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News releases: 2004


December 8

  • This week in Cachipay Mennonite Pastor dies in bomb blast
    My mind was occupied as my daughter Katrina and I walked home from town and I wasn’t looking ahead. Suddenly in front of us was a 2 1/2 foot long snake across our path! I grabbed Katrina and we moved out of the way, only to realize that (I think) it was dead. The other snakes I had seen so far in Colombia had been smaller, and squashed flat. This one hadn’t been there on our walk to town.

  • South African churches lead in AIDS response

    Zolisa, thin and gasping for breath, strokes her two-year-old son’s head as if she could pack a lifetime of love into the caress. Her eyes glisten with tears that threaten to spill onto her cheeks. She hesitates before speaking to Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Lynell Bergen (Arnaud MC, Man.) and Rev. Temba Samuel Kulati because Zolisa’s community attaches stigma and shame to her illness.

  • A short time coming: Baptism by water, rain in Burkina Faso

    The residents of Burkina Faso’s savannahs welcome rain on a picnic day as a great blessing. So joy abounded when 25 baptismal candidates waited inside the Kotoura Mennonite Church until a heavy downpour – drowned out by complex rhythms of a drum, a marimba, gourd shakers, tambourines and all manner of homemade metal gongs accompanying the dancing congregation’s songs of exuberant praise – ceased pounding the red, baked-mud walls.

  • Macau ministry moves into new home
    In less than four months, Tim and Cindy Buhler (centre), new-to-Macau Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers, were able to find a new space for rent just one block from their previous location – a miracle given the high demand for space in this city-state of nearly half a million people which one can walk around in a couple of hours

  • Church grew in China from seeds planted by Mennonites | Sidebar: Million dollar Bible

    For nearly 40 years, North American Mennonites worshipped with Chinese at a church in the Shangdong Province. In 1947, they were asked to leave the country. Until October of this year, Mennonites had not been back. “We have been waiting a very long time for Mennonites to return and visit,” said one Christian woman in the very rural area of Dongming, China, where Mennonites first made contact in the early 1900s.

  • Mobilizing the church for a common good - General Board meetings cover broad territory

    In a 160th convocation anniversary address at Knox College, TV journalist Brain Stewart said, “…there is no alliance more determined and dogged in action than church workers, ordained and lay members, when mobilized for a common good.” So it is in Mennonite Church Canada. From Nov. 11-13, the General Board met at Cornerstone Mennonite Church in Saskatoon to discern and decide on issues that will eventually manifest themselves on the front lines.

  • Cross-country funding conversation
    There is much to give thanks for, and we want to ensure the stability of our ministry. These were the messages that congregational leaders and pastors heard when they met MC Canada spokespersons in meetings across the country in November.

  • World of Witness draw Winners

    Vic Falk’s winning entry in the World of Witness contest was drawn by Ruth and Teddy Wiebe, owners of Bonaventure Travel in Winnipeg. The donated voucher is good for travel to any one of 39 countries where MC Canada Witness workers minister.

  • Bible Commentary Series Editors Recognized

    Elmer A. Martens and Willard M. Swartley, editors of the Believers Church Bible Commentary Series, were honored for service spanning three decades. The recognition took place at a dinner of the annual meeting of the Editorial Council on November 19 in San Antonio, Texas.

November 18

  • Cows help provide fertile soil for church plants

    A couple with eight years of experience in Thailand told mission leaders from Canada and the United States that it takes a village to grow a church. And also a cow or two. Some fish. Even rice.

  • “Teaching them to obey everything I commanded you”: The mission of peace in Korea
    A close reading of the Great Commission reveals that only one command is given: to “make disciples." The method appears simple enough: "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20). Baptizing seems obvious, but what are we to make of “teaching them to obey” or what some call “obedience oriented education”? In our individualistic world, how do we get someone to voluntarily obey Jesus' commands? And exactly what commands are we talking about?

