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Leading the leaderless

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | May 17, 2017 | 1 comment

We do not expect our denominational leaders to write encyclicals, assume pompous titles or drop pastors into congregations, but what exactly do we expect of them within our proudly pope-less priesthood of all believers?

Should they enforce adherence with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective? Should they just run area or national church ministries? Should they state their views on contentious questions or simply facilitate communal discernment?

ReCommission, ReLearn, ReUnion

Rescue Junction, a blue grass gospel group from the hamlet of Millbank, north of Stratford Ont., performed at the MCEC gathering on Friday evening. Members are (from left): Nick Huber, Joe Clark (standing in for Dallas Roth) Kyle Gerber and his sister Kaitlyn Gerber, and Roger Martin. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the Church | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

When delegates from the churches of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) met in Oakville, Ont., on April 28 and 29, the focus was on re-commissioning, based on Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus speaks to the disciples before his ascension. Read frequently in many languages, the words spoke to the many nations already present in the area church.

‘One night changed everything’

Alina Kehl, left, and Taylor Clemmer fill their plates at a refugee fundraiser lunch at Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church on March 26, 2017. The food was prepared by a Turkish refugee who is being hosted in the village. (Photo by Barb Draper)

God at work in the World | By Barb Draper | May 17, 2017

Last November, two Turkish men arrived in the small village of Floradale, in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country, seeking refuge. Leon Kehl, a local resident, had developed a relationship with Turkish Muslims in the past, so it was natural that they turned to him for help. He arranged to have the men, who are not named because their families remain in peril in Turkey, live with his parents next door while they applied for refugee status.

Lifesaving latrines and the importance of local partners

This is the frame of the first latrine to be built as part of MCC’s project in the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl in Haiti. (MCC photo by Ted Oswald)

God at work in the World | By Rebecca Shetler Fast and Ted Oswald | May 17, 2017

Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl, Haiti, hard last October, leading Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to respond to sanitation needs identified by community leaders.

“There was a lot of damage to this community in the storm,” says Previl Pierre, a local leader and community monitor in MCC’s environmental education program in the Artibonite region in central Haiti. “Many goats and cows died, and whole gardens were lost.”

Learning to let go

Julia Klassen was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14 years old. (Photo by Aaron Klassen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

When she was admitted to hospital at the age of 14, it didn’t take long for doctors to diagnose Julia Klassen with anorexia nervosa. She displayed all the classic symptoms: a fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin. She was malnourished, the result of restricting her eating for three months.

Students find relaxation through ‘puppy therapy’

Columbia student Victoria Rempel gets up close and personal with a mini-Schnauzer. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jantzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

Students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have a unique opportunity to de-stress before exams: puppy therapy.

For the past two school years, the Student Counselling Centre has brought puppies to campus for one day at the end of each semester. Students sign up for a 15- to 20-minute slot so that they can play with the puppies.

Men’s choir fosters community, generosity

A Buncha Guys is an informal choir of young men who love to sing. Conducted by Russ Regier and accompanied by Val Regier, the Guys perform several fundraising concerts each year. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | May 17, 2017

“To me, it’s always amazing how the guys come and keep coming to sing,” says Russ Regier. The guys he refers to are A Buncha Guys, an informal choir made up of young men in their early post-high school years.

In late 1997, Regier and his wife Val were asked to lead a choir of young men at Mount Royal Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, where they are members. “We decided to keep going after Christmas,” he says. “The guys invited their Shekinah connections,” and the choir grew from there.

Eritrean church grows in spirit and godliness

Pastor Jonathan Abraham, backed by women singers, leads worship at the Eritrean Shalom Worship and Healing Centre, which conducts services at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Web First | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

Voices rise in Tigrinya, the most widely spoken language in Eritrea, and in tongues. Waves of music wash over the gathered congregation of refugees from the East African country in the sanctuary of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener. Leading the ecstatic worship is Pastor Jonathan (Joni, pronounced Yónie) Abraham, microphone in hand, backed by a group of women all clad in white, as they practise one of the Shalom Worship and Healing Centre’s priorities: connecting with God.

