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Volunteer prison visitors honoured

David Milgaard, who spent more than two decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, is pictured with copies of his book of poetry, prose and a love letter written while he was in prison. The book is available from Ronald N. Storozuk, 689 Beaverhill Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R2J 3P2.

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 31, 2010

On April 30, a man who spent 22 years behind bars took the stage at First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, to share his story at a banquet honouring M2/W2 (Man 2 Man/Woman to Woman) volunteers. M2/W2 is a program of restorative justice ministries supported by Mennonite Central Committee that matches volunteer visitors with inmates, believing that one-to-one relationships are vital for personal growth and change for everyone.

Willard Metzger to be next MC Canada general secretary


God at work in the Church | By By Don Friesen | May 31, 2010

Willard Metzger has been appointed to the post of general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada. He will succeed outgoing general secretary Robert J. Suderman, who has served in the post since 2005 and who will retire this summer. The leadership transition will begin this fall.

Moderator Andrew Reesor-McDowell made the announcement to staff on behalf of the general board on May 20.

Asking the wrong questions

Ed Janzen, chaplain at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., moves that the Congregational Ministries Council prioritize youth and young adult ministry in its funding allocations.

God at work in the Church | By by Dave Rogalsky | May 31, 2010

Moderator Aldred Neufeld summed up Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s 23rd annual delegate sessions last month by saying, “Even the wrong decisions can get us to the right place through God’s Spirit.” And wrong decisions—or questions—came up a number of times over the day-and-a-half of meetings.

Let’s call it ‘formation hour’


God at work in the Church | By By Dick Benner | May 31, 2010

Calling for more involvement of children in worship by re-naming the traditional Sunday school hour “formation hour,” Lisa Carr-Pries told Mennonite Church Eastern Canada delegates, in their opening session on April 23, that children in Canadian culture are more segregated and isolated from adults than ever before.

A wall of memories

Photo courtesy of James Friesen

God at work in the Church | By By James Friesen | May 31, 2010

I write these thoughts only a few days after returning to Winnipeg, Man., and life at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, but the Middle East already seems so far away.

Twenty-four students and four chaperones (of which I was one) spent our last night on the roof of the Ecce Homo Convent in the Old City of Jerusalem reflecting on our time together. Each of us shared our highlights:

• We remembered Damascus—singing songs in the acoustic chambers of the Turkish baths and speaking to niqab-hidden women in the Umayyad Mosque.

Not just a stepping stone

MC Saskatchewan youth minister Anna Rehan, right, is congratulated by area church moderator Renata Klassen following the tribute to Rehan’s 25 years of youth ministry in Saskatchewan.

God at work in Us | By by Karin Fehderau | May 31, 2010

Anna Rehan sits behind her desk at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan offices. This past February, during the conference delegate sessions, the area church’s youth pastor was recognized for 25 years of work with Saskatchewan youths and young adults.

Not native to the province, Rehan spent her formative years growing up at Sherbrooke Mennonite Church, Vancouver, B.C. She credits those early church experiences with equipping her with the understanding and wisdom needed to work in Canada’s youth culture.

Bechtel Lecturer focuses on Mennonites in the Dutch Enlightenment

Ernst Hamm, left, this year’s Bechtel Lecturer at Conrad Grebel University College, discusses his presentation on “Science and Mennonites in the Dutch Enlightenment” with Michael Driedger, centre, professor of history and liberal arts at Brock University, and Conrad Grebel academic dean Jim Pankratz

God at work in the Church | By by Dave Rogalsky | May 19, 2010

During his 2010 Bechtel Lecture presentations at Conrad Grebel University College, Ernst Hamm held that as 17th and 18th century Dutch Mennonites were involved in commerce, industry, trade and society in general, they were also involved in the explosion of creativity of the “Dutch Golden Age” and the beginning of the Enlightenment.

Bill C-11 impinges on refugees’ rights: MCC


God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | May 17, 2010

Imagine that you and your family are refugees from a technically “safe” country, but are experiencing persecution, violence or the threat of violence in your homeland.

To escape this persecution, you flee to a developed country and seek a visa to live there in peace. Because your homeland is classified as “safe” by this developed country, you are not permitted to stay since your homeland and the people there are not considered to be a threat to you or your family.

