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‘Happy to find a safe place’

Heather Menzies, back right, and Jennifer deGroot and sons deliver hygiene kits to the Gretna refugee reception centre. (Photo by Will Braun)

 

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | May 31, 2017

“The world has come to Gretna,” says Robin Neustaeter, a resident of the normally quiet town of 550 on the border between Manitoba and the U.S. On May 4, 2017, Manitoba’s Conservative government opened a “reception centre” in Gretna to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers who walk across the border in the area.

On the first Sunday the centre was open, six asylum seekers from Cameroon and Nigeria attended the local Mennonite church. Co-pastor Jana Wiebe says many in the congregation found it “energizing.”

‘Without CoSA I’d be lost’

A former core member of a Mennonite Central Committee-supported Circle of Support and Accountability program run by the Moncton Community Chaplaincy. He wishes to remain anonymous so that he can reintegrate into society without the stigma related to sexual offenders. (MCC photo by Shane Yuhas)

 

God at work in the World | By Racahel Bergen | May 31, 2017

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) welcomes the Canadian government’s announcement that it will provide nearly $7.5 million over five years to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), which helps convicted sex offenders reintegrate into their communities.

CoSA is a national restorative justice organization for women and men who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger.

‘What does God have to do with any of this?’

Author Craig Terlson

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 31, 2017

Craig Terlson is a real-life Bartholomew Cubbins. That is to say, he wears a startling number of hats. He is an erstwhile illustrator, present-day graphic designer, moonlight master chef, a one-time psychiatric nurse’s aide and a longtime writer of fiction. His debut novel, Fall in One Day, was released on May 16, 2017.

Breathing new life into the music

Raised the son of missionaries in Senegal, Darren Creech has aspired to be a classical pianist since he was 5. (Photo by Richard Rhyme)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

When a Toronto-based LGBTQ orchestra approached queer classical pianist Darren Creech about performing Victor Davies’ “Mennonite Piano Concerto” with it in concert, it didn’t realize what a perfect fit he would be.

Unbeknownst to the Counterpoint Community Orchestra at the time, Creech is Mennonite and he grew up listening to the piece.

Lessons learned from the elderly

Working part time cleaning seniors’ homes sparked Danielle Raimbault’s interest in working with the elderly. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Raimbault)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017

Danielle Raimbault’s first day of work as the chaplain at a residence for the elderly was a memorable one that quickly shattered her expectations.

When the 24-year-old arrived at Chartwell Elmira Long Term Care Residence in Elmira, Ont., a year ago, she sat down beside a resident and introduced herself.

“Did your mom give you permission to come here today?” the resident asked.

Let the games begin

Jonathan Seiling, left, Karlie Haining, centre, and Karli Bijakowski display two completed comforters that were knotted for MCC during the Niagara Region Youth Hunger Relief Games on May 12. (Photo by Jonathan Seiling)

Back Page | By Jonathan Seiling | May 31, 2017

More than 30 youth from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregations in the Niagara Region gathered at Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines on May 12 for the “Hunger Relief Games.” Using non-perishable food items, plus items for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) hygiene kits and two comforters, they played a series of five games.

Dedicated volunteer coordinates parking at relief sale

As parking coordinators at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale Paul Snyder (left) and Mike Shantz, are the first point of contact for visitors to the annual sale. (MCC Photo by Ken Ogasawara)

Web First | May 26, 2017

“Wow, what well-organized parking!” is a review that few of us attending a big event will ever think to utter. But every year for the last 51 years, Paul Snyder has had the massive job of making sure thousands of cars are parked safely so that tens of thousands of people can enjoy the New Hamburg (Ont.) Relief Sale.

GAMEO finds new home at Goshen College

Web First | May 26, 2017

The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), the most trusted online source for information on Anabaptist groups around the world (www.gameo.org), has found a new home with the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) at Goshen College.

On May 19, 2017, members of the GAMEO management board voted unanimously to transfer oversight of the project to the Institute, whose director, John D. Roth, will serve in a new position as the project’s general editor.

