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A field of a million prayers

A million praying South Africans gathered on 800 hectares of farmland on April 22 to pray for healing of the nation.

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Today

They were called and they came, a million people from every corner of South Africa. They gathered on April 22 in an expanse of field near Bloemfontein for the largest prayer meeting the country had ever seen.
“[Bloemfontein] is the centre, or the heart, of the nation,” said organizer Angus Buchan as the event began. “And we are asking God to change the heart of our beloved nation, beginning with our own hearts. . . . We will ask the Lord to bring justice, peace and hope in our beloved South Africa.”

Working group tackles tasks of advocacy on Palestine and Israel

Star Street in the Old City of Bethlehem. The Mennonite Church Canada resolution on Israeli-Palestine calls for Mennonites to support nonviolent efforts for peace there. (Photo by Melita Rempel-Burkholder)

Web First | By Byron Rempel-Burkholder | Jun 14, 2017

When delegates to the July 2016 assembly of Mennonite Church Canada passed a resolution on Palestine and Israel with an almost unanimous vote, reactions varied widely from within the denomination and from outside. 

Growing leaders in five years

Jean Lehn Epp, centre, leads youth pastors/workers through a visioning process within their church or support group, drawing congregational leaders, youth sponsors and youth together.

God at work in the Church | By Lisa Williams | Jun 14, 2017

“Kenda Creasy Dean writes in one of her books that youth ministry is a spiritual discipline,” says Jean Lehn Epp, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s youth pastor/worker coach. “To me, that was eye-opening—my ‘aha!’ moment. I was not just doing youth ministry, but it felt to me that I was embracing ministry.”  

Lehn Epp has been involved in youth and family ministry throughout the area church as an ordained minister.

PhD student saves ‘history’ from the shredder

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1–3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. (Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies photo)

God at work in the Church | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 14, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jeremy Wiebe heard that the remaining inventory of Mennonites in Canada (Vols. 1-3) were in danger of being shredded to save warehouse storage fees, he took action. Using his computer programming skills and an offer from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies to take care of transportation to Winnipeg, storage and shipping, Wiebe established a web store with e-commerce capabilities that went live on April 12, 2017.

Saskatchewan youth honour the earth all night

Ric Driediger, right, leads participants in the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s Honouring the Earth event in solving a murder mystery. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Honouring the Earth, an annual Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization event, took place April 18 and19, 2017, in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan and Rosthern Junior College (RJC).

The event started at MCC Saskatchewan in Saskatoon with workshops and discussion around what it might mean to be a refugee, and how to make choices when the cost is something greater than money. Youth were then challenged by Jamal Tekleweld from the Sanctuary Saskatoon Alliance to take these lessons and consider what it might mean to make Saskatoon a “sanctuary city.”

A man of ‘Christian faith and its joys and struggles’

Eleanor and Alan Kreider are pictured at an event co-sponsored by Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2013. (Photo by Joe Raymond)

God at work in Us | By Annette Brill Bergstresser | Jun 14, 2017

Tributes and testimonials in honour of Alan F. Kreider, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) professor emeritus of church history and mission, and a long-time mission worker in England, have been pouring in via the seminary’s Facebook page and alumni Facebook group since his death on May 8, 2017. Kreider, 75, died peacefully in the presence of his family at his home in Goshen, Ind., after having been diagnosed with multiple myeloma last December.

Before I go

Over the past 10 years as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Paul Loewen, front right, has led 500 youth events, 25 retreats and 25 multi-day service trips, including this 2015 retreat for Grade 12 students. (Photo courtesy of Paul Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Paul Loewen is wrapping up his time as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church and he’s given the youth he currently works with a unique gift. He wrote and self-published a book entitled Before I Go: Nine Ideas You Should Know and presented each youth group member with a personal copy last month.

The book is based on the nine devotionals Loewen presented to both the junior and senior high youth groups at the Winnipeg church this past school year. It represents a “best of” the devotionals he has given since he started working at Douglas in 2008.