Women and girls the solution to development work

Helen Loftin, left, MEDA regional project manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan, shows a shawl—an embellished fabric product from Pakistan—to Jim Brubacher and Sharon Martin Brubacher at the Waterloo, Ont., MEDA annual dinner on March 13 at Floradale Mennonite Church.

God at work in the World | By by Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2010

A record number of guests came to the annual dinner of the Waterloo chapter of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) last month to hear keynote speaker Helen Loftin give an update of MEDA’s work in Pakistan. Currently regional project manager in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she administers a program that makes small loans to women and trains them in business practices and employee management.

Credit union opens its doors to non-Mennonites

Nick Driedger, who retired as chief executive officer of the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, poses with his farewell gift, a numbered Peter Etril Snyder print, at the credit union’s annual general meeting last month in Kitchener, Ont.

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2010

It was standing room only at the 46th annual general meeting of the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) last month in Kitchener.

Many were there to discuss a board proposal to change the membership bond defining who can and cannot be members of the credit union. The MSCU bond had been restricted to members of Mennonite and Brethren congregations, their children and spouses, and the employees of Anabaptist institutions, such as Mennonite Central Committee, that the congregations support.

Crisis leads to faith

After his life began spiralling downhill seven years ago, Len Bergen of Winnipegosis, Man., right, now is serving as a lay minister at Nordheim Mennonite Church while waiting for the Lord’s call taking him and his wife Mary into mission work.

God at work in Us | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 17, 2010

When a crisis hit Len Bergen seven years ago, his life began to spiral downward. Now seven years later, he sees how God did not abandon him, but led him through and out of that dark valley to a place that he never could have expected.

The next step: Helping to build infrastructure in rural Haiti

A young girl draws water from a cistern at a Mennonite Central Committee-supported water distribution site in Cité Soleil, part of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. MCC’s priority on emergency assistance, like this, is gradually refocusing on self-sustaining priorities.

God at work in the World | By By Linda Espenshade | May 03, 2010

The response of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake will gradually shift from the capital city of Port-au-Prince to rural communities that are expected to play an integral role in rebuilding the country.

By 2011, MCC’s work will centre in the Artibonite Valley, about 90 minutes north of Port-au-Prince. Eight MCC staff members live in Desarmes, a town in the Artibonite Valley, where MCC already has an established program.

Canada a ‘hard soil’ for the gospel


God at work in the Church | By By Dick Benner | May 03, 2010

Being the church in the 21st century is no easy task, Robert J. Suderman told the delegates and pastors gathered at Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack early last month for the annual gathering of Mennonite Church British Columbia. It was a sort of Pauline farewell for the retiring general secretary of MC Canada.

“Some writers suggest that Canada is a country with ‘very hard soil’ for the gospel of Jesus Christ—one of the hardest in the world,” said Suderman, who took time to personally visit all 230 congregations of the denomination during his tenure.

Church growth, expansion lauded by B.C. delegates

Garry Janzen, executive minister of Mennonite Church B.C., right, welcomes into membership Western Hmong Mennonite Church, represented by church chair Ge Yang. Janzen is wearing a tie handcrafted by a member of the Hmong congregation. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By By Amy Dueckman | May 03, 2010

Beginnings, endings and growth marked the Mennonite Church B.C. annual meetings at Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack, on April 10, under the banner of “The hope of the reconciling gospel of Jesus.” Delegates welcomed one congregation while saying goodbye to another, witnessed the passing of the leadership torch from one moderator to another, and heard about new ministries in the province.

When faith collides with academic freedom


God at work in the Church | By By Ross W. Muir | May 03, 2010

After stories went national earlier this year announcing that Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, B.C., had fallen afoul of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) over issues of academic freedom, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg now finds itself implicated in the same controversy.


‘From farm to fork’

Concepts they learned at Osler Mennonite Church, Sask., have helped Kevin and Melanie Boldt form the basis of their Pine View Farms All Natural Meats operation. (Photo by Karin Fehderau)

God at work in Us | By By Karin Fehderau | May 03, 2010

So many people spend their time and energy accumulating things, but what they really want are simpler lives and deeper connections with others. Knowing that reconnecting with friends and family always involves food, the owners of Pine View Farms All Natural Meats near Osler offer grain-fed, hormone-free food products to those living in their small corner of the world.

