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Mass starvation—does anyone give a *%^$?

An estimated 20 million people in the world currently face starvation. World Council of Churches and the All Africa Council of Churches have issued a call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Web First | By John Longhurst | May 17, 2017 | 2 comments

“I have three things I’d like to say today,” said American author Tony Campolo to a crowd at the 1982 interdenominational Spring Harvest church conference in England.

“First, while you were sleeping last night, 45,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.

“Second, most of you don’t give a shit.

“Third, what’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact I said ‘shit’ than the fact that 45,000 kids died last night.”

Leading the leaderless

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 17, 2017 | 1 comment

We do not expect our denominational leaders to write encyclicals, assume pompous titles or drop pastors into congregations, but what exactly do we expect of them within our proudly pope-less priesthood of all believers?

Should they enforce adherence with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective? Should they just run area or national church ministries? Should they state their views on contentious questions or simply facilitate communal discernment?

ReCommission, ReLearn, ReUnion

Rescue Junction, a blue grass gospel group from the hamlet of Millbank, north of Stratford Ont., performed at the MCEC gathering on Friday evening. Members are (from left): Nick Huber, Joe Clark (standing in for Dallas Roth) Kyle Gerber and his sister Kaitlyn Gerber, and Roger Martin. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

When delegates from the churches of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) met in Oakville, Ont., on April 28 and 29, the focus was on re-commissioning, based on Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus speaks to the disciples before his ascension. Read frequently in many languages, the words spoke to the many nations already present in the area church.

‘One night changed everything’

Alina Kehl, left, and Taylor Clemmer fill their plates at a refugee fundraiser lunch at Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church on March 26, 2017. The food was prepared by a Turkish refugee who is being hosted in the village. (Photo by Barb Draper)

God at work in the World | By Barb Draper | May 17, 2017

Last November, two Turkish men arrived in the small village of Floradale, in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country, seeking refuge. Leon Kehl, a local resident, had developed a relationship with Turkish Muslims in the past, so it was natural that they turned to him for help. He arranged to have the men, who are not named because their families remain in peril in Turkey, live with his parents next door while they applied for refugee status.

Lifesaving latrines and the importance of local partners

This is the frame of the first latrine to be built as part of MCC’s project in the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl in Haiti. (MCC photo by Ted Oswald)

God at work in the World | By Rebecca Shetler Fast and Ted Oswald | May 17, 2017

Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl, Haiti, hard last October, leading Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to respond to sanitation needs identified by community leaders.

“There was a lot of damage to this community in the storm,” says Previl Pierre, a local leader and community monitor in MCC’s environmental education program in the Artibonite region in central Haiti. “Many goats and cows died, and whole gardens were lost.”

Learning to let go

Julia Klassen was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14 years old. (Photo by Aaron Klassen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

When she was admitted to hospital at the age of 14, it didn’t take long for doctors to diagnose Julia Klassen with anorexia nervosa. She displayed all the classic symptoms: a fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin. She was malnourished, the result of restricting her eating for three months.

Students find relaxation through ‘puppy therapy’

Columbia student Victoria Rempel gets up close and personal with a mini-Schnauzer. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jantzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

Students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have a unique opportunity to de-stress before exams: puppy therapy.

For the past two school years, the Student Counselling Centre has brought puppies to campus for one day at the end of each semester. Students sign up for a 15- to 20-minute slot so that they can play with the puppies.

Men’s choir fosters community, generosity

A Buncha Guys is an informal choir of young men who love to sing. Conducted by Russ Regier and accompanied by Val Regier, the Guys perform several fundraising concerts each year. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | May 17, 2017

“To me, it’s always amazing how the guys come and keep coming to sing,” says Russ Regier. The guys he refers to are A Buncha Guys, an informal choir made up of young men in their early post-high school years.

In late, 1997, Regier and his wife Val were asked to lead a choir of young men at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, where they are members. “We decided to keep going after Christmas,” he says. “The guys invited their Shekinah connections,” and the choir grew from there.

