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Small organization has big
In just ten years and with only nine member congregations, the North
American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship (NAVMF) has helped to plant
over 200 churches in Vietnam and make inroads in Cambodia.
Language learning: A metaphor
for how the church should be
First person: Mark Wiehler. I have been teaching
English in Seoul now for two months, and I have come to the conclusion
that I don't know English. Sure I can talk about what I did today,
what I will do this weekend, and at least sometimes I can accurately
convey my emotions to friends or family, but I really don't think
I know English.
At a weeklong regional Hispanic Mennonite Church Conference in Uruguay,
I witnessed a remarkable attempt at mending a broken relationship.
The breakdown had taken two participating church groups from different
countries completely by surprise.
for the church: An ecclesial vision
Profile on Robert J. Suderman. Christians have
lost sight of what God intends the church to be. This is the bold,
perhaps prophetic, proclamation Robert J. Suderman makes. Suderman,
appointed General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada in December,
2005, has devoted most of his life’s energy and passion to
understanding the role of the church in the world.
AIMM moves administration
Recent Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission Partnership Councils held in
Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of Congo were planned to empower
African churches and promote mutuality in mission.
Hallelujah! First Person:
Amidst a conversation I do not understand, I hear a word I recognize. “Hallelujah!” However,
neither the man nor his mother are speaking dramatically. The conversation
continues, and again I hear the word, “Hallelujah.” The
man will tell me later that he was simply telling her that his family
had attended that morning’s prayer service.
Bolivian day care turns
tears to laughter
Through Samuelito Day Care Center, love and laughter touch the lives
of many children born into desperate circumstances in Santa Cruz,
Bolivia’s largest city. This ministry of Iglesia Evangélica
Menonita Boliviana (Bolivian Evangelical Mennonite Church), finds
much to celebrate in the midst of daily struggles to survive.
In Hong Kong, new life
For at least one Hong Kong immigrant, new life begat new life. On
August 14, nine months after she was baptized in the ocean waters
off of the coast of Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong, Winnie Moyco Chan
gave birth to a son. Zane Austin Chan’s arrival was the culmination
of years of searching – for happiness and for God.
Walter Franz; a man of wisdom
According to friends and family, Walter Edward Franz had the wisdom,
vision and strength of an eagle, a creature of spiritual significance
to aboriginal communities. Considering Walter’s long-term commitment
to Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministries, this image
is particularly appropriate.
Serving with passion; Henry
Henry Dueck had passion for people and for the Word of God. He dedicated
his life to a career in mission work that lasted for more than 40
years, including voluntary service after retirement. In partnership
with his wife, Helen, Henry served in various educational and pastoral
capacities, primarily in Latin America.
“Cries from the heart:” Rural
churches focus on creation care
Eighty-one rural Christians from 14 countries around the world have
issued group statements on the state of rural resource stewardship
and care for humankind.
Making a difference one
choice at a time
Dan and Crystal Kehler can’t forget Colombia. Since their visit
earlier this year on a Mennonite Church Canada Learning Tour, they
have struggled to come to terms with the contrast between their comfortable
Canadian lifestyle and the poverty, violence and injustice that prevails
Three places, one message
Despite his 13 years of international ministry experience, Tim Froese
continues to search for one message that will reach everyone, regardless
of where they are along life’s journey.
Catholics and Mennonites:
bridging baptismal traditions
Despite the historical differences between Catholics and Mennonites,
a growing number of believers from each group is benefiting from
the customs of the other. Together, these believers form Bridgefolk;
persons who bridge the two traditions by celebrating commonalities
and learning from distinctions – including those related to
Language allows for Chinese
Sichuan Province is a good place to avoid in August. Temperatures
soar while heavy rains increase the humidity, making classrooms and
accommodations uncomfortable. But for Mennonite Partners in China
(MPC) teachers, the summer routine is set. It’s all about language.
Global gift sharing links
Honduras and Canada
Anabaptists in Honduras are looking for new ways to build relationships
with fellow Anabaptists in North America as a result of an August
visit to Honduras by Robert J. Suderman, Mennonite Church Canada
Thriving or struggling:
Church study seeks solutions to pastoral issues
It’s common to virtually all congregations and denominations:
Some pastors thrive; others struggle to find meaning in their work,
or in finding work/family/rest balance.