Grebel names new president

Marcus Shantz

Web First | May 12, 2017 | 1 comment

Marcus Shantz will serve as the eighth president of Conrad Grebel University College and will take office on Oct. 1, 2017. The Board of Governors cited Shantz’s outstanding leadership skills, his significant contributions to local business and arts organizations, his engagement in the local and global church, and his first-hand knowledge of Grebel and its stakeholders. The board highlighted his understanding, respect, and support for higher education, as well as his creativity and integrity.

Donations sought to send youth to special delegate assembly

Emerging Voices Initiative members Anneli Loepp Thiessen, left, and Katrina Woelk are the lead planners and hosts for an initiative raising funds to sponsor youth participation at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg, Oct. 13-15, 2017.

Web First | By Deborah Froese | May 03, 2017

Youth are in demand. When the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) held a cross-Canada tour in 2016-17, the importance of encouraging youth involvement in area and national church initiatives rose to the surface again and again. Their presence is now wanted at the special delegate assembly in Winnipeg on Oct. 13 to 15, 2017.

Beyond guilt and lament

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | May 03, 2017 | 2 comments

Years ago, I needed some practical help. A person close to me—someone who had the ability to lend a hand—saw my need and said repeatedly, “I wish I could help, but I can’t. I feel so guilty.” That guilt did me no good. Instead of feeling supported, I felt resentful.

Today we are learning about ways in which our ancestors—and we—have deeply wounded the indigenous peoples of this land: the historic taking of land and the residential schools, and also the present inequalities in health, education and community support, along with the insidious racism of our society.

Land is the heart of the matter

‘If you understand nothing else about the history of Indians in North America, you need to understand that the question that really matters is the question of land.’ (Thomas King in The Inconvenient Indian) Photo: © istock.com/ninahenry

Feature | By Roger Epp | May 03, 2017

In the opening half of Steven Ratzlaff’s play Reservations, first staged in Winnipeg in 2016, an Alberta Mennonite farmer informs his two children that he plans to give a section of land—most of what he owns—to the Siksika First Nation. The farmer has heart troubles and he’s already renting the land out.

‘They’re destroying our home’

Filmmaker Brad Leitch prepares to head down the Nelson River with Marilyn and Bob Mazurat of Tataskweyak Cree Nation. (Photo courtesy of Interchurch Council on Hydropower)

Feature | May 03, 2017

When the water goes up behind the $8.7-billion Keeyask Dam in northern Manitoba, one family will lose more than any other. At a church-sponsored event in Winnipeg on March 18, 2017, they told their story.

The seven Kitchekeesik sisters from Tataskweyak Cree Nation made the 900-kilometre trip south to speak at the premiere of a short film that takes viewers down the Nelson River to the area that will be flooded by Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask Dam, slated for completion in 2021.

River dams and land claims

Screen shot from the documentary For Love of a River. (Photo courtesy of Rebel Sky Media)

Web First | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

Manitoba filmmakers Brad Leitch and Will Braun have brought the reality of settler-indigenous reconciliation work in Canada to the public screen.

Readers write: May 8, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | May 03, 2017

An appeal from MennoMedia’s Canadian board members

At our most recent MennoMedia board meeting, executive director Russ Eanes predicted that our organization is at the forefront of the transformation that is taking place in our denominations. Both Mennonite Church Canada and MC U.S.A. are undergoing significant changes in size and structure. Because MennoMedia supplies faith resources to congregations, it is the first barometer registering the winds of change.

Freedom powered by love

Garry Janzen
Viewpoints | By Garry Janzen | May 03, 2017 | 3 comments

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream. His dream was that people would be judged by the content of their character and not the colour of their skin. His dream was that there would be equality for all, that the ground would be level for everyone. His dream was that all would work together in peace and nonviolence until there is freedom for all.

Honouring the bride of Christ

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | May 03, 2017

A bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom is always a moment of anticipation and honour. The groom beams with joy. Perhaps he gives her a wink or sheds a tear. The bride gazes into his eyes. The assembly stands, craning their necks for a better view. Smiles abound. Arrayed in all her splendour, the bride is adored.