Slain soldiers not Canada’s only heroes

God at work in the World | By By Karin Fehderau | Apr 19, 2010

A University of Regina professor caused a commotion last month when he spoke out against the practice of paying the full tuition of children of slain Canadian soldiers. Jeffery Weber, a political science professor, has gathered support from 15 other university staff in a petition against the practice known as Project Hero, which was started by an Edmonton businessman two years ago.

From ‘life support’ to ‘blessed’

God at work in the Church | By By Dick Benner | Apr 19, 2010

In his welcoming comments to the 2010 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate sessions, Erwin Wiens, pastor of the host Trinity Mennonite Church, described the area church, made up of 16 congregations spread across the province, as a “patient on life support.”

But as the assembly progressed, it became apparent the patient was very much alive and sometimes kicking. The theme “Reclaiming Jesus, gladly wear the name,” was on nametags with “Jesus” in bold print. At first glance, it appeared all delegates were named Jesus, a vivid reminder of whom Christians are called to emulate.

Not a Christian . . . just a ‘follower of Jesus’

Richard Twiss, a Lakota First Nation “follower of Jesus,” speaks animatedly during an address at Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C, last month.

God at work in Us | By By Angelika Dawson | Apr 19, 2010

Mitakuye Oyasin (“All my relations”). With these words of greeting, Richard Twiss, a Lakota First Nations speaker, author and “follower of Jesus,” began two evenings of teaching and inspiration in communities in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Introducing Muslims to Jesus


God at work in the World | By By Rachel Bergen | Apr 05, 2010

When Christians proclaim the unique claims of God to Muslims, it often goes awry when they bring Jesus into the equation, according to Emmanuel Ali El-Shariff, who says it is inconceivable—even sacrilegious—to Muslims to say that Jesus is the Son of God.

Church may be ‘on to something’

God at work in the Church | By By Canadian Mennonite Staff | Apr 05, 2010

It’s been six months since Whitewater Mennonite Church in Boissevain, Man., laid aside its committee work, to rest, read Scripture, and engage in prayer and fellowship with one another as part of the congregation’s year-long “Sabbath rest.”

“All decisions or work that is deemed ‘nonessential’ has been deferred for the year and all other necessary issues and decisions are discussed at monthly congregational meetings,” explains pastor Judith Doell.

New residence hall to be built at CBC

An artist’s rendering of the new Columbia Bible College residence, anticipated to cost $3.5 million.

God at work in the Church | By By Amy Dueckman | Apr 05, 2010

Fundraising for a new residence hall, estimated to cost $3.5 million, is underway at Columbia Bible College (CBC).

The four-storey residence for 134 students will be located on a section of campus that now contains several houses. This location was chosen to maximize campus life participation, being only a half-minute’s walk from the dining room, classrooms and library. The suites are planned in a modular style allowing several students to live in each suite.

‘Little by little there will be change’

Gene Stoltzfus

God at work in Us | By From Christian Peacemaker Teams Releases | Apr 05, 2010

Gene Stoltzfus, the founding director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), died of a heart attack in Fort Frances, Ont., while bicycling near his home on the first spring-like day of the year. He is survived by wife Dorothy Friesen and many peacemakers who stand on the broad shoulders of his 70 years of creative action.

Celebrating abilities

Bonnie Sawatzky, a member of Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., was the first to carry the Paralympic torch upon its arrival in Vancouver. She is pictured with her supporters and Leon, her service dog.

God at work in Us | By By Amy Dueckman | Apr 05, 2010

When Bonnie Sawatzky rolled her wheelchair down the student union plaza hill just after lighting the Paralympic torch at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver last month, she remembers a crowd of people surrounding her. “Go, Bonnie, go!” they yelled.

“It was the most amazing experience and quite an honour,” recalls Sawatzky, a member of Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., and associate professor of orthopaedics at UBC. “My friends, family, and students from my lab and class came out to celebrate with me. I felt so special.”

‘Signs of solidarity’ among victims of Chile earthquake

God at work in the World | By By Luis Maria Alman Bornes | Mar 22, 2010

On the morning of Feb. 27 a one-minute earthquake left nearly 300 dead and a half-million homes destroyed. Power cuts, blocked roads and collapsed communications services made it difficult to answer such desperate questions as, “Where is my family?” and, “How are my friends, my brothers and sisters of the church?”

“We sympathize with you,” “We pray for you,” and, “Know that you have our support,” were the words from around the world that filled the e-mail boxes of those affected by the quake.