  • Round table discussion results: Winkler 2005

    The Round Table Discussion Results from Winkler 2004 have been recorded, categorized, analyzed, interpreted, digested, and graphed. Delegates at this year’s annual assembly gathered around tables for an hour and a half each day and discussed a total of five questions. Each table group – fifty tables of delegates and a varying number of non-delegates – submitted summary statements for each of the topics.

  • Charlotte 2005 to help Mennonites share faith stories with each other, the world
    When asked to define “Can’t Keep Quiet” – the theme for Charlotte 2005 – no two planners answer alike regarding the joint assembly with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. But what joint youth and adult planning committees do agree on is that God is doing many great things among Mennonites in Canada and the USA that are worth talking about.

November 3

  • Korea Anabaptist Center finds stability in new home

    After having moved six times since opening in 2001, the Korea Anabaptist Center has finally found a measure of stability in a new office space. On Saturday, October 16, approximately 75 enthusiastic supporters of the Korea Anabaptist Center gathered for the dedication service of their new office space and English language institute, Connexus.

  • AIMM transformation takes hold
    For the first time ever, Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission will have leadership based in Africa instead of North America. From Sept 22 to Oct. 7, mission leaders from Africa and North America met with national and local church representatives in Orodara (Burkina Faso), Umtata, (South Africa), and Gaborone, (Botswana) to iron out structures, and appoint leaders to newly formed posts. AIMM has been a major channel of Mennonite ministries in Africa since 1912, pulling together partners from various Mennonite groups in North America to support ministry in Africa.

  • This week in Cachipay
    On August 25, Janet Plenert, executive director of International Ministries, Mennonite Church Canada Witness, temporarily moved with her family (husband Steve and daughters Gabrielle (17), Natasha (14), and Katrina (11)) to Cachipay, Colombia, as an expression of solidarity with the Colombian Mennonite church. The following excerpt chronicles their experiences.
  • Canada, USA renew covenant for shared mission
    Mission representatives of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA unanimously renewed a covenant Oct. 23 to continue shared international ministry in more than 25 countries around the world.

  • Location correction for Ontario funding shortfall meetings
    In the October 19 edition of Mennonite Church Canada News Service the locations for the two of the MC Canada Budget Shortfall meetings in Ontario were inadvertently assigned to the wrong dates. The correct meeting dates and locations are:

    • Nov 16 (7:30 pm) at St. Jacobs MC
    • Nov 21 (7:30 pm) at Bethany MC in Virgil.


October 20

  • Desire for healing and hope crosses international boundaries

    Gambling, prostitution, offshore employment, mistresses for married men, and the resulting family difficulties are social ills that cut across all social strata in the city-state of Macau. In this environment, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers George and Tobia Veith (Cornerstone Mennonite Church, Saskatoon) are opening doors and inviting local residents to explore Christianity and bring healing and hope to what they describe as a spiritually dark place.

  • Gift-giving in the spirit of Christmas
    A modest and lively older couple, Jake and Katherine Smith (a pseudonym), have developed a Christmas gift exchange with an unusual twist. Instead of buying each other things they don’t really need, they donate money to a project identified by Mennonite Church Canada.

  • News from Cachipay, Vol. 2
    In August 25, Janet Plenert, executive director of International Ministries, Mennonite Church Canada Witness, temporarily moved with her family (husband Steve and daughters Gabrielle, Natasha, and Katrina) to Cachipay, Colombia, as an expression of solidarity with the Colombian Mennonite church, to improve her Spanish, and to assess the needs of the ministry there. The following excerpts chronicle of some of their initial experiences.
  • Expression of ecumenical collaboration just beginning in Ukraine

    Ecumenical collaboration is a relatively new notion in Ukraine. Cliff Dueck, a Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in Kherson, Ukraine, hints at the tension between various church groups when he asks, “Pray for unity amongst the different members of Christ's body.”

  • Charlotte 2005 photo release
    Members of the youth planning committee for Charlotte 2005 view a new promotional DVD for a joint youth gathering of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA to be held next July 4-9 in Charlotte.

