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Readers write: July 3, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 28, 2017 | 1 comment

Speaker sets the record straight on the Ziffernsystem

Re: “Singing by the numbers,” May 22, page 32.
It was good to see a report on my participation in the annual meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan.

However, the report presents a somewhat confusing picture of my message. Perhaps the simplest way to approach the matter is to say that I gave two presentations.

Paddling rough waters

Ken Warkentin
Viewpoints | By Ken Warkentin | Jun 28, 2017

I’m told that white-water rafting requires four simple considerations.

They are simple but they are very important:

  1. Rest during the calm spots because there are always more rapids ahead.
  2. When a rock looms ahead, lean into it, not away from it.
  3. Whatever else you do, keep paddling.
  4. If you fall in the water, let everything go except your life jacket.

As a church in Canada, I believe that we are experiencing white-water times. These rules are helpful for the 21st century:

Tradition or traditionalism?

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Jun 28, 2017

How do we know when tradition is helpful or harmful? How do we know when tradition breathes life and hope into the people of God? Or when it becomes a barrier to the leading of the Holy Spirit for our time? This is a critical matter the church must be constantly discerning. Is tradition serving as a propeller or an anchor?

Pies bring a message of encouragement

Each year Tim Sauer, left, takes his first rhubarb pie to John Neufeld, the executive director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., because rhubarb is his favourite. (Photo courtesy of Tim Sauer.)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Jun 28, 2017

Tim Sauer is known as the “pie man” because every now and then he shows up at places like the thrift shop or House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont., with a pie for volunteers or staff. His gifts of pie are meant to bring a message of encouragement, to say, “You’re doing important work.”

Tim’s rhubarb pie

Tim's rhubarb pie—a pie to share and enjoy! (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | Jun 28, 2017

Tim Sauer, who is known as the “pie man,” bakes at least 200 pies a year that he gives away to encourage volunteers and those who work in church-related organizations. This is his recipe for rhubarb pie, a favourite of John Neufeld, executive-director of House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont. (See more of Tim’s story at “Pies bring a message of encouragement.) 

Pie dough for two pies

Tractor and binder

Photo: David Voth / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jun 28, 2017

The Voth family in the Steinbach, Manitoba, area on the farm with tractor and binder in the 1940s. August is a busy harvesting time for farmers and gardeners with eyes on the upcoming fall and winter. Farming has changed dramatically in the past decades but remains the backbone to feeding the country and beyond.

For more historical photos in the Mennonite Archival Image Database, see archives.mhsc.ca.

Letting all our gifts bloom

Photo by Leona Dueck Penner.

Viewpoints | By Ev Buhr | Jun 28, 2017

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

A vision for growth

As Pastor Yared Seretse, right, prays, Josef and Teddy Ekle sing and play during a time of contemplation after Seretse’s hour-long sermon on seeking, finding and obeying God’s guidance during the Meheret Evangelical Church worship service at St. Marks Lutheran Church on June 11, 2017. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 28, 2017

Meheret Evangelical Church has been meeting for worship in Kitchener for 20 years. Founded by four families, the church of about 15 saw slow growth over the years, as refugees from Ethiopia—who dispersed to South Africa, Greece, Sudan, Egypt and elsewhere—made their way to Canada.

But after hiring Pastor Yared Seretse directly from Ethiopia a couple years ago, the congregation has seen growth in many ways. Currently, about 20 percent of the congregation is made up of people who have recently accepted Christ.

Fostering dialogue in the body of Christ

Mennonite Church B.C. participants Jon Nofziger, left, and Artur Bergen pause for discussion during a break at the Anabaptist theology conference at Trinity Western University on June 8, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 28, 2017

Creating more dialogue between the 16th-century Anabaptist tradition and the context of the Global South, and learning about how Mennonite women “do” theology, were two of the keynote addresses at this year’s “Anabaptist theology: Methods and practices” conference, held in early June 2017 at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley.

An adventurous junior-high retreat in Saskatchewan

Derek Neufeld, foreground, does his best during the coffee house at SMYO junior-high youth retreat. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Say yes, and get out of your comfort zone. These were the two main take-aways from the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan junior-high retreat, held from May 26 to 28, 2017, at the Shekinah Retreat Centre.

A field of a million prayers

A million praying South Africans gathered on 800 hectares of farmland on April 22, 2017, to pray for healing of the nation. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada.)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Jun 28, 2017

They were called and they came, a million people from every corner of South Africa. They gathered on April 22, 2017, 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.”

Edmonton church experiences blanket exercise

At the beginning of the blanket exercise, the floor is covered and people walk freely over the “land.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jun 28, 2017

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017, a spirit of truth and reconciliation filled the fellowship hall and sanctuary of Edmonton's First Mennonite Church. Instead of the regular Sunday School time, adults and youth gathered for a “blanket exercise.” Developed by KAIROS (an ecumenical movement for ecological justice and human rights) in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the exercise is a participatory journey through 500 years of history, paying attention to the stories of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

‘The perfect synergy’

Musicians Matt Epp and Faouzia decided to collaborate after meeting at last year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival. (Photo by Matt Williams.)

Artbeat | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

What’s the sound of an award-winning song? Matt Epp and Faouzia know.

This past May, the singer-songwriters won the grand prize for their duet “The Sound” in the International Songwriting Competition.

