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Loving life, befriending death

Paul Chamberlain gave the keynote address, “Getting a Handle on Ethics,” at the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly 2015 conference.

Web First | By Sherri Martin-Carman | Jan 06, 2016 | 4 comments

“The ability to keep people alive longer has created new ethical questions around deciding to die. This has, in ways, driven the conversation around euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Paul Chamberlain spoke these words in his opening address at the Canadian Mennonite Health Assembly, which met in Waterloo in October 2015.

Anabaptist schools, Scripture and spiritual awakening

Sara Wenger Shenk, president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, reflects on the most urgent work for Anabaptist Mennonite schools in these troubled times. (Photo by Jason Bryant)

Web First | By Sara Wenger Shenk | Dec 21, 2015

In late September 2015, many of us were enthralled by a rare celestial display: a super moon in total eclipse, also known as a blood moon because of its reddish glow—clearly a reference to the apocalyptic vision from Revelation 6.

I talked about the blood moon on the phone with my 93-year-old mother, who said, “Oh Sara, I remember a night in Ethiopia, when you were a little girl. The night watchman woke us all in a panic, banging on our bedroom window, crying: “The moon burned up! The moon burned up!”

MDS project directors deeply rooted in service

Canadians Peter and Susan Thiessen bring a tradition of service and years of experience to their current roles with Mennonite Disaster Service. (Mennonite Disaster Service photo)

Web First | By Susan Kim | Dec 21, 2015

When Peter Thiessen was a teenager, one of his neighbors, a farmer, was injured so badly he couldn’t do the harvest. “It was Halloween night,” recalled Peter, “and my father got all the guys in the community together, and we worked for that farmer all through the night.”

As he was growing up in Manitoba, Peter’s family and his neighbors consistently showed him what it meant to live a life that was focused on helping others.

Welcoming refugees in Germany

A local church in the city of Halle, Germany, serves as a storage facility and sorting area for the many donated goods for refugees. (Eastern Mennonite Missions photo)

Web First | By Stephanie Hanna | Dec 21, 2015

“Above all, we want the refugees to receive what they need in the name of Jesus, for his glory and fame. They need him more than they need clean bedsheets, but we want to give them both!” say Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) workers in Halle, Germany. As Germany continues to wrestle with Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, EMM workers in Halle have joined in the emergency relief efforts. (Names are omitted due to a growing backlash against refugees and those assisting them.)

Updated edition of The Naked Anabaptist released

Web First | Dec 19, 2015

Five years ago, Stuart Murray’s book The Naked Anabaptist made waves with its look at the central beliefs of Anabaptism and their relevance for Christians today. Now Herald Press has released a new edition of the book, drawing in stories and perspectives from North America and the global church.

WCC calls for climate justice and care of creation at COP21

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, South Africa, presents Christiana Figueres with the interfaith petition for climate justice. Figueres heads the United Nations body dealing with climate change. (Photo © Ryan Rodrick Beiler/LWF)

Web First | By From World Council of Churches reports | Dec 10, 2015

“We believe that you will serve the world by showing the best of human creativity and capacity,” said Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in his December 8 address to the High Level Segment of the COP21 international climate conference in Paris. The conference, sponsored by the United Nations, is being held in Paris, France, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, 2015.

A labyrinth of Advent blessing

Pastor Gordon Allaby blesses his grandson in an Advent labyrinth created at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., last year. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe,

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Dec 09, 2015

At Waterloo North Mennonite Church, the 2014 Advent season began on Nov. 24 with a special labyrinth of blessing for the congregation’s children and youth.

A labyrinth of freshly cut pine, spruce and cedar boughs spiralled through the fellowship hall. Decorated with foil stars, apples and cranberry-like garlands, the labyrinth brought a festive appearance and a seasonal scent to the darkened room. Christmas carols played in the background.

‘Africa is for babies’

Taryn and Nathan Dirks, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in Gaborone, Botswana, with their baby Malakai. (Photo by Robyn Chew)

Web First | By Nathan Dirks | Dec 08, 2015

“Africa is for babies.” That’s what Andrew and Karen Suderman, our Mennonite Church Canada colleagues in South Africa, assured us before we first left for Botswana in 2013.

Churches of all stripes call for freedom of religion

Leaders from a variety of Christian denominations met in Albania to discuss religious discrimination, persecution and martyrdom. They called on governments and churches globally “to respect and protect the freedom of religion” as a fundamental human right. (Photo from the Global Christian Forum website) 

Web First | By Karla Braun | Dec 08, 2015

Representatives of every stream of global Christianity met in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 1 to 5, 2015, for a consultation on Discrimination, Persecution, Martyrdom: Following Christ Together, convened by the Global Christian Forum.

