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Remembering the Reformation

In 2007, then MWC president Nancy Heisey presented a framed image of Anabaptist martyr Dirk Willems to Pope Benedict XVI. She told the story of Willems, who was captured, tried and convicted, but escaped from prison in 1569. Willems fled across the thin ice of a pond, but when the guard who pursued him broke through the ice, Willems turned back and rescued him. Willems was recaptured and soon burned at the stake. (Photo by Servizio Photografico de L’O.R.)

Feature | By Troy Osborne | Jan 25, 2017 | 1 comment

The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. According to tradition, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on Oct. 31, 1517, thereby starting the chain of events that gave birth to the Protestant churches and destroyed the unity of western Christianity.

The next 500 years of Anabaptism

Worship at a congregation of the Kenya Mennonite Church. (MWC photo by Liesa Unger)

Web First | Jan 25, 2017

Tremendous change rocked the western church 500 years ago, as successive groups discovered new things about God through Scripture and separated themselves from the Roman Catholic church.

Renewal 2027 is a framework for a 10-year series of events within the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) global family, commemorating Anabaptism’s role in that period of culture and religious change called the Reformation.

Readers write: January 30, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Jan 25, 2017

Reader lauds ‘brilliant’ Christmas feature

Re: “Spirit-heat to thaw your freezing blood” feature, Dec. 12, 2016, page 4.

As my dental hygienist would say: “brilliant!” Thank you, Layton Friesen. May you enjoy a long and fruitful ministry.

Wayne Nafziger, Alliston, Ont.

 

Church goes nowhere when mired in talk of sexuality and abuse of power

Unexpected consequences

Dan Dyck
Viewpoints | By Dan Dyck | Jan 25, 2017 | 2 comments

When we as a church agree to help those in need and place our trust in God, we should anticipate unexpected consequences. As we serve, we might make new friends, learn a new skill or enrich our spiritual lives.

God has unexpectedly blessed us by arranging us into congregations, area churches, a national church, schools, and organizations like Mennonite Central Committee and Abundance, among others, so that we can more effectively and efficiently use our resources to follow Jesus.

Healthy humility lightens the journey

Melissa Miller
Viewpoints | By Melissa Miller | Jan 25, 2017

I am in my 60s, as are many of my friends. Our parents, if they are living, are in their 80s and 90s, with the accompanying challenges and rewards of that season of life. The experiences of the parents impact their children significantly. Now, when I gather with my peers, we often talk about our parents. The stories we tell may be distressing or inspiring, funny or heartbreaking. Mostly I am thankful for companions who listen and commiserate.

Preventing prodigals

Mike Strathdee
Viewpoints | By Mike Strathdee | Jan 25, 2017

Many of us are familiar with the the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. There are great lessons in this story about grace and forgiveness, but I’ve never heard it used in the context of warning about giving children gifts before they are emotionally or spiritually mature enough to handle them properly.

Peter Toews

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | Jan 25, 2017 | 1 comment

For much of Mennonite history, leaders were called from within the group to serve. This was in addition to working on their own farm or business to pay the bills. One of the longest-serving bishops of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church, centred in Manitoba, was Peter A. Toews (1877-1961), pictured with his wife Maria Toews (1880-1970). He was elected minister in 1929 and served as bishop from 1931 to 1951. This non-salaried leadership model continues in the more traditional Mennonite groups.

Wisdom, where art thou? (Pt. 4)

Troy Watson
Viewpoints | By Troy Watson | Jan 25, 2017

How does one define wisdom? It’s difficult to put into words.

Herman Hesse, in his classic novel, Siddhartha, writes: “Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish. . . . Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

EVI listening tour roundup

Clockwise from left: Sara Erb, Steph Chandler Burns, Kathy Janzen, Ed Janzen and Chris Brnjas consider the questions posed at the second Emerging Voices Initiative listening tour event on Nov. 11, 2016, at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | Jan 25, 2017 | 2 comments

Over the past three months, the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) conducted a cross-country listening tour, endeavouring to gauge the mood of Mennonite Church Canada congregants on what should happen next with the national church following the presentation of the Future Directions Task Force recommendations at last summer’s assembly in Saskatoon and the creation of a transition process to redefine the area and national churches.