  • Events Calendar Update
    There are several upcoming Mennonite Church Canada information and conversation meetings for congregations and members regarding a projected $120,000 short fall in this year’s funding plan. Anyone wishing to learn more or explore questions is invited to attend. Please note changed locations as of October 29, 2004.

October 6

  • God’s powerful and precious word inspires long-term worker for mission

    When a government coup d’état occurred in 1982, the villagers of Kotoura hardly noticed. But a few weeks later on Christmas night, awed discussion lasted far into the star-lit darkness in this remote village in Upper Volta, today’s Burkina Faso. A young Christian from another region, Siaka Traoré, delivered the life-changing news. Traoré, the same man who stirred Mennonite World Conference last summer with his address in Zimbabwe, explained to the villagers of Kotoura who Jesus was and why God sent him into the world.

  • Quest for healing and hope in Thailand
    The human quest for healing and wholeness is universal. And its hopes are expressed in the common denominators of human life: a full stomach, healing from a physical illness, and relief from addictions.

  • Anabaptist training in Ghana
    In Ghana, Bruce Yoder met for three days with Ghana Mennonite Church leaders from six districts teaching Anabaptist history using the Arnold Snyder book From Anabaptist Seed.
  • News from Cachipay

    In August 25, Janet Plenert, executive director of International Ministries, Mennonite Church Canada Witness, temporarily moved with her family (husband Steve and daughters Gabrielle, Natasha, and Katrina) to Cachipay, Colombia, as an expression of solidarity with the Colombian Mennonite church, to improve her Spanish, and to assess the needs of the ministry there. The following excerpts chronicle of some of their initial experiences.

  • Photo Release: Barbara Nkala visits Winnipeg
    Barbara Nkala, energetic worship leader and mistress of ceremonies at Mennonite World Conference (MWC) 14th Assembly in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (2003) visited Winnipeg. She spoke to a full house at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery about the MWC assembly experience one year later.

  • Winkler Assembly ranks high on delegate satisfaction scale
    Mennonite Church Canada folks like to meet in churches, and they like to celebrate. What’s more, they like to meet at round tables in Mennonite Church Canada churches.
  • “Can’t keep Quiet” theme for Charlotte 2005

    Mennonite Church Canada’s Program Committee this year has had the challenge of planning two assemblies simultaneously: the one in Winkler this past July and the 2005 joint assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • New hymnal supplement in progress

    More than 400 submissions of material for a new hymnal supplement awaited Hymnal Supplement Committee members when they met June 22-23 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

September 22

  • Bi-national Native Mennonite assembly in Manitoba
    The retired leader of an isolated native community would rather not have a road connecting his remote Manitoba village to the outside world. A Métis woman and leader in the Anglican church (Métis are persons of mixed French or Scottish and Native heritage) talks about growing up in a normal, loving family and challenges the white stereotype of native children who grow up in abusive alcoholic homes. A Cheyenne leader from Oklahoma shares about how his ancestral tribe members practiced restorative justice long before there was a name for it.
  • Canadian Mennonite works for peace in London, England
    Deanna Douglas (Holyrood MC, Edmonton) managed to launch a new peace initiative in London England and find funding for it to continue for another two years after she returns to Canada.

  • African Christians bring faith back to Europe
    The Christian church in Europe is thriving, if you know where to look for it. You won’t find it in most of the cathedrals or established denominations, many of which are withering like un-watered houseplants.
  • The future of Mennonite mission in Europe considered

    The changing face of religion and the church in Europe has caused Mennonite Church mission leaders to take a closer look at two very different possibilities for the future of mission work on that continent.

August 17

  • Short term service leads to long term commitment
    A young couple with a passion for outreach in Italy, a pastor who inspires enthusiasm for international mission and missional church thinking, a supportive congregational partnership, and a new relationship with a sister mission agency have combined to create a new international ministry for Mennonite Church Canada Witness.
  • WOW! What a draw!

