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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.

Peace more than pacifism

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Nov 18, 2015

Every year at Remembrance Day and Peace Sunday, Canadian Mennonites are torn between honouring those who lost their lives through war and entering into a ritual that celebrates violence as a way of resolving international conflict. In doing one, do we negate the other?

Incubating peace photo

Feature | By Paul Heidebrecht | Nov 18, 2015

Innovation is all the rage in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., the place I now call home.

A day does not go by without stories about another high-tech start-up in the local paper, stories that regularly achieve national prominence. It is no longer enough to describe our community as being the home to “Canada’s most innovative university” for 23 years running. Many now pride themselves on being part of an innovation hub that is the envy of much larger metropolitan centres the world over. “Silicon Valley North,” as some like to call it.  

Readers write: November 23, 2015 issue

Viewpoints | Nov 18, 2015

Leis family ‘victimized by tragedy

Re: “Editors ‘lack . . . understanding on issues of clergy sexual abuse’ ” and “Readers disappointed in handling of the Vernon Leis matter” letters, Oct. 26, page 10.

Ministry in diversity

Roberson Mbayamvula
Viewpoints | By Roberson Mbayamvula | Nov 18, 2015

“Lord, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I need to be, I am not what I am going to be, but, thank God Almighty, I am not what I used to be.”  --Prayer from an African leader

By its presence, teaching and action, the church is the salt and the light of the world. Because of this, it is called to have a prophetic and edifying voice in the world. Experience has shown me that we need new strategies to offer salt and light to believers and seekers who coexist in the same faith community, but come from all kinds of backgrounds.

It’s a miracle

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Nov 18, 2015

December 24. Late morning. I am in the kitchen, making a pot of soup, savouring its scents and colours. Lovely Christmas music pours from the radio. I’m hoping this domestic activity will centre me in the wake of the stormy currents that accompany the season. How do we ponder all these things, like Mary did, when we are assaulted by such a crush of busyness?

Sometimes you need to receive

Darren Pries-Klassen
Viewpoints | By Darren Pries-Klassen | Nov 18, 2015

Some time ago, during a morning walk, I found a wallet a few blocks from my house. I looked around, hoping the owner might still be close by, but there was no one. Just me. A peek inside revealed a library card, a health card and $25 in bills. That was it. No credit cards. No driver’s licence. Nothing with an address or a phone number. All I knew was the owner’s name—we’ll call him Jim—and his health card number. I called the police to report a lost wallet and soon after a cruiser came by my house, picked it up and promised to return it to the owner.

Advent is life

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Nov 18, 2015

The weeks leading up to Christmas brought an overwhelming spirit of anticipation to our household when I was growing up. In fact, the intensity of waiting to open our gifts on Christmas morn was too much for my brother and me to bear.

‘These records are unique’

Conrad Stoesz examines the original letter of invitation from the Canadian government to Mennonites living in Russia (modern day Ukraine). (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By J. Neufeld | Nov 18, 2015 | 1 comment

The looping cursive script has turned brown, the yellowing pages are smudged with fingerprints and held together with aged pieces of tape. In the top left corner of the document, the faded blue ink of a rubber stamp reveals the date this document was written and signed: July 24, 1873.

The letter is a significant historical artifact for Mennonites: it is the original invitation from the Dominion of Canada to Mennonites living in Russia (modern day Ukraine) offering them land, freedom of religion and exemption from military service.

‘We should do this again’

Comforters are knotted during Kitchener First Mennonite Church’s Assembly Scattered celebration on Oct. 3. First Hmong Mennonite, a daughter church of First Mennonite, was invited to the party. Pictured knotting the comforter are Hmong youth, from left to right: Isaiah Her, Zack Mua, Tong Her, Ezekiel Her and Faith Her. (Photo by Dennis Burkhardt)

God at work in the Church | By Rebecca Yoder Neufeld | Nov 18, 2015

“We should do this again!” commented a Hmong young adult, a sentiment heard often after Kitchener First Mennonite Church’s Assembly Scattered weekend in early October 2015.

Nearly 60 youth, children and adults from the congregation were privileged to gather with almost 8,000 Anabaptist believers from 77 countries in July at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Harrisburg, Pa. Those who went wanted to share the experience with the home crowd.

Retreat sparks women’s spiritual gifts

Gloria Laurence, left, auctions a vase held by Rita Siebert at the fall B.C. women’s retreat. The live auction and other fundraisers during the weekend raised nearly $1,640 for women’s ministries, including retreat assistance bursaries and the Mennonite Church Canada Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 18, 2015

Warmth was evident all around at the annual B.C. Women’s Ministry retreat. Held from Oct. 16 to 18, 2015, at Camp Squeah, there was warmth in the fire and fireplace decorations that adorned the lodge and warmth in the fellowship among participants.

