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How to become a refugee sponsor

Feature | By From | Jun 04, 2010

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario assists refugees who have suffered persecution, violence and human rights abuses to resettle in Canada through partnerships with churches and other constituencies.

In partnership with constituent churches, the refugee sponsorship program facilitates the process of refugee sponsorship to Canada. Churches or constituent groups commit to provide the sponsored family with housing, financial support for food, clothing, transportation and other materials needed for one year.

For Discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Jun 04, 2010

1. What experiences have you or your congregation had in sponsoring refugees? What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts? What motivates a congregation to sponsor a refugee family?

2. Some of the refugees, previously assisted by Mennonites, now have their own congregations (such as First Hmong Mennonite, Kitchener, Ont.). Should refugees be encouraged to attend or join their sponsoring church? What happens when the refugees are devout Muslims?

Discerning alone and together

Viewpoints | By Muriel Bechtel | Jun 04, 2010

“Discernment” is the latest buzzword among leaders, not only in the church but also in corporate and business circles. Every day, it seems, a new book appears and promotes a new way of discerning direction and vision. In the church we often speak of discerning God’s Spirit.

A five-year retrospective

Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Jun 04, 2010

This is my 30th New Order Voice column since Aiden Enns and I started writing for Canadian Mennonite five years ago. It’s not a huge milestone, but an occasional look back can be fruitful.

No more cheap church

Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jun 04, 2010

Nearly four score years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship. Every Christian should read it because the German martyr was on to something: He exposed the scourge of cheap grace. “Cheap grace,” he wrote, “means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God.”

Celebrating faithful servanthood: ‘Jesus is here!’

Alvin and Helen Lepp pose in front of a mural in the Siksika community hall, Alta., following an afternoon honouring them for their service to people of the First Nation.

God at work in Us | By By Marvin Baergen | Jun 04, 2010 | 1 comment

Members of Siksika Nation and Mennonite Church Alberta gathered twice on May 2 to give honour to God for a lifetime of faithful ministry by Alvin and Helen Lepp.

With the faithful support of his wife, Lepp has been visiting Siksika Nation for more than 30 years, sharing God’s love through friendship and support during life’s good times and bad. Over the years he has led Bible studies, served as a lay leader in local congregations, and become friend and confidant to many in times of joy and loss.

Remembering God’s future: Youth Assembly 2011

The Mennonite Church Canada Youth Assembly 2011 Planning Committee includes, from left to right: (on floor) Jean Lehn Epp; (seated) Scott Eyre, Aaron Neufeld, Luke Derksen, Trang Tran, Anna Rehan, Emma Bartel and Kathy Giesbrecht; and, (in back) Rod Wiebe

God at work in the Church | By By Deborah Froese | Jun 04, 2010

As delegates begin to register for Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010, planners for Youth Assembly 2011 are remembering the future—a reference to the assembly’s theme text which calls on Christians to envision God’s future of a city where all people will live in harmony.

Youth Assembly 2011 will share the theme, “It’s epic: Remembering God’s future,” with the adult delegate assembly that will take place at the same time. It is based on Revelation 21:1-4 and Revelation 21:19 -22:6.

New Cree translation celebrated

Stan Cuthand, 92, a member of Little Pine First Nation, worked for years on the draft of a Cree translation of all of the New Testament and 40 percent of the Old Testament. The newly released Gospel of Mark is based on his work.

God at work in the World | By by Karin Fehderau | Jun 04, 2010

A large group of educators, church workers and Cree speakers turned out last month to help celebrate the release of a new Cree translation of the New Testament Gospel of Mark. A united effort between Wycliffe Translators, the Canadian Bible Society and Saskatchewan Cree-speaking individuals, the translation built on the dedicated efforts of Reverend Stan Cuthand. The book is being sold along with a spoken version on CD, recorded by Delores Sand.

Oral traditions are strong in Cree communities and stories are often passed down using the spoken, rather than the printed, word.

Men need to understand their ‘warrior’ side

Author Gareth Brandt, seated, signs copies of his book Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality at this spring’s book launch at House of James Christian bookstore, Abbotsford, B.C.

Artbeat | By Reviewed by Scott Brubaker-Zehr | Jun 04, 2010

Gareth Brandt has written a personally grounded book on men’s spirituality as a resource for men’s prayer or discussion groups. His goal is to re-frame the basic contours of the field of men’s spirituality, which he considers neither practical nor biblically resonant.