More than 5,000 Congolese Mennonites in hiding

Mennonite Mission Network has often described Niclette Mbendji as today’s typical Mennonite—a young African woman. Mbendji lived in Ndjoko Punda when this photo was taken. Rebels have infiltrated this village. While we don’t know whether Mbendji is hiding in the forest, many of our Mennonite brothers and sisters are. (Photo by James R. Krabill)

Web First | By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen | May 26, 2017

Mennonite church members report increasing violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Central Kasaï Province, where Michael J. Sharp died on a United Nations’ peace-building mission in March 2017. Mennonite Mission Network partners with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission in walking alongside the three Congolese Mennonite denominations.

Prosthetic limb leads to new hope for Syrian refugee

Amjad, left, a Syrian refugee to Germany, obtained a prosthetic limb with a little help from Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Gregory Rabus, right, through Peace Church (Friedenshaus), a collaborative ministry with other Mennonites in Ludwigshafen that he shares with his wife, Jennifer Otto. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Rabus)

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 26, 2017

For 21-year-old Amjad, trauma led to hope and solidified his unwavering faith in God’s protection. Amjad, a Syrian refugee in Ludwigshafen, Germany, lost his leg when a bomb fell on a street in Syria.

Auction of Maud Lewis painting raises $45,000 for MCC

The auction of a painting by Canadian artist Maud Lewis will help suppport the work of MCC. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Central Committee)

Web First | May 25, 2017

The thrilling and tumultuous saga of the Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop donation bin has come to a successful end. The online auction of “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia” concluded on May 20, 2017, with the winning bid reaching $45,000. The proceeds from the auction will support the relief, development, and peace work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Mass starvation—does anyone give a *%^$?

An estimated 20 million people in the world currently face starvation. World Council of Churches and the All Africa Council of Churches have issued a call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Web First | By John Longhurst | May 17, 2017 | 3 comments

“I have three things I’d like to say today,” said American author Tony Campolo to a crowd at the 1982 interdenominational Spring Harvest church conference in England.

“First, while you were sleeping last night, 45,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.

“Second, most of you don’t give a shit.

“Third, what’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact I said ‘shit’ than the fact that 45,000 kids died last night.”

Walking toward wellness

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 17, 2017

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.—Various attributions

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of all Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Those statistics apply to people in our congregations as well, even if we don’t always like to talk about them in church. One in five of us sitting in a Sunday worship service has experienced—or will experience—our own mental health crisis. And many more of us will walk in the valley of darkness with a family member, friend or colleague.

On becoming a better person

Senior writer Will Braun explores the concept of ‘mindfulness’ as he grapples with the shift between the first and second halves of his life. ‘I feel foolish admitting this, but I believe life is, in part, a long lesson in letting go, with a big test at the end,’ he writes. (Photo:  © istock.com/lvnl)

Feature | By Will Braun | May 17, 2017

Although I had biked 21 kilometres to work and spent the hot day bent over in a vegetable patch just south of Winnipeg, I was still pushing hard on my ride home. I loved passing the hot-shot cyclists who frequented the same route.

On that day of particular exertion and clarity, my sense of drive was mixed with the knowledge that I was 36 and had peaked physically. I would get slower for the rest of my life. I could barely stand the thought.

Readers write: May 22, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | May 17, 2017

Alberta is an example to us all

Re: “A season of change and a search for vitality,” April 10, page 16.

I would like to commend Mennonite Church Alberta, the Calgary Chinese and Vietnamese Mennonite churches, and Edmonton Vietnamese Mennonite Church.

Hope in a dark-sky world

Karen Martens Zimmerly
Viewpoints | By Karen Martens Zimmerly | May 17, 2017 | 1 comment

I grew up with a prairie view of wide open sky and grain fields dotted with cattle. In the living room, however, hung a painting of fishermen hurriedly pulling their boat to shore, racing against turbulent waves and a storm-blackened sky. My father, a life-long farmer, chose the painting for the hope of rain that it portrayed.

Something is brewing in the church these days, too, but we aren’t sure what to expect. How can we find a future of hope in our current reality?

