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Vietnamese Fellowship drops ‘Mennonite’ name

Pictured at the recent meeting of what is now the North American Vietnamese Evangelical Fellowship, are from left to right, front row: Nhien Pham, pastor of the Vietnamese Mennonite Church in Vancouver and chair of the newly named organization; and his wife Lien; and back row: Garry Janzen, MC B.C. executive minister; and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, MC Alberta area church minister. (Photo courtesy of Garry Janzen)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Today

A name change, effective immediately, heralds a time of direction-setting for the former North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship.

Best practices begin with prayer

Louise Campbell poses with the New International Version Student Bible and a copy of the most recent ‘Season of reading guide’ used by Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church to increase biblical literacy in the congregation for the past two years. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Today

While many congregations are shuttering or repurposing their education wings, Leamington United Mennonite Church built a whole new addition in 2011, replacing a 1959 building that had been linked to their new worshipping and office space when they were built in 1984. The new wing includes a dedicated prayer space as well as a suite of offices and a board room that is in high demand for adult study and discussion groups.

No longer ‘a repository of artifacts’

Mennonite Heritage Museum board chair George Epp points to the family register in a Bible once owned by Elder Peter Regier of the Rosenort Mennonite congregations. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Today

Oliver Friesen’s face lights up when he talks about history. “There’s something about the past,” he says. “It’s alive and so interesting.”

For the past two summers Friesen has been making history come alive for visitors to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Rosthern. A student of history at the University of Saskatchewan, Friesen has been helping to develop one room of the museum into a Mennonite interpretive centre.

Camp Moose Lake now sold

After 51 years of youth camping at Camp Moose Lake, a deal for the Mennonite Church Manitoba facility will close on Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Manitoba)

Camp Moose Lake, one of Mennonite Church Manitoba’s three Camps with Meaning (CwM) locations, has been sold to the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine. Possession date for the camp, located in the southeast corner of Manitoba near the community of Sprague, is set for Sept. 29, 2017.

‘Colombia fever’

David Fehr, left, and Klaas Wall in the middle of a rice field not too far from Puerto Gaitán, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Today

Despite warnings from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Low German Mennonites from drought-prone regions of northern Mexico have bought over 20,000 hectares of land in Colombia.

Kennert Giesbrecht, long-time editor of Die Mennonitische Post—a newspaper for Low German Mennonites throughout the Americas—notes the Liviney Colony and another 12,000-hectare parcel as two examples of land acquisitions. Another group is currently considering a 10,000-hectare plot. The lands are all in the Eastern Plains of Colombia, about 200 kilometres east of Bogotá.

Pollution in the Heavenly Province

Vanessa Snyder-Penner recently spent a year in China’s Sichuan province. (Photo courtesy of V. Snyder-Penner)

Young Voices | By Vanessa Snyder-Penner | Today

The first thought that struck me when I arrived in China’s Sichuan province was how green it was.

Somehow, perhaps from tales of air pollution and reading “Made in China” stamped on most goods, I had formulated an image of China as a grey, smoke-filled country. This image might represent some parts of the country. China is so massive that images as diverse as coniferous forests, tropical beaches and wind-swept deserts are all accurate snapshots of certain parts of the nation.

A very special relationship

Mekiah Yonda, left, and Amber Muskego have been friends since 2010, when this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy of Mekiah Yonda)

 

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Today

A relationship between a Winnipeg church and a community in northern Manitoba has resulted in a special friendship between two young women.

Mekiah Yonda and Amber Muskego met when members from Yonda’s church, Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, travelled to Cross Lake in 2010 to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for children in the community. Today, the two describe each other as sisters.

Congolese Mennonites suffer atrocities amid displacement of 1.4 million

Menno Simons’ favourite verse was chosen for the cloth commemorating the centennial of Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Community in Congo). Mennonites in the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently facing violence and displacement in the conflict-plagued Kasai region. (Photo by James Krabill)

Web First | By Will Braun | Aug 21, 2017

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of brutal violence.

Dozens of Congolese Mennonites have been killed, hundreds of their homes have been burned, and thousands of them have fled, as violence consumes the Kasai region, birthplace of the Mennonite church in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) reports 36 confirmed deaths of Mennonites, 12 church schools destroyed or attacked, 16 churches destroyed or attacked, and 342 homes destroyed. Those numbers may rise in the coming days.

