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Silver Lake takes steps to deepen faith formation

Jake Scott, Silver Lake Mennonite Camp’s ‘outtrip’ leader, takes a leap of faith from a rock while guiding a canoe trip through Killarney Provincial Park. (Silver Lake Mennonite Camp photo)

Focus on camping | By Silver Lake Mennonite Camp | Feb 22, 2017

How can we deepen Christian faith formation at camp?

In wrestling with this question, the leadership team at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, located near Sauble Beach, Ont., launched a new initiative last summer to take its longstanding faith-building tradition to another level. The team created a new position called “spiritual life coordinator” and hired David Penny for the position, made possible by financial support from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.

A special faith-based community

In addition to master classes, ensemble practices, chapel services and lots of camp games and activities, Ontario Mennonite Music Camp campers prepare an entire musical for their final concert. In 2016, campers put on Godspell for their families and friends. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Focus on camping | By Katie Steckly | Feb 22, 2017

Attending Ontario Mennonite Music Camp at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., has benefitted me in ways that I never could have imagined when I registered in 2012.

I made some incredible friendships and developed important life skills in my two weeks at camp. I was pretty nervous going into Music Camp, being a beginner musician and not very confident with my singing voice. However, I was quickly comforted by the encouraging counsellors and the kindness of my fellow campers.

A front-row seat

Pictured from left to right: Katie Wiebe, Curtis Wiens and Kristy Hosler. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

Focus on camping | By Curtis Wiens | Feb 22, 2017

A highlight of each summer at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask., is the coffee house during our senior-teen camp for ages 15 to 18. Campers come out of their shell and display talents that we didn’t know they had. It is a special time of vulnerability.

Peace Camp 2016 was a huge success!

Peace Camp campers make watercolour cards using handmade, fair trade paper, as part of a 2016 activity prepared by guest speaker Ryan Jacobs, then of Ten Thousand Villages Canada, top left. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Focus on camping | By Rebekah DeJong | Feb 22, 2017

Conrad Grebel University College’s sixth annual Peace Camp was an opportunity to inspire young lives, strengthen community ties and make peace happen in Waterloo Region.

‘I can’t wait for summer’

A young camper climbs the rock wall at Camp Valaqua in order to ring the bell at the top. (Camp Valaqua photo)

Focus on camping | By Jon Olfert | Feb 22, 2017

The sun is shining through the tall trees today at Camp Valaqua near Water Valley, Alta., and the a hint of spring is in the air. This time of year brings hiring, planning and anticipation into our little corner of the camp world. Sometimes it is tough to keep track of why we work at this all year long and so I tell myself stories to remember. Here is one of my favourites:

A few years ago in the middle of a challenging week a camper tromped up to me with a confident look on her face and announced, “I know you.”

The beauty in difference

Yun Lin is a staff member at Fraser Lake Camp near Bancroft, Ont., and brings joy to everyone she meets. (Fraser Lake Camp photo)

Focus on camping | By Yun Lin | Feb 22, 2017 | 1 comment

I’m an archetype. My family immigrated to Canada when I was 6, and while I went to school, my parents worked tirelessly to support me. They uprooted their lives in hope of a better tomorrow for their child. My story is that of millions of immigrant children in Canada and around the world. At 10, unfortunate circumstances led to my placement in the foster-care system for six months. I became distrustful and resentful of those around me.

‘So supported’

Andrew Zettel
Focus on camping | By Andrew Zettel | Feb 22, 2017

The summer of 2016 was one the most memorable summers of my life.

When the opportunity to work as a camp counsellor first came up, I was admittedly a little apprehensive. Having never counselled before, I was unsure of what to expect. What I experienced, however, was nothing short of spectacular.

Camp farm program invites delight in God’s creation

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe served as nature instructor at Camp Assiniboia, one of three camps that make up Camps with Meaning, a ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba. (Camps with Meaning photo)

Web First | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Feb 22, 2017

Picture gleeful campers chasing squawking chickens back into their pen, and others exclaiming with delight as they bite into freshly picked tomatoes, juice dribbling down their chins. This is what a typical day at camp looked like for me this summer—days that were never actually typical but always full of new adventures.

