God at work in the Church

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Shekinah cabin built off the grid

Volunteers raise the first of four timber frame bents into position. By the fall of 2019, five others like this one will be in place. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

Michael Neufeld, left, works on one of the timbers used to frame Shekinah Retreat Centre’s newest cabin, while Sheila Wiens-Neufeld and James Funk hold the timber in place. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

Shekinah Retreat Centre recently launched an exciting new building project. The first of six planned timber-frame cabins took shape at the Mennonite Church Saskatchewan camp during the first week of April.

Shekinah board member Michael Neufeld, who attends Zoar Mennonite in Langham, designed the cabins together with Charles Olfert of Aodbt architecture + interior design.

Church workout

Wendy Dueck and Rosanna Kwan engage in full-body exercises. (Photo by Megan Klassen-Wiebe)

A ladder made of masking tape sticks to the floor of the foyer of Charleswood Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. It’s not a typical sight in a worship space. Yet every Tuesday and Friday morning, a path is cleared through the chairs in the sanctuary, and a small group of seniors ranging from their 60s to their 90s gather at the church to exercise.

Is Women’s Day still relevant?

Participants at the 2017 B.C. Women’s Day gather to chat outside. Changing times and perspectives on women’s ministry have put the future of the annual gathering in doubt. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Mennonite women in British Columbia have been coming together each spring since 1939 for Women’s Inspirational Day, a time of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. But as the planned date of May 6, 2018, approached, still without a coordinator or location for the event, some were questioning whether the annual spring gathering has seen its day.

‘Preach it!’

Top: Allan Rudy-Froese, left, associate professor of Christian proclamation at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., leads Pastors in Exile preachers and leaders—Tamara Shantz and Jessica Ressor-Rempel, as well as Benjamin Weber, Kim Rempel and Caleb Redekop in an exercise to feel their mouths.

Bottom: Allan Rudy-Froese, left, leads the Pastors in Exile preachers Benjamin Weber, Emily Hunsberger, Jennifer Regehr, Sylvia Hook and Katherine Matthies—in an exercise to get into the biblical text physically. (Photos by Dave Rogalsky)

Hands on his stomach, Allan Rudy-Froese walked a group of young preachers through exercises designed to make them feel at home and centred in their bodies by learning to recognize the part their abdominal muscles and their mouths—lips, tongues, palates and jaws—play in the delivery of a sermon.

MC Alberta appoints two new Joint Council members

Brenda Tiessen-Wiens, left, and Margaret Kruger-Harder, right, represent Mennonite Church Alberta on the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada.

At Mennonite Church Alberta’s annual delegate sessions last month, Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Margaret Kruger-Harder were appointed to represent the regional church on MC Canada’s Joint Council, which was created following the restructuring of the nationwide church last October.

MC Alberta celebrates a ‘church born anew’

Ryan Siemens, left, and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, executive ministers for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively, exchanged visits to each other’s annual assemblies to support and encourage the work of collaboration between regions in the new MC Canada structure. Siemens is wearing a Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey purchased for him by a spontaneous collection at a Saskatchewan gathering. Wiebe-Neufeld, not wanting to take any sides in a Calgary/Edmonton rivalry, diplomatically borrowed a Lethbridge Hurricanes uniform to represent Alberta in the photo op! (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive minister, helps himself to the Syrian feast at MC Alberta’s annual assembly last month. The food was prepared by Syrians welcomed to Canada over the last several years by Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Many members of the Bethel International Church Oromo Edmonton Congregation travelled to Lethbridge to be welcomed into membership of Mennonite Church Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

At the last minute, Lethbridge Mennonite Church had to scramble to host the 2018 Mennonite Church Alberta delegate assembly. Already working hard to finish entrance and meeting room renovations, a burst water pipe flooded the church basement just a week before the March 16-17 gathering.

‘Is God still messing with us?’

Donna Slobodzian of Springstein Mennonite Church was one of many delegates and attendees at this year’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegate gathering in Winnipeg to rank the seven priorities for the regional church. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

During this year’s Mennonite Church Manitoba annual delegate gathering, held earlier this month at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Dorothy Fontaine and Rick Neufeld remember those from the regional church who passed away in 2017. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Mennonite Church Manitoba)

“Is God still in the business of breaking into people’s lives? Is God still messing with us?” asked Brian Bauman during the opening worship service at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s annual general meeting. Bauman, MC Eastern Canada’s mission minister, called the people of MC Manitoba to discern where God is working in their church and what they are doing about it.

