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Jan Fretz wins two U. of W. art awards

Jan Fretz explains ‘Unveiling Misogyny’ to a group of friends on April 5, 2017, in the University of Waterloo’s East Campus Hall main art gallery. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 19, 2017

Jan Fretz has been working at her honours four-year fine arts degree at the University of Waterloo for a long time. But the incubation period has paid dividends.

She loves to work in colour, so her faculty advisors encouraged her to work in black and white. And they challenged the painter and printer at heart to work sculpturally.

Fretz had two pieces in the university’s 43rd annual senior undergraduate exhi-bition and came away with two awards and their accompanying cash prizes.

Walking forward changed

Brandi Friesen, second from left, stands with some of the people she travelled through Nigeria with as part of a World Council of Churches program called the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Friesen)

Young Voices | By Brandi Friesen | Apr 19, 2017

For the last two years in February, I have been on a pilgrim journey to different regions of the world in need of peace and justice, and I will be doing the same for the next several years. This year, I made my way to the hot, complex and beautiful country of Nigeria.

With a little help from her friends

Originally from Hong Kong, Crystal Lau graduated from Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Lau)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 19, 2017

If it were not for the time she spent studying at Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College (RJC), Crystal Lau might not be making a difference on campus at the University of Saskatchewan (U. of S.) the way she is now.

Foodgrains Bank responding to Somali hunger crisis

During the last major Somali drought in 2011, thousands of people left their nomadic life—no longer able to survive on the land as nomadic herders, with all of their animals dead—and built small shelters on the outskirts of villages. Right now, as drought ravages Somalia, the risk is another famine if help does not come soon. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank file photo by Frank Spangler)

Back Page | By Amanda Thorsteinsson | Apr 19, 2017

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is responding to the hunger crisis in Somalia, where immediate emergency assistance is needed to help prevent a hunger catastrophe.

“At the back of our minds is the 2011 Somalia famine, where a quarter-of-a-million people died of hunger,” says Barbara Macdonald, Foodgrains Bank international programs director. “There is no way that should be allowed to happen again.”

Reclaiming dignity after leaving sex work

As of March 2017, 169 women who formerly worked in Bangladesh’s sex trade have graduated out of Pobitra’s vocational training program. Pobitra, a partner of MCC, helps women recover from trauma, become literate in Bangla and learn job skills. (MCC photo by Elizabeth Derstine)

Web First | By Rachel Bergen, with files from Elizabeth Derstine | Apr 18, 2017

Barsha, whose real name isn’t being used to protect her identity, was 11 when her mother started forcing her to traffic drugs between India and Bangladesh. She was caught several times by police and was afraid of her mother, so she ran away from home and lived in a railway station. During that time she was forced into sex work and raped numerous times.

Reading the Bible with ‘the other’

Janna Hunter-Bowman, left, an assistant professor of peace studies and Christian social ethics at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Loren Johns, professor of New Testament, right, visit with Hans de Wit, centre, AMBS’s Theological Lectureship guest speaker, on March 2, 2017. (AMBS photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

Web First | By Rich Preheim | Apr 18, 2017

Mary Magdalene’s Easter discovery of the empty tomb is the greatest news possible for Christians. But for one group of Peruvians studying the account in John 20, it came shrouded in tragedy and terror.

Thousands of people “disappeared” in the 1980s and ’90s, when the country was devastated by armed conflict between government forces and insurgent groups. That left countless families and friends, including the Bible study group, echoing Mary’s question: “Where have they taken our loved one?”

Mennonites, Lutherans, Catholics discuss baptism

Mennonites, Lutherans and Catholics gathered for the fifth and final Trilateral Dialogue on Baptism (left to right): Alfred Neufeld (co-chair, Paraguay), Theodor Dieter, Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, Marie-Hélène Robert, Larry Miller, Friederike Nüssel (co-chair, Germany), Fernando Enns, John Rempel, Luis Melo, Kaisamari Hintikka, Musawenkosi Biyela, William Henn, Avelindo Gonzalez. (Photo by Wilhelm Unger)

Web First | Apr 18, 2017

Representatives of the Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), the Lutheran World Federation, and Mennonite World Conference met in Augsburg, Germany, February 9-14, 2017, for the fifth meeting of the Trilateral Dialogue Commission on Baptism. The meeting in Augsburg concluded a five-year dialogue process.

