spiritual at their “Leading in a season of change” conference preceding this year’s assembly on July 6, 2016. She invited them to stop, though, with the line, “God’s gonna trouble the water.”

“God is troubling the water during these times,” Beaumont said, telling the assembled ministers that they “are going around trying to calm the waters, while it is the troubled waters that will bring about the adaptations we need.”

Moonlight musings and redemption

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jul 20, 2016 | 2 comments

Despite the standing ovation, I cannot imagine I was alone in having mixed feelings about the play we had just experienced. My mind was a full cup of queasiness and a dollop of laughter stirred with hard questions as I boarded the stuffy school bus with a crowd of other Mennonite Church Canada Assembly folks for the trip back to Saskatoon.  

Mennos march for ‘Steinbach Pride’

A ‘Mennonite’ placard at the inaugural ‘Steinbach Pride’ parade on July 9. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jul 16, 2016 | 1 comment

The march was set to begin at 11 a.m. on July 9, 2016. But at the top of the hour, Michelle McHale, whose fight for civil rights in Steinbach recently brought the city into the national spotlight, asked the crowd to indicate by applause whether they would mind “waiting for the folks on the highway,” as traffic was backed up to St. Anne, nearly 20 kilometres out of town. Steinbach’s E.A. Friesen Park erupted with clapping.

Decision roundup: Assembly 2016

At Assembly 2016 Mennonite Church Canada delegates made decisions about future directions for the church, the church’s response to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Doctrine of Discovery, and beliefs about same-sex relationships. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Jul 11, 2016 | 1 comment

Assembly 2016 may become known by delegates as a watershed event.

By turns intense and emotional, joyful and worshipful, the gathered delegates made significant decisions that will impact the Mennonite Church Canada body for years to come. They met in Saskatoon, Sask., July 6 to 10, 2016.

What you need to know about Assembly 2016 discussions

Web First | Jul 04, 2016

About 500 Mennonites from across Canada will gather in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 6 to 10, 2016, for the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly. This event, which happens every two years, brings together people for worship, fellowship and to make decisions for the national church. (See here for the schedule, documents, and a video.) 

Assembly 2016 bits and pieces

The logo for Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016, designed by Ryan Roth Bartel, reminds the church that Faith is our connection between God and the People (Jeremiah 31:33). The dove of peace is the common symbol across MC Canada and of the peacebuilding work to which the church is called. The segmented globe reveals the cross at the centre. The hands reaching to each other symbolize how God yearns for people to love, support and join one another in the redeeming work of Christ. The colours reflect the harmony members of the church seek in the midst of diversity. 

Web First | By Canadian Mennonite staff | Jul 04, 2016

Five hundred Mennonites from across Canada will gather in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 6 to 10, 2016, for the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly. This gathering brings together people for worship, fellowship and decision making for the national church.

Go to the MC Canada website for information about Assembly 2016, schedule, discussion documents, a video and more. 

See here to learn about key topics the delegates will discuss.  

Assembly 2016 speakers to focus on God’s covenant

Safwat Marzouk

Web First | Jul 04, 2016

One of the highlights of Mennonite Church Canada’s assemblies are the times of worship and spiritual enrichment. The theme of Assembly 2016 (July 6-9), God~Faith-People, is paraphrased from the Old Testament text Jeremiah 31:33: “This is the covenant . . . I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

The plenary sessions will focus on how God is creating a community of covenant that bears God’s compassion in making peace and in doing justice within the faith community, with the world beyond the faith community, and with creation.

Songs of hope and struggle

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 30, 2016

Bryan Moyer Suderman released a new CD, I’m Glad You’re Here: Songs of Hope and Struggle, on May 6, 2016, in Stouffville, Ont. The concert was also a fundraiser for the “Welcome the Stranger” initiative for refugee support (an initiative of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the greater Toronto area), and on the night of the concert raised almost $10,000.

Suderman describes the CD as “a kind of sound track for the church engaged in hard conversations,” and so it is pertinent to what MC Canada is doing this summer in Saskatoon.

Committee selected for Mennonite song collection

Web First | Jun 30, 2016 | 1 comment

Six women and six men from across North America have been chosen to serve on the committee for the new song collection for Mennonite churches planned for release in 2020.

The committee selections were announced by Bradley Kauffman, recently named project director for the collection, and Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia, the agency managing the project on behalf of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Nigerian peacemaking efforts recognized with Sattler Peace Prize

Ephraim Kadala, of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, and Hussaini Shuaibu, of the Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative, receive the Michael Sattler Peace Award from the German Mennonite Peace Committee, on behalf of their respective organizations. (Photo courtesy of the Church of the Brethren/by Kristin Flory of the Brethren Service Europe Office)

Web First | Jun 30, 2016

The 2016 Michael Sattler Peace Prize has been awarded to the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and EYN’s “Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative” (CAMPI), founded in 2010 with Muslim partners.

On May 20, 2016, the German Mennonite Peace Committee (Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskomitee, or DMFK) presented the prize to Ephraim Kadala, EYN pastor and peace coordinator, and Hussaini Shuaibu, lecturer, mediator and Muslim partner of CAMPI, who were representing their organizations.

More on seasonal workers in Canada

Seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico weed onions at Kroeker Farms, south of Winkler, Man. (Photo by Will Braun)

Web First | By Will Braun | Jun 28, 2016

This online supplement accompanies the feature, “The lucky struggle,” about workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).

Loving the enemy in Burkina Faso

A woman prepares food for her family in Burkina Faso. (Mennonite Church Canada photo by Deborah Froese)

Web First | Jun 20, 2016

In a land that closely resembles the place Jesus lived more than 2,000 years ago, his words still prove true. The people of Sidi, Burkina Faso, plant their fields with the tools and methods described in the New Testament. They draw water from wells, and feed their families with crops they harvest. Some of them live by Jesus’ teaching, recorded in Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

What I learned while walking the Camino

Alvin Thiessen completed the 800-kilometre pilgrimage along the Camino de Compostela. He reached the Cape of Fisterra, on the Atlantic coast, 90 kilometres past the city of Santiago de Compostela. (Photo by Alvin Thiessen)

Web First | By Alvin Thiessen | Jun 20, 2016 | 1 comment

After 10 days of walking, I come to a small town in Spain called Belorado. The day before, I had walked a gruelling 31 kilometres up and down hills, in warm and sunny spring weather. Maybe it’s the long walk and my feet are tired, or, maybe it’s the constant climbing up and down the hills, but something feels different under my left foot. I get to my hostel and take my walking shoes off to find a blister has formed under my foot. It’s a bad one!

Into the woods

Elmer Martin of Floradale, Ont., is pictured with a fawn found in the woods near Koksilah Alternative Service Work Camp on Vancouver Island, B.C., in 1942. For many COs, serving in alternative service was their first time away from home. (Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo by Jesse B. Martin)

Web First | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Jun 15, 2016 | 1 comment

In June 1942, 3,000 Mennonites gathered at the Kitchener, Ont., train station to bid farewell to conscientious objectors (COs) bound for forest-fire fighting and tree-planting camps in British Columbia. The local newspaper noted that the crowd, larger than any that had gathered for military troop departures, “was swelled by hundreds of curious citizens, who were attracted by the singing of hymns.”

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.