Called to be a part of the church

‘When the youth let you in, it’s such a gift to be there and walk with them,’ says Carrie Lehn, second from left.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Whenever she tells her faith story, Carrie Lehn always mentions her paternal grandmother, who, she says, is a key example of gentleness and love. She always has other people on her radar, Lehn says, writing them letters or cards, bringing them dessert or giving them thoughtful gifts.

“She thinks about those little things that other people forget or don’t notice,” says Lehn, 28. “I want to be someone who is loving and finds a way to walk gently in this world the way she does.”

Three stories of throwing

Kathy Moorhead Thiessen tells stories from a recent visit to the city of Hebron. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Moorhead Thiessen) 

Web First | By Kathy Moorhead Thiessen | Jun 14, 2017

In March 2017, I spent 10 days in Hebron and observed three throwing situations that showed a microcosm of the occupation in that Palestinian city. Hebron, a major city in the southern West Bank, is where some 800 Jewish settlers, protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, have moved into the old city, among the Palestinian population.

Palestinian children face harsh realities

A poster in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem recalls the death of a teenager at the hands of the Israeli military. (Photo by Henry Krause)

Web First | By Edith and Henry Krause | Jun 14, 2017

On May 24, 2017, we returned from a two-week learning tour of the West Bank and Israel, sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). We were two among eleven participants, mostly from Mennonite churches and MCC staff in British Columbia.

The tour included visits to holy sites, but it focused on visits to MCC’s partners working for peace in the West Bank and Israel. A recurrent theme for these groups is the needs of children.

A Jewish perspective on the Mennonite resolution on Palestine and Israel

Steve McDonald 

Web First | By Will Braun | Jun 14, 2017 | 1 comment

This is an expanded report on an hour-long phone interview I did for the article “Muddying the waters on Israeli divestment.” 

MCC Canada appoints new executive director

Web First | By Laura Kalmar | Jun 08, 2017

After much prayer and discernment, the board of Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) is pleased to welcome Rick Cober Bauman to the role of MCC Canada executive director, effective October 10, 2017.

Seeking spiritual renewal through prayer

Workshop presenter Betty Pries draws the life of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan as a river. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

Where does one begin to renew a church? According to Betty Pries, the best place to start is with prayer, saying, “Finding our way through times of spiritual upheaval depends on spiritual renewal.”

Pries, who is a managing partner with the L3 Group in Waterloo, Ont., was the presenter at a workshop hosted by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan. Entitled “Refresh, refocus, renew: Open to God’s leading,” the workshop was held on April 28 and 29, 2017, at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

Faith in the Age of the Anthropocene

Randy Haluza-Delay holds up two books he highly recommends on the topic of creation care and faith: Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy S. Woodley, and Shalom the Bible’s Word for Peace by Perry B. Yoder. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 31, 2017

“I believe this is the defining issue of our time, how humans relate to creation.”

Caleb Gingrich, a student at McGill University in Montreal, was so taken by the theme of Mennonite Church Alberta’s annual Faith Studies event that he travelled across Canada to take it in. Gingrich, who is currently working on a research project called “Economics and the Anthropocy,” commented, “My faith is important to me, I was looking for an opportunity to see how these two parts of me come together.”

‘It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore

The final rally at the Human Rights Monument, with walkers standing under the inscription, ‘All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ (Photo by Ally Siebert)

God at work in the World | By Ally Siebert | May 31, 2017

The crowd that gathered at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa on May 13 didn’t allow the rain to dampen their celebration of the arrival of the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights.

More than 30 walkers rallied together with indigenous leaders, government officials and a few hundred supporters to mark the completion of their 600-kilometre journey and to demand that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) be fully adopted and implemented by the federal government.

‘Happy to find a safe place’

Heather Menzies, back right, and Jennifer deGroot and sons deliver hygiene kits to the Gretna refugee reception centre. (Photo by Will Braun)

 

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | May 31, 2017

“The world has come to Gretna,” says Robin Neustaeter, a resident of the normally quiet town of 550 on the border between Manitoba and the U.S. On May 4, 2017, Manitoba’s Conservative government opened a “reception centre” in Gretna to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers who walk across the border in the area.

On the first Sunday the centre was open, six asylum seekers from Cameroon and Nigeria attended the local Mennonite church. Co-pastor Jana Wiebe says many in the congregation found it “energizing.”

