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Sharp among confirmed dead in DRC

Michael J. Sharp addresses the UN Security Council in August 2016. (Courtesy of the Sharp family)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Yesterday

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official kidnapped with five others in the Democratic Republic of Congo two weeks ago, has been confirmed as deceased by the Congolese government, according to Reuters. 

The bodies of two Caucasians, a male and female, were found in the Central Kasai region, where Sharp and a female colleague went missing. A third body, later confirmed as their Congolese interpreter, was also found.

It’s time to do ‘something constructive together’

Worship band members from Elmira’s Zion Mennonite Fellowship lead singing at the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners worship gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., on Jan. 15, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

Evangelical Anabaptist Partners (EAP) is a loosely affiliated group of pastors and lay people from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada who have been gathering regularly for worship, mutual encouragement, fellowship and discussion about their mission in the world.

At a recent monthly Sunday evening gathering at Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, Ont., Craig Frere, the host pastor, challenged the 90 people present to have a faith that extended beyond Sundays into the whole week, “being good news to others” and “being the church on the way” through life.

MC Saskatchewan ‘extends the table’

The Gospel According to Food, a play written and performed by members of Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, encourages MC Saskatchewan delegates to re-examine their relationship with food. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 22, 2017

“Extending the table: Enough for all.” That was the theme chosen for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s annual delegate sessions this year, and as delegates and guests broke bread together, literally and metaphorically, they found there was indeed enough for all.

Held March 10 and 11, 2017, at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, the sessions were co-hosted by the Nutana Park and Pleasant Point Mennonite congregations.

MEI student dies on ski trip

Julian Osis

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 22, 2017

A school outing turned to tragedy on March 3, 2017, when a student from Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) in Abbotsford died during a ski trip to Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.

Reports said an unresponsive male was found at the bottom of Blackcomb Mountain after he was reported missing in the afternoon. The student’s name was not officially released to news media, but links on the MEI website identified him as Julian Osis, 14.

‘Being like a family’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, centre, leads a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Mar 22, 2017

Mennonite Church Manitoba gave its final comments on the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 process, which has dominated public attention since last summer, at the area church’s annual general meeting held the first weekend in March 2017, at Winkler Mennonite Church.

In an official statement, “Responding to BFC 7,” the area church “recognizes and endorses the recommendations” of the BFC Task Force, commending local congregations to continue in prayer, study and humble mutual respect:

A ‘manufactured narrative’?

Dick Benner
God at work in the Church | By Dick Benner | Mar 22, 2017

“Moral selectivity is worse than immorality,” insisted Omar Ramahl, a Muslim Canadian invited to address an adult Sunday school class at Waterloo North Mennonite Church recently, to give his perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was referring to the biblical narrative that justifies occupation and injustice as a “manufactured narrative.”

A voice from ‘outside the gate’

Victor and Rebecca Fast, left, and Martha and Paul Snyder meet to share the story of the Parents Group (of LGBTQ children), which they had been members of for 30 years before disbanding it last fall. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

“We are exhausted.”

So say members of a group of Mennonite parents of LGBTQ children, who met together for 30 years to worship, pray, exchange stories and support each other and their children, of their decision to call it quits last fall, as age and changing times have taken their toll.

Evangelistic work still paying dividends today

Bible study in the Martins’ basement apartment in 1958. Pictured from left to right: Pauline Reesor, Marc Reesor, Christian Chano, Deborah Martin, Harold Reesor and Mr. Chano from France, their first contact. (Photo courtesy of Tilman Martin)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 22, 2017

Tilman Martin turned 90 on Jan. 3, 2017. He is the last of the four original church planters sent from Ontario to Quebec in 1956 whose work continues to pay dividends to this day. The other original planters were the late Harold (d. March 12, 2017) and Pauline (d. April 6, 1980) Reesor from Wideman Mennonite Church in Markham; and Janet (Mills) Martin (d. July 29, 2002) from St. Jacobs Mennonite Church.

Step back in history

Brubacher House was built in 1850 in a style typical of Pennsylvania German architecture. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017 | 1 comment

Joshua Enns goes through less than two kilograms of flour each week baking bread for himself and his wife Laura. By comparison, the original inhabitants of the house they live in went through 45 kilos.

