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Mennonite treaty rights

Viewpoints | By By Will Braun | Aug 26, 2010

To attend church in Winnipeg is a right that arises directly from Treaty 1. The signatures of Aboriginal leaders and Crown representatives on that 139-year-old document give me, a non-Aboriginal person, the right to sit in the pew.

This will sound to some like a provocative, ideologically driven overstatement, but I want to make the case that it is a basic legal reality and a rich spiritual truth.

Listening for church harmony

Viewpoints | By Lorne Epp, Margaret Ewen-Peters and Patrick Preheim | Aug 26, 2010

The Wailin’ Jennys recorded a song on their debut album which included the following lines: “This is the sound of voices three / Singing together in harmony /Surrendering to the mystery / This is the sound of voices three”

This stanza from the song “One Voice” comes to mind not because we have ever been recorded in a studio, asked for autographs or been invited to tour with the Jennys. These lyrics strike a chord with the Vision and Wholeness (VW) Group because they reflect the best of our work in Mennonite Church Saskatchewan.

For discussion: August 23, 2010 issue

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Aug 26, 2010

Following are questions for reflecting on and discussing the Canadian Mennonite stories on the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission events in 2010:

“How complicit are Mennonites in Residential School Abuse?” Evelyn Rempel Petkau attended the first TRC hearings and spoke with Mennonites about whether the church might be complicit in the system. 

With God, all things are possible

Edith and Neill van Gunten, Native Ministry workers with Mennonite Church Canada, stand in solidarity with residential school survivor Darrell Royal, who told of his time in residential school to assembly participants earlier this summer (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Feature | By by Rachel Bergen | Aug 26, 2010

When you pass by aboriginal people lying in the gutters on skid row, do you think that they are just “drunk Indians who need to get a job”?

Participants of the “Do residential schools and good news go together?” workshops at this summer’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly now know what those “drunk Indians” went through to get to that place. What they went through was “a blight on [Canada’s] history,” said Larry Plenert, a workshop speaker and an adjudicator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

MC Canada shares the pain of Indian Residential School legacy

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 26, 2010

Delegates to Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010 struggled with just how to confess systemic complicity in the Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors issue while not admitting to being directly abusive in non-existent Mennonite residential schools.

A first step towards healing

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean, flanked by Truth and Reconciliation Commission commissioner Marie Wilson and Chief Justice Murray Sinclair, are pictured during the grand entry of a traditional pow wow during the opening TRC event in Winnipeg, Man, on June 19, 2015. (Photo by Neill von Gunten)

Feature | By By Janet Plenert | Aug 26, 2010

As prayers began, a hush fell over the crowd and numerous people pointed to the sky. The great spirit, the eagle, hovered overhead. Surely it was a clear sign of God’s presence and blessing as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) launch in Winnipeg, Man., drew to a close on June 19.

The stories I heard were many: a mix of pain and hope, of betrayal and determination, and, very often, a testimony to the strength of Canada’s aboriginals.

“I am a survivor of a survivor,” said one young man.

How complicit are Mennonites in Residential School Abuse?

Leann Sleigh, painfully sharing how three generations of residential school forced family separations, sexual and physical abuse leading to alcoholism and parental abuse, offers her moccasins to a collection of native artifacts “for those who walked before us.” A red cedar box holding artifacts and documents was commissioned by the TRC as a “lasting tribute” to school survivors. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Aug 26, 2010 | 1 comment

We need to listen deeply and cry with pain at the injustice government policy and racism have caused, says Janet Plenert

Forgiveness to what end?

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 26, 2010

The Lutherans have asked us to forgive them for their violent persecution of us in the 16th century, laying to rest, as the Mennonite World Conference reporter, Byron Rempel Burkholder puts it, “500 years of guilt.”

Poplar Hill's closure remembered

Poplar Hill (Ont.) Residential School is pictured in A Brief History of Northern Light Gospel Missions, 1977, by Mary Horst.

