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Janzen explores Mennonite representation in Mexican culture

Lecturer Rebecca Janzen’s research focused on the Low German speaking Mennonites of Mexico and their relationship to the Mexican government. (Photo courtesy of Bluffton University)

Web First | Mar 08, 2016

“We see them, but we do not know them.” That was an observation a Mexican friend made to Rebecca Janzen, about the Low German speaking Mennonites in Mexico. Recently Janzen was the 2016 C. Henry Smith Peace Lecturer at Bluffton University, speaking on the topic “Small Signs of Pluralism in Mexico: Identification Cards and Other Images of the Low German Mennonites.”

MEDA honouree formed by faith, for service

Jono Cullar

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2016

Jono Cullar of Waterloo, Ont., was honoured with a 20 under 35 award from Mennonite Economic Development Associates late last year for exemplifying “MEDA values: faith, service and an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Although his mother married an American and lives in Ohio, Cullar remembers many trips to Ontario through his growing up years to visit his maternal grandparents, Rod and Doris Weber, and Mannheim Mennonite Church that he now attends with his fiancée Sarah Steiner.

AMBS recognized for focus on faith and ecology

Participants in ‘Rooted and grounded: A conference on land and Christian discipleship’ at AMBS last fall gatherered for worship throughout the event. Elements on the altar designed by Julia Baker include soil from the St. Joseph watershed; local prairie grasses, fresh flowers and honey; a feather; acorns from red oak and burr oak trees, in recognition of the Potawatomi who are indigenous to the land in the Elkhart area; a Bible and corn, representing the 13 hectares of the seminary that was once farmland and is now a “seed bed”; a history book on industry in Elkhart; a basin and pitcher of water from the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers; and a candle representing the flame of God's Spirit. (Photo by Tyler Klassen)

Web First | Mar 08, 2016

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development has named Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) as 12th in a list of 28 seminaries in North America that excel in offering courses on faith and ecology. The list is based on the number of courses that each school offers that focus primarily on environmental, ecological, creation-care or nature-based themes and their relation to faith teachings.

Murray to speak at Rosthern

Author Stuart Murray

Web First | Mar 07, 2016

Stuart Murray, British author of the popular book The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, is the featured speaker at a fundraising dinner for Canadian Mennonite, to be held at the Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church on Saturday evening, April 23, 2016, at 6 p.m. The event follows two days of the annual meeting of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service. Murray will speak on the future of the church.

Healing wounds through art: A YAMEN experience

As part of her YAMEN! experience Keila Viana helped to organize an art parade in the main streets of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. (Photo by Keila Viana)

Web First | By Aharón González | Feb 23, 2016

For Keila Viana, seeing how art can heal wounds deepened her understanding of God and God’s love during her international service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“I believe that during this time God worked a lot in my life,” says Viana, a 22-year-old young adult from the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Camino de Santidad, in Honduras.

Anabaptist movement flourishing in South Korea

A participant comments at the first-ever Korean Anabaptist conference in January 2016. (Photo by Austin Headrick)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016

On January 30, 2016, nearly 100 people gathered in downtown Seoul, Korea, to participate in the first Korean Anabaptist conference. The goal of the gathering, according to Bock Ki Kim, director of the Korea Anabaptist Center and co-sponsor of the event, was “to introduce Anabaptist theology and values in a public, academic setting” and to “challenge ourselves as Korean Anabaptists to see who we are and what we have to do in South Korea.”

Biker club Christians de-escalate conflict

(Photo from

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Feb 23, 2016

Violating the conventions of biker culture landed the United Kingdom Christian motorcycle club, God’s Squad, in hot water. With the help of its president Joseph (pseudonym), who is a member of the Anabaptist Network, they kept their cool and found a peaceful path to resolution.

Biker culture often operates with a military-style hierarchy. Rules and codes of conduct support the chain of command and ensure due respect is paid to members and clubs. Clubs are identified by vest patches that are closely regulated for colour, images and the territory governed.

Hugo Friesen and Ted Regehr receive MHSC Awards of Excellence

Hugo Friesen, left, and Ted Regehr receive Awards of Excellence from Lucille Marr, president of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, on Jan. 16, 2016. In the background is a painting from the “Along the Road to Freedom” exhibit that is on display at the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C. (Photo by Richard Thiessen)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016

Meeting at the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C., gave the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada the opportunity to see this new facility that tells the faith story of Mennonites in the Fraser Valley and is also the new home of the Mennonite Historical Society of B.C.  Representatives from Mennonite historical societies and organizations from across Canada met Jan. 13-16, 2016.

