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Ramadan delights

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 24, 2016

It’s been a couple years now, but the experience stands out in my mind as if it were yesterday.

Engin Sezen, executive director of the Waterloo, Ont., Intercultural Dialogue Institute, invited my wife Marlene and me to share a meal with his and his brother’s families after dusk during Ramadan.

When your services are no longer required

Feature | By Henry Neufeld | Aug 24, 2016 | 2 comments

“So this is how Mennonite Church Canada handles layoffs due to shrinking budgets. This was my mom’s experience today: show up to work; given the news; laptop taken away; password changed; escorted off the premises to a taxi. Who treats my mommy that way?” (Posted by Daniel Rempel on Facebook)

Advice for those ‘no longer required’

Feature | By © April Yamasaki | Aug 24, 2016

Since I shared my husband’s painful job loss through no fault of his own, I’ve received many emails and other private messages from people who have also experienced difficult endings in their employment. Some have changed churches or denominations, or left ministry all together. Some have been close to suicide and still struggle with depression and anxiety.

Readers write: August 29, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Aug 24, 2016

Dealing with mental illness is ‘hard enough already’

Thank you for the recent special issue of Canadian Mennonite on “mental health.” It is an important topic if we are to love each other well. Mental differences are invisible but they can lead to very different ways of interacting with other people and the world around us.

Ride for a ‘dream’

Daniel Horne
Viewpoints | By Daniel Horne | Aug 24, 2016

In October 2014, Wame Chiepe invited us to dream.

Wame lives near an abandoned park in Gaborone, Botswana. Young children play on a rusty, broken-down slide. Surrounded by drinking establishments, the park is an unsafe place. Night-time robberies and stabbings are not unusual. Eventually, the playground kids graduate to the nearby bars.

Wame dreamed of transforming the park and the lives of kids who play there. His dream has grown to inspire a local cadre of investors—and supporters in Mennonite Church Canada.

Healthy families adapt

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 24, 2016

It’s an exciting time for many people in my extended family. Three nieces are university students, preparing for careers in education or medicine. One niece, with BA newly in hand, has entered an intense one-year fellowship, halfway across the continent from her family and friendship supports. Two nephews are marrying this year. Others of that generation are starting new jobs or searching for employment, raising children or serving in international ministry.

A big change

Viewpoints | By Darren Pries-Klassen | Aug 24, 2016

Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) is about to make a big change. In October, we will become Abundance Canada.

This decision did not come easily. Our process was both cautious and comprehensive. Long before we considered rebranding, the board and management began strategizing for the future. Through this process we affirmed a number of core values. Among them is our commitment to serving the church with biblical stewardship education and the facilitation of charitable giving.

The pursuit of truth (Pt. 8)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Aug 24, 2016

In John 14:6, Jesus claims that he is the truth. What does this mean?

I used to think that the truth of Christ was a set of doctrines I needed to believe in, but I’ve become convinced that it is actually his state of consciousness and his way of life that we are now called to participate in.

An open letter to MC Canada

Ervin R. Stutzman
Viewpoints | By Ervin R. Stutzman | Aug 24, 2016

I was grateful for the opportunity to attend your biennial meeting in Saskatoon in early July. As always, I was impressed by the creativity expressed in your worship services and the focussed, thoughtful discussions in your business sessions, along with the comic relief I’ve come to expect in your gatherings.


Photo: C.F. Klassen / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies | Aug 24, 2016

When Mennonites came to Ontario and western Canada in the 1920s, they were helped by the “Swiss” Mennonites, such as those from The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ont. (pictured). The poor farming conditions and low commodity prices of the 1930s made the financial situation very difficult. In these circumstances, Mennonite Brethren and Mennonites worshipped together in communities such as Vineland. Within a few years, after they were more established and had more resources, Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren decided to separate and build their own churches.

SEED comes to an end

SEED program participants on their winter camping experience, from left to right: Dustin Siemens, Kimberly Hartman, Nigel Wismath, Tamaya Hamm, Melissa Brubacher and Geoff Gould, director of SEED. (Photo courtesy of Geoff Gould)

God at work in the Church | By Angelika Dawson | Aug 24, 2016

When Geoff Gould ponders his six years directing the SEED program at Camp Squeah, it is with mixed emotions: pride, joy, humility, gratitude. But there is also sadness. After much prayer, discussion and discernment, the decision was made in June to close SEED (Seeking to know God as your Father, Exploring yourself, Experiencing loving community, and allowing God to Develop your character as well as your gifts) after this year’s group had finished.

Marching to ‘Onward’ from ‘Zion’

The Rockway Mennonite Church ‘Ark’ is carried out of its former home in the now-sold Zion United Church building as the congregation marches ‘to Onward [Avenue] from Zion’ on June 26, 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Aug 24, 2016

Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener has worshipped in rental properties for all of its 56-year existence. Until now.

On June 26, 2016, the congregation had its final regular service in the Zion United Church  building on Weber Street West. During the service, Ann Weber Becker added one more item to an “Ark” built by her husband Byron while at a congregational retreat in February: the chair used by the children’s storytellers in worship.

‘Still carrying on the vision’

A scene from the Tall Grass Prairie Bakery in Winnipeg. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Aug 24, 2016

The passions that inspired Winnipeg’s community shared agriculture (CSA) movement and the famous Tall Grass Prairie Bakery are now making waves around the world, from Winnipeg to Hokkaido, Japan, and back.

Familiarity breeds good content

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Aug 24, 2016

Jane Austen once wrote that, for a developing writer, “three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on.” While Steinbach, Man., is certainly no “country village,” culturally it retains much of its old small-town feel, as so many Bible-belt communities do. Perhaps this is why Steinbach has served local blogger Andrew J. Bergman of “The Daily Bonnet” so well as a source of inspiration and opportunity.