Feature | By Ross W. Muir | Aug 26, 2010

The Poplar Hill (Ont.) Development School—the only Mennonite-affiliated school being officially looked at by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) currently making the rounds of Canadian communities—has been out of the news for more than two decades.

The same can’t be said for the two-year period between 1989-91, when the residential school, which opened its doors in 1962, made headlines in the Mennonite Reporter a total of seven times. Poplar Hill was a program of the Northern Gospel Light Mission.

Listen to the ‘wild goose’

Plans are underway for a version of the family friendly Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival to come to North America in 2011 under the name “Wild Goose Festival.”

Artbeat | By By Vic Thiessen | Aug 17, 2010

U2, Bruce Cockburn, the Emerging Church Movement and Mennonites share one thing in common: each has been present, active and influential at the Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival. Established in 1974, it presently draws more than 20,000 people each year to the Cheltenham Racecourse in western England.

Soon, it will cross the ocean. In 2011, the family-friendly Greenbelt—under the name Wild Goose Festival—is being planned for North America.

Clothing gifts from one immigrant family to another

God at work in the World | By By Amy Dueckman | Aug 17, 2010

Bags of clothing from Vietnamese immigrants in Abbotsford have found their way to help clothe Karen refugees in Surrey, thanks to a cooperative effort between church groups.

The little church that can

Visitors to Riverton Fellowship Circle receive a mug “full of love.” Church leader Barb Daniels, centre, presents church mugs to translator Ed Toews, left, Brigido Loewen of Paraguay, Alina Itucama of Panama and translator Liz Drewnisz.

| By by Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

Riverton Fellowship Circle, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation since 2006, thinks it can.

When it comes to the church’s goals to be Christ-centred, welcoming to visitors and a place where everyone is treated equally, it has been successful for the past 14 years, despite many roadblocks.

Two of its most recent visitors agree. Alina Itucama from just outside of Panama City, Panama, and Brigido Loewen from Pesempoo in the Paraguayan Chaco, visited Riverton on their tour of First Nations commu-nities and congregations in Manitoba for five days last month.

South meets North

Alina Itucama, left, of the Wounaan tribe just outside of Panama City, Panama, was given a star blanket commemorating the relationship between Latin and North American aboriginal people groups. Also pictured are Neill and Edith von Gunten, MC Canada Native Ministry co-directors.

| By by Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

A year after members of Hollow Water First Nation in central Manitoba travelled to Paraguay for the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly and a subsequent tour of indigenous colonies, two Latin American indigenous representatives came north for a similar visit.

Alina Itucama, from the Wounaan tribe just outside of Panama City, Panama, and Brigido Loewen, from the Lengua (Enhlet) tribe of Pesempoo in the Paraguayan Chaco, toured central and northern Manitoba aboriginal communities from July 12 to 16.

Through the wall into Jesus’ world

Katie Penner of Vineland, Ont., stands among the art and graffiti found along the security wall between Israel and Palestine.

God at work in Us | By By Katie Penner | Aug 17, 2010

My first reaction to seeing the wall that separates Israel and Palestine was the enormity of it. This isn’t any little chain-link fence that marks a property line. It’s an enormous eight-metre-tall concrete wall that has a security tower every kilometre or so. There are gates in the wall, but these are few and far between, and use of these gates is extremely restricted to those who are not tourists like we were.

‘Let’s go’ to an amazing place

Perched on the Mount of Olives, Katie Erb overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem.

God at work in Us | By By Katie Erb | Aug 17, 2010

For three weeks this past May, I participated in a joint Mennonite Central Committee/Mennonite Church Eastern Canada learning tour for young adults to Israel/Palestine. Called Yella, the program means “let’s go” in Hebrew and Arabic.

Usufruct and the church

Viewpoints | By Mike Strathdee | Aug 17, 2010

Think much about use of fruit?