Music camp nurtures faith and supportive community

Music camp involves hours of music-making. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Web First | Feb 23, 2016 | 1 comment

Back in 2009, when I was 12 years old, I remember being crammed into the back row of a standing-room-only crowd at the final concert of the annual Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. To be honest, I don’t remember much of it, except a couple moments from the musical The Troubbable of Zerubbabel, when they knocked down something that looked like a temple, and a guy (who looked so old, like, 16) hit a super-low note.

That’s how I decided to go to music camp at Conrad Grebel University College.

Hollywood feminism and the decline of cinema

Aside from the obvious flaws, there are two aspects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that disturb this reviewer.

Web First | By Vic Thiessen | Feb 17, 2016

Star Wars (the original by George Lucas) arrived in Winnipeg in the early summer of 1977. I went to the first screening of the day (around noon) and was so blown away by what I saw and heard (the score, not the banal dialogue) that I stayed in the theatre for four successive viewings, something I had never done before and would never do again.

What people want to know about Mennonites

Erwin and Angela Rempel serve as volunteers at Third Way, a portal to information about Mennonites and Anabaptists. They respond personally to questions that the website doesn’t answer directly. (MennoMedia photo)

Web First | Feb 08, 2016

The Third Way website was re-launched last April, and by late 2015 daily visitors were averaging 750 or more. Many are seeking information about Mennonites, their beliefs and practices.

Mennonites active in Ukraine

The Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Ukraine. Personnel from various Mennonite organizations are active in Ukraine, in economic support, education, health and social organizations, peace and justice concerns, seniors care, and evangelistic programs. (Photo courtesy of Victor Kliewer)

Web First | By Victor Kliewer | Feb 08, 2016 | 1 comment

Various Mennonite groups and agencies have been working in Ukraine since the late 1980s, and representatives of eight organizations met in Winnipeg on Jan. 25, 2016, for an annual review of their activities. Most of the work has been done in the area of Zaporizhzhya—the area of the former Mennonite Chortitza Colony—and in the area of the former Molotschna Colony.

Mennonite heritage tours of Ukraine during the past 20 years have made North American Mennonites aware of the great social needs.

Project Ploughshares begins a new furrow

Executive director Cesar Jaramillo sits in his Project Ploughshares’ office, located at the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 08, 2016

Cesar Jaramillo, executive director at Project Ploughshares since last July, knows first-hand the need for new ways of dealing with conflict and violence.

He and his wife Paula Cardenas arrived in Toronto in January 2005 as political refugees from Colombia. Cardenas’s father was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and held for ransom, and Jaramillo was the one who was sent to a remote mountain location with the money to secure his father-in-law’s release.

Video: Christ at the coffee shop

Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Web First | Feb 03, 2016 | 1 comment

In the spring of 2015, Pastor Kassa Lemma of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto invited Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director Willard Metzger to speak at an Ethiopian evangelistic conference. Metzger admits that his first response was hesitant. “We don’t do that anymore as Mennonites.” But he says the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Mennonites do engage in evangelism—they just go about it in different ways.

Worship plans connect churches across continent

A team from British Columbia developed the Mennonite worship resources for Lent/Easter 2016. Left to right: Rob Brown, Eden Mennonite Church; Chris Lenshyn, Emmanuel Mennonite Church; Tasha Janzen, Bethel Mennonite Church; Dave Bergen, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada; Emma Pavey, Langley Mennonite Fellowship; Elsie Rempel, formerly of Mennonite Church Canada. (Photo courtesy of Elsie Rempel)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

Twice a year many Mennonite congregations across Canada and the U.S. share a common worship experience. That’s because they use the same worship resources during the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.

Looking back with MCC

Esther Epp-Tiessen visits with Dave Neufeldt, chair of the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta at the annual fall session held at Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary, Nov. 21, 2015. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jan 26, 2016

Kim Thiessen’s rendition of “Give Yourself to Love” was a perfect thematic opening to the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta’s (MHSA) 2015 fall conference. The gathering highlighted the history of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada.

Love for God’s people underlies the work Thiessen, associate director of MCC Alberta, helps the organization accomplish. In an update on current projects, Thiessen showed how it has become well-known for helping refugees.