God opens doors to dream
NHL hockey player Reggie Leach spent his first eight years or so
growing up in a home on a lot that is now occupied by the Riverton
After attending a weeklong conference of the Southern Cone Countries
Latin Mennonite churches in Uruguay, we emerge from the Santiago
airport attempting to locate an airporter van.
But an eager taxi driver dogs us. “I’ll take you for
the same price as the airporter and you don’t have to crowd
in with others,” he insists. “I have to head back
to the city anyway.”
Closet genealogist exposes
passion for Mennonite heritage
Alf Redekopp strains to slide the large, flat box off a sturdy steel
shelf in the vault, and gestures for my help. At a reference table
in the archives, we remove the lid, revealing a near-ancient hymn
book measuring two feet wide by three feet long.
Art speaks to the dignity
Visitors to the Invisible Dignity exhibit have the uncanny sense
of being watched. It’s not a wonder; windows to the soul peer
out from every wall; eyes of the hungry, the poor, the exploited
and the displaced. The feeling is unsettling and more than a little
compelling. Those eyes evoke compassion and they demand a response.
Hope and understanding for
Since the tragic death of six-year-old Adam Keeper in August, Pauingassi
First Nation has been under intense media scrutiny. Although a troubled
image of the isolated reserve has emerged, Mennonite Church Canada
workers believe there is reason for hope and that understanding cultural
issues will lead to greater compassion for the community.
Disband the White Church!:
A call for reconciliation
“Disband the White Church!” proclaims the cover of Xola
Skosana’s book. Skosana, founder and lead pastor of Way of
Life church, demands the end of racially-segregated churches in South
Africa. He proposes that the white church dissolve and reemerge within
the black church.
Sports ministry softens
Sinethemba Gcwabe spent four years of his young life as a prisoner
at Pollsmoor Prison near Cape Town, home to some of South Africa's
most dangerous criminals and roughest gangsters. During the apartheid
era Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners spent time here.
Bold question on war inspires
Conrad Stoesz promotes peace by sharing history with young people.
His mission begins with a question. “If Canada went to war,
what would you do?” Recently, the Mennonite Heritage Centre
(MHC) archivist supported an Alternative Service display at the Red
River Regional Heritage Fair.
Korean Mennonites model
Considered heretics by their fellow citizens, 30 believers gathered
to worship in a borrowed room. New Testament Christians from the
Holy Land? Reformation leaders in Europe? Although these counter-cultural
Anabaptists share a common vision with their predecessors, this congregation
initially met on the first Sunday of 2007 in Seoul, South Korea.
Thai laborer now works for
Sweat dripping down his brow, Uthane Inchai bent his aching back
to grab a long piece of wood from the endless pile. His arm flinched
back to find several splinters sticking into his hand. He sighed
and started removing the debris from his already-calloused hands.
Holy Spirit makes IMPaCT
Mennonite Church Alberta got an unexpectedly enthusiastic response
from people wanting to participate in IMPaCT this year. IMPaCT – International
Mennonite Pastors Coming Together – was held in conjunction
with Mennonite Church Alberta’s Theology Study week.
IMPaCT 2007 marked by visa
A special event sponsored by Mennonite Church Canada in collaboration
with Mennonite Church Alberta was once again marred by the inability
of an invited guest to obtain a visa from the Canadian government.
Churches recommit to justice
for Aboriginal peoples
Representatives of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central
Committee, together with representatives of numerous Canadian church
organizations, marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of a document
entitled A New Covenant: Towards the Constitutional Recognition and
Protection of Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada here on June 21.
The generous spirit of southern
A trip to southern Africa gave members of a Learning Tour the opportunity
to witness generosity and grace in the face of issues such as racism,
poverty and injustice. Mennonite Church Canada organized the Africa
Learning Tour to connect Canadian Mennonites with its ministries
Education and fellowship
build church in India
Ben Wiebe has seen God at work in India. The former Ontario pastor
recently spent two months on a special Mennonite Church Canada Witness
assignment teaching seminary students at the South Asia Institute
of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Bangalore and Union Bible
Seminary (UBS) in Pune.