‘I eat your garbage’

This meal brought to you by dumpster diving. (Photo courtesy of Nathaniel De Avila)

Young Voices | By Nathaniel De Avila | Feb 22, 2017 | 1 comment

I am a thief. I steal our food system’s waste.

Let’s be clear. Grocery stores throw edible food into their dumpsters. I go to those dumpsters and jump in. I dig through boxes and bags, and salvage everything I can find. I take it to my house and painstakingly sort through it. I cut and clean vegetables and fruit. I repackage damaged and open packages of dry goods. I rinse and re-label canned goods. I dry herbs and peppers. I freeze bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit and almost everything else.

Passion for reconciliation leads to recognition

Allison Goerzen has worked for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta for the past year-and-a-half. (Photo courtesy of Allison Goerzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 22, 2017

An organization that works toward ending poverty and achieving a better world has recognized a young Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta employee for the reconciliation work she does with indigenous peoples.

The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation named Allison Goerzen to its annual Top 30 Under 30 list of young people who are creating a more just and sustainable world. The 2017 list was announced at the beginning of February in a special magazine the Council published.

The Bible still speaks, say Renewal 2027 speakers

At the Renewal 2027 event organized by Mennonite World Conference, participants read and interpreted scripture together in small groups. (Photo by Susanne Werner)

Web First | Feb 21, 2017

Regional Anabaptists and leaders from around the world gathered on February 12, 2017, for “Transformed by the Word: Reading Scripture in Anabaptist Perspectives,” the first in a 10-year series of events called “Renewal 2027” organized by Mennonite World Conference (MWC). The events will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, with appreciation and critical reflection on what is now a global movement within the larger body of Christ.

Working together in Ontario

Maria Bueckert with three of her eight children, Eva, Jacob and Helena in Aylmer, Ont., last fall. (Mennonite Community Services photo)

Web First | By Helen Bergen | Feb 21, 2017

When Maria and Heinrich Bueckert immigrated to Canada with their seven children in 2011, they looked forward to working together with their children and earning enough to feed their family.

“We’re just so very thankful. Coming to Canada and working together on the farm allowed me to get to know my husband again,” Maria says in Low German. In Mexico he had been too busy trying to make ends meet.

Having grown up on a farm in Mexico, Maria and Heinrich were especially interested in continuing to work in the agricultural sector in Ontario.

Lebanese thrift shop helps with winter needs

A new thrift shop run by MCC partner Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training in Baalbek, Lebanon, is stocked with warm clothes for the winter season. (MCC photo by Doreen Martens)

Web First | By Doreen Martens | Feb 21, 2017

A visit to Gift and Thrift Shop in Virginia, one of 108 Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift shops, was a revelation to Tarek Chebli, a peacebuilding student from Lebanon.

Thrift shops are an unknown concept in Lebanon, Chebli said, so he was intrigued by what he learned on a day trip there with other students attending the 2015 Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

MCC Canada executive director announces retirement

Don Peters

Web First | By Laura Kalmar | Feb 21, 2017

With a mixture of gratitude and sadness, the board of Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) announces the retirement of Executive Director Donald Peters, effective September 30, 2017.

“Don has been an inspirational leader, demonstrating MCC's values in word and deed,” said board chair Peggy Snyder. “Don’s steady, servant leadership enabled the organization to weather joys and challenges, guiding the organization during polarizing times, both internally and externally. The board is grateful for the blessing Don has been to MCC.”

Thank You!

Dick Benner
Editorial | By Dick Benner | Feb 08, 2017

It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank and recognize the generosity of the 835 donors, including 45 new ones, to our 2016 spring and fall fundraising drives that brought a record $119,403 into our coffers toward operating expenses and our endowment fund.