Learning a language not governed by grammar

Nicole, in the apron, and her friends Caroline and Linda help prepare brunch at Choices and Connections, a long-running Communitas program, while Jeevanjot looks on. (Photo by Angelika Dawson)

Web First | By Angelika Dawson | Jan 26, 2016

It’s a busy morning at Choices and Connections (CAC). They’re preparing brunch and the kitchen smells wonderful: sausages and eggs, pancakes and waffles, syrup and strawberries. Linda and Caroline are helping Nicole cut up the fruit for toppings as Jeevanjot watches. Sue sets the table with special napkins and cutlery. In the den, another group of friends play Wii bowling while others cheer them on.

Colombian churches call for prayer

The countryside around the community of La Esperanza, Colombia, where land mines have been planted. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

Web First | Jan 26, 2016

“We know that in many places throughout the world there is war, violence and hunger.” With this acknowledgement, Mennonite partners working for peace and justice in Colombia call on Anabaptist-related brothers and sisters around the world to pray for La Esperanza community in Colombia—and “that God’s salvation and peace become a reality throughout the world.”

Training, persistence lead to new income

Obed Nkundagenzi trims the hair of Uwase Laissa in the barbershop he started after getting technical training at Mwana Nshuti, a program supported by MCC’s Global Family education program in Rwanda. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Web First | By Linda Espenshade | Jan 14, 2016

In the Rwandan barber shop where Obed Nkundagenzi works with three friends, he is surrounded by pictures of success—mansions with lavish green lawns, beautiful models and full-size posters of sports teams and their heroes.

American rap stars have their spots on the wall gallery, although the music in the barber shop is the rat-a-tat of the rain on the tin roof, the buzzing of the razors and low-pitched conversations in Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda.

Gospel Herald and The Mennonite available for online searches

As part of the project to digitize volumes of The Mennonite and Gospel Herald, Lois Longenecker, a volunteer for Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, snips threads of tightly-bound volumes so that pages could be scanned in their entirety. (AMBS photo)

Web First | Jan 13, 2016

Readers can now search online, for free, in the denominational magazines of Mennonite Church Canada’s and Mennonite Church USA’s two predecessor organizations, the Mennonite Church (MC) and the General Conference Mennonite Church (GCMC).

Within each volume of the MC Gospel Herald (1908–1998) and the GCMC The Mennonite (1885–1998), researchers can conduct a full-text search to quickly locate topics and articles.

European Anabaptist leaders release statement on refugees

Twenty-one leaders of nine European Mennonite conferences, Mennonite World Conference, and two international agencies gathered for annual meetings in France, October 2015. (MWC photo)

Web First | Jan 13, 2016

Leaders of Mennonite conferences in Europe and international guests met in Buhl, France, for their annual gathering of planning and fellowship October 23-25, 2015. The assembled leaders drafted a statement to express their concern about the refugee crisis in Europe.

Professor reflects on Mennonite hymns and their influence

Kenneth J. Nafziger

Web First | By Melodie Davis | Jan 12, 2016

Dr. Kenneth J. Nafziger, long-time and noted professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University—plus a key figure in putting together a hymnal and two song supplements—spoke at a recent breakfast meeting of the Eastern Mennonite University Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society. His topic: How our hymns influence and reflect our changing theology.

Personnel sought for Mennonite song collection

Web First | Jan 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Looking for a way to use your musical and worship talents in the new year? Want to be part of shaping what Mennonites sing?

MennoMedia, in close partnership with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, began accepting applications for various committee and staff positions for a new Mennonite song collection on January 1, 2016.

Top 10 online stories in 2015

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jan 07, 2016 | 1 comment

Stories about Mennonite identity, sexuality, politics, and music attracted visitors to the Canadian Mennonite website last year. Here are the top stories, based on the number of page views.

10.  “Being Mennonite 101” featured a young adult who uses light-hearted YouTube videos to educate people about Mennonite beliefs and culture.  About Mennonites of many nationalities and cultural backgrounds, she quips, “It’s awesome, because that just means the food keep getting better!”

St. Jacobs Mennonite celebrates 100 years in the village

Chuck Kruger (left), Larry Shantz and Marcia Shantz, play “Johnny Be Good” for the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church variety show on Nov. 14, 2015, exactly 100 years after the building was dedicated. In this version Johnny is the horse pulling the Good family buggy to the Heidelberg auction. Members of the congregational prayer shawl ministry sit behind them. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Jan 07, 2016

In 1915, in the midst of the First World War, the Swiss Mennonite congregation that had been meeting at the Conestoga Meetinghouse moved to the village of St. Jacobs. Founded in 1834, the congregation had been meeting in a simple structure at 2035 Three Bridges Road, where St. Jacobs Mennonite Church still maintains a cemetery.