Playing for fun and credit

Anna Lysack has played the violin for 15 years. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017

Legendary rock ‘n’ roll drummers Keith Moon and Neil Peart inspired Matt Schellenberg to get into percussion, but it’s Bach and Beethoven that he will be playing when he performs next month.

Schellenberg is one of a handful of young adults who are members of the Mennonite Community Orchestra (MCO) in Winnipeg. The MCO is the orchestra-in-residence at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and consists of more than 50 professional and amateur musicians; it will perform its annual spring concert on April 9, 2017, in the chapel at CMU.

Mennonite observes Lent with ‘Fast for Healing Justice’ and tweets to Trump

Daryl Byler, executive director of Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, began a 40-day fast on Ash Wednesday 2017. His daily thoughts, addressed to President Donald J. Trump, combine readings from the Presbyterian lectionary with meditation on the themes of justice and healing for the United States. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Web First | By Lauren Jefferson | Mar 21, 2017

In preparation for his 40-day fast, which began on March 1, Ash Wednesday, Daryl Byler made a few changes to his recreational reading. This lawyer, ordained minister and executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University favors non-fiction and legal thrillers.

Recently, however, Byler has been meditating on the Presbyterian daily lectionary—the faith tradition of President Donald J. Trump—and listening to the thoughts and ideologies that Trump has expressed in his many books.

Is there room enough for hope?

Mary Jo Leddy, left, poses with Lorna Sawatzky at the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar lecture on March 3. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

Mary Jo Leddy asked those gathered on a cold Canadian evening in Waterloo what kind of Canada they want to be part of: one that is mean and nasty, with borders open for business but not for refugees? Or a Canada that is just, good, caring and decent with borders open to invite people to join in the responsibility for this place?

Leddy, the director of Romero House in Toronto, a transition house for refugees, was the 2017 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky visiting scholar at Conrad Grebel University College, who spoke on March 3.

‘Communities so full of love that it’s contagious’

Monday Night Peacemeal members meet weekly to share food, concerns and events in their personal lives, as a step towards living with each other in the vulnerability and accountability evident in true community. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nimz)

Web First | Mar 21, 2017

Trusting enough to be vulnerable and the willingness to be accountable are key intentional acts needed to build true community. In the extensively secularized culture of England, self-reliance and independence are seen as ultimate strengths, but being vulnerable is seen as a weakness. So how does one encourage true community there?

Ministry on a human scale

Mandy Smith leads Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors in an exercise delving into their fear and shame of not being enough to truly serve God at the annual School for Ministers on Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 21, 2017

“Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything) / That's how the light gets in.”

EMU alumnus among those kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official and former Mennonite Central Committee peace worker, has been reported kidnapped with five others by unknown assailants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this 2015 photo provided by MCC, he visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo by Jana Asenbrennerova, used with permission)

Web First | Mar 15, 2017

Michael J. “M.J.” Sharp, a United Nations official, was among six people kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a press release issued Monday by the Congolese government.

He was part of a UN panel of experts investigating ongoing civil conflicts in the country, according to Al Jazeera. A second UN worker, Zaida Catalan, was also kidnapped as well as four Congolese nationals, according to reports. Catalan’s nationality is variously reported as Swedish or Chilean.

‘Land rights apply to my church and my home’

Junia, seven months, and her mother Kandace Boos plan to walk the 600-kilometre Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. (Photo courtesy of Kandace Boos)

Web First | By Dan Dyck | Mar 11, 2017

Nine-month-old Junia has just become the youngest participant to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600-kilometre walk through from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., to Ottawa, taking place from April 23 to May 14, 2017.

Kandace Boos, 28, Junia’s mother, will put in the grunt work of carrying Junia on her back, alongside her task of documenting the walk through her art. Boos is an urban sketch artist, part of a global community of artists who practise drawing in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to.

MC B.C. wrestles with tough issues

Discussing issues at the MC B.C. annual general meeting are, from left to right: Rob Brown of Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack, Henry Neufeld of Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver, and Mary Braun of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Mar 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Despite meeting under the theme of “Building healthy connections,” many delegates who gathered for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting on Feb. 25, 2017, wondered how the future might look for their connections as an area church family when the day was done.

The meeting at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford was the third gathering in four months at which potentially divisive issues surrounding the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution were on the agenda, putting the future unity of MC B.C. in uncertainty.

