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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.

My taxes for peace, not war

Emily Mininger developed this infographic as part of her role as an intern with Conscience Canada.

Web First | By Emily Mininger | Mar 30, 2016

Because I grew up in the Mennonite tradition, conscientious objection is not a foreign concept to me. I was raised to value peace over violence and to treat every human life as sacred and precious. These values have stayed with me throughout my life.

I furthered my passion for finding nonviolent resolutions to conflict through studying peace and conflict courses at Conrad Grebel University College (Waterloo, Ont.), and upon graduation I continued to look for opportunities to work with organizations doing this important work.

MC Canada provides resource on indigenous-settler reconciliation

A special edition of the magazine Intotemak explores how churches can respond to the TRC’s Call to Action No. 48. (Design by Matt Veith, Mennonite Church Canada)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Mar 28, 2016

Steve Heinrichs is passionate about healing broken relationships between indigenous and settler peoples. As Mennonite Church Canada’s director of indigenous relations, he is committed to responding positively to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action No. 48: Adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

But he also wrestles with how to do that.

I feel it’s my country now

Fatoum Al Kurdi at her family’s new apartment in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They arrived in November 2015 as refugees from the conflict in Syria, sponsored by River East Mennonite Brethren Church with support from MCC. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Web First | By Emily Loewen | Mar 22, 2016

The greeting you get when visiting Yhya Al Kurdi’s apartment is full of excitement. Before you actually reach the door, Al Kurdi has opened it and stands at the end of the long corridor, waiting as you walk the rest of the way. Though he doesn’t know much English yet, he’ll give an enthusiastic, “Hello, hello, hello!” as he ushers you inside. It’s been a long time since he had a safe home to invite anyone into.

Vietnam Mennonite Church ordains 26

Pastor Lee, Pastor Khoa, Pastor Nghia, Pastor Hong An, Pastor Tuyen Nguyen, Gerry Keener, and Pastor Trung pray for newly ordained Pastor Lung from Hai Phong, Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Gerry Keener and Tuyen Nguyen)

Web First | By Emily Jones and Gerry Keener | Mar 22, 2016

After six years of training and preparation, the Vietnam Mennonite Church (VMC), a Mennonite World Conference member, ordained 26 pastors in Ho Chi Minh City on 5 December 2015.

Pastor Nguyen Quang Trung, president of VMC, officiated at the ordination service for 26 Mennonite pastors who had come from provinces and cities all over Vietnam. Approximately 120 Mennonite leaders and believers joined the festivities.

Prairie Meadow Place is ‘a wonderful place’ for seniors

Resident Erna Kreiter, standing, visits with guests at an open house held at Prairie Meadow Place on March 5. From left are Cookie Esperance, Irene Kortko, Della Klaassen and Shirley Otterbein. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Mar 22, 2016 | 1 comment

Dorine Russell sits in a comfortable armchair in her new room at Prairie Meadow Place, a cup of coffee by her side. “This is a wonderful place,” she says. “I love it here.” Russell moved to Rosthern, Sask., from Ontario a year ago to be near her daughter, who lives in Waldheim.

She’s one of 17 residents who moved into the new assisted-living facility from the old Home for the Aged in December 2015. When every room is occupied, the residence will be home to 20 seniors.

Learning firsthand about hunger in Nicaragua

Albóndigas soup was made and enjoyed by study tour participants and members of a local partner of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Presbyterian World Service and Development in San Antonio, Nicaragua. (Photo courtesy of Karla Fehr)

Web First | Mar 22, 2016

Karla Fehr, a member of Blumenort Mennonite Church in Gretna, Man., was part of a food study tour group organized by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. They travelled to Nicaragua for about two weeks earlier this year to learn about the link between global hunger and small-scale farmers.

Participants saw how the Foodgrains Bank is responding, what local and national organizations are doing, and learned about global hunger firsthand from the people whose lives it affects.

Growing up strong and healthy in India

Tarijmana Bibi prepares vegetables for the women’s group gathering in her community. About 20 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers receive a nutritious breakfast and learn about nutrition through a local partner of MCC. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Web First | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Mar 08, 2016

It’s only 8:30 a.m., but the temperature in the Sundarbans region of India is already hovering around 35 degrees Celsius.

If Tarijmana Bibi, 20, is bothered by the heat she isn’t showing it. She’s crouched low to the ground in the shade of her father-in-law’s compound, humming as she chops a mix of fresh vegetables with an old knife, pausing every few minutes to stir a large metal pot of boiling rice.