Spanish lessons

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | May 17, 2017

Walking to my conversational Spanish class, I rehearsed phrases in my head, hoping practice would strengthen my fledgling skills. In spite of my efforts, I knew I would stumble to find and pronounce the right word. Sure enough, in class I attempted to say I had eaten lunch with friends, but instead said I had eaten my friends for lunch. We all chuckled, commiserating about our incompetence.

What is your passion?

Pamela Miles
Viewpoints | By Pamela Miles | May 17, 2017

How often have you heard the question, “Will you sponsor me?” I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, from a family member, a colleague or someone in your church. For many charitable organizations, organizing events in which their supporters can actively participate is a wonderful way to raise funds, get people engaged and create awareness of their causes.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 8)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | May 17, 2017

Doubt has a good public relations manager these days. The world seems awash with books, articles, sermons, even a few TED talks, praising its beneficial goodness. I too have tried to redeem the sullied reputation of doubt in the church with my preaching and writing. Over the past year I’ve started to wonder if the pendulum has swung too far though. Have we naively overestimated and championed the virtue of doubt without fully appreciating its destructive power?

The book of James (1:6) names one thing that will prevent us from receiving divine wisdom. Doubt.

Isaac Wiens

Photo: Isby Bergen Photograph Collection / Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 17, 2017

The Isaac S. Wiens real estate office in Herbert, Sask., is pictured in 1911. Wiens (1874-1958), left, was born in Russia and came to Canada as an infant. His family became part of the Bergthaler Mennonite Church and lived in the Gretna, Man., area. He married Katharina Friesen in 1897, and they had 10 children. The family joined other Mennonites who moved to Saskatchewan looking for land and opportunities. Wiens settled in the community of Herbert. By 1911, Wiens was the village secretary.

Shimmering peace in the midst of darkness

Sue Nickel
Focus on Mental Health | By Sue Nickel | May 17, 2017

“Argh!” I cried out, as I slammed my fist down hard onto the kitchen counter. “I hate this! I’m so tightly wound up my body feels ready to split open. I can’t stand the tension anymore!”

Healing for soul and spirit

The indigenous drum has become important to Sara Fretz. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe Photography, courtesy of Sara Fretz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

Singing has always been a passion for Sara Fretz. Long before she took up the profession of music therapy she found music “very therapeutic” for herself through her years of growing up. But music is also prayerful, and draws her close to God—faith and singing go together for her.  She “comes to herself as a person” when she sings.

Mental health and ‘having faith’

Beth Downey Sawatzky
Focus on Mental Health | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 17, 2017

After retiring from professional service almost two years ago, Valentine (Val) Warkentin found she missed her work as a counsellor and accepted an invitation to volunteer at Canadian Mennonite University. Many kinds of mental illness only develop, or present for the first time, during a person’s teen years and early-twenties, which makes academic institutions dynamic and challenging contexts for her work. “The stresses and expectations in schools result in students being particularly vulnerable.

Being the church in an age of anxiety

Presenter Betty Pries of the L3 Group leads a workshop for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan pastors on ‘Being the church in the 21st century.’ She illustrates how individuals and congregations are wounded, yet those wounds can be places where God is allowed to enter. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 17, 2017

High anxiety is a characteristic of this age. Political and economic uncertainties abound, and electronic media, purported to help people connect with one another, actually seem to make them feel increasingly isolated.

These realities were the starting point for discussion as Mennonite Church Saskatchewan pastors explored what “Being the church in the 21st century” means. They met at Mount Royal Mennonite Church on April 28, 2017, for a one-day workshop with Betty Pries of the L3 consulting group.

When mental illness drops in at church

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
Focus on Mental Health | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 17, 2017

Asked how many “walk-ins” looking for help at a church are likely to have a mental illness, pastors like Werner De Jong say “the majority, for sure.”

De Jong, pastor at Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, is often alone in the building when people wander in to ask for help. In fact, he leaves the door unlocked so they can find him. “The first thing I do is invite them into my office to talk with them,” he says. Invariably they ask for money, but money rarely helps [with their issues].”

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