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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.”

Of mission and politics

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 20, 2016

Two articles in this issue point to a shift in our Anabaptist/Mennonite thinking about both our mission in international witness and our place in the government arena.

“Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric,” Deborah Froese, the director of Mennonite Church Canada’s news service, opens her “What’s up with Mennos and mission?” feature on page 4, quoting Witness worker Daniel Pantoja, who ministers with his wife Joji in the Philippines.

What’s up with Mennos and mission?

MC Canada Witness workers Nathan and Taryn Dirks are pursuing the development of a safe community park in a rough area of Gaborone, Botswana, and Sunday school children in Canada recently raised money to help provide a climbing structure for their counterparts there. To learn more about the work of Nathan and Taryn Dirks, visit

Feature | By Deborah Froese | Apr 20, 2016

About eight years ago, Daniel Pantoja shared the approach he and his wife Joji employed as Mennonite Church Canada Witness Workers in the Philippines: “Toss aside western church culture and rhetoric.” By shaping their approach from a Muslim context, they bridged the gap between perception and Jesus.

A little child will lead them

A sketch of the future futsal park, drawn by local Bontleng youth, Michael Zachariah, provides a rough idea of its layout. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

God at work in the World | By Nathan Dirks | Apr 20, 2016

A futsal (soccer) park project in Gaborone, Botswana, is springing to life with the help of children who are following God’s lead. Despite an encouraging start to this development, we ran into a number of obstacles along the way that made us wonder if God was calling us to continue or let the project go.

Readers write: April 25, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Apr 20, 2016

‘You betcha’ climate change is real

Re: “Is climate change real?” by Will Braun, Feb. 29, page 17.

Is climate change real? You betcha!

Art can make a difference

Ray Dirks
Viewpoints | By Ray Dirks | Apr 20, 2016

My exhibit of paintings, Along the Road to Freedom, remembers and honours the journeys of Russian Mennonite women who led their families to freedom in Canada, mostly in the 1920s and 1940s. It also acknowledges those thousands who did not escape. It’s a story that is familiar to many cultures and faiths.

My conversion

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Apr 20, 2016

Recently the Listening Church video ( was released, in which lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) people speak of their experiences in Mennonite churches. One speaker challenged people “who had changed their minds” to tell their stories. Here I take up that challenge.

Although it was not always the case, I have viewed myself as “gay-positive” for many years. (I no longer know if such a designation is even used or valued. Hopefully, the positive intent carries my meaning.)

Three significant steps mark my conversion:

Reducing the potential for drama

Peter Dryden
Viewpoints | By Peter Dryden | Apr 20, 2016

There was an interesting scene on a recent courtroom drama in which a dying, wealthy woman had taken the time to place sticky notes on precious items around her home to indicate to whom the items should go after she died. Unfortunately, the woman passed away during the night. By morning, all of her carefully placed sticky notes had fallen to the floor. Oops!

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 4)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Apr 20, 2016

In my experience, Mennonites live by the adages “Actions speak louder than words” and “Faith without works is dead.”

One of the things that drew me to Anabaptism was its emphasis on “walking the walk” more than “talking the talk.” I was raised in a church in which passionate shouting was the hallmark of faithful gospel preaching, so it was refreshing to discover a Christian tribe known as the “quiet in the land.”

Crowd surfing

Photo: Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Apr 20, 2016

Banff, Alta., has hosted numerous Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren national youth gatherings. Pictured are youth “crowd surfing” at a 1995 Mennonite Brethren event in Banff.  Events like these have been important times of building friendships with youth leaders, people within one’s own church, and those from across the country. Youth were inspired to be faithful Christians and became aware of the wider Mennonite church. Will these events continue?

A search for common ground

Katherina Hiebert (1855-1910), seated (Photo courtesy of Preservings)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 20, 2016

The Ojibway word for medicine is mush-ki-ki, meaning “strength of the earth” or “power from the soil,” explained David Daniels of Long Plain First Nation, located near Portage La Prairie, Man., in First Nations Voice some years ago.

More recently, Daniels has been working in collaboration with Morden researcher Jason Dyck to trace the paths of medicinal practices in Manitoba Mennonite and Ojibway communities, in a search for common ground.

Listening with the heart

Chris Lenshyn, left, representing Mennonite Church B.C., presents a blanket made by MCC quilters to elder Robert Joseph, a hereditary chief of the Gwawanuk First Nation and founder of Reconciliation Canada, at the ‘Journey of reconciliation’ event at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, on April 9, 2016. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 20, 2016

Listening on both sides is vital as indigenous people and settlers continue to learn to walk beside, and relate to, each other.