Giving the bucket list a ‘deeper’ meaning

Friends or foes? Visiting regional church executive ministers Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta) and David Martin (MC Eastern Canada) are part of a band of robbers attacking an innocent traveller, played by Ben Martens Bartel, during a dramatic reading of Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Ken Warkentin, outgoing MC Saskatchewan moderator, answers questions during a workshop at the regional church’s annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Victoria Neufeldt, right, of First Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, raises her hand to ask a question during a workshop on congregational partnerships at the MC Saskatchewan annual delegate sessions. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Deepening. The word resonated throughout Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s 2018 annual delegate sessions.

Psalms of lament in times of violence

Don E. Saliers, right, discusses his 2018 Rodney and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar Lecture, ‘Psalms in a difficult time: Rhythms of lament and doxology,’ with Glenn Brubacher, a retired pastor and counsellor, on Feb. 15 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

What do we do with Psalm 137? While “Sing us one of your songs of Zion” (verse 3) rings in Christian minds as a sign of deep grief, the accompanying “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!” (verse 9) strikes most as exceedingly difficult.

B.C. gathering engages difficult issues

Betty Pries, resource person at the 2018 MC B.C. annual gathering, notes issues of unity and disunity identified by delegates in a session on addressing discord in the church. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Hearing and respecting one another in the face of potential conflict was emphasized when Mennonite Church British Columbia met at Eden Mennonite Church on Feb. 24 for the regional church’s annual gathering. Those in charge of the meeting sought God’s wisdom and the delegate body’s cooperation.

Preserving the voices of the past

A group photo and journal from the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

A variety of archival materials from the Mennonite Heritage Archives, such as a photograph, blueprints, books and a film reel.

Conrad Stoesz, archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Archives, holds an old newspaper.

Files upon files in the back room of the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

Andrew Brown scans and describes photos for the Mennonite Archival Image Database at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies archives in Winnipeg. (MB Herald photo by Karla Braun)

Conrad Stoesz, archivist, working at the Mennonite Heritage Archives.

“This is our collective memory,” says Conrad Stoesz, gesturing to a long hallway filled with row upon row of shelves, packed with files and boxes. Stoesz is the archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Archives (MHA), located on the campus of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.

Saskatchewan youth explore what it means to answer their call

Participants at Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization's senior high retreat enjoy hot chocolate around the campfire. (Photo by Katie Reimer-Wiebe)

Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization retreats are an annual highlight, and the senior-high retreat held at Shekinah Retreat Centre has been an opportunity for youth to reunite with each other for a long time.

The skill and soul of listening

Matthew Bailey-Dick, left, the Anabaptist Learning Workshop coordinator, gives instructions to panel members Tanya Dyck Steinmann, Roberson Mbayamvula and Jim Loepp Thiessen. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Matthew Bailey-Dick, left, the Anabaptist Learning Workshop coordinator, give instructions to panel members Willie Taves, Vic Krahn and Josie Winterfeld. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Laura Enns, coordinator of worship and neighbourhood engagement at Waterloo-Kitchener United Mennonite Church, leads her seminar group in an exercise of wondering who is speaking to whom at various points in a worship service. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Listening to God in worship, contemplatively in a labyrinth, or in the Bible. Listening to each other across cultures, when your hearing is impaired or when with the elderly.

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada pastors, chaplains and congregational leaders gathered for a daylong seminar on listening on Jan. 20, 2018, at Redeemer College.

Wildwood Mennonite unplugged

Members of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon go for a hike together along the South Saskatchewan River during one of the congregation’s Unplugged weekends. (Photo courtesy of Wildwood Mennonite Church)

Members of Wildwood Mennonite Church prepare to make pizzas for supper during one of their congregation’s Unplugged weekends. (Photo courtesy of Wildwood Mennonite Church)

Open space to enjoy a conversation or sit and work on a puzzle is an important feature of Wildwood Mennonite Church’s Unplugged weekends. (Photo courtesy of Wildwood Mennonite Church)

Children and adults enjoy a game of Skip-Bo together during a Wildwood Unplugged weekend. (Photo courtesy of Wildwood Mennonite Church)

In this age of hectic schedules, electronic device dependency and human isolation, how can a church provide meaning, purpose and belonging? Saskatoon’s Wildwood Mennonite Church may have found an answer to this perplexing question.

Family celebrates permanent residency

Karalynn Warkentin, 7, loves colouring, playing with her dogs and being outside. (Photo courtesy of the Warkentin family)

The Warkentin family, Christmas 2017. Pictured from left to right, back row: Jake, Shataya and Grace; and front row: Jon, Karalynn, Karissa and Gabriel. (Photo courtesy of the Warkentin family)

The Warkentins are ringing in 2018 as official Canadians, but the journey to reach permanent-resident status was anything but easy. Jon and Karissa Warkentin and their five children, who attend Nordheim Mennonite Church in Winnipegosis, Man., received the announcement they could stay in Canada on Dec. 5, 2017.