Alberta names new area church pastor

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld has been hired as the new Mennonite Church Alberta area church pastor. Starting in February, he will combine this half-time position with a quarter-time role as Future Directions coordinator for the area church. As area church pastor, he will serve administrative roles relating to ordination and licensing, provide coaching and leadership support to pastors, and serve as a key link between the area church executive and congregations. He completed undergraduate degrees at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg (theology) and the University of Waterloo, Ont.

An exciting first step

The Shekinah Centre as seen from the top of the hill. (Photo by Jason Hosler)

Focus On Education | By Jill Wiens | Jan 25, 2017

I live in one of the most beautiful places on the Prairies. The Shekinah Retreat Centre is situated in the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Northeast of my house, a deep ravine funnels a beaver-filled creek into the wide river below. God’s presence is ubiquitous here, a place that has been significant to my development since I attended summer camp at Shekinah when I was 7.

​‘Let him speak’

Beth Downey Sawatzky
God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Jan 25, 2017

An Mennonite Church Manitoba meeting at Fort Garry Mennonite Church took a confrontational turn on Jan. 12, 2017, opening the floodgates of debate on just what it means for local congregations to “create space” for one another based on the Being the Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution passed at last summer’s general assembly in Saskatoon.

To distinguish the conversation at hand from any previous theological debates on same-sex unions, moderator Peter Rempel outlined three core areas for discussion:

Rooted in faith or academia

Justony Vasquez of Winnipeg is pictured in Poland, where she attended World Youth Day last summer. (Photo courtesy of Justony Vasquez)

Focus On Education | By Allison Courey | Jan 25, 2017

When Justony Vasquez decided to be part of World Youth Day in Poland last summer, she had no idea that the venture would land her at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). In her final year of high school, she’d already received acceptance and a scholarship to another university. She can only explain the last-minute change as something “Spirit-led.”

Engineering bright futures for students

Grade 2 students Daniella, Makayla and Mackenzie display one of their STEM creations. (WMEMS photo)

Focus On Education | Jan 25, 2017

Before taking the STEM  program, which incorporates science, technology, engineering and math, Mackenzie, a Grade 2 student at Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary and Middle Schools, wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to be when she grows up. After spending some time working on a team designing and building projects, she has made her decision: “I want to be a builder,” she says, “just like my dad.”

‘Do not neglect to do good’

Jonathan Smith, Mariak Achuoth, Mark Whyte and Liban Farah participated in the Hult Prize competition at the University of Waterloo last November, aiming to restore the rights and dignities of refugees. (Photo by Darin White)

Focus On Education | By Jennifer Konkle | Jan 25, 2017

Conrad Grebel University College students Mark Whyte, Mariak Achuoth, Jonathan Smith and Liban Farah accepted a challenge last fall: Build a social enterprise that restores the rights and dignities of refugees. The team participated in the Hult Prize Challenge, the world’s largest student competition for social good, competing for $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

Alumnus heads to Nepal to serve as general surgeon

Frieda, Becky, Silas, Nick and Salema Bauman will spend the next two years in Nepal, where Nick will serve as a general surgeon at Tansen Hospital in Kathmandu.

Focus On Education | By Christine M. Rier | Jan 25, 2017

Nicholaus “Nick” Bauman (nee Erb), a Rockway Mennonite Collegiate graduate (Class of ’97) and general surgeon, and his spouse, Becky Bauman, are heading to Kathmandu, Nepal, the largest Himalayan state in Asia. For the next two years, Nick will serve as a general surgeon at Tansen Hospital, teaching post-graduate students.

Carving a new peace path

Teachers want to integrate peace education into their classrooms but don’t always have the time or resources to do so, Katie Gingerich says. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jan 25, 2017

A young woman in Waterloo, Ont., is using her passion for peace to positively impact students.

Katie Gingerich, 24, is director of The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), a peace-education initiative that integrates conflict resolution and social-justice concepts into social studies curriculum in elementary school classrooms.