This was one key point that some 70 participants took away from a day-long meeting at Columbia Bible College on April 9, 2016, called “Journey of reconciliation: Listening to indigenous elders.” The event was jointly sponsored by Columbia, Mennonite Church B.C., and Mennonite Central Committee B.C.

Staying alive amid new financial realities

Brent Zorgdrager, MSCU’s chief executive officer, says market surveys with non-Mennonite consumers with similar faith values as the Credit Union focussed on the ‘Mennonite’ name in 90 percent of the cases, leading to the realization that it was seen as a block to membership. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 20, 2016

It was the re-entry of the commercial banks into the agricultural lending sector that tipped the balance at Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU), prompting its leaders to believe that they had to do something sooner, rather than later, for the future success and survival of this 52-year-old southern Ontario institution.

Pizza lessons

God at work in the Church | By Brenda Tiessen-Wiens | Apr 20, 2016

John Biakte, left, Tha Kim and Nan Tin enjoy their first experience of making pizza dough on Feb. 13, 2016, with instruction from Karin Krahn, right. More than 20 people from Foothills Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alta.), Calgary Chin Christian Church and Calgary Chin Evangelical Fellowship got together for an afternoon of learning, laughter and applause over their baking creations, as ‘teachers’ from Foothills shared their favourite recipes and baking tips with ‘students’ from the Chin congregations. Chin participants are now looking forward to trying out their new skills at home.

‘I am proud of my roots’

‘Within the appropriate accountability structures of our democracy, [public servants] animate their action with their beliefs, with their faith,’ says new senator Peter Harder who was a former public servant himself. (Photo courtesy of Peter Harder)

God at work in Us | By Dick Benner | Apr 20, 2016

Peter Harder, a retired senior bureaucrat and high-level corporate advisor with Mennonite roots, was named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the Liberal government’s leader in the Senate on March 18. Having led Trudeau’s transition team following last fall’s election, Harder’s new job will be to move government legislation through a divided Senate in which the new Liberal appointments are no longer part of the Liberal caucus.

Climbing toward a greater unknown

David Dueckman, left, Scott Currie, Stephen Dahl and Matthew Jake Janzen are Oh Village. (Photo by Abbye Dahl)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 20, 2016 | 1 comment

Spending time with his band mates is one of the first things Oh Village singer/pianist Scott Currie mentions when asked about the best part of making Ocris, the band’s second full-length album.

“My favourite part of the week was Friday mornings,” the 21-year-old says. “Every Friday morning we would get together and just talk and hang out. Sometimes we would have breakfast and chat and discuss things not related to music, and just get to know each other as people. . . . Since the album’s [been] finished, that’s kind of one of the main things I miss.”

Outside his comfort zone

Moses Falco is pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 20, 2016

Six months into his first pastoral job, Moses Falco feels very inadequate. “Am I really cut out for this?” and “Do I have the skills to be in this position?” are questions he has discussed with members of the church council and deacons.

Although he feels inadequate, Falco—who is the sole pastor at Sterling Mennonite Church, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation in Winnipeg with a membership of about 140—is confident that God, as well as his brothers and sisters in the church, will help him along.

The animals of MCC

VIETMAN: This cow belongs to Phùng Thị Tuyết, who cares for her disabled son, Trần Minh Sõn, who has suffered severe disabilities since birth due to his family’s exposure to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange. The family received the cow from MCC partner Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), to help boost income and financial security. Photo by Matthew Sawatzky

Back Page | By Emily Loewen | Apr 20, 2016

Around the world, MCC supports projects that help families make a better living, helping them pay for food or school for their children. Sometimes those projects involve animals—getting loans to buy them or training and new techniques to raise them. Here’s a glimpse of some of the MCC animals and how they are at work across the globe.

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?

How strong is our DNA?

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Apr 06, 2016

“Those of us who discovered Anabaptism experienced this encounter, as I did, as a homecoming,” wrote Stuart Murray in his now-famous book in our circles, The Naked Anabaptist (2010). “Here were other Christians who shared our convictions about discipleship, community, peace and mission.”

Marriage in embodied mystery

Feature | By Bruce Hiebert | Apr 06, 2016 | 2 comments

Marriage has always been, and continues to be, a perplexing reality for Christians. From the Apostle Paul’s confusing advice to the more recent agonizing over divorce, Christian marriage has been plagued by anxiety and confusion. The conflicts in the church today are only the most recent chapter in millennia of struggle.

Readers write: April 11, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Apr 06, 2016

Jesus ‘affirms’ male-female marital unions

Re: “What is ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’?” feature,  Feb. 15, page 4.