In January, Beryl Jantzi, a U.S. stewardship educator, told a gathering of pastors at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., that they should spend some time pondering the concept of usufruct.

Usufruct is the legal right to use and derive profit from something that belongs to another person, so long as the property is not damaged. The concept dates back to Roman times.

Love the one you’re with

Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Aug 17, 2010

On a Friday afternoon in summer, chances are good you’ll find me with a few friends outside an ice cream stand, soaking in the pleasures of summer. Probably I’ll be licking a cone—something with chocolate and peanut butter if I’m lucky. The conversation will be easy: trips we’re planning or returning from; books we’re reading; light chatter about work, family and church.

The church we were meant to be

Viewpoints | By Robert J. Suderman | Aug 17, 2010

Farewell messages never feel adequate, with so many more challenges to identify, concerns to articulate, gratitude to express, and hopes to inspire.

But one more time, I want to encourage us all to recapture a robust vision of God’s all-embracing vocation for the church. God’s dream is for a world restored and reconciled to its intended purposes, and the church has a vital role to play in saving humanity from the seeds of destruction we call sin.

For discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Aug 17, 2010

1. How involved is your congregation with Mennonite Church Canada? How do you get information about what MC Canada is doing? What would strengthen the connection between MC Canada and your congregation?

2. The congregations of MC Canada increased their total giving in the past year, but sent a smaller percentage of those donations to MC Canada. Is your congregation part of this trend? How concerned are you that congregations are spending more on local missions while international Witness programs need to be cut?

‘Reclaim the Name’ assembly theme song

Klassen and Miller

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

When the Worship Committee for Assembly 2010 couldn’t find a song that captured the essence of the theme, “Reclaiming Jesus™: Gladly Wear the Name,” Chad Miller and Doug Klassen teamed up to write one, aptly titled “Reclaim the Name.”

Q: What inspired you to write this piece?

Quilting for art and prayer

Participants take a walking tour through Art for Peace, a collection of artistic quilts, at Assembly 2010.

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

For Bev Patkau, quilting is a labour of love, her fabric and thread a form of expression.

Patkau had several quilts on display at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly art exhibit, this year entitled Art for Peace. It’s an event that she has poured a great deal of energy into by helping Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg, Man., acquire and display quilts with a “peace” theme.

Financial trends: Healthy or worrisome?

Feature | By By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld and Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

Congregational giving is up, so why are donations to area and national church bodies falling?

The steady increase in Mennonite congregational giving is worth celebrating. “We are one of the few denominations where giving has not dropped, and is slightly ahead of cost-of-living,” MC Canada general secretary Robert J. Suderman told delegates to the national assembly in Calgary, adding, “Other denominations drool over this.”

Peace in public is breaking out all over

Feature | By By Rachel Bergen | Aug 17, 2010

What started out as a small Saskatchewan church’s 2008 resolution to take acts of peace public has become a fairly widespread Canadian campaign with people all over the world getting on board.

It’s called, “Peace in the public square” and it’s breaking out all over: from billboards in Calgary on the Light Rail Transit vehicles to wearing the “Live for Peace” toques at major public events.

“Every province from Ontario to British Columbia has participated in acts of peace,” Mennonite Church Canada communications director Dan Dyck said on July 1 at the assembly in Calgary.

Bible Q & A

Jack Suderman, retiring Mennonite Church Canada general secretary, addresses this year’s annual delegate assembly in Calgary, Alta.

Feature | By By Deborah Froese | Aug 17, 2010

After leading three study sessions on Colossians 3:15-17, the Bible theme text for Assembly 2010—Reclaiming Jesus: Gladly Wear the Name—retiring general secretary Robert J. Suderman found himself on the “hot seat.” He faced questions from three eager assembly “students” in a session facilitated by David Beltzer, instructor of communications and media at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), Winnipeg, Man.

That new class of seniors

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Aug 17, 2010

“One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable,” was one of the more endearing lines coming out of Assembly 2010 in Calgary, Alta.