A unique treasure

MC Saskatchewan’s Music Library began as a repository for choral works sung at annual songfests. This historical photograph depicts the choir that assembled for one of these songfests, which took place at Third Avenue United Church in Saskatoon on May 18, 1947. 

Artbeat | By Donna Schulz | Aug 24, 2016

Anna Rehan has logged countless hours of volunteer time as Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s music librarian. Appointed by the area church council, her mandate was to organize the large collection of music known as the MC Saskatchewan Music Library.

Food for body and soul

Lovella Schellenberg, left, narrates as Anneliese Friesen demonstrates the art of making zwieback at the Abbotsford, B.C., book launch of Bread for the Journey. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Aug 24, 2016

While the aroma of fresh-baked zwieback filled the air, members of the “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” blog group launched their newest book at the Mennonite Heritage Museum on Aug. 3.

Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul is the latest in the series of books from a group of Mennonite cooks mostly based in the Fraser Valley of B.C. While previous books in the series have been entirely cooking-based, this one focusses more heavily on devotional meditations, prayers and sto-ries, along with the recipes.

Letting Christ abide, from Saskatchewan to Gambia

Terri Lynn Paulson’s interest in agriculture took her to the West African country of Gambia. (Photo by Michael Friesen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Aug 24, 2016

Tending to the grapes she grows in the house she lives in provides Terri Lynn Paulson with a very tangible way of considering John 15, a chapter of the Bible she has been reflecting on in recent months. It begins: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”

A potluck plate full of Mennonite cultures

During his internship, Andrew Brown, centre, happened to meet brothers John, left, and Peter Redekop, right, who were part of a group of Mennonites that Brown researched. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Brown)

Young Voices | By Andrew Brown | Aug 24, 2016

This spring I was awarded an archival internship with the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission that allowed me to travel to various Mennonite Brethren archives in North America to learn how they work, as well as to do some of my own research.

I visited the archives at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C.; the Hiebert Library at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif.; the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan.; and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Winnipeg, spending a week in each place.

First woman to direct Mennonite Bible school in Congo

Bercy Mundedi was one of the first three women ordained by the Mennonite Church of Congo in 2013. Here in the chapel at Kalonda Bible Institute where Mundedi has taught for 10 years, Adolphe Komuesa Kalunga, national president of the denomination, presides over her ordination. (Photo by Sandy Miller). 

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | Aug 23, 2016

Holy Spirit fire dances in Bercy Mundedi's eyes. It sets aflame the ministries to which she has been called—the most recent being to lead the Kalonda Bible Institute in Democratic Republic of Congo.

‘This is not the end of life’

Feryal, right, now leads a team of young volunteers sharing their own stories about being displaced with other displaced families in Iraq’s northern Ninewa Governorate. She, her parents Fatima and Elyas, and her sister Jandar live in a camp for displaced people after fleeing from the Islamic State group. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Web First | By Marla Pierson Lester | Aug 23, 2016

By the time Feryal arrived at a camp for displaced people in Iraq’s northern Ninewa Governorate, she had little desire to leave the security of the tent she shared with her parents and sister. And for the first four months, she mostly stayed put.

“I didn’t like to talk to anyone, just be silent,” recalls the 22-year-old, whose last name is not used for security reasons.

The months before had been harrowing. Fleeing the Islamic State group, which killed her uncle, she and her family were among the thousands trapped on Sinjar Mountain without shelter two summers ago.

Finding God at work in the city

Web First | By Ardell Stauffer | Aug 23, 2016

God is at work and the gospel is alive in our cities, towns and communities. This is the message Marty Troyer wants to share in his new book, The Gospel Next Door, released by Herald Press.

As a pastor in Houston, Tex., Troyer has found the gospel to be thriving in the city. “People are sharing Jesus, pursuing shalom in the city,” he says, adding that the old division of evangelism and social justice breaks down as Christians combine these in life-giving ways.

Veterans’ needs provide an opportunity for learning and ministry

Matthew Stearn speaks at Eastern Mennonite Seminary about his research into post-traumatic stress disorder and veterans. (Eastern Mennonite Seminary photo by Joaquin Sosa)

Web First | By Walt Wiltschek with Lauren Jefferson | Aug 23, 2016

A conversation about the needs and issues facing military veterans has been arising in an unexpected place this year: the halls of Eastern Mennonite Seminary (EMS).

The dialogue has grown as several graduate students recently focussed their research projects for their master of divinity degrees on veterans’ concerns. They include Matt Stearn, who looked at how Mennonite denominations can provide healing communities for combat veterans, and Darin Busé, a Methodist pastor and former combat veteran who named spiritual trauma as another casualty of combat.

Canadian Mennonite: A lighthouse

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 10, 2016

In reflecting on Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon, one thing is certain: We are entering a period of uncertainty in the life of Mennonite Church Canada and its area churches. The most hopeful sign in this state of affairs is that the delegates had enough faith in our leaders to begin a new process with few specifics.

We can always afford to be generous

Levels of trust

Feature | By Lori Guenther Reesor | Aug 10, 2016

Peach Blossom Church almost always meets its budget, although some years involve more drama than others. It still engages a full-time pastor, fixes the roof and supports mission workers. In 15 minutes, it can raise $5,000 to send the youth group on a mission trip.

But lately it hasn’t been giving as much money to the denomination. Nor have its individual members. So, why is this? It seems the good folks at Peach Blossom, like many other Canadian Christians, trust their local church more than they trust their denomination.

Readers write: August 15, 2016 issue

Viewpoints | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

What about the pastors who are forced to refrain from moonlighting?

Re: “Meet the pastors who moonlight,” June 20, page 4.