Senator urges friendship and solidarity

The Peace Tower in Ottawa is the backdrop for the group photo of participants in MCC Canada’s 2017 student seminar. (Photo by Thomas Coldwell)

Web First | By Esther Epp-Tiessen | Apr 18, 2017

We had gathered in Ottawa—eight MCC staff, along with 30 students and young adults from across the country—for our annual MCC Canada student seminar. The topic of the seminar was Gender, peace and conflict: Exploring the intersection.

One of our guest speakers was Senator Mobina Jaffer. Jaffer has been active in promoting the women, peace and security agenda for many years, and she spoke about that work for several minutes. Then she asked permission to go “off topic.” She wanted to discuss what was really on her heart.

‘I’m pretty earnest about living responsibly’

Creation care is an integral part of Brenda MacDonald’s faith. She sees it as people relating not just to nature but also to one another and to God. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Web First | By Donna Schulz | Apr 07, 2017 | 2 comments

“I’m kind of anti-passion,” says Brenda MacDonald. “I don’t feel I have a passion. I have a lot of interests, and I’m interested in living responsibly. I’m not goal-oriented, but I’m pretty earnest about living responsibly.”

For the retired schoolteacher and her husband, Wayne, living responsibly means doing what they can to protect the environment and reduce consumption. “We try to grocery shop carefully, we bike wherever we can, and we have a garden in the summer.”

But lately, that commitment has gone deeper.

Living with a carbon footprint conundrum

Every year the Canadian Foodgrains Bank supports programs that help poor farmers in the developing world—like Yvette Nicholas of Haiti—deal with the effects of climate change. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Web First | By John Longhurst | Apr 07, 2017

Jane Fonda received lots of criticism last year for travelling to Alberta to criticize future pipeline construction.

Media outlets, including the Winnipeg Free Press, noted the apparent inconsistency between her comments about fossil-fuel extraction and how she flew to Alberta, used a helicopter to tour the oilsands, had her voice amplified by a microphone powered by electricity, and spoke in a building heated to keep out the cold of a Canadian winter.

Church lessons

Virginia A. Hostetler
Editorial | By Virginia A. Hostetler | Apr 05, 2017 | 2 comments

My church experience has included at least 13 Mennonite churches, a Baptist church, an inter-denominational church and two Catholic schools. That represents more worship services and Sunday school lessons than I can count! Not many details from the sermons and classes stick in my mind, but those experiences taught me many lessons over the years. Here are a few.

Suffering from Bach withdrawal?

Sean Gortzen, founder and conductor of Winnipeg’s new Pax Cantata Chorus, right, is pictured with other members at a rehearsal before their first concert, held April 2, 2017, at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 05, 2017

Sean Gortzen got his first taste of baroque cantata repertoire during his time at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), both on campus and through his involvement with local groups like the Mennonite Festival Chorus.

Captivated by the music, it became a dream of his to sing in a chorus in which he could explore the full range and depth of the genre. Following his graduation in the spring of 2016, he learned that many of his colleagues were also looking for groups to sing with, like they had during their university days.

Be a CO at tax time

Feature | By Mary Groh | Apr 05, 2017

Religious wars raged in 16th-century Europe between Catholics and Protestants. In northern Holland, Jan Smit was captured by the Catholics and was being pressed into service as an oarsman. His captors commanded him to join a crew of prisoners and row across the lake for a battle against Haarlem. But Smit declared, “I have no enemies and cannot in good conscience row the boat so that you can go and fight.”

He was a genuine CORB (conscientious objector to rowing a boat). “He was sharply examined in his faith,” a historian says, “and found to be of the Mennonistic religion.”

Readers write: April 10, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Apr 05, 2017

‘The faith of our fathers lives on’
There used to be a hymn we sang in our congregation: “Faith of our Fathers, Living Still.”

As a person ages, one has more memories from the past. Often in the present, we make decisions for the future with knowledge from the past. So from the past to the present, we have had many dedicated servants in our Mennonite congregation: ministers, pastors, teachers and active committee members.

A parting blessing

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld
Viewpoints | By Tim Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 05, 2017

At my first Mennonite Church Alberta assembly as area church minister, one of my official tasks was to offer a prayer of release to Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church. It was one of two congregations that had withdrawn its membership from the area church in response to the Being a Faithful Church decision at MC Canada’s 2016 Saskatoon assembly.

Reclaiming Scripture

Ryan Jantzi
Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Apr 05, 2017 | 4 comments

We must not hand them back.