    Todd and Jeanette Hanson, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers, are inviting guests to visit them in Nanchong, China. What’s more, a trip for one person could be free.

June 30

  • Prayer vigil for persecuted church: Vietnam

    The recent arrests in Vietnam of Mennonite church leaders led about fifty people to gather at Home Street Mennonite Church here on June 27 to pray for the persecuted church around the world.

June 24

June 16

  • First Person: Ahn young haseo – How is it with your spirit?

    The friendly way to greet a Korean is with the words ‘ahn young haseo,’ meaning ‘How is it with your spirit?’ This greeting is an example of the deeply spiritual nature of Koreans, which I experienced during my 11-day learning tour of South Korea.

  • Church in South Africa plays important social service role

    In South Africa, the church is stepping in to help with family issues that have become a minefield due to the cultural changes brought about by the end of the apartheid era and the increasing influence of pop culture, as well as the challenges of parenthood.

  • New finance director appointed: MC Canada

    Mennonite Church Canada has appointed Randy Wiebe to the position of director of finance.

  • MC Canada releases financial update

    Mennonite Church Canada donation revenue results are in for the period of Feb. 1 to May 31.

  • Small churches do big things: Ukraine

    A few small churches in Ukraine are doing a big thing. Four congregations in Ukraine with a combination of Mennonite Church and Mennonite Brethren support led by pastors of mostly Baptist background are forming a conference called the Christian Union of Mennonite Churches.

  • B.C. delegate session marked by hope

    The world of marriage preparation is a crazy place for everyone, including pastors trying to keep God as the focus of marriage amidst the madness of the wedding industry.

June 1

  • CMC history book to be released at Winkler 2004
    Canadian Mennonite University Press have published a new book on the history of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. The book was commissioned by Mennonite Heritage Centre, a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada.

May 31

May 19

  • First Person: Connecting with Colombia
    "The confusion of their suffering and our presence is revealed by their eyes — love, desperation, uncertainty, gratitude — a people displaced by terrible violence in their country." This is what Christine Ens remembers most from her trip to Colombia five months ago.
  • Explosive experience in Colombia
    Rudy and Helen Baergen, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in Colombia, recently wrote about an explosive experience near their home on May 2.
  • China Bound
    A fondness for connecting with congregations and a fervor for the missional church vision are just two reasons Phil and Julie Bender are preparing to serve with Mennonite Church Canada Witness in Chengdu, China.
  • Mennonite Church Canada responds to Mexican Mennonite dilemma
    Dan Nighswander, MC Canada’s general secretary, has written a letter to Peter Stoesz, president of the Conferencia Menonita de Mexico, expressing concern for the faith community in Mexico as well as offering encouragement and support for church leaders there.

May 6

  • "Gather 'Round" chosen as name for new curriculum
    "Gather 'Round: Hearing and Sharing God's Good News", was chosen as the name for a new Brethren and Mennonite Sunday school curriculum by an advisory group that met April 14-17 in Elgin, Ill. The group discussed goals for the curriculum as well as theological and educational foundations, a theme scripture, Bible outlines, print pieces, printing technology, electronic media, and marketing.

May 3

  • General Board: Getting down to business
    The General Board of Mennonite Church Canada met here on April 16-17 to review assembly plans, build on relationships with Area Conferences, and receive updates from MC Canada’s Councils. Included in the agenda were discussions relating to Canadian Mennonite University, financial reports, and changing trends in North American funding arrangements for international mission workers.

April 21, 2004

  • Anabaptists in Spain send request for mission workers

    Anabaptist leaders in Spain have a vision based on multiplication: take five churches with 160 baptized believers and increase the numbers to 12 churches with 500 believers by the year 2025.

  • Muslim tribe celebrates publication of Bible portions
    Last month, seeds planted over three decades blossomed and bore sweet fruit when people from various parts of the West African country of Burkina Faso gathered to dedicate two books of portions of the Bible in the Samogho language.
  • MC Canada Finance Director resigns
    Paul Klassen, Mennonite Church Canada’s Director of Finance, has resigned to take on a new position as Team Leader with Funds Financial Services area of Investor’s Group.

