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Three church-related views on refugees

Dick Benner
Web First | By Dick Benner | Nov 19, 2015 | 1 comment

Three high profile Mennonite-connected politicians expressed their views this week on how to handle the 25,000 Syrian refugees newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to resettle in Canada by the end of 2015.

Pax reunion celebrates MCC service experiences

Bernie Thiessen of Winnipeg, left, served with Pax in the Congo and Germany from 1959-60. Abe Suderman of Parkhill, Ont., served in the Congo from 1960-62. They are pictured at a Pax reunion in Winnipeg on Aug. 29, 2015. (Photo by Gladys Terichow)

Web First | By Gladys Terichow | Nov 16, 2015

Stories of how their life journeys were shaped by voluntary service filled the room at a reunion of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) service workers who were part of the Pax program.

Among them was Abe Suderman of Parkhill, Ont., who began his two-year term with Pax in 1960. Pax, a Latin word for peace, was an MCC service program started in 1951 in the U.S. as an alternative service program for conscientious objectors. He was assigned to work with Congo Inland Missions during the Congo crisis in what is now Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Peacebuilding thrives amidst Burundi unrest

In Cibitoke, Burundi, youth associated with different political parties play soccer while their legs are fastened together in a sack. The activity is part of a youth program that Emmanuel Ntakirutimana leads to encourage youth to pursue peace together, instead of violence. Ntakirutimana attended Great Lakes Peacebuilding Institute with financial support from MCC. (MCC photo/Melody Musser)

Web First | By Melody Musser | Nov 16, 2015

As political unrest brings increased violence in Burundi, partners of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continue building on two decades of peacebuilding to encourage peace.

The current political unrest began in the spring 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s political party nominated him for a third term. Some Burundians believed his nomination was unconstitutional, sparking protests that became violent.

Being part of the global church

Participants at the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s junior high retreat sing a pop song with actions at their coffee house. Pictured from left to right: Sarah Wood, Kate Hanson, Isabella Erb, Teah Lenna, youth sponsor Krista Loewen, and Marissa Johnston. (Photo by Marcus Kruger)

Web First | By Marcus Kruger | Nov 16, 2015

Congregating junior youth in small-town Saskatchewan may seem like a counter-intuitive way for them to discover their part in the global church body, but that’s what the purpose of this year’s Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization (SMYO) junior high retreat was.

Besides “Being a part of the global church body,” a second theme for the retreat, held at Youth Farm Bible Camp near Rosthern from Oct. 2 to 4, 2015, was “Helping the church with your God-given talent.”

Philpott named new Health Minister

Web First | By Dick Benner | Nov 04, 2015 | 6 comments

Jane Philpott, a member of the Community Mennonite Church in Stouffville, Ont., and the chief of family medicine at Markham-Stouffville Hospital, was named today to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet as his new health minister.

Philpott, 54, has been a medical doctor for the past 31 years. She recently defeated Conservative MP Paul Calandra in the federal election, ending his seven-year career as a partisan lieutenant in Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

Selfies: This generation’s cigarette

Linford Stutzman, professor of Bible and religion (left), and Jerry Holsopple, professor of visual and communication arts, offered their analysis of “selfie” culture to Eastern Mennonite University students in a recent Living and Learning Forum. (Courtesy photos)

Web First | By Kara Painter | Nov 02, 2015 | 1 comment

Cellphones are this generation’s cigarette. That was one analysis provided by Jerry Holsopple and Linford Stutzman to students participating in an October Living and Learning Forum at Eastern Mennonite University. Holsopple, a visual and communication arts professor, and Stutzman, professor in the Bible and religion department, teamed up to talk about “selfie culture” and the potential side-effects of this social phenomenon.

Winnipeg churches throw wedding party for Syrian refugee couple

Brian Darweesh and Reem Younes came to Canada as refugees from Syria. They were first married in a civil ceremony in Lebanon. After they arrived in Winnipeg, people from their sponsoring churches organized a wedding celebration for them. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Web First | By Emily Loewen | Nov 02, 2015

When Brian Darweesh and Reem Younes got married, they were living as refugees in Lebanon. They left their homes in Syria, fleeing violence and a threat on Darweesh’s life. At their wedding there was no white dress and no party. Just a civil ceremony in a foreign country.

But then a little over a year later, the couple had another wedding ceremony, this time in Winnipeg. Although most of their family and friends were a world away, the church was still full. People from Winnipeg’s Douglas and Jubilee Mennonite churches, their new family and friends, gathered to support them.