Others before us fought long and hard to get them back into our hands. Through blood, sweat and tears, they were returned to the rightful owners. And now, slowly but surely, we are returning the Holy Scriptures to those who hoarded them for so long.

Ailsa Craig Boys Farm

Ailsa Craig boys (Photo from Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Apr 05, 2017

Boys on horseback pose in front of the main entrance to the Ailsa Craig Boys Farm, a home for troubled boys, in the 1960s. The farm, begun in 1955, was the brainchild of Jack Wall. With the help of Harvey Taves at Mennonite Central Committee and a handful of families eager to start mission work with a social welfare focus in Ailsa Craig, Ont., he gained support for the project from Ontario Mennonite churches. This was just one example of Canadian Mennonites looking for ways to demonstrate God’s love by setting up organizations to serve their local communities in the post-war era.

Creation care in action

Bob Lebold, 50 Kent Avenue’s physical resources coordinator, checks the output on one of the 10 banks of solar electric panels on the roof. In spite of the cloudy day, the system was producing electricity. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Building to green standards using cutting-edge technology is a significant expense.

After nearly four years in its 50 Kent Avenue building, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario is pleased with the choices it made and feels that its constituents can be satisfied that the extra expenses have paid creation-care dividends. Most initiatives have met or exceeded expectations, especially with the rising price of electricity in the Ontario market.

‘Not just an activist political group’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, second from right, and Carolyne Epp-Fransen, right, co-lead a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 05, 2017

Mennonite Church Canada’s resolution on Israel and Palestine took centre stage during an informative workshop in early March 2017 at the Mennonite Church Manitoba annual general meeting.

Church opens doors to exercise club

Retired physician Arnie Nickel, wearing the headset, is one of five volunteer trainers who lead the Forever in Motion Club that meets at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Apr 05, 2017

Everyone’s welcome, it’s free of charge and refreshments are served. Those selling features should attract Mennonites by the dozen. Surprisingly, though, most participants in Nutana Park Mennonite Church’s seniors exercise club aren’t Mennonites at all.

Five-and-a-half years ago, Walter Wall approached his congregation about starting an exercise program for seniors. The Saskatoon Health Region offered training for volunteer leaders for a program called Forever in Motion. Wall and Arnie Nickel took the training and became the first leaders of the church’s Forever in Motion Club.

Serving up social justice

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 05, 2017 | 1 comment

More than just food will be on the menu when the Abby Eats Café opens here next year. The non-profit eatery, according to founder and proprietor Kyle Dyck, will focus on social justice and food insecurities and offer a culture of welcome for customers of all socioeconomic groups. The unique twist is that this restaurant will be “pay what you can.”

‘A season of change and a search for vitality’

Leng Thang of Calgary Chin Christian Church addresses the MC Alberta annual delegate sessions on March 18, 2017. (Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the Church | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 05, 2017

Both challenge and blessing were in evidence at the 88th annual Mennonite Church Alberta delegate sessions on March 17 and 18, 2017, at Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton.

In comments preceding the business session, moderator Dan Jack was clear in naming some of MC Alberta’s challenges for the coming year: “[We are] expecting a difficult year and a deficit budget. The economy and the [Being a Faithful Church (BFC)] process has had some impact with involvement.”

Reading books in prison

Margaret Loewen Reimer
Focus On Books & Resources | By Margaret Loewen Reimer | Apr 05, 2017

Seven years ago, two friends and I from Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., agreed to begin a book club with inmates in the local Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal prison. Except for breaks in the summer, every month since then we have made our way through prison security and along a maze of corridors to a room where we are joined by a dozen or so women eager to talk about the latest work we have read. We read mostly fiction and some memoirs.

Mennonites in Vietnam conflicted during war

Focus On Books & Resources | By Barb Draper | Apr 05, 2017

As the government of South Vietnam teetered on the brink of collapse in the spring of 1975, Mennonite missionaries living in Saigon agonized over whether to leave or stay. In the end, mothers and children left the country, and only a few men stayed to experience the communist takeover.

Getting unfrozen about climate change

Focus On Books & Resources | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Christine Penner Polle knows well the warning in Al Gore’s presentations and his 2006 movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It is possible to move from denial to despair in regard to climate change, both of which result in nothing being done and people being frozen in place.

First, she had to be unfrozen herself. Climate change and its connection to the burning of fossil fuel seemed to be just too big and complicated. But as she became convinced of the science, she also began to read about hope. Humanity had faced other issues and, together, could face this one, too.

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