God at work in the Church

Rediscovering Mary

‘Mary With Tears,’ a sculpture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, by Vilius Orvidas, who did most of his work under the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. He died in the early 1990s. Photographed by Jerry Holsopple, a visual and communication arts professor at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Singing was a significant element of the two-day ‘Mary in Anabaptist Dress’ Conference. Paul Dueck, pastor of Windsor Mennonite Fellowship, Ont., acted as song-leader.

Panelist Irma Fast Dueck of Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Man., right, said, “We have only a few biblical accounts of Mary. That’s a blessing. We have to use our imaginations to shape our image of Mary that has an Anabaptist-Mennonite sensibility.” The panel included Adam Tice, associate pastor of Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Md., left

After two days of singing, discussing, pondering images and praying last month, questions continued to swirl around Mary, the mother of Jesus, and what she might mean for Mennonites and Anabaptists today.

‘The signs are clear’

Mennonite Church Canada leaders spent much of their spring leadership assembly last month preparing for a smaller national church structure in the near future.

“We have done all the tweaking we can do to provide sustainable programming within our current income level,” says general secretary Willard Metzger. “The signs are clear.”

‘The end belongs to God’

Jim Shantz, pictured with his wife Lorraine, received a Bateman print from Mennonite Church Alberta as a token of appreciation for eight and a half years as conference minister. Shantz completes his term on June 30.

Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada general secretary, inspired MC Alberta delegates with the reminder that no matter how difficult things are for the church, “this is not the end; the end belongs to God.” Basing his keynote presentations to the 82nd annual assembly of MC Alberta, held last month at Holyrood Mennonite Church, Edmonton, on Revelation 21, Metzger noted that trends across den

Peace Church identity explored at LEAD conference

Linda Enns, left, of Peace Mennonite Church and a member of the MC B.C. Church Health Committee, greets LEAD conference speaker Lois Barret

With the theme of “Being a Peace Church,” 88 church leaders and others interested in the topic met at Living Hope Christian Fellowship, Surrey, for the annual Mennonite Church B.C. Leaders, Elders and Deacons (LEAD) conference on Feb. 25.

Expanding ministries in MC B.C.

At the annual delegate sessions of Mennonite Church B.C., Camp Squeah staff members Tim Larson, Geoff Gould and Rob Tiessen present a skit about camp ministries.

Reports on a new church plant model and passion for native ministries highlighted the annual delegate sessions of Mennonite Church B.C., held at Living Hope Christian Fellowship, Surrey, on Feb. 26. Delegates followed “Being a Peace Church” as a theme, carried out through both business and workshop sessions.

‘Before the watching world’

Henry Kliewer, standing, the director of Mennonite Church Manitoba Leadership Ministries, offers a prayer of blessing during the commissioning serv-ice for Ken Warkentin, the new executive director for MC Manitoba. “I am looking forward to the significant challenges that lie ahead,” said Warkentin, who has been involved in church work for 29 years.

The annual Mennonite Church Manitoba gathering did not bring forth momentous decisions, but it did cause the 147 delegates—representing 37 of the area church’s 50 congregations—to occasionally squirm uncomfortably, express exasperation at times, and grapple with several challenges.

Help build a peace library in South Africa

Canadians can help fill the shelves of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa Peace Library and share Anabaptist theology across South Africa by donating books and resources to the cause.

Peace and justice projects in South Africa are creating a large appetite for the nonviolent peace principles of Anabaptist theology. Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers Andrew and Karen Suderman invite Canadians to feed that need by helping them to build the Anabaptist Network in South Africa Peace Library.

Sharing the good news of hope, peace, and justice in South Africa

Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Karen Suderman, right, chats with Ladysmith women who are committed to feeding hundreds of South African children each day.

Hungry children are being fed, students of peace are learning nonviolent responses to conflict, and ordinary people are making extraordinary sacrifices to bring hope and justice to those on the margins.

Identity, leadership and Mennonite World Conference

Robert J. Suderman, MWC Peace Commission assistant secretary, left, and MWC Executive Committee member Adi Walujo, of the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ) Mennonite Synod, share the podium at a teaching session in Indonesia.

“Our children and young people have no idea what it means to be Anabaptist or Mennonite. What is MWC going to do about that?”

