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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. (Photo courtesy of Katie Erb)

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.

‘A time for inspired leadership and action’

A quilt of sorts was put together as a symbol of the commitment of many interfaith youths and young adults, to aid the Millennium Development Goals in any way possible. It was hung at the University of Winnipeg during the World Religions Summit 2010.

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

Just days before the leaders of the G8 countries were preparing to meet in central Ontario to discuss such new issues as maternal health in the developing world and a restoration of the rule of law in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran, religious leaders from these same countries—and others—gathered in Winnipeg in an effort to get their respective governments to live up to a 10-year-old commitment: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

MCC plans for global change

Carole Phillips and Len Block of the Mennonite Central Committee delegate body, and Johnson Gakumba, an Anglican bishop in Uganda, sing “To God Be the Glory” at MCC’s delegate meeting on June 12 in Akron, Pa.

Feature | By By Celeste Kennel-Shank | Jul 12, 2010

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is changing how it does its work, but not the work itself.

That’s how Arli Klassen, MCC Binational executive director, described MCC’s process of streamlining and shifting areas of responsibility among its member organizations. Klassen shared the current models for those changes—which she said are set in “gelatine”—at the June 11-12 meeting of MCC’s binational delegate body. “If there’s enough heat, they can melt, and we can re-form them,” she said.

For Discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Jul 12, 2010

1. How much does your congregation support Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)? Has this changed over the years? What MCC projects have you participated in? How satisfied are the people of your congregation with the mission and program emphases of MCC?

2. The various Mennonite churches that support MCC are theologically diverse. Why do you think we have been able to work together in spite of our differences for so many years? Which MCC programs do conservative Mennonites support? How much has an emphasis on relief work acted as a unifying force?

Asking the right questions

Viewpoints | By Darryl Neustaedter Barg | Jul 12, 2010

I spend a lot of time pondering leadership these days. I see the word everywhere. I suspect I could take a course on leadership every weekend of the year in our city. Despite all this energy on building leaders, I hear more negatives than positives summed up by this recurring phrase, “We just need leadership,” as if this will solve all that’s ailing the church and the world.

From ‘Imagine’ to ‘Material Girl’

Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jul 12, 2010

As a fledgling whipper-snapper the great inherent threat to my young soul was said to be the subliminal messages being “backmasked” into music that would hoodwink me into becoming morally reprobate, or, worse, a Montreal Canadiens fan. Determined, and thoroughly misguided, religious groups fought to have backmasking on vinyl records banned forever.

‘The river sings to me a song’

Susan Pries prepares a group lunch at RiverSong, a day retreat centre along the Conestoga River outside of St. Jacobs, Ont.

God at work in Us | By By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 12, 2010 | 1 comment

The yellow warbler flits among the trees back of the patio and main building at RiverSong as Susan Pries takes a break from providing meals and snacks to a daylong retreat of pastors.

Pries and her husband John own and run the catering, banquet and day retreat centre at Three Bridges, just west of St. Jacobs. They opened in 2008 after six months of renovations to bring the building “up to code” and refresh the décor.

“The business is in John’s name,” says Pries with a laugh. “He has the full-time employment to back the loan.”

Comfortable being rural

Standing by the anniversary tree planted during Cassel Mennonite Church’s recent 75th anniversary celebration are, from left to right: Lucas Swartzentruber, Michael Whitehead and pastor Jim Whitehead.

Viewpoints | By By Dave Rogalsky | Jul 12, 2010

On a cold, wet Sunday morning, May 5, 1935, Arthur Roth, his wife Melinda, and his mother, Mary Schrog Roth, made their way to church in East Zorra Township in southern Ontario. At the end of the lane they made an unaccustomed turn to the left, heading to the new congregation at Cassel, instead of their familiar congregation on the 16th Line: East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church. Just a little way down the road he stopped and asked his mother if she found this acceptable. Her husband had died in the influenza epidemic of 1918 and was buried at the 16th Line church.

Suderman proposes a ninth Millennium Development Goal

Karen Hamilton, general secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), left, enjoys a laugh with Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, at last month’s World Religions Summit 2010 in Winnipeg, Man. MC Canada is a CCC member.

God at work in the World | By by Rachel Bergen | Jul 12, 2010

There are currently eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were agreed to by 192 United Nations member states in 2000 and that are to be achieved by 2015. But according to Robert J. Suderman, general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, there should be a ninth.

Suderman was a panelist at the peace and security session of the World Religions Summit 2010, held at the University of Winnipeg campus from June 21-23. “There are people in the world who use religion as a source of violence,” he said. “We need to take that very seriously.”