A new recipe for church

One day I had no lentils, so I used pearl barley, and liked it better, so I always made it with barley from then on. Somewhere along the way the main spice changed from marjoram to basil. But there was always sausage. I cooked Hearty Lentil-Sausage Soup for 20 years. (Flickr photo by Scott Teresi CC BY-SA 2.0)

Feature | By Carol Penner | Feb 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Why do you go to church? One of the main reasons is that there is something there that feeds your soul. If there was nothing nourishing there, you would find other things to do with your time.

Jesus fed people. He fed them literally . . . and he fed them with stories. They had to chew on the stories for a long time, and they kept coming back for more. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my flock.” If the church, like the apostle, is called to feed people, what is it cooking up these days? What recipes for church are congregants using?

Soup’s on

Feature | By Carol Penner | Feb 08, 2017

In the feature “A new recipe for church” pastor and professor Carol Penner reflects on how the “recipe” or model for the church is evolving and adapting to new realities. She finds the metaphor of soup a helpful one.

Readers write: February 13, 2017 issue

Viewpoints | Feb 08, 2017

How much have funding losses affected Future Directions?

We have heard that the Future Directions process came primarily due to funding issues. We have also heard that it was not about funding, but about renewing vision. And we have heard that people have been laid off due to budgetary constraints. Although the messages about Future Directions may have been so confusing, there must be funding issues.

Making the heart stronger

Kirsten Hamm-Epp
Viewpoints | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Feb 08, 2017

For once, I know what I’m giving up for Lent early this year: social media.

Why aren’t we telling these stories?

Viewpoints | By Ryan Jantzi | Feb 08, 2017

It has been my experience that the church of Jesus Christ is chock-full of glorious stories of the power and presence of our Lord. It’s also my experience that many of these stories remain untold. The church is poorer for this silence. Why aren’t we telling these stories?

Lend me a moment to share a few that I’ve been able to unearth:

Heinrich Winter

Photo: Johann Wichert / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Viewpoints | By Laureen Harder-Gissing | Feb 08, 2017

This photo tells the story of a congregation’s diaspora. The last ältester (ordained elder) of the Chortitza Mennonite Church in Ukraine was Heinrich Winter. The church was the first Mennonite congregation organized in Imperial Russia, and thrived up until the Soviet era, when the government made religious activities extremely difficult. In 1943, most of the congregation fled to Germany. Ältester Johann Wichert took this photo of Winter with the church’s last communion cup in 1948. The Winter family emigrated to Leamington, Ont., that same year. Where the cup is now is a mystery.

‘Departure conversations’

Will Braun
God at work in the Church | By Will Braun | Feb 08, 2017

Henry Neufeld’s feature last summer (Aug. 29, 2016, page 4) about the firing and layoff practices of some Mennonite organizations touched a nerve. Only one Canadian Mennonite story last year was viewed more times online, and numerous people responded with letters to the editor. (See “When your services are no longer required.”)

Making space for disagreement

Erwin Warkentin, a member of Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, one of only a couple of member congregations that have named themselves openly ‘affirming,’ explains that even having adopted this label as a congregation, between individual members ‘disagreements on biblical interpretation are common, but we are still one church.’ (Photo by Beth Downey)

God at work in the Church | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 08, 2017

After stormy weather prevented many rural members from attending a Mennonite Church Manitoba meeting in Winnipeg on Jan.12 on how to implement the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 resolution passed last summer in Saskatoon, Morden Mennonite Church hosted a second gathering late last month.

‘Moving forward together’

Amy Dueckman
God at work in the Church | By Amy Dueckman | Feb 08, 2017

Option A: Being a Faithful Church (BFC) 7 remains and Mennonite Church B.C. chooses to have congregations trust each other.

Option E: MC B.C. rejects BFC 7 and chooses to leave the national church. (The background to this option is the view that BFC 7 overturns the area church’s re-covenanting process done in 2006 and 2007, as well as the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.)

Taking the road less travelled as children of God

Youth and sponsors rise to the challenge of an ice-climbing wall at the annual senior-high retreat. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the Church | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | Feb 08, 2017

“I am ______ (fill in the blank).” This was how speaker Amy Peters began the 2017 Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization’s senior-high retreat at Camp Kadesh, held from Jan. 27 to 29, 2017.

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