Bethany Mennonite reaches half-century milestone

Kaleigh Van Egmond paints the face of Ellery Sawatzky at the 50th anniversary celebration of Bethany Mennonite Church, Virgil, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Nov 02, 2015

The way Bill Goertz remembers it, every time it seemed that the building plan for Bethany Mennonite Church was settled, Victor Dyck would come to yet another caffeine-fuelled Founders Committee meeting and say, “Maybe we can do a little more.”

Eventually, rather than building only the education wing with a gymnasium, the entire building was completed for the congregation to move into in October 1965. A propitious wind storm on the day the decision to seed or sod the lawn settled that too: sod!

Parkview Home celebrates 50 years of service

George Reesor, front row right, a local historian and Parkview Home board member in the 1980s, spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration and observed: ‘The Parkview of today could not have been conceived or planned in its entirety back in the 1960s. Rather, each added project has been built upon vision, experience and expertise gained from earlier endeavours.’ His wife Anna is seated beside him. (Parkview Home photo)

Web First | By Joanna Reesor-McDowell | Oct 28, 2015

The Parkview auditorium was filled on Sept. 27, 2015, as residents, past and present board members, and community supporters gathered to celebrate 50 years of service to the community by Parkview Home. Established jointly by people from local Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Missionary churches in 1965, it has provided a caring Christian environment for elderly members of the community for a half-century.

Halloween means more than costumes and candy

A replica of the tongue screw used to torture Anabaptist Maeyken Wens in 1573 is on display at the Mennonite Heritage Centre in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

Web First | By Conrad Stoesz | Oct 27, 2015

October 31 in Canada and the USA is widely acknowledged as Halloween. It is marked by costumes, candy—and tales of horror. But the date has deeper historical connotations for Christians—especially Anabaptists. It also marks Reformation Day.

On that day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany, and set the wheels of vast religious and social change in motion.

Growing apples to feed hungry people

To help combat world hunger, members of Petitcodiac Mennonite Church, in New Brunswick, picked apples and produced cider. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Web First | Oct 20, 2015

You don’t have to be a grain farmer to support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank through a growing project. And you don’t even need to be a farmer, as members of Petitcodiac Mennonite Church in New Brunswick have once again shown.

Each fall, church members take advantage of the province’s abundance of apples and turn them into a growing project.

This year, they produced 190 two-litre jugs of apple cider that will be sold at a local farmer’s market, with the proceeds donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Shantz Mennonite Church celebrates 175 years

Ken Ogasawara leads worship at Shantz Mennonite Church’s 175th-anniversary celebration on Oct. 3, 2015. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 20, 2015

On the weekend of Oct. 3 and 4, 2015, Shantz Mennonite Church congregation celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Shannon Moroney makes art from pain

Artist Shannon Moroney uses images to illustrate her journey through trauma and resilience. This piece is entitled “Letting Go.” (Photo courtesy of Shannon Moroney)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 19, 2015

“You should do something with all this,” was the doctor’s prescription.

“All this” were the art supplies scattered across Shannon Moroney’s husband’s studio in their house. Jason, her husband of only four months, had at that point been in prison for three months awaiting trial for two violent sexual attacks on other women. Moroney was feeling completely shattered, having been told of his arrest while on a business trip.

Making a difference

Arnaud Mennonite Church youth group members Meagan Schlorff, left; Cole Holdrick, second from left; Liam Thiessen, third from right; and Adrian Thiessen, right, are pictured with youth leader Ewald Boschmann, third from left and Art Enns, the farmer who donated the land, to celebrate a successful harvest that raised $12,600 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Web First | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Oct 19, 2015

In the Bible, there’s a well-known story about Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand with only a few loaves and fish.

That story inspired the Arnaud (Manitoba) Mennonite Church youth group in its quest to help make a difference for hungry people around the world, but its success wasn’t due to a miracle—at least not the same supernatural kind. It was due to hard work, the support of the community and a good Manitoba growing season.

“In class at school, a lot of us were learning about hunger in Africa and Asia,” says youth group member Meagan Schlorff.

Church leaders learn to pastor people of peace in a country at war

Cesar Jarmillo, left, makes a point to Paul Heidebrecht and Harry Huebner at the ‘Pastoring people of peace in a country at war’ seminar held at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., on Sept. 26, 2015. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 19, 2015

“We don’t practise peace because it always works, but because we are called to be faithful to Christ’s way.”

Scott Brubaker-Zehr, pastor of Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., made this statement in response to speakers at the “Pastoring people of peace in a country at war” seminar held on Sept. 26, 2015, at Conrad Grebel University College.