Eritrean church grows in spirit and godliness

Pastor Jonathan Abraham, backed by women singers, leads worship at the Eritrean Holy Spirit Worship and Healing Centre, which conducts services at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

Voices rise in Tigrinya, the most widely spoken language in Eritrea, and in tongues. Waves of music wash over the gathered congregation of refugees from the East African country in the sanctuary of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener. Leading the ecstatic worship is Pastor Jonathan (Joni, pronounced Yónie) Abraham, microphone in hand, backed by a group of women all clad in white, as they practise one of the Shalom Worship and Healing Centre’s priorities: connecting with God.

Grebel names new president

Marcus Shantz

Web First | May 12, 2017

Marcus Shantz will serve as the eighth president of Conrad Grebel University College and will take office on Oct. 1, 2017. The Board of Governors cited Shantz’s outstanding leadership skills, his significant contributions to local business and arts organizations, his engagement in the local and global church, and his first-hand knowledge of Grebel and its stakeholders. The board highlighted his understanding, respect, and support for higher education, as well as his creativity and integrity.

Donations sought to send youth to special delegate assembly

Emerging Voices Initiative members Anneli Loepp Thiessen, left, and Katrina Woelk are the lead planners and hosts for an initiative raising funds to sponsor youth participation at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg, Oct. 13-15, 2017.

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 03, 2017

Youth are in demand. When the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) held a cross-Canada tour in 2016-17, the importance of encouraging youth involvement in area and national church initiatives rose to the surface again and again. Their presence is now wanted at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg on Oct. 13 to 15, 2017.

River dams and land claims

Screen shot from the documentary For Love of a River. (Photo courtesy of Rebel Sky Media)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

Manitoba filmmakers Brad Leitch and Will Braun have brought the reality of settler-indigenous reconciliation work in Canada to the public screen.

Stations of the Cross on Broadway

Maelle, left, and Esme Kulik enjoy bannock provided by Kairos Manitoba. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, pilgrims from Winnipeg and beyond gather at Broadway Disciples United Church to walk the Stations of the Cross on Broadway, one of Winnipeg’s oldest and most historic thoroughfares.

Before observing the first station at the church, and setting out against the day’s damp cold, guests are invited to warm themselves with music, snacks and hot coffee.

‘A downstream solution to an upstream problem’

Volunteers show off food baskets in front of the newly rebuilt House of Friendship Emergency Food Distribution Centre on Guelph Street in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

When the first food bank was created in Canada in 1981 in Edmonton, it was seen as a short-term project that would be unnecessary when the economy improved. Fast-forward to 2017 and Kitchener’s House of Friendship’s emergency food program that distributes food to 1 in 20 people living in Waterloo Region.

Learning cycles of peace

Jorgina Sunn tells her life story at the Parkland Restorative Justice Spring Banquet in the Woods. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

“I needed to go through what I did because that’s what helps me understand the people I work with,” said Jorgina Sunn. The indigenous singer/songwriter was the featured speaker at Parkland Restorative Justice’s Banquet in the Woods, held April 22, 2017, in Prince Albert.

Translating the Bible into the visual

From left to right: Rosthern Junior College students Marcus Kruger, Hailey Funk and Arianne Wichert arrange flowers as part of an art installation their worship arts class created for Rosthern Mennonite Church. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

A unique art installation graces Rosthern Mennonite Church’s stage these days. Created by the Rosthern Junior College (RJC) worship arts class, it depicts themes found in biblical texts for the six Sundays of the Easter season.

The collaboration of the class and the church began with a conversation between teacher Jill Wiens and Craig Neufeld, Rosthern Mennonite’s pastor. Neufeld says the six-week Easter season gave students “more to chew on” than a single Sunday would have done. And the time frame for this season fit well with RJC’s schedule.

Transformed life leads to Transfigured Town

Nathan Swartz in character as Sirius Black from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books and movies. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Swartz)

God at work in Us | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

Some might wonder about a Mennonite elder running public events about Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards. But Nathan Swartz of Kingsfield-Clinton Mennonite Church in southwestern Ontario has thought about this deeply.

Adventures in the Middle East

‘We really bonded as a group,’ Nathan Dueck says. ‘I’m so happy that I got to grow and maintain and create these friendships with my fellow students.’ (Photo by Alex Schonwetter)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

It was while she was in Bethlehem, spray painting a black heart onto the Israeli West Bank barrier, that the reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict truly began to sink in for high-school student Jaymi Fast. “I found it was easier to understand [the political situation] when I was there,” she says. “It was still confusing—there’s so much going on—but I could put places to names and I could get more out of it.”