Supporting women’s education with a party and a quilt

Martha Wiens stands in front of a quilt she made to raffle off at her 80th birthday party. Proceeds will support a scholarship for a young woman to attend Meserete Kristos College in Ethiopia. (Photo by Michael Wiens)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Aug 18, 2017

When retired teacher Martha Wiens of Leamington (Ont.) United Mennonite Church turned 80, she threw herself a birthday party with purpose. She auctioned off a specially made quilt to raise money in support of a young woman’s education at Meserete Kristos (MK) College in Ethiopia. But she didn’t stop there, pledging to pay for a full four-year scholarship to make sure the lucky recipient has no interruptions in her study.

B.C.’s wildfires affect large region

The sun sets in Oliver, B.C., against a hazy sky during the first week in August 2017. Smoke from fires in B.C.’s interior spread throughout the province this summer. (Photo by John Dawson)

Web First | By Amy Dueckman | Aug 15, 2017

Haze lingered over a wide area of British Columbia in early August, a reminder that wildfires in B.C.’s interior were affecting residents several hundred kilometres away. An air quality advisory index was issued in Metro Vancouver on July 31, 2017, and 10 days later was still in effect, the longest ever recorded.

Review: Mennonite-Nazi connection unconvincing

Web First | By Barb Draper | Aug 15, 2017 | 3 comments

Ben Goossen argues that German-speaking Mennonites of the 20th century had a sense of Mennonite nationality and that this concept of Mennonites as a “chosen nation,” a people with a distinctive heritage, culture and ethnicity, was influenced by the racist ideas of the Nazis. He says he began this study in an effort to understand his grandfather, a retired Mennonite minister from Kansas, who was devoted to the church but who also identified himself as a “proud Prussian.”

Committee invites input for Resonate music project

Web First | Aug 11, 2017

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee in inviting congregations and individuals to give input toward a new hymnal scheduled for release in 2020.

“We want to hear what is giving life to worship across the denomination,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director. “It is essential to hear from these voices – people whose investment will deeply inform our work toward a successful collection.”

A witness for nonviolence from Nigeria

Rev. Daniel U. Mbaya (centre) was the first candidate to successfully complete research in the doctoral program of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey. (Photo by Michel Grandjean)

Web First | Aug 11, 2017 | 1 comment

A doctoral thesis focusing on the nonviolent witness of a peace church in Nigeria was recently completed at the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The candidate, Rev. Daniel Y. Mbaya, who is general secretary of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, or EYN), defended his thesis on the witness of nonviolence of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

Obituary: ‘Dan has left us’

Web First | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Aug 02, 2017 | 2 comments

The four short words of this obituary’s title, sent to Mennonite Church Alberta’s area church minister Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, heralded a large impact for the province’s churchgoers, for the Jack family, and for the many friends of Dan and Marguerite Jack.

Jack, the moderator of MC Alberta, died peacefully on July 17 after a medical emergency precipitated by a 15-year struggle with Crohn’s disease.

Immersive experience

Jim Brown, Tavistock (Ont.) Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, emerges from the dunk tank during the congregation’s 75th-anniversary celebration on June 25, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 18, 2017

On June 25, 2017, Tavistock Mennonite Church’s intentional interim pastor, Jim Brown, got his feet—and more—wet, as the congregation acknowledged three-quarters-of-a-century of worship and mission in the village, and had fun dunking him in the process.

The congregation also offered a free chicken dinner to the first 400 who signed up. While some of those were former members and from neighbouring churches, the hope was to open the doors to the community at large. A service filled with music and trivia helped celebrate what God has done over the years.

Creating a we-centred world

Cassie Bobbitt, Richella Li, Olivia Atherton-Reimer and Kate Boyer bag dehydrated vegetables at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Jul 18, 2017

As far as David Epp is concerned, the 2016-17 school year was “a real success.” His first year of teaching at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) was also the first year of the school’s Imagine program for Grade 10 students.

A social-justice initiative offering integrated learning in English, history, Spanish and Christian ethics, Imagine also provides experiential-learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom.

‘Your joy becomes my joy’

Muslim students from the University of Waterloo sit with Conrad Grebel University College students as they participate in an interfaith fast-a-thon, ending in an iftar dinner. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

God at work in the World | By Jennifer Konkle | Jul 18, 2017

For Muslim students at the University of Waterloo, long spans of fasting during the longest days of the year are over and may already feel like a distant memory. However, it was just a few weeks ago that students were stretching the limits of their bodies as they refrained from eating or drinking each day while the sun was up. This religious practice during Ramadan becomes even more difficult for university students living away from the support of their families for the first time.