Rice pudding is comfort food

For the month of January, Terry Martens cooked for Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers in a well-equipped kitchen in California. (Photo courtesy of Terry Martens)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | May 03, 2017

Terry Martens believes that rice pudding is comfort food. It reminds her of her childhood when she would arrive home from school on winter afternoons to the smell of rice pudding cooking in the oven.

“We could barely wait for this delicious dessert to be ready so we could indulge,” she says.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

For Terry Martens, rice pudding is a comfort food. (Photo by Barb Draper)

Viewpoints | By Barb Draper | May 03, 2017

Terry Martens of Hoffnungsfelder Mennonite Church, Sask., volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) as a cook. She often uses this recipe when cooking for MDS volunteers. She supplied the recipe for the column, Gathering Around the Table. The story that goes with it can found here.

3 cups milk
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup rice
pinch of salt
2 eggs
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. vanilla

Jeremiah Ross

Photo: Ike and Margaret Froese

Viewpoints | By Conrad Stoesz | May 03, 2017

Mennonite Church Canada has created lasting relationships with indigenous communities such as Cross Lake, Man. In 1943, Henry Gerbrandt served the community in fulfilling his commitment as a conscientious objector to war. In 1956, Otto and Margaret Hamm moved to the community. A church was built in 1957, and a new one in 2005. Pictured, Jeremiah Ross (1909-2002) of Cross Lake was ordained as minister of the congregation in 1968; he retired in 1998. With the many changes to Mennonite Church Canada programs over the years, today no workers remain in indigenous communities.

Levelling the playing field

Pictured from left to right: Maria Angela Peinado; Hannah, Fred and Shirley Redekop; Maricela Jimenez; and Pierre Shantz. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)

Viewpoints | By Shirley Redekop | May 03, 2017

The saying goes, “There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.” My husband and I encouraged our children to fly and prayed we gave them roots.

One day in a sermon my husband said, “I believe in what Christian Peacemaker Teams [CPT] does, but I also fear one of our sons will join them,” referring to its placing of teams in communities confronted with situations of life-threatening conflict.

Stations of the Cross on Broadway

Maelle, left, and Esme Kulik enjoy bannock provided by Kairos Manitoba. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, pilgrims from Winnipeg and beyond gather at Broadway Disciples United Church to walk the Stations of the Cross on Broadway, one of Winnipeg’s oldest and most historic thoroughfares.

Before observing the first station at the church, and setting out against the day’s damp cold, guests are invited to warm themselves with music, snacks and hot coffee.

‘A downstream solution to an upstream problem’

Volunteers show off food baskets in front of the newly rebuilt House of Friendship Emergency Food Distribution Centre on Guelph Street in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

When the first food bank was created in Canada in 1981 in Edmonton, it was seen as a short-term project that would be unnecessary when the economy improved. Fast-forward to 2017 and Kitchener’s House of Friendship’s emergency food program that distributes food to 1 in 20 people living in Waterloo Region.

Learning cycles of peace

Jorgina Sunn tells her life story at the Parkland Restorative Justice Spring Banquet in the Woods. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

“I needed to go through what I did because that’s what helps me understand the people I work with,” said Jorgina Sunn. The indigenous singer/songwriter was the featured speaker at Parkland Restorative Justice’s Banquet in the Woods, held April 22, 2017, in Prince Albert.

Translating the Bible into the visual

From left to right: Rosthern Junior College students Marcus Kruger, Hailey Funk and Arianne Wichert arrange flowers as part of an art installation their worship arts class created for Rosthern Mennonite Church. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the Church | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

A unique art installation graces Rosthern Mennonite Church’s stage these days. Created by the Rosthern Junior College (RJC) worship arts class, it depicts themes found in biblical texts for the six Sundays of the Easter season.

The collaboration of the class and the church began with a conversation between teacher Jill Wiens and Craig Neufeld, Rosthern Mennonite’s pastor. Neufeld says the six-week Easter season gave students “more to chew on” than a single Sunday would have done. And the time frame for this season fit well with RJC’s schedule.

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