Stewarding agricultural diversity across cultures

Caroline Chartrand, right, who describes herself as ‘the landless Métis seed saver,’ holds a Gete-Okosomin squash. Kenton Lobe, an instructor in international development studies at CMU and one of CMU Farm’s founders, holds an Arikara squash, another variety being grown for seed at the CMU Farm. (CMU photo)

God at work in the World | Nov 18, 2015 | 1 comment

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) made headlines this fall when it was revealed that workers at its CMU Farm had successfully grown an ancient variety of squash from seeds shared with them by the White Earth Seed Library in Minnesota. The squash was grown in collaboration with members of Manitoba’s Métis community.

Will Trudeau boost Mennonite causes?

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Nov 18, 2015

When a provincial election brought a wave of optimism to Manitoba—or at least parts of it—in 1999, a colleague said, “Yep, the reign of God should descend upon us any time now.”

So what might the change in Ottawa mean for a few issues of particular concern to Mennonites with the Liberals in power and Markham-Stouffville MP Jane Philpott, a member of Community Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., appointed as the new Minister of Health?

Social values

Welcoming the stranger

Doha Kharsa, centre, a Syrian refugee who came to Canada a year ago, told delegates at MCC Saskatchewan’s Encounter and annual general meeting to try to imagine what it would be like to lose everything they had and become a refugee. Also pictured are Peter Neufeldt of Grace Mennonite Church, Regina, left, and Dana Krushel, MCC Saskatchewan’s refugee assistance coordinator. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 18, 2015

“You maybe can’t save all the lives, but you can save some.” With these words, Doha Kharsa encouraged her audience to sponsor refugees. Kharsa, herself a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada a year ago, spoke at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan’s Encounter and annual general meeting, held Nov. 7 at Parliament Community Church.

In her opening meditation, Rose Graber, pastor of Grace Mennonite, Regina, reminded delegates, “We are [all] strangers and aliens, caretakers of the earth God owns,” adding, “We welcome [strangers] because when we do, we welcome Jesus.”

Leadership changing at MCC Saskatchewan

Wrapped in a quilt he purchased at the MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale and Auction in June, and surrounded by fellow board members and delegates, Dan Siebert seeks God’s blessing as the new chair of the provincial organization’s board of directors. Also pictured from left to right: Peter Guenther, outgoing board chair; Peter Neufeldt; Eileen Klassen Hamm; Claire Ewert Fisher, outgoing executive director; Don Peters, MCC Canada’s executive director; and Carlin Fehr. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Nov 18, 2015

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is entering a season of transition.

Claire Ewert Fisher has resigned as executive director, a position she has held for the past seven years. In her final report to delegates, Ewert Fisher said, “It is time for new energy and vision in this role. It is time for me to slow down a bit and move more intentionally into what I understand to be my primary giftings.”

Eileen Klassen Hamm, MCC Saskatchewan’s program director, will serve as interim executive director until a new executive director is hired.

A God bigger than this mess

God at work in Us | By Henry Paetkau | Nov 18, 2015

As part of our occasional Faith Journeys series, we share Henry Paetkau’s experience with readers. As Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s area church minister, he originally presented this story as a monologue of a Sunday morning encounter with a neighbour at this spring’s annual church gathering:

Hey neighbour! Beautiful Sunday morning!

Yup, off to church. You’ve seen me in my gardening clothes, and these aren’t them!

Miller had major impact on the church

Artbeat | By Barb Draper | Nov 18, 2015

The story of Orie O. Miller is also the story of how Mennonites in the 20th century moved from being isolationist and the “quiet in the land,” to being a church with strong institutions involved in North American society and around the world.

In many ways, Miller was at the centre of these changes. He worked tirelessly to serve God by promoting the work of the church through education, missions, refugee resettlement, relief work and development. He also served on a multitude of Mennonite boards and committees, and had a profound impact on the church.

Coffee for Peace wins UN award

On behalf of Coffee for Peace in the Philippines, Joji Pantoja, right, accepts a certificate of achievement from the United Nations Development Programme. Coffee for Peace was one of six winners in the UN’s IIX N-Peace Innovation Challenge. (Photo courtesy of the United Nations Development Programme)

Focus On | By Deborah Froese | Nov 18, 2015

Coffee for Peace won a certificate of achievement from the United Nations Development Programme. It was one of six winners in the UN’s IIX N-Peace Innovation Challenge for “sustainable, scalable, inclusive peacebuilding, that has long-term and transformative impact.” The award was presented to Coffee for Peace founder and CEO Joji Pantoja in New York City on Oct. 23, 2015.

Challenged, changed, rewarded

We spent a lot of time on the road, travelling to meet with different partner organizations. This road is in the Drakensberg Mountains. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Janzen | Nov 18, 2015

My partner Suzanne Braun and I spent three years as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) service workers in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho from 2011-14. As the connecting peoples coordinator and planning, monitoring and evaluation coordinator, we worked to support a wide variety of MCC partner organizations throughout the SwaLeSA area. Much of what we did was unglamourous, computer-based work. However, we were also privileged to have the opportunity to travel frequently around the SwaLeSA area.

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.