The dollars are here

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 31, 2010

With Andrew Reesor-McDowell, moderator of Mennonite Church Canada, we are concerned about declining giving to centrally planned ministries of MC Canada.

Giving to such ministries, he documents, has decreased by 13 percent over the past seven years, a downward statistic that is also reflected in congregational giving to area church ministries. If this trend continues, he predicts some of these ministries are “likely unsustainable.” At the same time, giving is increasing to non-Mennonite organizations.

From tension to cooperation

Winkler MB Church with the smaller Burwalde MB Church that was moved beside it.

Feature | By By John J. Friesen | May 31, 2010

This year the Mennonite Brethren Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a week-long celebration in B.C. in July. What have the MBs contributed to the wider Mennonite community during the past century-and-a-half? What has been its relationship to Mennonite Church Canada, or to the General Conference Mennonite Church, which also began in 1860?

Desire for renewal leads to split

Jacob D. Reimer’s tombstone discovered in Ukraine

The tombstone with English translations of the etchings.

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 31, 2010 | 2 comments

On a tour in Ukraine in October 2006, Gert and Katherine Martens experienced an emotional moment when a farmer in Oktaybreskoe removed a few planks from his wall and uncovered the tombstone of Jacob D. and Wilhelmine Reimer. It didn’t take them long to decipher the deep etching on the large granite stone and realize it was Gert’s great-great-grandparents. The farmer had rescued the stone before the cemetery was levelled for a grain field and had kept it for more than three decades.

Bert Loewen named to Order of Manitoba

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | May 31, 2010

Among the 2010 recipients of the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honour, is Bert Loewen, a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church. The announcement was made on May 12 by Lieutenant-Governor Philip Lee. Loewen played a vital role in the establishment of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and was its first executive director. The Foodgrains Bank has provided 944,000 tonnes of food to nearly 70 countries over the years. This investiture ceremony will take place on July 15 at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

For discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | May 31, 2010

1. What is the relationship between the Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church Canada congregations in your community? Do you agree that the relationship between the MBs and other Mennonites has changed over the years from one of tension to cooperation?

2. The Mennonite Brethren split from the rest of the Mennonites because they wanted renewal. Can you think of other examples where a push for spiritual renewal led to tension and splits? Do you think such divisions are inevitable? Why is it so hard for Christians to live in unity?

Financial trends and church health

Viewpoints | By Andrew Reesor-McDowell | May 31, 2010

There are many signs of good spiritual health in the body and ministry system that comprises Mennonite Church Canada. But there are also some worrisome trends.

Tending the boundaries

Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 31, 2010

A number of years ago, my husband prepared to take a long trip, which meant we’d be apart for several months. I discussed this situation with a male colleague, who was also a friend. He quickly responded, “That will affect our working relationship as well.”

I was surprised, but understood his meaning better when he added, “Without your partner at home, you may be looking for emotional support from me, or I may feel some need to ‘take care’ of you.”

Retirement: Eat, drink and be merry?

Viewpoints | By Kevin Davidson | May 31, 2010

What comes to mind when you think of retirement: Florida, golf, hobbies, volunteering, generosity, inheritance, higher education, death, or what will I do if I don’t have enough money?

The financial services industry recommends that we replace up to 80 percent of our working income to retire comfortably. This can make us slaves to our own retirement. Today, if 30 percent of our income goes to taxes, 20 per cent to mortgage payments or rent, and 10 per cent to raising kids, then we’re already living on 40 percent of our income!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Canadian Mennonite wins four CCP awards

Artbeat | By By Ross W. Muir | May 31, 2010

Coverage of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly in Paraguay and John H. Neufeld’s three-part series, “Reading the Bible for all its Worth,” earned first-place honours for Canadian Mennonite at this year’s Canadian Church Press (CCP) convention and awards banquet, held in Toronto from May 13 to 15. The assembly coverage won for “In-depth Treatment of a News Event: Magazine,” while Neufeld’s work won for “Biblical Interpretation,” a category open to both magazines and newspapers.

Senior tour guides inspire senior travellers

John Ruth a retired English professor and author, right, has led TourMagination tours since 1974.

Focus On | By By Susan Fish | May 31, 2010

Turning 65 used to mean it was time to trade in the company car for a rocking chair, but today organizations recognize the value of wisdom and life experience gained by older people. TourMagination, a Mennonite tour company founded in 1970, has long recognized that many of its tour leaders are on their second—or even third—career.