Together, these 145 Christian leaders recognized the continued persecution of Christians, repented of the times Christians have persecuted those of other faith, and called on governments and churches globally “to respect and protect the freedom of religion” as a fundamental human right.

Hearing God in indigenous voices

The Kairos blanket exercise, facilitated by Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap, kicked off the national Peace it Together youth event at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, earlier this month. (CMU photo)

Web First | Dec 08, 2015

“If you want to love someone, you need to know their story; if you want to know someone, you need to learn their story,” Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada’s director of indigenous relations, told participants at this year’s Peace it Together conference at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) earlier this month, as he and his daughter Abby shared about settler colonialism and the importance of learning the stories of both indigenous and settler peoples.

Nigerian church leaders rely on the Bible and prayer

Obed and Phena Dashan (center in blue) shared about their ministry in Nigeria, where Boko Haram is targeting Christians and others with violence. Following their testimony of how they are sustained by the Bible and prayer, the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary community surrounded them with prayer. (Photo by Mary E. Klassen)

Web First | By Mary E. Klassen | Dec 07, 2015

When Obed and Phena Dashan told students and faculty at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) how they feel God’s love surrounding them in spite of facing death every day in their ministry in Nigeria, the community gathered around them to pray while they also honored them for the faithful ministry.

MC Canada national office lays off five

Web First | By Will Braun | Dec 02, 2015

Mennonite Church Canada laid off five staff members on Nov. 28, 2015, as part of the cost-saving restructuring efforts that fall under the banner of the Future Directions Task Force. While decisions on the task force's final report will only be made at Assembly 2016 next summer in Saskatoon, a projected budget shortfall of nearly $300,000 this year required immediate action, MC Canada stated in a news release. 

MC Canada accelerates proposed changes

Web First | Dec 01, 2015 | 1 comment

Mennonite Church Canada has begun to implement changes proposed by the Future Directions Task Force (FDTF) insofar as foresight allows, as a result of pressing financial necessity.

Old Order Mennonite groups in Ontario are growing

Locations of Old Order Mennonite groups in Ontario. (Map courtesy of Amsey Martin)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Dec 01, 2015 | 3 comments

There has been remarkable growth in the number of Old Order Mennonite meetinghouses in Ontario in the last 50 years. They have been spreading farther afield, especially in the last 20 years. Amsey Martin, an Old Order deacon and schoolteacher, and Clare Frey, a minister from the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite group, talked about this growth at a meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, held at Floradale Mennonite Church on October 24, 2015.

Matt Epp supports Coffee for Peace effort with visit, concert

International recording artist Matt Epp examines coffee plant fruit during a tour of Coffee for Peace communities in the Philippines, with Mennonite Church Executive Director Willard Metzger. (Image by Sam Finlay, Midnight Light Productions)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Nov 25, 2015

International recording artist and world traveller Matt Epp is performing at a benefit concert to support a unique peacebuilding venture in the Philippines.

In March 2015 Epp visited the Philippines in response to an invitation from Coffee for Peace, a business initiative that builds peace by empowering local farmers to raise, process and sell fair trade coffee while giving new life to denuded forest land.

Mennonites in France pray for Muslims

Warning sign found on the door of Lamorlaye Mennonite Church, following the Nov. 13, 2015 terrorist bombings in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Linda Oyer) 

Web First | By Dani Klotz | Nov 24, 2015

None of Mennonite Mission Network’s five international workers was hurt in the November 13, 2015, bombings in Paris, although each one has been affected by them. 

The workers located in France working in and near Paris are Janie and Neal Blough, Brad and Brenna Steury Graber, and Linda Oyer.

CFB calls for Canada’s leadership in climate change and farming

Web First | By Carol Thiessen | Nov 23, 2015

As world leaders, including Canada’s new prime minister, meet in Paris November 30 to December 11, 2015, to conclude a major new climate change agreement, their main focus will be on cutting greenhouse gas emissions—a good thing. But the plight of many of the world’s 1.5 billion small-scale farmers should also be addressed there.

Mennonite shares insights on climate change with government leaders

Willard Metzger says his table grace collection was read and appreciated several years ago by the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, then a Liberal MP. The booklet focuses on climate change by thanking God for the bounteous gifts of the earth while recognizing our responsibility to care for creation in return. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Nov 20, 2015

Willard Metzger will attend the United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference, Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015, in Paris, France, on behalf of The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), where he serves as a vice-president. Metzger is Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director.

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.