WEW wows Waterloo women

Helen Loftin, senior vice-president of marketing and communications for Mennonite Economic Development Associates, tells the Waterloo chapter of Women Empowering Women that, by empowering women, whole families and communities benefit in ways that empowering men does not. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017

Exuding excitement and purpose, Nancy Mann, associate pastor of Floradale Mennonite Church, exclaimed “WEW!” for the newest chapter of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Women Empowering Women organization. The kick-off event, at which 75 women were in attendance, was held on Feb. 2, 2017, at 50 Kent Avenue, the “Mennonite hub” in Kitchener.

Personal-care home will fill gap in care for seniors

Construction will begin this spring on a 20-bed personal care home adjoining the existing Mennonite Nursing Homes facility. The architect’s rendering shows the chapel on the left. (Artist's rendering courtey of Mennonite Nursing Homes Inc.)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | Mar 08, 2017

Joan Lemauviel recalls her aging father needing more care than he received with assisted living, yet not qualifying for long-term care. “He was falling through the cracks,” she says.

As administrator of Mennonite Nursing Homes, Lemauviel knows that her father’s experience is far from unique. “About eight to 10 years ago it became evident that people in assisted living who didn’t qualify for long-term care were really living at risk,” she says. “We were able to keep them in assisted living with increased homecare.”

Signs of welcome in Ontario

Laila and Zafar Ismaili stand in their print shop in UpTown Waterloo, Ont., printing a large sign to give as a gift to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

“No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour.”

Kitchener (Ont.) First Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada are promoting “welcome signs” with this message in English, French and Arabic in the community and beyond.

Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite first saw the sign in Elkhart, Ind., last November. A trip to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in January by a group from the church galvanized their desire to bring the signs to the area church.

Trump reality spills over into Mennoland

A fallen blanket on the U.S. side of a path taken by asylum seekers headed to Canada near Emerson, Man. The border lies just beyond the buildings barely visible in the background. (Photo by Jennifer DeGroot)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

The potent Trump phenomenon is rippling around the globe and Mennonites in southern Manitoba are not immune.

Waves of mostly Somali asylum seekers, driven in part by fear of deportation under the Trump administration, cross covertly from the U.S. into a region of Manitoba heavily populated by Mennonites.

Field of dreams

Kalynn Spain's  interest in agriculture led her to visit 130 small farms throughout Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

What are the risks and rewards for people who choose a life on the farm? Young Voices spoke with three young Canadian Mennonites who work in agriculture to find out.

Jedidiah Morton, 23
Didsbury, Alta.

Jedidiah Morton isn’t the first person in his family to work in the dairy industry. His great-grandfather, Abram Lowen, settled in the Beaverlodge area in northern Alberta in the late 1920s and shipped cream.

“I guess you could say I’m bringing dairy back to my family,” Morton says.

Finding belonging

Katrina Woelk is looking for a new church home in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Katrine Woelk)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

Finding a new church to belong to can be difficult. Just ask Katrina Woelk.

Woelk grew up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, Man., but now lives in Winnipeg, where she is studying social work at the University of Manitoba. After four years of commuting home for weekends, the 22-year-old is ready to deepen her roots in Winnipeg, and that includes finding a church home in the city.

Famine ‘a tragic reality’ in South Sudan, according to UN

An internally displaced family in Mundri, South Sudan, prepares their dinner for the night. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey)

Web First | Mar 07, 2017

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where about 100,000 people are facing starvation, says a United Nations release dated February 20, 2017. In addition, a further one million people are on the brink of famine.

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan, now in its third year, has devastated the country’s economy, disrupting normal food transportation chains, and preventing countless small-scale farming households from growing their crops and tending their herds.

From Myanmar to Canada with dreams, gratitude and hope

A family Christmas 2016 photo in Canada. Pictured from left to right, front row: Htaw Meh and Mi Meh; and back row: Poe Reh, Su Reh, Lee Reh, Pleh Meh and Pheh Meh. (Photo by Arlene Hoke)

Web First | By Ferne Burkhardt | Mar 07, 2017

Settled in their new home in New Hamburg, Ont., Lee Reh and Pheh Meh constantly think of family members still in Ban Mai Nai Soi Refugee Camp in Thailand who the couple and their five children left behind when they came to Canada in April 2016. They wish their relatives could join them here and enjoy the safety and good life they have found in Canada.

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