MCC cyclathon raises $1 million for Syrian refugees

Cyclists Len Block, Reimar Goetzke and Gerd Bartel brave wet weather as part of the Pedaling for Hope Cyclathon that brought in over a million dollars to support Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)

Web First | Oct 05, 2015

One-hundred-and-fifteen cyclists braved the rainy weather on Sept. 19, 2015, and brought in nearly a million dollars to support Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon.

CMU recognizes grads with Distinguished Alumni Awards

Larry Plenert

Web First | By Kevin Kilbrei | Oct 05, 2015

An Olympian-turned-lawyer, an English language educator, a businessman with a passion for international development, and a couple who have ministered for more than 45 years in Winnipeg’s North End are the recipients of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) 2015 Blazer Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Helping businesses connect with customers with social media

Jeff Horst in the echosims’ former offices in Kitchener, Ont. Waterloo Region is now touted as the second-largest new-media centre in North America. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky) 

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Oct 05, 2015

At 26, Jeff Horst already has five years of entrepreneurial experience behind him.

That’s long enough to know that starting two companies at once is too much; that volunteering in many different social and community agencies can lead to burn out; and while he gains energy from relationships and community, he needs boundaries or levels of relationships with an inner core that is fully mutual.

Promise of peace returns to Burkina Faso after coup

Residents of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, are venturing out into the streets again, with talks between conflicting groups underway. The promise of peace once again holds out hope. (Mennonite Church Canada file photo by Deborah Froese)

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | Sep 28, 2015

A coup d’état in Burkina Faso brought the lead-up to democratic elections to a halt for a week filled with fear and shooting in the streets.

Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Mission Network personnel in the country and leaders of Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso) are “cautiously hopeful” that the worst of the violence has been resolved.

Profile surveys Mennonite World Conference churches

The Global Anabaptist Profile consultation group surveyed 24 church conferences of Mennonite World Conference concerning their demographics, beliefs, and practices. (Goshen College photo)

Web First | By Elizabeth Miller | Sep 24, 2015

Sociological surveys may be uncommon evangelistic tools, but Damien Pelende of the Democratic Republic of Congo testified that the Global Anabaptist Profile survey had drawn new people into his church.

The survey, a joint initiative of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA-Goshen College) and Mennonite World Conference (MWC), is a two-year project profiling the demographics, beliefs and practices of 24 church conferences in MWC.

10 ways to make your church autism-friendly

Geralde Reesor-Grooters

Web First | By Anna Groff | Sep 23, 2015

This list is based on the workshop, “How Can Church be Autism-Friendly?” led by Geralde Reesor-Grooters. The workshop was held on July 24, 2015 at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Harrisburg, Pa.

Global Youth Summit: just like family

With several other delegates, Chris Brnjas (center back row), Mennonite Church Canada’s delegate to Global Youth Summit 2015, shared reflections of the event during one of the closing sessions. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Sep 22, 2015

Chris Brnjas felt a deep kinship with fellow delegates to the Global Youth Summit (GYS) held in Pennsylvania July 17-19, 2015. In a report following the event he wrote, “We were separated by language, ethnicity, and even theological differences. And yet, we felt like family. One American delegate commented during the delegate sessions that he felt like he was ‘amongst my people.’”

EMU and Goshen announce withdrawal from CCCU

Web First | Sep 22, 2015

The presidents of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Goshen College (GC) announced their voluntary withdrawals from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) today.

Mennonites eager to help refugees, slowed by red tape

Abdel el-Razek, his wife and their youngest daughter stand in the Jordanian countryside, where they have managed to put up their tent. Back home in Syria, el-Razek was a car salesman. Now he works for minimal wages at various labouring jobs. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Web First | By J. Neufeld | Sep 11, 2015

Not long after a heart-wrenching photo of a refugee toddler lying lifeless on a Turkish beach hit the news, phones at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada began ringing off their hooks. People were calling to find out how they could help refugees fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria.

“It’s off the scale,” says Brian Dyck, MCC’s migration and settlement coordinator. “At any one time there’s 10 people looking at our refugee page on our website.”

Alleged sexual misconduct charge against Vernon Leis, deceased pastor

Vernon Leis

Web First | Sep 08, 2015 | 2 comments

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) has received an allegation of sexual and ethical misconduct against a former credentialed pastor, the late Vernon Leis. “It is a painful recognition of human sin and failure,” says an August 31 news release from MCEC. “In the midst of this challenging and painful situation, MCEC will do its best to walk alongside all those who are impacted.”