Author on Mennonite mission
Arlette Kouwenhoven is on a nearly impossible mission to find a Mennonite
family thread that can be traced from Netherlands to Mexico. Though
Kouwenhoven has no personal connection with Mennonites, it is her
personal passion for tracing the migration pattern of the Dutch diaspora
that drives her.
Church should lead on Aboriginal justice issues
Phil Fontaine, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada invited all Canadians and corporations to a day of peaceful action on June 29, 2007, as a response to years of government inaction.
God's people now- sharing the dialogue
A 2006 cross-country Listening Tour of Mennonite Church Canada congregations affirmed General Secretary Robert J. Suderman's belief that "relationships and trust are key to building the church." His new book, God's People Now! brings the dialogue of that tour to the national body, highlighting "wisdom from the pews."
The shared, blackened pot
While in quiet conversation with a friend, recently, I
learned that her project to build a home in a suburb of our
town had suddenly come to an awkward halt. The half- finished
building, which had lain quiet for some weeks, had been occupied
by a raft of strangers who had taken shelter there when no
one was watching.
South Koreans affected by
The impact of the April 17 shootings on the Virginia Tech University
campus that left 32 people dead has stretched across the Pacific.
In South Korea, representatives from Korea Anabaptist Center (KAC)
have been dealing with the feelings of concern and shame welling
up in their students, as well as assumptions about what the incident
reflects of American culture, how it may have influenced shooter
Seung-Hui Cho and what it might mean to future relations.
Mennonites gather within
When participants gathered in suburban Philadelphia, for
the 2007 Emergent Conversation, they were surprised at how
many Mennonites were a part of the group. For Jess Walter,
who works with Franconia Mennonite Conference, the reason
was obvious: a combination of her job, a personal interest
in post modernity and faith, and a desire to show hospitality
were all motivated her to join the event.
- Korean-Canadian pastor brings
Hun Lee, pastor of Vision Mennonite Church in London, Ontario,
and former pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, Winnipeg,
was invited by the Korea Anabaptist Center (KAC) as a guest
speaker to South Korea.
Mennonite Publishing tackles
tough pastoral care issues
Thousands of people in Mennonite churches are suffering
in silence because they don’t get the help they need
in facing their addictions, mental disorders, experiences
of abuse, and other personal issues. That assumption, confirmed
by therapists and pastors alike, has propelled Mennonite
Publishing Network (MPN) to spearhead the development of
a series of pastoral care pamphlets that bring together professional
therapy, Christian faith, and congregational care.
- Mennonite Church Canada advocates
for Peace Tax
Mennonite Church Canada has sent a letter to Prime Minister
Stephen Harper asking government to allow for the “… Conscientious
Objection to the payment of those taxes designated for military
Message to youth: You are
Three years after she first began listening to a Christian program
on her portable radio in Wangprado, Thailand, Orathai Apong considered
herself a believer. But in all that time in and around her small
village, she had not met a single Christian.
- Building the Church with
The fourth chapter of Exodus reports that an incredulous
fugitive thought the voice from a flame-shooting bush was
calling him to an assignment beyond his capacity. But, God’s
question, “What is that in your hand?” inspired
Moses – and his spiritual descendants – to undertake
to audacious projects.
- First Person: Corner store
I like to walk to my temporary office while on a sabbatical
teaching assignment with Mennonite Church Canada in Concepción,
Chile. I have no car and prefer to use my bus fare money
for snacks. And, I get 15 minutes of exercise to boot.
- Mennonite Church Canada and
Mennonite Church USA sign covenant
When the Joint Executive Committee of Mennonite Church
Canada and Mennonite Church USA met here on April 10-11,
they confirmed what their two boards had already approved – a
partnership covenant that recognizes that the two distinct
national denominations have a strong and intentional partnership
in areas of mutual interest.
- Mennonite hymnal links China,
It’s about 12,000 kilometres from Chongqing, China
to Washington, Iowa. But the distance between Julie Wang
of Chongqing and the North American Mennonite Church is only
as wide as the blue Mennonite hymnal.
First Person: Colombian
As we descended the windy road to Anapoíma, I wondered what
the church would look like in this community. As we drove on, it
became increasingly important to me that they would have a bathroom.
Little did I know what I was about to experience.