World Refugee Day celebrated in B.C.

Children of the Kabala and Djumaine families of Mission, B.C., perform a dance at the celebration of World Refugee Day in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Jul 18, 2017

“We are here to celebrate with you,” said Melissa Giles, director of programs for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., as she praised the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world at a World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017, that included speakers, song and dance.

“At MCC, refugee sponsorship is so important to our work,” she added, lauding newcomers to Canada and those who have welcomed them.

Breaking the silence

While living in Cambodia, Jaymie Friesen, centre, coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade. (Photo courtesy of Jaymie Friesen)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 18, 2017

For Jaymie Friesen, responding to abuse and preventing it in communities of faith is a personal calling. As the abuse response and prevention coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba, Friesen supports churches and individuals, and works to raise awareness of abuse and trauma.

Prior to beginning her position with MCC, Friesen worked with survivors of abuse in Southeast Asia through an organization called Daughters of Cambodia, where she coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade.

The odd couple

Mike Wiebe, Raya Cornelsen, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Lauren Harms visit with Erwin Cornelsen in his kitchen. (Photo of Jonas Cornelsen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jonas Cornelsen tells people he spent the last year living with, and caring for, his grandfather in Vancouver, they often praise him.

While Jonas appreciated his time with his grandfather, the praise makes him uncomfortable.

“The set-up sounds pretty [idyllic], like a good family movie,” says the 23-year-old, who returned to his home city of Winnipeg last month. “You know, the grandson spends time listening to his wise old grandfather, and they go to church together and do all these wholesome things. But internally I was struggling with anxiety and loneliness.” 

MC USA acknowledges ‘suffering’ of Jews, Palestinians

Web First | Jul 15, 2017

Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando earlier this month adopted a resolution entitled “Seeking peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution addresses the injustices of military occupation as well as the suffering caused by antisemitism.

The resolution notes that “the suffering of [Palestinians and Jews] has too often been set against the other. We recognize, rather, that the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians.”

A man worthy of his calling

Darrell W. Fast

Web First | By Ross W. Muir | Jul 15, 2017

Darrell W. Fast, born in Mountain Lake, Minn., passed away at the Leamington (Ont.) Mennonite Home, leaving Loretta Fast, his wife, his children Douglas (Michelle) Fast and Larissa Fast, two grandchildren, and many friends, relatives and former colleagues to mourn his passing.

After graduating from Mennonite Biblical Seminary (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary), Elkhart, Ind., in 1966, he began a life of service to the church on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border for the next 40 years.

MWC says farewell to a faithful servant

Glenn Fretz is pictured with the initial planning map and some of the hallway signage he designed for Assembly 16 in Harrisburg, Pa., in 2015. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder)

Web First | By Karla Braun | Jul 15, 2017

You may not have heard of one of the longest-serving workers for Mennonite World Conference (MWC) who is retiring this year, but many will be familiar with his work.

Glenn Fretz was at the beginning of his career as a designer when Paul Kraybill, a former MWC general secretary, contacted the resident of Waterloo, Ont., to do all the design work related to Assembly 10 in 1978. He designed the publications in multiple languages, created signage that features pictorial symbols to communicate across cultures without using words, and he created the organization’s logo.

Walking together for peace in Colombia

Colombians gather to demand peace in October 2016 after a plebiscite to ratify the peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was narrowly defeated. MCC partners organized ecumenical services for peace and participated in marches in Bogotá. The group in front holds a sign that says (in Spanish): ‘They kill the walker, but not the path. What are the paths of liberation today?’ (MCC photo by Anna Vogt)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 15, 2017

Months after a peace accord was signed between the government and the country’s largest rebel group, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partners in Colombia are walking with people affected by more than 50 years of violence.

Canada 150: Facing the long divide

Image courtesy of www.pixabay.com. CCO Public Domain. 

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Jun 30, 2017 | 1 comment

On July 1, 1867, the concerted efforts of 36 male, ethnic-European politicians came to fruition, and the Dominion of Canada was born. At the time, they celebrated, and for more than a century, Canadians continued to commemorate that day.

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