‘Sparky’ music

Jill Wiens, left, Curtis Wiens, Zac Schellenberg and Clay Buhler are Sparky and the Plugs. (Photo courtesy of Zac Schellenberg)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jan 25, 2017

They might perform at cafes, bars and festivals throughout the Saskatoon area these days, but bluegrass quartet Sparky and the Plugs got their start playing music in church.

Guitarist Zac Schellenberg says that doing special music and accompanying hymns at Mount Royal Mennonite Church gave the group a safe place to get their feet wet.

Bethany College set to ‘thrive’

Web First | Jan 24, 2017

The new year brings a new beginning for Bethany College, as it announces its re-opening for fall 2017 with a new discipleship program called Thrive. Thrive replaces the college’s previous academic-focused curricula with a new practical approach to biblical learning for post-secondary students.

Since Bethany ceased operations in 2015, volunteers have been working tirelessly to design a fresh new program that can engage youth looking to fill the gap year between high school and starting a career or going on to secular studies.

Preparing for pastoral ministry

Lee Hiebert

Web First | Jan 24, 2017

A desire to immerse himself in a learning community in preparation for pastoral ministry was part of what drew Lee Hiebert to relocate to Elkhart, Ind., and enrol in the master of divinity program at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS).

Hiebert, who grew up in Kelowna, B.C., and was a member of First Mennonite Church there, had served for three years as a part-time associate pastor at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg while attending Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) full time.

Canadians join Women’s March on Washington

Canadian Mennonites Marlys Neufeldt (third from right), Siena Armstrong (second from right) and Thea Armstrong (far right) took part in the Washington Women’s March, on Jan. 21, along with Mennonite marchers from the U.S. (Photo by Doreen Martens)

Web First | By Doreen Martens | Jan 24, 2017 | 9 comments

Canadian Mennonite women were among millions who peacefully made their voices heard for justice, equality and a host of social causes at the Women’s Marches that took place across Canada and every continent on January 21, 2017, the day following the Donald Trump inauguration.

Some even made it all the way to Washington, D.C., where hundreds of Mennonites arrived in buses, by plane, train and car to join in a massive, peaceful gathering estimated at more than half a million, which far exceeded expectations and led to human gridlock in the core area of the city.

Review: Show not so pure in its depiction of Mennonites

CBC’s new crime drama, Pure, which premiered on Jan. 9, has generated a lot of controversy in the Canadian Mennonite community, and for good reason, says reviewer Vic Thiessen.

Web First | By Reviewed by Vic Thiessen | Jan 23, 2017 | 6 comments

CBC’s new crime drama, Pure, which premiered on Jan. 9, 2017, has generated a lot of controversy in the Canadian Mennonite community, and for good reason.

10 things to know about Mennonites in Canada

There are several varieties of Mennonite and Amish groups in Canada. (Photos by Barb Draper)

Web First | By Barb Draper | Jan 12, 2017 | 1 comment

You may have seen traditionally dressed Mennonites at farmers’ markets or on TV, but you may not know that these are only a segment of the Mennonite population in Canada. There are several varieties of Mennonite and Amish groups in Canada, and—although they all share the same roots—each group practises its faith in unique ways. Here are some things you should know about your Mennonite, Old Order and Amish neighbours.

1. Why are there so many kinds of Mennonites?

Top 10 online stories of 2016

Web First | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Jan 11, 2017

In 2016 popular online stories on the Canadian Mennonite website dealt with gender identity, cohabitation, church institutions, and Mennonite history. Readers wanted to know about the growth of Old Order Mennonites communities in Ontario and the question of Mennonite historical involvement with Aryan ideology. They were interested in real people and their experiences with dementia, intergenerational living, and the quest for mental health.

Here are the top stories, based on the number of page views at canadianmennonite.org.

Making the list

Aaron Epp
Editorial | By Aaron Epp | Jan 11, 2017

At the end of every year, I get together with a group of friends and we discuss our favourite music that came out in the previous 12 months. As a starting point for the discussion, each of us creates a list of our 10 favourite albums of the year.

When we began this music night many years ago, I was tempted to come up with an objective list of the Top Ten Best Albums of the Year. It would be a definitive list of the undeniably best music released in all of the world.

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