- Spiritual churches celebrate
35 years of training
In the past four decades, African Initiated Churches have
moved from the periphery of the Christian world onto center
stage. A crowd of about 400 gathered at Good News Theological
College and Seminary on Feb. 24 to celebrate this institution’s
35-year legacy in training AIC leaders for their role in the
- Vineyard churches use Upside
Almost three decades after its first release in 1978, Donald
B. Kraybill’s book, The Upside-Down Kingdom, continues
to influence a new generation of Christians in unusual places.
- Salsa dancing as preparation
As a unique way of preparing for an hour of prayer, the lively
community of Christian believers in Puerta del Rebaño engages
in an hour of salsa dancing together every Wednesday night.
Martha Vandenberg, long
time mission worker in Taiwan, passes
Martha Vandenberg (Boschman), long time Mennonite mission worker
with her husband Han in Taiwan, passed away peacefully on March 13,
2007 at the Olds Long-term Care Centre in Olds, Aberta, after a long
struggle with Lewy Bodies (DLB), a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer's
- God’s People Now! Listening
In recognition that the church is a system with many interconnected
and intersecting parts, Robert J. Suderman, General Secretary
of Mennonite Church Canada will extend his 2006 listening
tour of over 200 congregations to area churches, schools,
and affiliated agencies this spring.
- Send a Friend draw winner
Werner De Jong, Senior Pastor at Holyrood Mennonite Church (Edmonton)
won Mennonite Church Canada’s “Send a Friend” draw
on January 31. De Jong plans to use the $2000 travel voucher to
visit West Africa.
Other denominations recommending
Gather ’Round to their churches
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has signed an agreement to become
a cooperative user of Gather 'Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s
Good News, the new Sunday school curriculum from Brethren Press and
Mennonite Publishing Network.
- MC Canada launches radio program
Mennonite Church Canada will launch a radio program called Church
Matters on Feb.18. The program is the combination of an offer from
the Elmer Hildebrand, owner of Golden West Broadcasting – the
host network – and the ponderings of MC Canada leadership on
how to reach more people both in and out of its member congregations.
Resource advocates available
to help churches
Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre just got a little
bigger and more personal. Four volunteers – Lisa Carr-Pries
(Eastern Canada.), Jeff Thiessen (Man.), Marion Bueckert (Sask.),
Tracy Brown Ewert (Alta.) – are in place and eager to serve
as extensions of the MC Canada Resource Centre in Winnipeg.
- Mennonite Partners in China
Teachers Honored in China
Four teachers with Mennonite Partners in China have chosen to receive
their first provincial “Most Excellent Foreign Teachers”
award. Schools in China have always appreciated the work of teachers
from MPC (formally China Educational Exchange). In the provincial
capital of Chengdu, the four MPC teachers, Todd Hanson, Catherine
McKinlay, Carol Park and Holly Showalter, along with 44 others, were
recognized at an awards ceremony on December 22.
- Neil Young, gardening and
faith: A conversation with Dave Bergen
There are few things that give Dave Bergen more pleasure than digging
his fingers into freshly tilled soil of his gardens after a long winter.
This expression of nurturing and coaxing new life out of recently thawed
ground is an annual pilgrimage for Bergen, executive secretary of Formation
ministries for Mennonite Church Canada.
- Anabaptism a growing edge
A door has opened for seminary students in Chile and their respective
congregations, thanks to the teaching of Canadian Mennonite University
(CMU) professor Titus Guenther and the commitment of Mennonite Church
Canada to the region.
“Put your money where
your faith is”
Gary Hawton has had a lot of time to think about ethical financial
investing. After all, he’s been investing since he was twelve
years old. Today he is the CEO of Meritas Mutual Funds – a socially
responsible investment (SRI) company in Cambridge, Ont.
- Seniors and the Future of
In one MC Canada congregation, a teenage girl prefers to attend
her grandparent’s small, rural, and aging congregation rather
the congregation of her parents. She has few peers there, and it means
driving about an hour rather than going to the big, modern, easily
accessible, and impressively programmed congregation where her parents
attend. Why? “The seniors in this congregation love me and encourage
me,” she simply responded.
- Shirley’s Gift
The best gift that my wife Julie and I received this past Christmas
did not come wrapped in brightly colored paper. In fact, it could
neither be boxed nor bought. Our gift was given to us by Shirley,
a Chinese student friend.