Messages to the Class of 2017

Valedictorian Anika Reynar addresses the crowd during Canadian Mennonite University’s 2017 graduation ceremony last month at Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Paul Little)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the 2017 valedictorians from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada, to find out who they are, what their undergraduate experience has been like, and what wisdom they hope to impart on their peers.

Jenna Song and Ryan Newman
Columbia Bible College

Abbotsford, B.C.

Michael J. Sharp’s journey toward peace in DR Congo

Michael J. Sharp, right, along with Church of Christ in Congo staffers Mitterrand Aoci and Merthus Mwenebantu, checks the bean fields planted by internally displaced people living in Mubimbi camp, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (MCC photo by Ruth Keidel Clemens)

Web First | By Linda Espenshade | May 03, 2017

The peacebuilding career of Michael J. Sharp, a former service worker with Mennonite Central Committee, ended when he was kidnapped and killed while on a UN fact-finding mission in Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Four months after Michael J. Sharp moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2012, he joined a small delegation that for six hours climbed a mountain in South Kivu Province to meet a leader of a major armed group.

Goshen alumnus restores rare 1564 Ausbund

These photos show the 1564 edition in its former mutilated condition (left) and in its newly-conserved condition. (Photo courtesy of Goshen College)

Web First | By Ervin Beck | May 03, 2017

The Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College owns the world’s only surviving copy of the first printing, in 1564, of songs that eventually became the Ausbund, one of the first Anabaptist songbooks. It is also the Protestant hymnal in longest continuous use—by the Old Order Amish.

The Passau hymns contained in the volume were composed by communitarian Anabaptists when they were expelled from Moravia and imprisoned in 1535 in the dungeon of the castle at Passau, Germany, on the Rhine River.

New Fretz Fellowship honours Grebel’s founding president

Aileen Friesen

Web First | May 03, 2017

A strategic plan vision has been realized at Conrad Grebel University College with the creation of the new J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship in Mennonite Studies.

The Fellowship, to be awarded annually, will support visiting scholars as they engage in research, teaching and relationship building between Grebel and academic and community audiences around Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies themes. Funding from the Fellowship will also provide support for special projects at the college initiated by the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies.

Drummer joins pilgrimage to bring awareness of indigenous rights

Henry Neufeld plays his drum as walkers gather on April 23, 2017, at the beginning of the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. The purpose of the 600-km walk— from Kitchener, Ont. to Ottawa—is to support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Neufeld is the oldest walker. (Photo by D. M. Hostetler)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | Apr 25, 2017

Henry Neufeld is joining more than 50 other walkers in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. From April 23 to May 14, participants will cover the 600-kilometre stretch between Kitchener and Ottawa, Ont. in support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The walk will be a challenge, but perhaps especially so for Neufeld. He’s 87 years old and he is taking along his drum.

Making words real

MC Canada delegates prepare to vote on the resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery at last summer’s assembly in Saskatoon. (Mennonite Church Canada photo)

Web First | By Sara Anderson and Joe Heikman | Apr 19, 2017

In July 2016, Mennonite Church Canada joined a growing number of Canadian and American church bodies that have officially repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. Assembly delegates passed a resolution recognizing that the Doctrine is “fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and our understanding of the inherent dignity and rights that individuals and peoples have received from God.”

Sara Anderson and Joe Heikman, whose conversation appears below, were part of the group that organized this resolution.

An idea worth sharing

Karl, left, and Marla Langelotz, Mennonite Church Canada short-term workers serving at Friedenshaus in Ludwigshafen, Germany, address the audience at a TEDx event at the Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Apr 19, 2017

Peace is rooted in building relationships, and that means creating space to get to know one another. With that thought in mind, Karl and Marla Langelotz of Winnipeg addressed an audience at Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017, for a TEDx talk they entitled “A modest proposal for world peace.”

TEDx is a localized version of the popular TED Talk conferences whose mission is sharing “ideas worth spreading.”

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