Creating a mission partnership web

Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers George and Tobia Veith, right, receive thanks for their training work from local partners (names withheld). (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Hanson)

Jeanette Hanson, left, and Yin Hongtao, with his back to the camera, interview potential Mennonite Central Committee International Volunteer Exchange Program candidates from China. (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Hanson)

Jeanette Hanson, left, Wang Jing, Sun Zili and Huang Gexin discuss the progress Sun Zili's granddaughter is making in the New Hope speech therapy kindergarten run by Wang Jing. Former Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker Huang Gexin remains committed to this school and provides support during his retirement. MCC provides grants for teacher training and support of students. (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Hanson)

Dr. Wang Xuefu, second from left, and Sun Wen, second from right, directors of the Zhimian Institute counselling centre, talk with Yin Hongtao, left, and Jeanette Hanson of Mennonite Partners in China. (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Hanson)

Zhang Wenli, left, a teacher and speech therapist from the New Hope speech therapy kindergarten, describes the training process for this preschool student (name withheld) to help prepare her for primary school, to Jeanette Hanson. (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Hanson)

What does mission look like in a country where the church is well established? From Jeanette Hanson’s point of view it’s a web of interconnected relationships.

‘We need the peace theology’

Vi Phounsavath leads worship at Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Sunday morning Bible Study at Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church, led by Ongath Phounsavath, seated centre. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Worship display at Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church. Note the towel and basin given to the congregation by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada on the congregation’s full membership last April. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

A potluck lunch at Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church includes pad thai, red curry and other ‘comfort’ foods. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Chinda Kommala is a serious Mennonite Church Eastern Canada booster. From the beginning of the Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church’s life, he has been relating to the regional church and encouraging others to do the same. “We need the emphasis on peace theology,” he says, remembering the years of war back in Laos between various factions.

Ten years of being good news

Kingsfield-Clinton celebrated its 10th anniversary on Nov. 5, 2017, with cake. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Siebert)

Stephanie Hammar, Kelly Lubbers, Nancy Huber and Derek Huber visit as part of a weekly potluck, which, on Nov. 5, 2017, formed part of Kingsfield-Clinton’s 10th anniversary celebration. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Siebert)

Joel Siebert and Travis Lubbers play guitar for worship as part of Kingsfield-Clinton’s 10th anniversary celebration on Nov. 5, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Siebert)

A decade ago, Zurich (Ont.) Mennonite Church, which was formed in 1908 by those who did not want to keep the restrictive dress code of the nearby Blake Amish Mennonite congregation, renamed itself Kingsfield-Zurich. Around the same time, it “multiplied” itself by spawning the nearby Kingsfield-Clinton congregation. Both congregations are in Huron County along Lake Huron.

The blood of modern-day martyrs

Weiny Hablemichael, left, Tim Reimer and Aron Hablemichael discuss the presentations at the Anabaptist Learning Workshop event held at Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto, on Nov. 18, 2017, that focussed on East African persecutions. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Sara Dula looks at a copy of Martyrs Mirror during a presentation about the suffering of 16th-century Anabaptists at the Anabaptist Learning Workshop event that focussed on the persecution of East Africans. Dula herself fled Eritrea because of the persecution and now lives in Toronto with her family. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

It was the Christian apologist Tertullian in AD 197 who first wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” As he watched Christians killed in the bloody entertainment of colosseums and in summary legal procedures, he saw the church grow.

Challenges and excitement

Willard Metzger, Mennonite Canada executive minister

Calvin Quan, Mennonite Church Canada moderator

Calvin Quan was “happily surprised” by the positive spirit and efficiency of the first meeting of Mennonite Church Canada’s new Joint Council. “There was a strong sense of collaboration and shared agenda [among regional representatives],” said MC Canada’s moderator of the two days of meetings held on Dec. 8 and 9, 2017.

Introducing the new Joint Council of MC Canada

The new Joint Council of MC Canada is composed of, from left to right, front row: Ken Warkentin, moderator, MC Saskatchewan; Paul Neufeldt, moderator, MC Alberta; Lee Dyck, moderator, MC B.C.; Paul Wideman, moderator, MC Eastern Canada; and Peter Rempel, moderator, MC Manitoba; and back row: Jacquelyn Janzen, MC Saskatchewan rep; Vince Friesen, interim MC Alberta rep; Betty Loewen, MC B.C. rep; Calvin Quan, MC Canada moderator; Alicia Good, MC Eastern, Canada rep; Allan Hiebert, secretary/treasurer; Gerald Gerbrandt, MC Manitoba moderator elect and MC Manitoba interim rep; and Geraldine Balzer, assistant moderator, MC Canada. (Photo by Ryan Siemens)

On Dec. 7 and 8, the new Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada met for this first time. (See a follow-up to those meetings here.

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