This concern, forthrightly expressed, came from a congregational leader in India during one of dozens of teaching sessions in which I participated last fall in India and Indonesia.

A lifelong joy of words

Victoria Neufeldt works on The Historian, a publication of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan, from her home office.

If you open the front cover of the Merriam-Webster’s Primary Dictionary, you’ll find acknowledgement of Victoria Neufeldt’s contribution in the preface. Lively illustrations make the book visually appealing and invite children inside where they can learn and discover the joy of words.

Heartfelt apology

Ruth Boehm, right, pastor of Faith Mennonite Church, Leamington,Ont., presents Rev. Thomas Mertz, co-pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, with a breadbasket cloth she stitched from a 1545 German pattern book on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31.

On Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31, Faith Mennonite Church in Leamington, Ont., was visited by neighbours and friends from the local St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Reformation Sunday marks the anniversary in 1517 when Martin Luther began public theological dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church that is considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

‘Reaching the unreached . . . should be the focus of the church’

Yemiru Tilahun, mission and evangelism director of Ethiopia’s Meserete Kristos Church, right, with two leaders of the Emmanuel United Church of Ethiopia. Emmanuel vice-president Samson Mariam, left, and president Bezalem Fisseha, centre, were mentored by Meserete Kristos leaders.

At least 30 mission and church leaders represented Anabaptist-related communities at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in South Africa this fall. The gathering, which attracted 4,000 mission leaders, pastors and academics from 198 countries, grew out of the Lausanne Movement that followed the first congress in Switzerland in1974.

Lao church dedicates new worship space

Lao Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church youths welcomed guests to a fellowship meal following a grand opening celebration for the congregation’s new worship space at a mall in northwest Toronto.

Why would several hundred people enter a storefront on Finch Avenue West in northwest Toronto late in the afternoon of Sept. 26? Not to get a haircut; that’s next door. No, these people were gathered to celebrate.

‘Be ready to get engaged’

Willard Metzger began his post as Mennonite Church Canada’s new general secretary on Nov. 1, taking over from the retiring Robert J. Suderman. Metzger has felt called to national ministry for many years, and brings many experiences to the table, including 18 years as a pastor, 10 years as chair of MC Canada Witness, and as the director of church relations for World Vision Canada.

Introducing Willard Metzger

Willard Metzger assumed the role of Mennonite Church Canada general secretary on Nov. 1.

Most 10-year-old boys express their dreams of being astronauts, firefighters or police officers when they grow up. For Willard Metzger, the new general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, who took office on Nov. 1, national ministry was his calling, even as a young child.

Small company, big story

The Mennonite Mutual Insurance Co. (Alberta) Ltd. celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer with fellowship—and cake.

The 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Mennonite Mutual Insurance Co. (Alberta) Ltd. passed in understated Mennonite fashion, with cake and fellowship at the company’s annual meeting. The quietness belies the significance of this uniquely Albertan success story that has fingers in the past and present, while pointing into the future.

Bolivian Mennonites support services for addictions, abuse

‘When the doors open, people will come,’ says Klaus Rempel, who is part of a committee developing a rehabilitation centre that will provide addiction treatment services for Bolivian men.

As the criminal investigation continues into allegations of gang rape in some Mennonite colonies in Bolivia, many local congregations see a need to reach out to people dealing with addictions, sexual abuse and violence against women.

Good things happening among Bolivia’s Old Colony Mennonites

During a trip to Bolivia earlier this year, Helen Funk, a Winnipeg-based Low German radio host, distributes her Low German cookbook, Met Helen en de Kjäakj/With Helen in the Kitchen, that she wrote at the request of Bolivian colony listeners.

Despite tragic reports of sexual assault, alcoholism and drug use among Old Colony Mennonite communities in Bolivia this past year, there are many good things happening there, which offer hope for a better future.

25 years of silence

Gene and Mary Herr opened the Hermitage in 1985. This photograph was taken in 1996.

Technically, there is no such thing as a Mennonite monk. But if you travel to a remodelled century-old barn in the rolling countryside of southern Michigan, you will find some decidedly monk-like Mennonites. At the Hermitage—a Mennonite-run spiritual retreat centre—directors David and Naomi Wenger welcome pilgrims to a setting of quiet, stillness and prayer.

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