‘Without CoSA I’d be lost’

A former core member of a Mennonite Central Committee-supported Circle of Support and Accountability program run by the Moncton Community Chaplaincy. He wishes to remain anonymous so that he can reintegrate into society without the stigma related to sexual offenders. (MCC photo by Shane Yuhas)

 

God at work in the World | By Racahel Bergen | May 31, 2017

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) welcomes the Canadian government’s announcement that it will provide nearly $7.5 million over five years to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), which helps convicted sex offenders reintegrate into their communities.

CoSA is a national restorative justice organization for women and men who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger.

Breathing new life into the music

Raised the son of missionaries in Senegal, Darren Creech has aspired to be a classical pianist since he was 5. (Photo by Richard Rhyme)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

When a Toronto-based LGBTQ orchestra approached queer classical pianist Darren Creech about performing Victor Davies’ “Mennonite Piano Concerto” with it in concert, it didn’t realize what a perfect fit he would be.

Unbeknownst to the Counterpoint Community Orchestra at the time, Creech is Mennonite and he grew up listening to the piece.

Lessons learned from the elderly

Working part time cleaning seniors’ homes sparked Danielle Raimbault’s interest in working with the elderly. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Raimbault)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017

Danielle Raimbault’s first day of work as the chaplain at a residence for the elderly was a memorable one that quickly shattered her expectations.

When the 24-year-old arrived at Chartwell Elmira Long Term Care Residence in Elmira, Ont., a year ago, she sat down beside a resident and introduced herself.

“Did your mom give you permission to come here today?” the resident asked.

Dedicated volunteer coordinates parking at relief sale

As parking coordinators at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale Paul Snyder (left) and Mike Shantz, are the first point of contact for visitors to the annual sale. (MCC Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Web First | May 26, 2017

“Wow, what well-organized parking!” is a review that few of us attending a big event will ever think to utter. But every year for the last 51 years, Paul Snyder has had the massive job of making sure thousands of cars are parked safely so that tens of thousands of people can enjoy the New Hamburg (Ont.) Relief Sale.

GAMEO finds new home at Goshen College

Web First | May 26, 2017

The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), the most trusted online source for information on Anabaptist groups around the world (www.gameo.org), has found a new home with the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) at Goshen College.

On May 19, 2017, members of the GAMEO management board voted unanimously to transfer oversight of the project to the Institute, whose director, John D. Roth, will serve in a new position as the project’s general editor.

More than 5,000 Congolese Mennonites in hiding

Mennonite Mission Network has often described Niclette Mbendji as today’s typical Mennonite—a young African woman. Mbendji lived in Ndjoko Punda when this photo was taken. Rebels have infiltrated this village. While we don’t know whether Mbendji is hiding in the forest, many of our Mennonite brothers and sisters are. (Photo by James R. Krabill)

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | May 26, 2017

Mennonite church members report increasing violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Central Kasaï Province, where Michael J. Sharp died on a United Nations’ peace-building mission in March 2017. Mennonite Mission Network partners with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission in walking alongside the three Congolese Mennonite denominations.

Prosthetic limb leads to new hope for Syrian refugee

Amjad, left, a Syrian refugee to Germany, obtained a prosthetic limb with a little help from Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Gregory Rabus, right, through Peace Church (Friedenshaus), a collaborative ministry with other Mennonites in Ludwigshafen that he shares with his wife, Jennifer Otto. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Rabus)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 26, 2017

For 21-year-old Amjad, trauma led to hope and solidified his unwavering faith in God’s protection. Amjad, a Syrian refugee in Ludwigshafen, Germany, lost his leg when a bomb fell on a street in Syria.

Auction of Maud Lewis painting raises $45,000 for MCC

The auction of a painting by Canadian artist Maud Lewis will help suppport the work of MCC. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Central Committee)

Web First | May 25, 2017

The thrilling and tumultuous saga of the Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop donation bin has come to a successful end. The online auction of “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia” concluded on May 20, 2017, with the winning bid reaching $45,000. The proceeds from the auction will support the relief, development, and peace work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

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 | 3 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.”

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