March 24, 2004

  • Youth ministry facilitator appointed

    Anna Rehan (Zoar MC, Langham, Saskatchewan) has been appointed Youth Ministries Facilitator for Mennonite Church Canada. She will begin work on March 15 at 40% time.

March 11, 2004

  • Angels unaware
    When Erwin and Marian Wiens agreed to a Mennonite Church Canada Witness assignment to work with the Jesus Village Church here in 2002, they never dreamed it might start a healing process for their 34 year-old daughter, Leanne.
  • Church a challenge in China
    Tony is a young man, a student, who feels drawn to church to explore ideas about God with the only registered Protestant congregation in this city of 400,000. But he is upset and disappointed at what he hears.

  • Mexican Mennonites and MC Canada form partnership
    A 1920s migration of Canadian Mennonites to Mexico has grown into a formalized fraternal partnership with Mennonite Church Canada. Mennonite Church Canada moderator Henry Krause signed the agreement on behalf of the Canadian Church during the Leadership Assembly meetings here on March 4.
  • "Enough for all” - theme for Winkler 2004

    “Enough for all” is the theme that has been chosen for this summer’s annual Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Winkler, Manitoba (July 7-11). It is based on the story of Jesus feeding of the 5,000 as recorded in John 6: 1-14. The focus is on verse 11: “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.”

  • MC Canada year end: Returning to financial health
    Mennonite Church Canada is on the road to fiscal health, returning $125,000 to reserves that were seriously drawn down last year (all figures un-audited).
  • Colombian churches seek Mennonite presence at talks
    The ecumenical council of churches in Colombia has approached Mennonite Church Canada to be present at talks with some Colombian armed groups to explore possibilities of disarmament and re-insertion into the civil life of the country.

February 25, 2004

  • Financial future encouraging
    Encouraging preliminary financial reports for 2003-04 show 99.8% of a $3.9 million donation budget has come in. The results are generating renewed hope for the possibilities of Mennonite Church Canada ministries, leaders say.

February 11, 2004

  • Chicken flu: Growing concern in Thailand ministry
    The chicken flu has not yet reached this area populated by poor subsistence farmers in rural Northeast Thailand, reported Pat Houmphan, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in a recent telephone interview.
  • Chilean church revels in its Anabaptist identity

    People were eager and enthusiastic. The details were in place. The keynote speaker had arrived. It was the first time a group of emerging Anabaptist congregations in Concepción, Chile, had met together for formal Anabaptist studies.

  • Barranquilla church serves community, develops leadership
    Last year, at the request of the Colombian Mennonite Church, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers Gamaliel and Amanda Falla returned to their native Colombia to plant a church in the city of Barranquilla, the fourth largest city in the country.
  • MPH retiree couple holds on to faith in church even in the midst of hurt

    The journal entry that David E. Hostetler, a retiree of the former Mennonite Publishing House (MPH), wrote in 1957 rings as true for him today as it did then, he said. “In that entry I searched for truth, for the integrity to keep the will of God in sight,” Hostetler said. “And isn’t that what I still need today in my own life and what we need in the life of the church -- the desire to seek the truth and the integrity to follow where it leads?"

January 26, 2004

January 23, 2004

  • Unraus installed in Niedergoersdorf
    MC Canada Witness workers Jake and Dorothy Unrau (Rosemary MC, Alberta) were installed as pastors at the Christliche Glaubensgemeinschaft on November 30 (First Advent).
  • Herald Press changes in fiction titles
    After 14 titles, and over 240,000 books in print, Herald Press is ending a decade of publishing Carrie Bender stories. Her final Herald Press title Beyond Mist Blue Mountains was published at the end of 2003.

January 14, 2004

  • Justina Heese retires
    Thoughtful, reflective, gentle, encouraging, and enabling are just a few characteristics that describe Justina Heese's mark on her role as executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada's Christian Formation area.