Judges chose “The Sound” from more than 16,000 entries from 137 countries. Epp and Faouzia are the first Canadians to ever win the grand prize plus US$25,000 in cash and more than $45,000 in additional prizes.

Stephanie Martin ends on a high note

Stephanie Martin, Pax Christi Chorale’s artistic director, left, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó who sang the role of Mary Magdalene, and Meredith Hall who sang the role of Mary the mother of Jesus, acknowledge the audience who attended Edward Elgar’s ‘The Apostles’ at Toronto’s Grace Church on-the-Hill on April 30. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky.)

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 28, 2017

Grace Church on-the-Hill Anglican Church was full of concertgoers lined up waiting for open seats from no-shows on April 30. Stephanie Martin’s last concert as artistic director of the Pax Christi Chorale after 20 years was a hot ticket, never mind the content and performers.

Edward Elgar’s “The Apostles” had never been sung in Canada before, despite its century-long pedigree. But Martin has often sought out underperformed works during her tenure, and has sought out and published works that had lain dormant for years.

Walking for equality

Abby Heinrichs speaks at a rally in Ottawa, where the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights ended. (Photo by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen.)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

This past spring, while her Grade 6 peers were in class writing spelling tests and working on their multiplication tables, Abby Heinrichs was doing something completely different: walking 600 kilometres in support of indigenous rights.

The 11-year-old Winnipegger was one of more than 50 people who participated in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a journey co-organized by Mennonite Church Canada and Indigenous Solidarity of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Cyber security underdog

David Dyck began programming computers when he was 12 years old. He is largely self taught. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Computer programming is a language foreign to most, but not to David Dyck. The 17-year-old Winnipegger is passionate about computers and knowing how they operate.

“I really like understanding how it all works and being able to make a computer do the things I want it to do,” says Dyck, who recently graduated from Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. “It’s always really satisfying to watch a program run . . . or find a bug and realize why something didn’t work.”

Broadening our prayers

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jun 14, 2017

As I began writing this, my Twitter and Facebook feeds reported news about a gun attack on an Egyptian bus carrying Coptic Christians. The world gasped and wept—once again. The people of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan struggle with the enormous challenge of caring for thousands of people fleeing violence in their neighbouring homeland. From the West Bank we hear news of more house demolitions. And Syrian refugees in our own communities tell stories of homes and places of worship destroyed, of violence and fear.

The view through a prison keyhole

A painting on a gate in the Aida refugee camp in Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem. The keyhole represents the prison that Palestinians, particularly the refugee population, feel. Many refugees have kept the keys to the houses from which they were evicted in 1948 or 1967, as a symbol of hope for peace. (Photo by Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Palestine and Israel Resolution Working Group)

Feature | By Byron Rempel-Burkholder | Jun 14, 2017

Tony Deik experienced a dramatic return to faith when he was studying at Birzeit University in the Israeli-occupied territory of the West Bank. Raised Roman Catholic in Bethlehem, he had mostly abandoned that faith as he experimented with secular and New Age ideas instead.

Still restless though, he decided to read the Gospel of John. Midway through, he suddenly found himself overwhelmed with a sense of his need for God. That was the moment he gave his life to Christ.

Muddying the waters on Israeli divestment

Will Braun
Feature | By Will Braun | Jun 14, 2017 | 4 comments

Only one person voted against the Mennonite Church Canada Resolution on Palestine and Israel, but we all know the matter is more complex than that. Some Mennonites and others argue that the resolution is predictably polarizing and strategically bereft. In a spirit of diversity and understanding, I suspended my own bias and sought their views.

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. 

What would you risk for peace?

Mazzen Al Azzah, left, leads protesters in riding their bicycles on a road designated for Israeli settlers only; he was subsequently arrested. Israel is currently building a segregated road system throughout the West Bank. (Photo by Rachelle Friesen)

Viewpoints | By Rachelle Friesen | Jun 14, 2017

In April 2017, more than 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners went on a hunger strike. As I write this article, strikers have refused food and have been drinking only salt water for the last 31 days. They are protesting being held without charge or trial, medical negligence, poor treatment and the lack of family visits. The strikers are putting their bodies at risk to nonviolently protest their treatment; many are experiencing severe fatigue, malnutrition and dizziness.

Readers Write: June 19, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jun 14, 2017

Random thoughts from a reader

Don’t interrupt me

Viewpoints | By Tim Froese | Jun 14, 2017

In many busy Canadian families, parents and siblings interrupt each other in mid-conversation. We want to get our point across quickly and efficiently. We want to get stuff done.

Holy sexuality

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jun 14, 2017 | 2 comments

The irony wasn’t lost on me, or on others. At last summer’s Mennonite Church Canada assembly, people discussed, debated and discerned holy sexuality. Specifically, they considered, “Is there space in Mennonite churches for people who are in same-sex relationships?”

The decision by that delegate body—after a six-year, highly participatory process—was yes. Let us provide church space for those who are same-sex attracted; let us accept and live with the differing understandings we have on this aspect of sexuality.

It's better to give

Viewpoints | By Wendy Helgerman | Jun 14, 2017

My father is a very innovative man. Thirty-three years ago, he started a silo repair business. One of the reasons he is a successful entrepreneur is that he finds solutions to his clients’ problems, even if the requests are out of the ordinary.

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